Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Anthony Mahfood

March 29, 2011

Understanding Literature

Dr Juniper Ellis


This Monday I went back to Higher Achievement. I spent the first hour helping the children with their homework. This week not many children came but the ones that did were quiet and knew what they needed help with. I felt proud of them because they seemed to be on top of their work. That hour went by pretty fast and I thankfully I was able to help everyone who needed help. The next two hours I spent mentoring students Devon and Kyle because for some reason Evan and TJ were absent. I planned a math session for my students and going through I found that it was too easy for them so I had to think quickly and made up problems on the spot for them. They were having fun learning new things. Towards the end I made three easy problem five medium problems and two hard problem and made them race to see who won. The winner got two lollipops and the second place got one. I bought these lollipops for them because I though some form of encouragement would be good. They really appreciated them and thanked me several times. I am glad that I have the opportunity to get to know the students and help them do well in school.

The story “Serving up Hope” by Stephanie Shapiro from the Baltimore Sun is about overcoming bad habits that you have had for a long time. In the story the couple try to help people from taking drugs. They essentially provide jobs for people, a place for people to eat and hang out to get away from the drugs. I believe that Higher Achievement after school program that I mentor at is similar because it provides a place for the children to go and be supervised instead of going out on the streets and causing problems.

In the story “A Father” by Bharati Mukherjee, the native Indian father regrets moving to America because it goes against what he sees as an ideal life. He believes that he has raised a good daughter but she is too Americanized. When he notices how much his wife and daughter are fighting he suspects something is wrong and he is right. He soon learns that his daughter is pregnant and she received donor sperm to get pregnant, his reaction is shocking as he beat the daughter so the baby would die. This story is very sad and scary to think that this kind of thing happens everyday around the world.

In the poem “Directions for Resisting the SAT” written by Richard Hague is very inspirational even though I have taken the SAT and never need to take them again I could relate to the hours I spent studying and all the Saturday mornings I wasted studying for the SAT. The last line “make your marks on everything” sums up what I have learnt so far in college and is something the SAT doesn’t teach you. The last reading is a poem written by Gary Gildner named “First Practice” is about a mentor pushing an athlete to become the best they can be. I related it to me pushing students to be the best they can be but I use encou556ragement as my form of push.

I found the reading very interesting especially “ A Father” because it really open my eyes and reminded me the things that are going on in this world.

The readings this week showed how important it is to not look at things in one way. We need to keep an open mind and do everything in our power to make the best of all situations. Taking the time to look at thinks in a different light can be a great help when we are placed in difficult situations.

“A Father,” by Bharati Mukherjee was one of the more morbid stories that we have read this semester. This story shows how a man broke to the pressures of life. There are many people who at times feel that they are overwhelmed, but we need to strive to find good in things, and make the best of our situation. Granted, his life was extremely difficult, but there is no excuse for killing your grandchild.

“Serving Up” Hope is a great example of how you can overcome the hardships of life by looking at your situation differently. Many drug addicts relapse after coming clean, but in this true story Jennifer and Tyrone showed us the strength of human will and overcame their problems. These inspiration stories are both inspiring and revealing. They show us what we are capable on both sides of the spectrum. We can show great willpower to restore out lives to order, but we are also capable of substance abuse. Physical addictions do not only hurt the addict, it destroys the whole family. It is important to remember how important every decision we make truly is.

“Directions for Resisting the SAT” is a poem about trying to be yourself in a world where personality is being quickly drowned out. Applying to college, I was just a number. As much as the colleges tried to say that there were many other important factors, students knew that we were just a GPA and SAT score on paper. Three years from now we will just be a resume to some employer, and again we will just be a sheet of paper. These ideas are captured in this poem. Richard Hague warns us not to conform and get stuck in this system. He is clinging to the idea that our individuality can still shine through under such harsh circumstances.

Rugby games are war. I know from experience. I played rugby and high school and it was the greatest rush I’ve ever experienced in my life. I could not agree more with Gary Gilder’s poem, “First Practice.” I remember doing pushups in the snow wearing just a t-shirt and shorts. Our coach was screaming, “Cold never killed anyone!” I knew that statement was not very accurate, but I was in no position to argue. Gary Gilder has it right. Sports are war. The better-prepared team often wins, and you need to look at every game like a battle. If you don’t want to kill the other team each time you suit up then you will find yourself taking a beating.

