Reflection on Semester 1

I think we were lucky enough to come to the school campus and have offline learning. Online learning hasn’t been as efficient as off-line learning, and I am grateful to meet all my classmates and my teachers back at ISB.

Personally, semester 1 was a very refreshing yet tough period. Many internal assessments were due, and so as many official IB documents, like the extended essay. Yet, I was able to commit myself fully to English during this semester.

In English class, we learned many different texts, such as the Odyssey, short stories by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. articles from the School of Life, and satirical articles from the Onions. Honestly, I liked every single text we learned. Odyssey featured an interesting adventure of Odysseus, the articles from the School of Life provided me with some important lessons in my life, and the articles from The Onion entertained me in different ways with their satirical articles.

But not all the texts were used for the most important English assessment: Individual Oral Presentation. For my individual oral presentation, I chose an article from the Onion and a short story from Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. The global issue I discussed is the political exploitation of different backgrounds in our modern society. Individual Oral presentation has not only improve myself as an English learner, but also as a global-minded citizen.

English A: Language and Literature Individual Oral Outline

Global issue:

Politics, Power, Injustice

The political exploitation of immigrants and different religious background

Texts chosen

Literary work: A Private Experience by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (pg 48-49)

Non-literary body of work: The Onion—New Trump Campaign Ad Claims that Illegal Immigrants Currently Murdering You With Knife

Notes for the oral (maximum of 10 bullet points) :

  1. The Onion: uses parody and satire, elicits current issues in society, no PC approach,
  2. Adichie: a person, more than single perception, class, generalization, and socioeconomic disparities
  3. The Onion: Political Exploitation of Immigrants: ad used to evoke sensationalism, Trump gains benefit
  4. Tone, pronoun, hyperbole: personal involvement, provokes fear and sensationalism against immigrants
  5. Organic & Visual imagery: self-provocative, conveys urgency, the consequence of not voting Trump, Trump = safeguard
  6. Word Choice & Irony: Omits illegalàscapegoating illegal immigrants, America built from immigrants
  7. Adichie: No political interferenceàunity between mankind: Dialogue-Simple & succinct syntaxànaïve tone & no difficulty interacting
  8. Dialogue: Christian or muslin fate, rich or poor, educated or not,
  9. Politics is introducedàIrony: leader not protecting citizen, achieving political agenda
  10. Modern societyàauthorities and politicians are polarized, epitome,

Paper 2 Outline

How do two of the works you have studied portray the struggle to be understood?

Introduction & Thesis Statement

  • American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang portrays a story of the protagonist Jin Wang who struggles with a conflict between their original culture and the major identity. Similarly, Homer’s epic poem The Odyssey follows the hero’s journey of the Greek hero Odysseus. Both American Born Chinese and Odyssey portray the struggles the protagonists encounter to illustrate how they overcome their challenges and hardships in their respective situations.

Text 1-American Born Chinese

  • Element 1: Parallelism/Allegory
    • The Monkey King’s story serves as a both parallelism to Jin and a symbolic allegory. In the beginning of the story, Monkey King is portrayed as a very violent and self-absorbed individual who challenges the eight deities (page 64-65). As the story continues, Monkey King undergoes a transformation, where he becomes humble and aspires to work for others (for example, working for Wong Lao Tsai (page 158)), and ultimately, accepts his identity as a monkey. This transformation is reflected in Jin Yang’s story as well. Jin, who was initially portrayed as an angry and self-absorbed teenager, transform into a more reflective individual who accepts his own cultural identity.
  • Element 2: Symbolism
    • Monkey King’s shoes and Greg’s curly hair
    • Both shoes and hair convey the ineffectiveness of superficial changes in disguising one’s true identity. Monkey King orders the monkey to wear shoes (page 55) to achieve his desire to become a human, which is an unachievable desire as he can’t physically turn into human. Similarly, in Jin’s story, Greg’s curly hair (page 97-98) convey a similar image. Jin’s idea is that the curly hair will disguise his identity as an Asian and make him more attractive to Amelia.
  • Element 3: Figure
    • Chin-Kee is a character that mashes up all the stereotypes against Asians (in the story, he is portrayed as a smart student (page 111), Kung-fu master (210-211), and so on). Most importantly, he represents Jin’s fear of the stereotypes against Asian and Asian culture. Jin has to overcome all the stereotypes against him to truly accept his Chinese identities.


