Tuesday, November 14, 2017

The Joy and Luck of Having Functional Culture Identities

     As of the 10th week of the school year, I admit that I am struggling to continue to continue making consistent progress in reading the books required for this half of the 1st 18 weeks. Despite being able to continue to have been able to read a total of over 200 pages from the last time I reported my reading rate to Mrs. Rooks and reading outside of class every few days, I feel as if I am faltering due to my increasing reluctance to read the required materials (including the history-related nonfiction and an AP recommended classic) needed of me for later activities in class. The pressure to finish the two specific books required of me in place of fictional books I enjoy has made me weary to try and read more in my downtime, unfortunately. Nonetheless, I look forward to actively confronting these challenges in the future to better prepare myself for college in the future. I am determined to continue to challenge myself and will try harder to read more of my American Classic, His Excellency to ensure that I will be prepared for the book project that AP Humanity has planned later in the school year, as I have already read at least 80 minutes out of class, so I look forward to reading more out of class as the 2nd half of this semester continues. I've managed to finish one of the books that were required of me as AP-Recommended Classic, named The JoyLuck Club (with quite an ironic name considering that I feel like I can leap for joy after luckily finishing it). Because of this recent development, I feel rather enthusiastic about my ability to achieve my reading goals. I know have noted that even if AP recommended fictional literature did not feel too appealing to explore beforehand, the genre is actually quite more interesting and diverse than I thought beforehand, so I look forward to doing the best I can to read more later on in the future if I find time to.

     Right now, I have managed to finish The JoyLuck Club,  a book that, instead of focuses on one singular protagonist, explores eight protagonists on a journey of love, self-discovery, and growth. All eight characters,(Suyuan Woo, Jing-mei Woo, Lindo Jong, Waverly Jong, An-mei Hsu, Ying-ying St. Clair, and Lena St. Clair) focus on the deep and complicated nature of family relationships and history of four immigrated Chinese-American women and their daughters, tackling the difficulties of establishing healthy communication, differing cultural values, and hardships of trying meeting dreams and expectations between two very different generations. This book was extremely interesting to me, as it really feels like the characters, through their unusually difficult pasts and challenges did mirror actual adversities most Chinese/Chinese-Americans experience in a generalized sense, and an Asian American myself, I personally was intrigued by how realistic, dark, and the complicated pasts of a majority of the older mother characters were, as they seem to be heavily inspired by the harsh reality concerning the mindsets and cultural values of modern China. This book, though sometimes hard to follow through its constantly changing narratives each chapter, provides an in-depth study of the valiant strength and character found between friends and families during times of need and growth, which has enabled me to have a broader understanding of the importance of human relationships and cultural identities substantially.

     Through the entirety of the novel, all the daughters (Jing-mei, Rose Hsu Jordan, Waverly Jong, and Lena St. Clair) of the novel struggle to embrace the cultural and social values of being Chinese. Being born in America has alienated them from the traditions and aspects of being Chinese, and this, in the eyes of their mothers, has contributed prominent ignorance of their true cultural identity. When Jing-Mei Woo shockingly proclaims that even aftr her mother has died, that she does not even know her mother that well after being offered a trip to see her long-lost half sisters (conceding that she will be unable to describe nor talk about her to them accurately nor honorably) by her mother’s friends, the friends start to mildly panic about her ignorance, as Jing-Mei observes that “In me, they see their own daughters, just as ignorant (of their culture), just as unmindful of the truth and hopes they have brought to America. They see daughters who grow impatient when their mothers who speak in Chinese who think they are stupid when they explain things in fractured English...They see daughters who will bear grandchildren born without any connecting hope passed from generation to generation”(40-41). This establishes that there is a growing reluctance of the younger generation to pass on their pre-established culture. As the older generation notices, they feel helpless as they feel unable to communicate the value of their generation’s previous hopes, lessons, and values. Unfortunately, this encourages for the older generation to further cling unto their stringent memories of China stubbornly as they are convinced that the younger generation is too flighty and difficult to cooperate with to understand, discouraging them to try to empathize with their younger kin’s perspective. This is strongly noted in the passage in the middle of the book, when the older mother, Lindo Jong, proclaims after learning of her daughter’s failing marriage,”I was raised the Chinese way; I was taught to desire nothing, to swallow other people’s misery, to eat my own bitterness. And even though I taught my daughter the opposite, she still came out the same way!...All of us (female Chinese family members) are like stairs, one step after another, going up and down, but all going the same way”(215).Through this perspective, she further reinforces a greater rift of understanding the developing social identities of not only her children, but of all the American-Chinese youths she sees as determined to meet the same fate as their parents, enforcing a more strict and inflexible view of Chinese culture with herself and her friends. As a result of having such a rigid mindset, she indirectly refuels resentment by the younger generation,  perceiving that they had to continually to be forcibly identified and/or be scrutinized with the Chinese cultural aspects they had not wholly embraced nor associated with, resulting in the daughters of the Joyluck Club to start to either deny, ignore, or distance their relations to their ethnic, cultural, and familial roots of being Chinese, continuing the cycle of miscommunication between the two distinctive generations of Chinese-Americans.