“Young Frankenstein” has always been one of my favorite movies, so when I saw that I would receive event credit for going to see it I was thrilled. After reading Frankenstein, I could look at “Young Frankenstein” much differently. I enjoyed it much more seeing it this time. However, the “Puttin’ on the Ritz” scene is still my favorite.

All of these stories show how it is important to keep an open mind. Whether you are on a field or recovering from a very tough situation, you need to keep your bearings and keep moving forward. The human mind can find a way to overcome all situations. We should never give up hope.

Blog #7

As my weeks come to an end at Cristo Rey, I see the children in a different light than I have before. Each time I visit the school and help the children with the knowledge that I have acquired over my years of privileged learning, I begin to see how different they are form me. Even though I also attended a Jesuit high school, my high school was filled with wealthy, fortunate, caucasian men who had the world in the palm of their hand. My school was smart and athletic. We were known as one of the most competitive high schools in the state. Cristo Rey is not like this. Cristo Rey is filled with children who are trying to escape. They have come from bad backgrounds and have been overlooked their entire lives. Like the many themes of this week’s readings, I see that sometimes your past can haunt you. However, it does not have to determine the overall outcome of what comes next.

In the Stephanie Shapiro’s article Serving Up Hope, she describes a small café that takes in people who have a bad past in order to correct their lives for the better. The Sampson family owns this restaurant and teaches past drug users and criminals how to cook. This gives them a fresh start in life and allows them to not worry about their past anymore. In just two years they can become a certified cook and are allowed to get a real job. The family uses the café as a way to make the world a better place. They turn criminals into cooks and allow them to live the remainder of their lives normally. The skills that they are taught in the kitchen are used to keep them out of trouble and focus the remainder of their lives doing something that can transition their lives from their bad past to a hopeful future. Much of the time, criminals have a hard time transitioning from prison back to real life, which usually influences them to revisit drug use. This café allows the transition to be smooth and helpful. The Sampson’s are truly doing the work of God.

In Gary Gildener’s poem First Practice, the coach is explaining to the team that the past does not determine the future. The coach checks on the team to make sure they were not “ruptured,” or have been broken from whatever came before. This poem is an inspiration to all who have overcome adversity in their lives. The team sees the men they will be winning the “title” with and this excites them to do what is necessary to win it all. The coach explains that winning is the only option, and you must treat your opponents like the person you hate most. I can relate to this feeling of hatred for someone you don’t know. In swimming, you are almost always racing against someone you do not know, and most times they are in the lane next to you. I would always treat them as if they were someone who had bullied me or hurt me in the past. I know this feeling of hatred and what it means to have winning as your only option.

In Richard Hague’s poem Directions for Resisting the SAT, he explains how the scores on some placement exam do not determine the outcome of your life. It is irrelevant in the grand scheme of life; the test doesn’t matter. He says in his poem, “Listen to no one. / Make your marks on everything.” This line is indicative of the entire poem. What he is saying is don’t let these scores haunt you; don’t listen to them and the marks that are left on the paper. Make your mark on the world by doing something worthwhile and prove that the SAT stands for just about nothing. He states the people should “Desire to live whole,” which is true and the only way people can accomplish this is to not let the scores of the SAT dictate the rest of their life. I wish someone had told me this when I was in high school. My teachers seemed to always place so much weight on the SAT that all my friends became obsessed with their scores. It was one big contest that I could never win.

“A Father” by Bharati Mukherjee, shows how difficult it is for people, especially foreigners, to rid themselves of their past when entering a new environment. It is hard for one to change their future alone. This is a story that proves that when your past dictates who other people see you as, it is hard to change your life. Without any help from the government or his family, Mr. Bhowmick struggled to obtain residency in America. This process was hard on his family who suffered greatly. The wife was always fighting and his daughter disgraced her family by impregnating herself through a sperm bank. The American life they wanted to live placed too much stress on his family and even his god Kali couldn’t help. Under this pressure, Mr. Bhowmick finally snapped one day, beating his daughter’s stomach in order to kill the baby she held inside her womb. This story proves how difficult it is to change your past if you don’t have any help form others.

