March 19, 2018 | Uncategorized  |  Leave a Comment




L21 Global Mindedness




Claim: I have grown to become more aware of people’s lives around of me, helping me become a more global-minded individual through the Out of the Blocks Project





Out of the Blocks Beijing





L21 Skill: Communication and Collaboration




L21 Skill: Problem Solving and Critical Thinking

After slaving through various resources, battling through the night, meticulously choosing our every word, and NOT exaggerating our blog posts to make ourselves sound smarter, my partner and I put our heads to together and somehow managed to come through this battle intact—completing our Chinese Cultural Revolution common craft video. In our video, we explain key turning points in the massacre and power struggle that was the Chinese Revolution and give historical analysis on the central characters and events. Amanda and I are both very proud of our work, and we hope you enjoy!

The video was produced on iMovie and filmed with iPads. It required extensive inquiry and research as well as communication, collaboration, and technological skills in order to make this video. This is because everyone had to do fulfill their own roles— whether it was in making the video, writing the script, or finding the graphics. All members of our group also had to think like a historian. We all had to inquire, analyze, and think about change and continuity. One of the hardest things about the project was that we had to find the perfect balance between a boring, and a fun video. We had to be educational, concise, and entertaining at the same time. Overall, I am satisfied with our final product.

“ To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was you. ” –Lewis B. Smedes


As toddlers, one of the first things we were taught to do after someone hurt us or stole our lunchtime snacks was to not only punch the kid who stole your goodies (is it just me?) but to forgive he/she when they say sorry.


Forgiveness is a vital skill in society. After all, everyone makes mistakes. Forgiveness is key to facing your past and setting yourself free. It is acknowledging that those around you that you love are imperfect. But what happens, when you’re unable to forgive those around you for all that they have done. What happens, when you’d rather be locked up in that prison than come out and face your past. Well, the consequences are always dire.


One of the central themes in Jon Krakauer’s Into the Wild, an investigation on the circumstances surrounding a twenty-four-year old’s death, is the inherent danger of the inability to forgive those around you—the danger that comes when you simply run away from everyone who cares about you in spite of their actions. In Chris McCandless’s (the main protagonist of the book) case, he couldn’t forgive his parent’s shortcomings. This lead to his repulsion of society, giving him a fear of intimacy and the assumption that all people are inherently bad—making him want to escape reality and all human interactions in search of ultimate freedom. But actions have consequences, and if he had learned to forgive his parents, one cannot wonder whether or not he would’ve still caused the people who raised him up so much pain.


“McCandless was thrilled to be on his way north, and he was relieved as well—relieved that he had again evaded the impending threat of human intimacy, of friendship, and all the messy emotional baggage that comes with it. He had fled the claustrophobic confines of his family. He’d successfully kept Jan Burres and Wayne Westerberg at arm’s length, flitting out of their lives before anything was expected of him. And now he’d slipped painlessly out of Ron Franz’s life as well.” (Krakauer, 55)

This passage from Into the Wild illuminates McCandless’s problems with intimacy due to his relationships with his family. During the two years Chris journeyed, he didn’t contact the sister whom he was very close with, and though he did meet some companions on his way to Alaska, he always made sure that their relationships never went beyond the superficial. In this passage, he is just leaving Ron Franz, who spends the next year or so waiting for his return, while McCandless ignores his responsibilities and escapes his reality in the wilderness (like Great Gatsby with his past). Allowing himself to forget about the responsibilities one has in any close relationships, he ignores the harm done to those who love him when he risks his safety and his life.


After McCandless brazenly and stupidly ran off into the Alaskan wilderness unprepared and died of starvation, those around him were hurt greatly. He inflicted so much pain on everyone who ever loved him. Seven weeks after his son’s body was found, as Jon Krakauer reported it, while gazing blankly across the Chesapeake Bay, Walt McCandless wondered aloud:  “How is it, that a kid with so much compassion could cause his parents so much pain?” ( Krakauer 103-104) . His mom, on the other hand, when studying the pictures of her son’s death, “ breaks down from time to time, weeping as only a mother who has outlived a child can weep, betraying a sense of loss so huge and irreparable that the mind balks at taking its measure. Such bereavement, witnessed at close range, makes even the most eloquent apologia for high-risk activities ring fatuous and hollow.” (Krakauer 132)

Chris’s unforgiving actions were selfish, and hurt those dear to him greatly. And to this day, his family’s wounds must still be bleeding.



