Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Boer Genocide

Only those who have directly experienced it, can imagine the pain of being exploited simply because of the color of one's skin or the belief system of which they follow. The Holocaust was certainly one of the largest genocides the world has ever seen, however this obscene behavior did not stop there. It is shown today in communities all over the world and modern-day genocides are occurring as we speak.

Since a black majority government came into power in South Africa in 1994, there have been thousands of murders based upon a reason no other than simple, unjustified hatred. These acts of ignorance have been committed against what we know as “Boers”. These are descendants from mainly Dutch and French colonists who represent a community of farming and currently are responsible for supplying South Africa with about 95% of its food needs (Hubpages). More than 3600 whites have been murdered in farm attacks in South Africa since 1994 (Hubpages). Also many of the women murdered are first raped, and it is made apparent by the attackers that it is of racial motivation that the killing took place (Hubpages). These acts display gruesome and brutal intentions and convey a strong sense of communism to witnesses. Whites have also been intentionally run down by black taxi drivers while simply making their way to work or school via bicycle. In one case, the taxi driver even admitted to his intentions: “'It was not a mistake. It was not negligence...'” (Boer genocide blog). These people know exactly what they're doing and why they are doing it, so will it ever stop, or just continue as an ongoing cycle?

Most of these brutal attacks have included self-declared racists motivations for the gruesome killing of these farmers. These attacks similarly resemble that of the Civil Rights movement in the United States years ago. The attacks being made are unjust and for a one simply poor explanation: hated. Hating a person solely based upon the color of their skin is an issue that has been prominent in many societies since the beginning of time. Although this warped outlook may never be abolished, through awareness and the power of unity, changes can be made to reduce these awful attacks. The Boer people deserve life just as much as everyone else; do they not?

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Society's Revolutions Today: Blessings or Burdens?

In our society today there are an array of newly sparked revolutions that promote a different lifestyle than what has been previously accepted socially in the past. Current generational norms such as social media, lack of family urgency, and cell phone dependency, have become revolutions in our society that have their share of positive attributes but also several negative effects.
The rise of social media has been inclining for about a decade now and ,most believe, still has not reached it's peak. Social media is used generously for business tactics and promotions, social hobby, and simply a way for people to band together and reach out to one another due to common interests. It has changed the way this generation and those to come have viewed technology and ultimately communication as a whole. It has altered the way we as people interact with one another, exposing us to an alternate, almost secluded world of communication. It has promoted literacy, but also lessened it's importance in aspects. Social media is seen by some as one of the best pieces of technology and form of communication ever exposed to man, but to some it is nothing but a burden. When it is used in its proper, interned way, it appears effective and engaging for most, however when it is abused and put to negative use, such as cyber bullying, it's effects can be deadly and cause much more harm than good. Even with these two battling sides, social media remains a soaring power in our society today.
Also present in our generation and those below us is a lack of family values and fundamentals. It is not prominent everywhere, but in a lot of families it is no longer a tradition to sit around the table together every night and eat dinner with one another. Rather, everyone is off in their own direction, doing their own thing and staying busy, making the illusion that there is no time for “family dinner”. In our society today, everyone moves at such a fast past and barely stops to just take in what matters the most. A lot of people take things like family for granted and don't spend enough time valuing what they have. But on the other hand,some believe family isn't the most important part, but rather developing into your own person and being independent and self sufficient just as a animals do when they are old enough to expand on their own and leave “the nest”. In our society today family has taken almost a backseat to other priorities, much different from the values of past generations and previous stages of our culture's inevitable evolution.
Lastly, cell phones have taken center stage when it comes to our dependency on technology and communication today. People of all ages have them, whether they are 8 or 80, people rely on cell phones to do almost everything for them. They have revolutionized our method of communication and also our usage of communication to one another, in some cases in an abusive, over-used matter. Cell phones have promoted our accessibility of communication to one another and established convenience, however they can be seen as a major distraction to things like driving, and in most of our cases school work. For some they have become a past time, text messaging and talking for hours and hours and neglecting important tasks. They fall somewhat into the same category as social media when it comes to pros and cons. They as well will be an ever-debated issue.
Our society today contains tools for a better tomorrow, but if those tools are abused the results can be far from the intended purpose. Values in the eyes of people have changed, for better, or for worse but in the end it all comes down to us, the people, and how we deal with these revolutions and situations humanistic wise. No amount of technological advances, or shifts in common belief can ever replace natural human instinct.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Mentor text: Max Keeble's Big Move