The children of Cristo Rey Jesuit High School are not in any situation like Mr. Bhowmick. In other words, they have people helping them in their transition. Their teachers are always there for them and they have volunteers like myself who are more than willing to lend a hand. They will make it somewhere in their life because they have support. Mr. Bhowmick did not have this and that is why they snapped. The team that Gary Gildener’s poem First Practice talks about has support from the inspiring coach and their fellow teammates. The criminals and drug users of the Dogwood Deli have the support of the Sampson family. These children will escape their past and “Make their marks on everything” just like Richard Hague’s poem Directions for Resisting the SAT instructs. The people who are behind these students, including myself, care too much about them to see them fail and have dreams crushed. The will escape and succeed in whatever they wish to do with their life.

Success and the Struggles of Achievement

I believe that Bharati Muherjee’s, “A Father,” Stephanie Shapiro, “Serving up Hope,” Richard Hague’s, “Direction for Resisting the SAT” and Gary Gildner’s, “First Practice” all demonstrate the need for success, the means to accomplish it, and the inevitable factors that limit what one wants. All four of these writings exemplify the large amount of opportunities to better oneself, regardless of what one has experienced or others’ opinions. The main theme in these writings is the fact that only an individual can make his or her own decisions despite what others might wish.

In Bharati Mukherjee’s, “A Father,” Mr. Bhowmick’s life is devoted to his Hindu beliefs. He feels that it is because of these beliefs and long periods of prayer that he is able to be as successful as he is. Taking this highly exaggerated approach towards life, Mr. Bhowmick is constantly interrupted by minor things such as a sneeze in the driveway and his pre-breakfast prayer. Deeply devoted to prayer throughout his day, Mr. Bhowmick tries to impact not only his life but the lives of his family through prayer, which is never fulfilled. No matter how hard he prayed he could not change his wife’s decision to come to America and his daughter’s decision to go through vitro-fertilization. As a result, Mr. Bhowmick realizes that he cannot control every aspect of his family’s life. This realization is represented throughout the story by the demon’s tongue, which haunts him in his sleep and proves to be an everlasting reminder that in life not everything will go as planned.

The article in the Baltimore Sun entitled, “Serving Up Hope” demonstrates that even individuals who have been imprisoned and punished by the judicial system have an opportunity to regain stability in their lives. Breaking away from the traditional hiring process, Galen Sampson provides an opportunity for those past criminals who love the culinary industry. Giving individuals a second chance towards making a comfortable living shows that despite their wrongs in the past, those individuals who work for Chef Galen Sampson wish to make decisions that will positively impact their lives. Rather than hoping for something to happen these individuals have taken action and have broken away from traditional conceptions. This article reminded me on the poem, “One’s Self I Sing,” by Walt Whitman being that it preaches the message that each individual is equal to another and has the same opportunities to achieve a “life immense in passion, pulse, and power.”

“Directions for Resisting the SAT,” by Richard Hague demonstrates breaking away from traditionalism. Speaking about one of the most feared occurrences in a college bound individual’s life; Richard gives the best instructions for doing terrible on the SAT. In doing this he stresses the large amount of information that an individual learns and can rely on throughout his or her life. Richard uses this poem to show a more comical approach to the SATs. Rather that stressing about what you do not know, it is important to take into consideration you extensive knowledge to date. Hague gives the impression that like the SAT’s life is also a process that you must apply what you have learned towards. Just like in the SAT’s as well as life; the more you learn the better you will perform. I found this poem relevant to Emily Dickinson’s, “Tell all the Truth but tell it slant” because of its active portrayal of changing how things seem in order to portray them as the insignificant aspects of life that it is. Being that the SATs are just a step in an individual’s life and doesn’t fully decide where one goes to college, Hague’s tone shows that in the long run there are more important things in life than the SATs.

In Gary Gildner, “First Practice” a number of grade school students were paired off and forced to face off against one another. This demonstration of “dog eat dog” represents the will of people to get what they want in life. It is inferred that everyone does their best to accomplish what they wish, but what Gildner portrays is that for every time you try and achieve something there is always another that will exceed you. This mentality may be unfair and unjust but it is an inevitable factor in life. By portraying young children to square off against each other shows that even from a young age you must do you utmost in order to excel. Reading this poem I believed that the individuals lined up against each other were playing some sort of extra-curricular activity and when the speaker stated, “But I don’t want to see any marks when you’re dressed” implied that the speaker didn’t want to witness any cheating. In stating this comment I believe the speaker was trying to portray the fact that in order to succeed you have to try your best but at the same time remain obedient and faithful. I found this poem relevant to the poem “Success is Counted Sweetest” because it depicts the satisfaction of accomplishment which is exactly what Clifford Hill has in mind for his players. The overall tone expressing exclamation also is similar to the very harsh tone of Clifford Hill as he speaks with his students on his opinion on the game as well as life in general.