I can connect greatly to this central theme about the importance of forgiveness because I often times forget to forgive. On many separate occasions, so many times after a fight with my family, I want to “divorce” them in a sense. On so many occasions, I wanted to never forgive people for their actions—because I couldn’t be the stronger, bigger man.  One time, I remember, after my brother took out his anger on me, I literally wanted to run away from my home and shut everyone out of my life. I couldn’t bear to even see him. But then I realized that it was pointless to continue to be angry. Because family is family, and to forgive is to forget. To never forgive is like continually pouring more salt on the wound. When you don’t forgive others, it’s not them that hurts more. It’s you. Unforgiveness is like another roadblock in your way. In the sense of family, unforgiveness renders family dinners dead and game night bland. You can’t turn your back on others just because of their mistakes—and you certainly can’t run away from those people and your past like Chris McCandless.


Jon Krakauer’s Into the Wild reaffirmed my understanding that the inability to forgive causes great damage to you, and the people around you because who knows, maybe if Chris chose to forgive his parents, maybe he would’ve lived? Maybe forgiveness could’ve saved lives. What do you think?

My goal for this year’s one day project was to be able to fully capture and tell the story of a senior citizen in the buildings across the street. I wanted to be able to get people to understand and carefully observe everything around them—realize that everyone has their own unique story in life. In this project, my group tried to dig deeper—past the superficial and the mundane—and discover the vibrant and rich stories of these senior citizens past. From this project, I learned how to operate a camera and format an interview, but most importantly, I learned to respect the elderly and try my best to understand everyone else’s perspectives from now on. All in All, I think we were able to get good sound quality in our interviews, and were able to proficiently capture an ordinary day in these senior citizen’s lives. If I were to be able to do this again, I would try to get more of a background in our interviews.

Harry Chen

The Loss of Innocence that Ralph experiences (not the usual “inner darkness in man’s heart” ) as a theme in the Lord of the Flies

We’re brought into these world as miniscule, small creatures that see the world in only two colors: black and white. When we’re younger, we see the world in rainbows and butterflies, we are  away from all the pain and misery in the world; we are away from all of the death and sadness. Arguably, the best part of our childhood is the innocence that it brings. But as we grow up, we generally experience a loss of innocence. The loss of one’s innocence is usually associated with the many evils in our world. When we are exposed to these evils, exposed to a cruel atmosphere, we will never be the young and innocent child that was born into this world. This loss of innocence is experienced immensely by our main protagonist Ralph in the Lord of the Flies.  Ralph was completely changed by the crises that he faced. Ralph faced the loss innocence through his exposure to death, the darkness of man’s heart, and his fight for survival, and this loss of innocence, is a major theme in the Lord of the Flies.

In William Golding’s Lord of the Flies when the boys first crash onto the unknown island they were like the boys in the Coral Island, happy to be away from civilization’s orders and restraints, caring only about fun and games. Everyone is innocent, but clearly remnants of society’s rules are still with them. While everyone is having fun, Ralph, the protagonist, is the only individual that clearly wants to be rescued, insisting on building a fire. The fire representing a hope to be rescued back to society and society’s order. When he first enters the island, he is innocent, knowing nothing about the sadness that life brings, and everything goes well until Piggy’s spectacles break, the conch shell is shattered, and the fire burns out, symbolizing the loss of innocence and rationality of an intellectual individual, the loss of order and civilization, and the destruction of hope and civilized instinct; All of this unraveling a series of unfortunate events later on in the book. On page 181 of William Golding’s Lord of the Flies, Roger, who has truly reverted to his primal instinct to kill, tumbled a boulder onto Piggy instantly killing Piggy, one of Ralph’s best friends. Before that, on page 152, Ralph watched as the “savages” not boys, stood around Simon, another one of his friends, and killed him while chanting this: “Kill the beast! Cut his throat! Spill his blood!”(Golding, 152)

. All of this death truly destroys Ralph’s previous innocence, it truly destroys that life filled with rainbows and butterflies. Because of the deaths of his good friends, on page 202 Ralph weeps for “the end innocence, the darkness of man’s heart, and the fall through the air of the true, wise friend called Piggy.” By this, Ralph means that he is crying for the end of his innocence, where he never experienced death or lost a friend. He weeps for the darkness of man’s heart; a darkness that when not exposed to the restraints of society, completely overrides all of man’s rational compassion. All of the death that Ralph experienced changes his perception of the world, changes how he thinks. All of this death, will haunt him forever.