Text 2-Obyssey

  • Element 1: Epic Similes
    • “She is watching as he gasps and dies. She shrieks, a clear high wail, collapsing upon his corpse. The men are right behind. They hit her shoulders with their spears and lead her to slavery, hard labor, and a life of pain. Her face is marked with her despair. In that same desperate way, Odysseus was crying” (Book 8)
    • In this epic simile, Odysseus’ desperateness is compared to woman’s grieving, desperateness and shriek arising from her head husband’s return to portray how the difficult journey has impacted him emotionally. He essentially has to overcome his emotional struggles to make his hero’s journey back to Ithaca.
  • Element 2: Tone
    • “This is outrageous! So it seems the gods have changed their plans about Odysseus while I was absent! He has almost reached Phaeacia, where it is his destiny to flee the rope of pain that binds him now. But I will goad him to more misery, till he is sick of it.” He gathered up the clouds, and seized his trident and stirred round the sea and roused the gusts of every wind, and covered earth and sea with fog. Night stretched from heaven. Eurus, Notus, blasting Zephyr and Boreas, the child of sky, all fell and rolled a mighty wave. Odysseus grew weak at knees. (page 374)
    • The tone of Poseidon from the epic poem conveys the obstacles Odysseus has to encounter in his journey back to Ithaca. Through the violent and assertive quote from Poseidon, the author highlights the power of Poseidon and his potential and determination to challenge Odysseus. Odysseus has to overcome the physical challenges imposed by Poseidon to return home.


  • Element 3: Symbolism
    • Food often appears in the story, serving as a symbol that illuminates on Odysseus’ struggles. The epic poem has many scenes in which food appears as positively and negatively.
    • “The scouts encountered humans, Lotus-Eaters, who did not hurt them. They just shared with them their sweet delicious fruit. But as they ate it, they lost the will to come back and bring news to me. They wanted only to stay there, feeding on lotus with the Lotus-Eaters. They had forgotten home.” (page 477)(Book 9)
    • Having feast on the Cattle of the Sun resulted in death of Odysseus’ crew members. The cyclops, the Laestrygonians, and Scylla ate Odysseus’ crew members. Circe and the Lotus eaters posed some dangers/harms to the crew members. These posed obstacles for Odysseus to return home, and at every incidents, he manages to deal with the problems he encounter.



  • In conclusion, both literary texts illustrate the different struggles faced by protagonists through their respective means. In American Born Chinese, Gene Luen Yang emphasizes on the identity crisis Jin Yang experiences in his teenage life. He encounters many difficulties in disguising his Chinese aspects with American characteristics, but at the end, he transforms and accepts his Chinese identity. In Odyssey, Homer depicts the story of Greek Hero Odysseus’ hardships coming back to home. Odysseus encounters many physical and psychological difficulties, but he finally returns home and completes his hero’s journey.

Rationale for Odyssey Transformation Project


For this transformation project, I was inspired to create travel blog posts. The blog posts are divided chronologically because this structure helps the readers to clearly distinguish the context of each journey according to the number of the book. In the title, I purposefully named the blog post “Ody-Say” to create a rhyme (or a pun) between this phrase and Odyssey and to convey that this blog post is written in the perspective of Odysseus or is based on Odysseus’ experiences. Also, to strengthen Odysseus’ voice, I have written the blog post in first person point of view. As the goal of transformation project is to explore the continued contemporary relevance to The Odyssey, I decided to blend many contemporary elements into the plot of books nine through twelve. This includes airplanes, modern diet, and use of mobile technology. Furthermore, I have included images for each plot that support the plot and help readers to understand the contemporary context mentioned in the writing. For example, on Journey 12, I replaced Odysseus’ method of listening to Sirens to the pedestrian’s method of listening to music to emphasize the connection between The Odyssey and contemporary setting. I have also added hashtags for each blog post that summarizes the context of each journey/book.

Interviews with 99 seniors at the International School of Beijing shockingly reveal that students enjoy the anxiety arising from serious consequences they will face from the next day by procrastinating.  

Student Journalist: Amanda Bian, Siwoong Lee, Jenny Song

BEIJING, CHINA– “I love the feeling of crying myself to sleep,” says Amy Lu, a high school senior watching YouTube on the couch. “Also, being chased after by Ms. McRoberts and her WIP lunch makes me excited about going to school.”  

Image from Elestoque

In recent psychological research conducted by a psychology student at ISB, Stephanie Zhang concluded with the following surprising conclusion: ISB students are masochistsImpenetrable actions are commonly found taken by ISB students to gain them great joy in the depressing IB program. 

The most frequently used torture method was sleep deprivation, which can create short-term euphoria and has a similar effect to that of a drug trip. ISB students, instead of using cocaine or marijuana, decide to use sleep deprivation to achieve that feeling of short-term happiness and hallucination 

It has also been revealed in a study conducted by Harvard University on mice that sleep deprivation can cause the brain to degrade and slowly eat itself. ISB students have been revealed to enjoy memory loss and the feeling of their own brains cannibalizing themselves to stay alive.  

Another commonly used method was digression. YouTube, which has been their best friend since they were young, has decided to turn against them and turn pleasure into pain. This pain, however, is not one that causes suffering and despair in a negative way, but rather a sort of high that students indulge in 

“I have no idea how seniors are managing their work by digressing during CORE classes,” says Ms. McRoberts, IB coordinator of ISB. “I had initially thought that the despair from IB would get these kids to work hard, but now they all smile at me with tears in their eyes as I pass in the halls!” 