I chose Disney’s Max Keeble’s Big Move as my mentor text this time around for a few reasons. This movie perfectly displays the stereo typical middle-school experience, but focuses its attention on a select group of children and identifies the viewer with their true identities, rather than what they are labeled at school. Watching this movie has helped me to incorporate more detail in the characteristics of the characters I am using and identify with what other label them as versus what is really going on inside their head-what their true thoughts and feelings consist of.

This movie captures all angles and cliques of middle-school aged children and their experiences within their years of middle school. Kids face a harsh reality growing up and attending public school, but as we grow older and begin to mature I believe we familiarize ourselves with who we really are and learn whom others truly are inside also. This stage is more of the high-school level of thinking, but rather my story and Max Keeble’s Big Move share the common ground of taking place in a setting that in not yet conducive to the maturity of finding yourself, but more along the lines of just trying to fit in with the crowd around you.

In the movie, we see Max’s strive for the most popular girl in school, when he is simply a “loser” and the task seems impossible. With the help of his ultra high confidence after being informed he’s moving away, he tries for a shot at the girl of his dreams figuring he now has nothing to loose. When she shows interest back, everyone is shocked simply because they come from two completely opposite groups or labeled categories. This connects to my story in that the girl who is a so-called “loser” communicates to the most popular girl in school through conversations in marker on the bathroom stall, but they both lack the knowledge of just whom they are talking to. Although their peers view them as two completely opposite people, they happen to share some vast similarities that no one would ever expect when looking from the outside.

Watching this movie has provided me with much more insight and ideas around the stereotypical functioning of the child’s mind in middle school and their actions as a result of their dire need to constantly fit in, rather than just expressing who they are themselves.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

My Interview With Mariah Mckenna

For this assignment, I interviewed the lovely Mariah Mckenna.

  1. Who is the main character of your story?
There are two. Jeff is the little boy in the story and Mr.Campbell is the lonely old man who lives down the street from Jeff.
  1. When does this story take place?
It is current and takes place in present day.
  1. Would you ever do what the main character(s) did in your real life?
Yes. If I were Jeff I could see myself being like him as a little kid and being destructive (not on purpose of course).
  1. What kind of relationship will the two main characters have?
They start out as enemies, as in protagonist and antagonist, but by the end of the story they become good friends when they realize they need each other and they could both benefit from a friendship between them.
  1. Do the protagonist or antagonist have sidekicks?
No ma’am.
  1. What mentor texts have influenced this story to be what it has become?
Dennis the Menus, Tuesdays with Morey, and Home Alone.
  1. Who is your audience?
Children. Probably more toward the late elementary or early middle school age.
  1. Where does your story take place?
In a suburban-type neighborhood and part of the story will also take place in a nursing home.
  1. Do you think the story could have a sequel?
Well, I think any story could have a sequel but I did not write with intentions of giving it sequel-potential. It has a pretty conclusive ending.
10.  Do any of the characters go through a moral change throughout the course of the book?

Both main characters actually. Jeff learns to be more considerate and respectful of others around him in general and Mr. Campbell learns to have more patience with others.
11.  What are you trying to convey to your readers? What is the moral to your story?

Friends can be found in the most unlikely of places.
12.  What will be a moment of weakness for your main character(s)?