Another way that Ralph experienced a loss of innocence is through finally realizing the darkness of man’s heart. As the boys first arrive on the Island, their lives are still entwined with society’s rules. In a way, the author William Golding is arguing that instead of civilization making man commit evil, it is man himself that is the reason. At first, the boy’s still act the way society taught them to act. Society tells them not to kill, not steal, not hurt, and the boys follow what society tells them. Although when they first arrived, it is all peaceful, kids like Jack start to give in to their primal instinct. Ralph realizes this when he first goes hunting in chapter 7. Even Ralph, a person that did not give in to his primal instinct at the time, who still followed what society told him to do, felt the exhilaration that a hunt brings, felt the happiness that dominating over another smaller, weaker thing brings. He felt so excited when saw his spear hit the boar in chapter 7. Part of why Ralph weeps when he realizes the darkness of man’s heart is because he realized that man has a primal instinct for savagery. After Ralph’s experiences on the island, he truly understood that man is evil on his own, that man needs society. Even 60 years after the Lord of the Flies was written, one of its major themes about the inner darkness in man’s heart makes us ponder the real motive and cause behind events like WWII, or Ted Bundy’s mass murders. The Lord of the Flies essentially is a reminder of human barbarism lying just beneath the fragile veneer of society. Golding himself said that the Lord of the Flies was an “attempt to trace the defects of society back to the defects of human nature.”

Never in his old life, did Ralph have to face life and death situations, never did Ralph need fight for his life. Ralph experiences a loss of innocence when he has to fight for his life, to run for his life. On page 195, Ralph fought for his life: “Ralph launched himself like a cat; stabbed, snarling, with the spear, and the savage doubled up.” (12.165)

Never in his old life would he even have to think of killing someone, think of picking up a spear and fighting. But this quote also shows that when its about survival, even the most orderly of us will still become primitive.

Ralph’s old life was filled with innocence, and that innocence was taken away from him the first time he fought someone for survival. In addition, on the island, He experiences starvation, battle, and death, something that will change his life forever. The lives that he took, or saw that were taken, will haunt him forever. Because of this, Ralph’s perception of the world will never be the same again.  When ironically a navy soldier comes to save Ralph due to a forest fire rather than a signal fire in a deus ex machina ending , Ralph cries tears of grief rather than tears of joy as due to the deaths of Simon and Piggy and his realization that   all vestiges of civilization have been stripped from the island.

The best part of childhood is the innocence. Living without a care for the world outside, away from the pain, away from the pandemonium. But as we grow up, we experience events that will change us forever; events that will remove our innocence. Ralph experienced the same thing. He experienced a loss of innocence when he faced with death, when he realized the darkness of man’s heart, and when he had to fight for his life. Without this innocence, Ralph’s perception of the world will change forever, his thoughts never so simple again. Ralph’s life will never be the same after the events he experienced. Now do you understand why children who suffer from ECTs (Early Childhood Trauma) often are affected in such terrible ways? It is because their whole world, their whole perception, is altered bleak, because they experienced such a huge loss of innocence, when they were supposed to be playing with toys soldiers.

How will Ralph be able to possibly adapt to his old life, where his other peers are still playing with toys and super heroes, when he’s already seen so much. How can he be able to be thinking about teenage girls like the other boys, when he’s matured beyond his age, experienced the “darkness of man’s heart” that terrorized the boys in the form of a beast.

Click here to learn more about Early Childhood Trauma and how it affects children

Click here to read an interesting article about how Golding’s Lord of the Flies’s theme about “man’s inner darkness” and savegery is especially relevant in today’s world’s politics

My written poem “The Coming of Age” , written for a multimedia representation of the rising action and climax of the Outsiders by S.E Hinton , was particularly effective and appropriate for the task at hand. My poem portrayed the development of the character and his ideology as the story unfolds, and many of the major themes within the book were vastly pervasive inside of my poem .  The poem, especially since it is written in a first person view, really captures the thoughts of the main protagonist in The Outsiders by S.E Hinton , Ponyboy Curtis, and the feelings within his mind as the story progresses. My poem captures the hardness and shell that Ponyboy Curtis has been taught keep on his whole life, the poverty in his life, as well as his change of mood to socioeconomic situation as the story progresses, from negative to positive.