While America, a melting pot of different races and cultures, sees its diversity as an advantageous strength in the creation of a collective cultural identity, it is evidently clear that the very diversity of various people with the subsequent unification of such diverse people under a singular culture has the capability to engender different and more complicated issues, such as of massive ethnical identity crisises. How should one’s American born children culturally identify themselves? Should first-generation Americans fully embrace the cultural and social values of their previous homeland's? Or should first-generation Americans just associate with America's culture exclusively? These questions are but a few of the many self-identity issues that are prevalent through the complicated (and often uncomfortable) nature of intergenerational cross-cultural dissonance, a term (according to this website) used to describe “an uncomfortable sense of discord, disharmony, confusion or conflict experienced by people in their cultural environment...” (and in this case,) spanning across multiple generations. Because the adolescence period of a person’s life is considered a person’s most socially influential period of their life, having a strong dissonance from having a clear cultural identity can contribute to behavioral problems in youths, as young people who have immigrated to America (and possibly even first generation Americans) are more likely to divulge in risky activities such as “substance abuse, unprotected sex, and delinquency…” as a result of their cultural dissonance, further exacerbating the sense of alienation in a growing children, discouraging communication with a child and its parents, and contributing to difficult familial relationships . As the parents struggle to adjust to differing cultural, social, and ideological ideals with their children, they ultimately continue to harbor conflicting interests of social values (such as respect, obedience to traditional ideas) that contributes to a dissociation that empathizes a growing rift of mutual understanding between the two distinctive generations.

This video further elaborates how the dysfunctional cultural acculturation between generations can foster uncomfortable distance between familial relations. Deciding to either accept the responsibility of being loyal to their traditional cultures or ultimately disregarding aspects of the idealistic cultural values placed upon them to maintain an autonomous sense of "American-ized" identity, even to this day, still produces vivid personal ramifications to the intermediate interpersonal communities around themselves.Societal values, cultural dissonance, and a lack of proper individual autonomy in the face of an alternating personal cultural identity can all ultimately contribute to challenging emotional developments for both parents and children during times of cultural identities

Carola and Marcelo Suárez-Orozco. “Children of Immigration” Harvard Educational Review, 2001
     http://hepg.org/her-home/issues/harvard-educational-review-volume-71-issue-                                       3/herbooknote/children-of-immigration_112 . Accessed 13 November 2017.

“Intergenerational Cultural Dissonance” Youtube uploaded by Judy Lee 8 May. 2017
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fgN2WrLOgmY Accessed 13 November 2017

Montazer, Zahra. “Immigrant Youth: Strategies to Manage Cultural Dissonance.”                                       Dissertation Abstracts International, pp. 107 PediaPress Accessed 13 November 2017

Schell, Orville. “Your Mother Is in Your Bones” New York Times, 19 March. 1989,
       http://www.nytimes.com/books/01/02/18/specials/tan-joy.html  Accessed 13 November 2017

Friday, September 29, 2017

An Apple Never Falls Far From The Tree, But It Can Be Taken

    In these past 6 weeks has allowed me to make decent progress in finishing a few books, despite of my difficulty in finishing others. I’m not a huge consumer of fictional books, but this semester I am actively challenging myself to get used to young adult fiction more ardently than previously. Thus, I currently have managed to finish two fictional books, Welcome to Night Vale, Fan art, and am currently close to finishing Treasure at The Heart of The Tanglewood. Because of my progress so far, I am excited to be close to achieving my initial goal of reading four books this 18 weeks, yet despite this development, however, I feel rather disappointed concerning how little progress I’ve managed to read so far. I’ve only read at least 257 pages, a third the rate I had previously read when reporting my reading progress in Mrs. Rooks’ reading assessment total of 755 pages. This is, unfortunately, most likely due to my insistence of spreading my reading across multiple different disinteresting books that I will likely be dropping later, so I find it reasonable to try to focus more one singular interesting book in the future to ensure that I have a higher reading rate and finish the third book faster.

    Recently, I have finished the book Welcome To Night Vale. In this book, Diane Crayton, a Night Vale PTA treasurer, and mother of Josh Crayton, faces multiple different adversities in protecting her child. From trying to protect Josh from learning of his father’s identity, to eventually pursuing Josh when he goes missing later on in the novel. This really surprised me, as I found it rather rare to find a book focused on placing a mother, or an older woman focused on finding her child to be one of the main protagonists in a young adult book. Because of the strong empathize of a strong parent and child bond, I felt very attached to this book because it important for young readers to be exposed to literature that stresses the importance familial love.