School does not give us enough time to enjoy harming myself,” says Jay Cho, a senior at ISB. He added that “the wellness weekends and long weekends have prevented him from watching the sunrise and that now he can no longer get the euphoria that comes with sleep deprivation.” 

“Seniors are the role model that we all look after,” from a junior at ISB, “I hope I can be like them and enjoy my life next year.” 

My Selection of Articles from The School of Life

How to Go to Bed Earlier

As an IB DP student, I am facing serious sleep deprivation. So I chose this article hoping to find some solutions to sleep earlier.  After all, I would have to be more productive and find the night to be less glamorous.

Reasons to Remain Single

Ever since, after the long period of missing school, I noticed the couple population has increased exponentially in high school ISB. I recommend this article to every high school student as the article rebukes the fantasies and myths about romance and persuade readers to stay single.

(Note: I am not trying to justify my status as single)

How We Choose a Partner

A very attractive title with good advice. Instinct is an okay-way of finding our partners, but we shouldn’t overly rely on it.

Food as Therapy

I often associate the act of eating with physical behavior, but this article provides an insight into how eating is related to psychological aspects as well.

Winners and Losers in the Race of Life

As a senior, I often spot many competitions arising between my classmates, and often times, winners and losers are classified by our grades. This article counters our belief of a clear distinction between winners and losers, instead stating that there is no such thing as winners and losers as life is a continuous race.

The Terror of a ‘No’

I often find myself refraining from asking certain task to my peers because I am afraid of the response “no”. The rejection simply embarrasses me. Turns out, people are saying “no” to us because what I have asked does not fit with their plans, not because to embarrass us.

FOMO: Fear Of Missing Out

After pandemic, I often feel like missing out on many exciting events happening within my friend group, and I don’t want to miss out on all the fun. But always hanging out with my friends might not be the best solution for me, as dull events are prevalent in our lives, and even trivial things can be more valuable.

The Problem of Shame

Sometimes, the feeling of shame strikes me hard when I make mistakes. This article helps me to understand why we are ashamed, and some more practical ways to overcome shame other than brainwashing ourselves that we are special and beautiful.


Odysseus’ Travel Diary: Ody-Says…Journey 12

Check out my past journeys here!

Journey 12

Before my departure, my host Circe has given me some safety precautions on road.

Her first advice was that I shouldn’t listen to Sirens’ newly released songs with my headphones on while walking down the street. Her explanation was that the harmony between their singing voice and the ensemble of instrument is addictive that you can’t sense a car that is heading towards you.

Her second advice was that I should be aware of the reckless drivers. The drivers around her place are very violent, and many innocent pedestrians are injured by the reckless drivering. Indeed, upon my journey back the airport, I witnessed 6 dead pedestrians. What a cruel world.

So, did I make it to the airport? Nope. The mother nature is disrupting my road to home, and here I am, at Calypso’s place.

Odysseus’ Travel Diary: Ody-Says…Journey 11

Check out my past journeys here!

Journey 11

A few days ago, my host, Circe, recommended me to go visit a tarot card reader. The fortune-telling did not go well though.  Tiresias foretold that my journey back home will be full of obstacles.

But don’t take this seriously. This is all for fun!… You know what I mean?

But I genuinely hope my flight won’t get canceled again.

Odysseus’ Travel Diary: Ody-Says…Journey 10

Check out my past journeys here!

Journey 10

Searching for local hospitality might be a great option, both socially and economically,

but please, please, please check for the rating on whatever platform you are using. Sometimes the hosts are very aggressive and unwelcoming that you don’t even get proper treatment. Yes, indeed, this is a tip from my private experience with my host Circe.

Odysseus’ Travel Diary: Ody-Says…Journey 9

Check out my past journeys here!

Journey 9

Unfortunately, the turbulence has disrupted my flight back to Ithaca :(. But sidetracking doesn’t mean anything but an excellent opportunity to explore the local, again!

Never go for McDonald’s or Burger King. Local foods are always the right choice for hungry travelers! Local cuisines are like the lotus in the Lotus Eaters: easily accessible, cheap, and most importantly, addictive. I found this amazing restaurant around the corner that serves local foods and their flavor is amazing. I wish I could settle in here.

Went to the beaches before going back to the airport. Loved the beaches, except for the fact that the sand is covered with trash… To all travelers, make sure to pick up your garbage, and never leave a trace of yourself behind.  Otherwise, the mother nature’s gonna revenge on you!

This reminds me of something. I shouldn’t have shouted my name out to Polyphemus. Why did I waste my perfect chance for a safe journey back to Ithaca? Stupid Odyssey.

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