In the book and the rising action, Ponyboy Curtis is shown as the smallest member of the “Greasers”,  a gang in the lower class of society. Ponyboy narrates the novel, telling the story in his view, making the story less objective.  Ponyboy theorizes on the motivations and personalities of the friends of his around him. S.E Hinton develops as Ponyboy Curtis as a character who despises the world he lives in. He thinks his gang is a group of wild delinquents, but at the same time, he does not think it is fair that the “Socs” or the upper class can live such comfy, luxurious lives. Ponyboy offers social criticism on the world around him. At the same time, Ponyboy, a very dynamic character, is described as having a more superficial view, not being able to look at things in a more global view, and is also described as a sort of innocent child. It can be seen through this quote: “No rival gangs, only Socs. And you can’t win against them no matter how hard you try, because they’ve got all the breaks and even whipping them isn’t going to change that fact. “(1.47)  It is as if Ponyboy only thinks that socioeconomic status is always the most important. Even more, Ponyboy is described as a “different” kind of “Greaser,” in the ways that he doesn’t fight unless it is for self defense, and the fact that he just seems more dreamy and artistic. This is shown in this quote from Ponyboy: ‘ “Hey,” I said suddenly, “can you see the sunset real good from the West Side?” ‘(8.101).

However, as the story progresses, Ponyboy Curtis as a character changes immensely. One of the biggest changes inside of Ponyboy Curtis, as well as being a major theme in the book, is the loss of innocence or the coming of age. In the beginning of the book, Ponyboy is shown as a good student, a smart individual, a kid that got “… Put up a year in grade school”  (21) and a track star, however, as tragedy unfolds throughout his life, Ponyboy Curtis’s grades drop, he loses interest in school and wants to drop out , and wants to quit track due to the things happening around him. This is all because of the loss of innocence that occurred in his life.  In two weeks he witnessed 3 of his gang members die in front of his eyes, rendering his thoughts of the world to change, allowing him to see the world with a wider view, making him see not just black and white, good and bad, and making him understand the ideas of social class, and that fighting will never do anything.  I have to say, when your best friends die in front of your eyes you simply cannot remain the same,  and it’s very much like our society: some children will not break the poverty line not because of their intellect, but because of the things going on in their lives. It also makes me realize, why people voted for Trump. When you see no hope, when your whole town is losing jobs, your whole race feels disempowered, and you wish for meritocracy, but not the meritocracy instilled in your country currently,and somebody promises you hope, of course you will take it.

The Outsiders is a book that really focuses on social issues, on class, how people from lower income families feel, and it makes me feel that really? We are just the lucky winners of the lottery, we may not be anymore smarter or capable than those of lower income families. We’re just lucky to have started out well. I for one believe in equal chance, I for one believe that people like Ponyboy deserve a equal chance in living a actual life, but how? How can we achieve equality?

Click here to learn how adverse childhood experiences affect a child

Click here to learn about psychologically how gang members are brought out.

In the midst of the lonely night, hold me tight
As these interminable roads crumble beneath my feet
And the raging stream roars and reigns with full might
Hold me dear, and I will make it through the night

In the midst of the stormy night, hold me tight
As the birds don’t chirp on the other side
the blazing crimson sunset, not nearly as bright
The verdant hills cry as the frost bites

Like a blazing star, guide me through the night
Shield me from darkness, shield me from contrite

Halo glaring, aura shining, like the pale moonlight
on a starry night, I will shine bright

Hold me tight, in the midst of the lonely night
Because even within the clouds, the dazzling sun shines

My performed rant was based on the exposition of the Handmaid’s Tale by Margeret Atwood. The multi-media selection of the rant was particularly appropriate for the the book, as really, Margeret Atwood‘s prophetic book did seek to scare us, and warn us of what could happen in the future, if we condone such bigotry and misogyny in our society. The book sought to evoke emotions of anger and fear, which could be accurately captured by a good rant, so the the form of multi-media that I chose, was definitely appropriate. Seeking to both analyze the story, and rant about the story, I did a peculiar type of ranting, where I did rant, but only at timely times during my analysis of the exposition. Atwood did a great job making her society, as well as her characters seem very much life-like, seem very much real. Not many authors are able to create a dystopian world where the people living inside, as well the world itself, seems real; however, Atwood was able to do this through making her characters as well as the world flawed, and making visuals of the society that are scarily real. For in example, Atwood made her character Offred seem much more realistic because she’s flawed. Offred is flawed because she isn’t really like the hero of the story, she’s just like a bystander;  in addition, she ditched her family and cheated with a married man, implying that isn’t some perfect character. It seems as if in her book, we can feel the things that are going through the characters heads, and we can connect to it.