    Around the middle section of the book, Diane tries endlessly to find a way to leave Night Vale in order to find Josh. Clues she has gathered suggests that Josh has ran to King City, a mysterious small city in central California, in order to find out his father’s identity. Emotionally, Diane is extremely desperate to find him, and writers Fink and Cranor clearly states how devastated Diane is when they describing that after she finds out he has ran away, “Diane grabbed her phone and tried calling him one more time. She could it burning her hair. She let it ring and ring, until the pain was searing, until her hair caught on fire, until she could not physically hold the phone to her head a moment longer, and then let it ring a moment past that” (281). Because in this town, a phone burning and harming the user indicated that the person who is receiving the call does not exist (and/or killed) or is an unknown location outside of the town. What I think this quote indicates, is that Diane is more than willing to be harmed herself in order to attempt a chance of contacting her child, even when it is hinted strongly that her child is dead or lost somewhere else, showing her intense commitment as a loving parent to make sure that her child is safe. Later, after befriending a young woman named Jackie Fierro after teaming together to find information of King City in the deadly Night Vale library, she even tries to beg Jackie, who is physically recovering from a car crash accident, to come with her in an attempt to find a way to leave Night Vale in order to find Josh. Despite Jackie’s hesitance to help Diane, Diane still is determined to try and convince Jackie to help her find her child, she was able to make Jackie feel empathetic towards her suffering when Jackie contemplated that “(She)...considered  this woman, the mother of what one day be her brother (Josh). She thought of what…Lucinda said about being a mother, slowly losing a child”(311). Later on, Jacke is thoroughly determined to help Diane as a result. What this quote reveals is that Diane is able to move other people emotionally by making them understand how difficult it is to lose a family member, as the failure of the town, police, and people around her has placed her in a position of helplessness. Her personal ambition, however, to face her adversities is what makes her respected and understandable to those around her.

    Unfortunately, the failure of the police, county or town, or community can result in such a perilous position of helplessness when one loses a member of their family. Usually, when the typical American learns that a random person is missing on advertisements in magazines or newspapers, it is rather uncommon to find someone extremely emotionally invested nor motivated to carefully look for the entirety of missing peoples outside of the family of those people, or the people who are tasked with finding them. The apathy displayed as such a tragedy, such as when people thoughtlessly ignore an Amber Alert that is sent out to alert people to find a potential kidnapper’s car is extremely problematic, and helps contributes to a mindset that people who are missing are not ‘important enough’ to care, enabling a very fragmented, less organized investigation system created to address the missing people issue.

     This video suggests that currently, there is a very disjointed, unorganized system that addresses the search of missing peoples. Not only this, but as of the status quo, there is no national requirement or any law that specifically target medical examiner's offices, law enforcement, organizations, or any other institutions that will require them to report unidentified bodies or remains to a data base for missing people. This lack of federal legislative prevents any true progress towards identifying people who are missing, further exacerbating the missing peoples issue. This is extremely unfair to any family of a missing person, as  stated in the video, they do not have any formal way to achieve closure for the current state of a loved one. In the future, America should strive to achieve a centralized system of information that requires different organizations and agencies to provide information to them. Hopefully then, the apples that fall far from the trees can be returned again.

Cranor, Jefferey and Joseph Fink
Welcome to Night Vale. Harper Perennial. 2015

"The Missing and the Dead: Inside America’s Coldest Cases." Youtube uploaded by      Reveal 16  October 2015, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nwGigsxGdG4

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Kafka on the Shore's Message About Learning Through Hard Times

As we humans continue to venture through life, we discover new things, set ourselves up to achieve new goals, and discovering our capabilities, learn new and important lessons in our lives. Unfortunately, a majority of the most important lessons of life are hard learned, learned from negative experiences relative to our own self-responsibilities and mistakes. This is something that I discovered both while trying to achieve my reading goal, and something I discovered and related to while reading my current AP title book, Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami .

Currently, my schedule and general activity of the moment has delayed my motivation/time to continue to fulfil my current reading goals, which was 5 books for the end of the semester and exploring more outlandish genres, but was I, unfortunately, confronted a lot more issues for accomplishing the reading goals I desired to achieve as the semester progressed. There were days I couldn’t read the 20 pages I set for myself because of tedious study sessions, other days I would suffer sleep exhaustion, and other days reason beyond my circumstances interfered, and I realized I didn’t know what I was doing or focusing on at times while I was reading.

This did not, however, managed to mar my ability finish reading at least 3 books (The Hindi-Bindi Club by Monica Pradhan, Attack on Titan: Lost Girls by Hajime Isayama , and Mother Theresa by Navin Chawla ) so far, and currently almost finishing 2 more books (Living with Someone Who’s Living with Bipolar Disorder by Chelsea Lowe and Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami) before the end of the semester.