I feel that a moment of weakness for Mr. Campbell would be when his family puts him into the nursing home and Jeff’s moment of weakness would be when he looses his privileges at home because of breaking another rule and is forced to go to work with his mother as she cannot trust him at home alone.
13.  What is your personal favorite part to the story?

When Jeff and Mr. Campbell team up, realizing they need each other’s help, and become friends.
14.  How long do you predict your story to be?

However long it will need to be for me to get my moral across to the audience and make for an enjoyable children’s book that’s not too long, but is in-depth and interesting.
15.  Will your book contain pictures? Or will it have more of a chapter book or novel-like feel?
It will be more of a novel type feel.
16.  What willl help the main characters overcome their struggles?

With the help of each other, they will overcome their obstacles. They are each other’s go-to men.
17.  Can you personally relate to the moral of this story?

Yes, I have come to be friends with an old man that is a regular customer at Peaceful Meadows where I work. You can find friends in the most unlikely of places!
18.  Who’s perspective will the story be told from?
It will switch off between Jeff and Mr. Campbell being the narrator.
19.  Will there be any other characters that influence the main ones and their actions in the book?

In the beginning, Jeff’s friend is the one who convinces him to throw the ball that breaks the old man’s window. Also Mr. Campbell’s family puts him in the nursing home. Without these two things, the two would have never become friends of put into the positions they were in.
20.  Do you think the contents of this story could happen in real life?

Yes, I do. There is no age requirement with friendship.

To get a glimpse at how Mariah's story is coming along so far click here!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Peggy: The Expressionist in a Judgemental Environment

A loose-fitting lavender blouse. A blue patent leather skirt. Cheeta print tights. Off-white leg-warmers. Chesnut brown oxfords. These are just a few of the many items of clothing that make up Peggy’s wardrobe on a regular basis. They accompany her everywhere she goes, acting as good friends that follow at your hip side and continually deliver compliments throughout the day. To Peggy, her clothes are her closest, dearest, most trustworthy, and understanding friends. Although they may not always be perfect, as she experiences the occasional wear and tear, rip, or loose button, but they are always there for her no matter what to make her feel good about her self, feel confident, and feel empowered to complete any task that may lay in her path that day. They come in all shapes and sizes, colors and fabrics, but most importantly they all express Peggy’s personality and what she wants to present to the world-the person she would like everyone to see. On days that she may feel down, upset, or just plain tired, her clothes understand, comforting her in more styles that may be conducive to sleep or relaxation. They give where she may need more space, and they hug her where she needs for comfort and they compliment her body whether she has a good or bad day.
Now, Peggy does not have many bad days mind you. She is a free-spirited, confident, happy person who loves to express herself though her unique, eccentric style. She loves to wear anything she can find in a box of hand-me-downs or a thrift store, piece together some of her own items, and them wallah! New outfit. See, well Peggy (short for Pegasus) was born in raised on a planet other than earth. This planet is known as Expressionupiter and it is a place where everyone therein prides themselves on self-expression, independent creation, and being unique, on-of-a-kind people. Walking down a shuttle runway on Expressionupiter, you may see a wide arrange of characters. From infants to young adults to parents to grandparents, every single person is like a snowflake. They share certain minor similarities but are all different and all have their own form of expressing their inner persona who they would like the people of the universe around them to see. These people don’t have fears in impressing others around them; they simple wear what they want and act as they please, staying within reason of respect to others of course. On this planet, words like ugly, stupid, and fashionably “in” do not exist. Expressionists (yes, the people of Expressionupiter) never take into consideration what another may think of them and never judge another for any of their personal choices in ways of expressing themselves. They never look someone up and down and insult what they may have on. They never will express a distaste toward another’s idea of what looks “good’. They will never put people into categories purely based upon how they dress and whom they associate themselves with. They will never put anyone down for an unsubstantial reason at all. On the planet of Expressionupiter, peace of mind with oneself and others is the common theme.