In the book, Offred is characterized as a loving mother, who’s just doing what she’s doing to survive a little longer. We learn this through her numerous flashbacks to the “better days” at pondering of the location of her husband and  daughter. This quote shows her passionate love for her daughter :

I […] think about a girl who did not die when she was five; who still does exist, I hope, though not for me. Do I exist for her? Am I a picture somewhere, in the dark at the back of her mind? […] Eight, she must be now. I’ve filled in the time I lost, I know how much there’s been. They were right, it’s easier, to think of her as dead. I don’t have to hope then, or make a wasted effort.(12.13, 15) Not only is the characterization great, but the themes and conflicts are unlike any other superficial conflicts and theme found in other dystopian books.

Offred is also shown as one who just wants to survive a little longer  when she tells us this : “‘Keep your head down, I used to say to myself, and see it through.'” This shows us that Offred has to conform to society to survive, that she cannot struggle against the restraints, because she wants to live. This again makes Offred seem more life-like, as contrary to most movies, people do not generally sacrifice themselves for the “great cause.”

Finally, Offred is characterized as a very smart individual. It is shown when Ofglen and Offred are traveling together for their mandatory walks, when Ofglen says the word “mayday” to Offred. Not only does Offred know what “mayday” meant, (although just like the Renaissance, the government controlled the literature available, and tried to make people unknowledgeable because knowledge=power ) she knew that the word came from the French language, implying that although the government is trying to control language and power, some individuals still have links to the past, and that Offred is intelligent.

The Handmaid’s Tale  is so powerful in how much it can connect to today’s society, just like any good dystopian novel, and my rant just shows how even after tens of years, this book can still stir someone up. The book deals with the stripping of liberty, the disempowerment of a group of people. Atwood shows all of this in just the few pages in the exposition : “We used to talk about buying a house like one of these, an old big house, fixing it up. We would have a garden, swings for the children. We would have children. Although we knew it wasn’t too likely we could ever afford it, it was something to talk about, a game for Sundays. Such freedom now seems almost weightless(5.4) “From this quote we can tell that what used to be small trifles like buying a house and raising children seems like a fantasy, with how much limited freedom she has now. ” I know why there is no glass, in front of the watercolor picture of blue irises, and why the window opens only partly and why the glass in it is shatter-proof. It isn’t running away they’re afraid of. We wouldn’t get far. It’s those other escapes, the ones you can open in yourself, given a cutting edge (2.4).” In this quote Offred reminds us that in this oppressive society, sometimes jumping out an window is more freedom than living. Finally, the quote that is a metaphor for the strong oppressiveness in the society that Offred lives in:“A rat in a maze is free to go anywhere, as long as it stays inside the maze (Atwood,165) . This symbolism forces the reader to take a look at what freedom truly is. Rats in mazes think they are free because they can move about, when in reality, they are trapped. They are unaware that they are in a maze, they consider themselves free. The handmaids are free to go anywhere within town that they want, as long as they stay within the boundaries- their own “maze.” Like the rats, many of them are oblivious. They do not have any desire to go elsewhere, nor do they realize how much control they are under. Escape is something that does not cross their minds. Atwood is saying that there are many levels of freedom, and that slight freedom and total freedom are not the same. She is making the point that one should not settle for only slight freedom. All of these quotes from the exposition helps develop a setting of a society where all liberty and freedom has been in a sense, “abolished,” and the people struggling to obtain freedom. In the current day society, we’re becoming more and more like the one found in the Handmaid’s Tale, but why? Why do you think as more time passes from the day the Handmaid’s Tale was released,  more and more people are reading it?  Why do you think when Margeret Atwood was asked about the book recently, she called the book “speculative fiction” rather than science fiction like most dystopian novels.

To watch me rage and rant, as well as more thoroughly analyze the characterization and conflict within the Handmaid’s tale click here as this was just a brief analysis


Click here to learn more about goals of dystopian novels.
Click here to learn more about man vs society conflicts
Click here to read more about the Handmaid’s Tale’s relevancy in today’s society.




During only the second the month of school, Grade 8 student of ISB went to rural Beijing, in an area called Shimenshan to bond, and develop many other life skills. At Shimenshan, students would participated in various challenging and bonding activities. Personally, during these activities, I think I had a few strengths and weaknesses. I would like to think that I was a good leader and showed responsibility, as many times I felt like I was directing my group, and I would also like to think that I applied creativity and critical thinking in both the Raft building and the “Via Ferrata.” Some things that I found myself struggling on, were my Communication & Collaboration skills, I think at times, especially during times tumultuous and confusing times, I found myself yelling much more than usual.  In order to accomplish these tasks, the most important thing was to help each other, to not think as an individual, but as a group.

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