While reading Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami, I realized that the majority of the negative issues that I experienced were also very similar to the ones that the story recognized and explored. One of the most important issues that I was intrigued by was how the main character experienced an overwhelming sense of self-reliance and responsibility that decided on his survival. One line that highly interested me and expanded my understanding about how of life was this line: “Nobody can help you. That’s what love’s all about… You’re the one having these wonderful feelings, but you have to go it alone as you wander through the dark. Your mind and body have to bear it all. All by yourself.” (108)

Not only did this line highly related to me and my predicament regarding my self-discipline to achieve my reading goals, but it also served to me a general reminder that every single individual is completely responsible for his/her self, and that most of the time people (including me) cannot always rely on other people to help us if we are not willing to help ourselves by facing our own challenges head on. Negative times in our lives do not necessarily correspond with negative outcomes on one's life, it can merely invite one to seek out strength in one's self more tenaciously than previously before,

 Overall, the message of Kafka on the Shore conveyed further enriched my understanding of the importance of our negative aspects of our lives (such as being alone in times of peril) actually being capable of serving greater purposes to us in the long run; that we are destined to face our own issues.


Sunday, April 23, 2017

How The Hindi Bindi Club Relates to Me

Growing up as a first-generation American is challenging. With two different cultures, two different ways of thinking, and two different lifestyles, there is no navigation for what to follow or who to listen to. From a third world country to a first world country, learning to adjust to differing gender roles, family roles, and traditions can be extremely challenging to face and accept as differing opinions of future generations emerge.

Unfortunately, this is a dilemma that my family and I have experienced after my parents and grandparents moved from Cambodia to the United States. Many immigrants that have migrated to the United States must learn to confront widely challenging cultural values that United States encourages them to adopt in favor of their traditional ones, and differing family values is one of them,

The Hindi-Bindi Club by Monica Pradhan has a strong understanding of the cultural dissonance experienced when generations of different values and lifestyles confront one another. One line that highly resonated with the conservatism I observed in the older generation of my family was this line: “No respect for family. You live in a disposable society. Bored with your clothes? Throw them out, get new ones. Your electronics and other luxury goods become outdated? Throw them out, get new ones. Dissatisfied with your marriage? Throw it out, get a new one. It’s all the same to you isn’t it? You have so much, yet you’re never satisfied. You obsess with what you don’t have. You want it all. You believe it’s your right. You think only of your own happiness, and nothing of duty.” (106) 

This line is special to me because I think it ecasulates the contrasting opinons of the true value of commitment and indpendance that most non-native populations (including me)  face. Older generations will always hold younger generations as reckless and ungrateful for their oppurtunities, as well as irresponsible for not providing full fledged commitment to their duties. However, younger generations will always value self importance and independence over traditional values, and this creates dissonance between the two.

Over all, I was able to realize how prevalent this cultural issue was in other people's lives, making The Hindi Bindi Club by Monica Phadhan a very relatable book for me and my experience as a first generation American.

Friday, April 7, 2017

My goals, ambitions, and desired achievements

Salutations! My name is Sophie Sun, and I am a student of Ms.Mayo's English 2 Pre-Ap class at Hebron High School. Ever since I was little, I loved to read a lot, as I enjoyed learning new information about the world, as well as being immersed in fictional ones. The things that I enjoyed the most as a child was learning about Ancient Egypt, rocks and minerals, or even things such as anatomy and physiology to sate my immense curiosity of world. Unfortunately I declined in reading for pleasure as I grew older as a result of trying out new interests and hobbies and losing interest.

Now that I am determined to take back my love for reading for the sake of survival in high school (and college), I decided that I will have to set goals for myself in order to solidify my path to being a bibliophile. Every single day I will require myself to read at least 20 pages of a book each day, as well as at least reading 5 books this semester. I also want to try to experiment with more genres that I would not have actually considered, such as reading more adult fiction or even philosophy books. Who knows? Perhaps I will find new subject that will interest me.

I should also continue to look at classic authors and writers that I haven't managed to catch up on, such as continuing to explore the various the works of H.P Lovecraft's and Franz Kafka's short stories (such as The Trial by: Franz Kafka, or The Call of Cthulhu by: H.P Lovecraft), as well as trying to find various books that will suite my taste of racial, cultural, and social diversity (which Akata Witch by: Nnedi Okorafor and The Hindi-Bindi Club by:Monica Pradhan has managed to excite my taste again.) Finally, I will try to read more biographies of influential people in history, simply because I have lot of those books at home, as well as sharing a veracious appetite for learning about history and the people that it involves, including reading Hun Sen: Strongman of Cambodia by:Harish C. Mehta, Julie B. Mehta, Mother Theresa by: Navin Chawla, and many more to improve my understanding of history.