Time to go to work…because I have a job….other commitments…a life…
This story is to be continued.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Conforming to Society: A New Outlook

Just one person has the power to change the way an entire group or culture of people view something. Just one person can make a difference in a society, in a country, or in the world. Just one person can be an example for others to follow, a role model, a leader. People look up to this person and anyone has the power to become them. In today’s society I believe that the individual is somewhat overlooked or unacknowledged, the main focal point being a certain group or clique rather than the individuals that make up that group of people. The ability of people to come together and form something bigger than themselves is beneficial no doubt, but what about the individuals that build and represent these groups? What about the creative individuals who, on their own, start trends, create societies, or even those people who have simply not done something to make themselves stand out in the crowd yet? Are they unimportant?
            Today, I believe the world is full of onlookers and conformities. And don’t get me wrong, it is not incorrect to follow a movement or wear something or do something just because its what the people around you are doing; that’s life and that will never change. However, I think it is time to recognize the ones who in fact are expressive with their individuality and strive to be leaders rather than followers. I think there are too many generalizations in this world. Whether it be race, organization, popularity, or what one would consider ”normal”, it all exists and it is all a contagious disease. More and more people are abandoning their personal interests and beliefs simply to fit in with the crowd around them and dodge the bravery it requires to live as your own person and exhibit the freedom of expression that so many of our soldiers fought to obtain in the past.
            I just believe that its time for Americans to have a new goal. Rather than the object being to appear normal and to do what the common man is doing, we should voice our own opinions, create our own lifestyles, and most importantly live happily without worrying what those around us think. On the other hand of that, I believe it is time for people to stop possessing judgmental outlooks and allow life to go on around them the way it may, with every individual being their own person and without the worry of the judgments surrounding them. People waste their time, day in and day out, worrying what others may think of them and simply trying to appeal to the general acceptance of the population, when in all reality, the only thing that matters is what your think of yourself and how your want to represent yourself in life- not how someone else wants to see you represented. Being an individual is often something that is looked past but is a beautiful thing. With the confident expression of their own personality, beliefs, and choices, one can go a long way.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

We Were Given the Right To Freedom Of Expression for a Reason

After entirely altering the story line and plot to my first idea for a children’s book, I reorganized a different idea. I wanted to create a story that taught the kids to never be afraid to be themselves, use their right to freedom of expression, and live their life the way they want regardless of what other people think of their lifestyle choices and personal preferences. I wanted to include a moral of courage, persistence and most importantly, staying true to yourself. I believe that one of the best examples of this is the general high school standard of what to wear and what not to wear, what will get you made fun of, what will allow you to gain “friends”. Other people’s ignorance is what keeps teenagers back from dressing the way they would truly like to and expressing themselves in their own way, rather than conforming to the guidelines of what everyone else is wearing or what everyone else considers “in” at that moment in time. I wanted to teach the children that it’s okay to show your true self and have enough self-respect to present yourself differently than the others and even stand out in a crowd, regardless of what they may say or think of you. All that matters is that you are comfortable and confident in the way you look.
            The mentor text I picked from the list of choices I was given was the book called Uglies by Scott Westerfeld. This book is about a future society in which the age group known as the “Uglies” are forced to have mandatory plastic society in order to conform the way they look to fit the societal norms of the time period. The book exposes the flaws in being the same as everyone else around you and acting almost as a robot to society, possessing no creativity or unique self expression ever. Although there is a different spin on things, my story line relates a lot to this book. Clothing can be compared to physical features. The way you present yourself is entirely up to you and it is not right to allow others to change the way you make yourself appear when your heart says otherwise. No one should ever be pressured into wearing something just because it’s considered cool for their age group or labeled social group. My story also proves that your friends aren’t your true friends if they change the way they interact with you just because you changed the way your dress and present yourself. Today, sadly, a lot of high schools are segregated into groups and cliques simply based upon what type of clothes students wear and what their style is considered as. I strongly support the opposite opinion and would like to convey a message to the students that will stay with them and develop one they can implement in their own lives on a daily basis.