These writings are in a direct correlation to my experience last Tuesday when I went duck pin bowling with by suitemate Brian. In an effort to knock down the most pins with a relatively small ball, I couldn’t help but to try every method possible. I tried back spinning the ball, aiming for the corners rather than the middle of the pact of pins but still no matter how hard I tried, defeating my suite mate was impossible. With this realization I found that duckpin bowling was similar to life, no matter how hard you try to hurl the shot-put sized ball at the group of rather short pins you will never get the same results as your competitor. Bowling a 120 I hope that Duckpin bowling only provides to be an example and not a direct correlation towards success.

Literature in Comparison

Richard Hauge’s “Directions for Resisting the SAT” and Gary Gildner’s “First Practice” continue the theme of Make it New, such that they do not follow the conventional way of writing poetry. In my opinion, Hauge and Gildner practice Make it New not so much in the style in which the poems are written but more in the topics in which they choose. Similar to E. E. Cummings’ poem, “l(a”, Hauge, too, expresses his personal interaction with a common subject. To many college students, they are to take the SAT, not to resist as described by Hauge. He urges students to follow their hearts not directions or established rules. Individuality as symbolized by the oyster and the snail should trump all rules. The poem also follows no particular rhyme which amplifies the point of the poem. I see a parallel between Ezra Pound’s “In a Station of the Metro” and Gary Gildner’s “First Practice”. Both poems succeed in connecting two seemingly unrelated subjects. At first glance, “First Practice” seems to be about soldiers going to war than students practicing football. However, looking closely, football is a violent sport; perhaps the closest out of all sports to the ancient practice of gladiators. The poem also possesses militaristic language, such as “ruptured”, “attack” and “killed” to highlight the tension experienced by the footballers.
On a different note, I conjured more emotions when reading Bharati Mukherjee’s A Father, and Stephanie Shapiro’s Serving up Hope. The first short story is extremely similar to one of my favorite books, Unaccustomed Earth by Jhumpa Lahiri. Both authors are of Indian descend and inspect the intricate relationship between immigrant parents and their American grown children. Yet what are more interesting are their different responses to living in America. They are emotional and at times, if not often painful. Although A Father is a short story, the author cleverly and successfully captures all these emotions. Where as A Father is about individual responses to familial matters, Serving up Hope is about a chef’s calling to serve the society. From a five start restaurant chef to a local deli owner, Galen Sampson decides to use his culinary knowledge to help those in need. These are not people who are in need of nutritious food, but people who need human interactions and guidance on the soul. Galen Sampson along with his wife Bridget Sampson, offer such opportunity to those who are in need. This accomplishment proves that anyone can contribute to the society, that anyone is capable of changing other’s lives and the world.

Event Blog 3/29/11

On March 15th I went to the Maud Casey reading in the 4th floor programming room. Maud Casey is a professor at the University of Maryland and has written the novels Genealogy and The shape of things to come, as well as a collection of stories, Drastic. Although I found her presence and enthusiasm rather dull, I did enjoy the excerpts that she read from her novel Genealogy. While listening to her read, I could tell that she does a thorough job at capturing family madness, love, and loss. She also incorporates a sense of humor applies it to the details of everyday life. The novel is incredibly real and I personally felt that the truthfulness of it is what made Genealogy so intriguing to listen to.
I enjoyed the poem “Directions for Resisting the SAT” by Richard Hague because I felt like the SAT’s were absolutely awful. I even met with a private tutor once a week to try to improve on the SAT shortcuts and quirks that would increase my score. This poem is very literal, but at the same time hints at things only people who have taken the SAT’s would be able to pick up on. Also, the structure of the poem almost mimics the SAT’s. When it says “Go down with the ship – any ship” it means stay true to each decision that you make because your decisions are what will determine the outcome. The tedious directions and exercises pull you away from who you are so it is important to “live whole”, and “listen to no one.” The line that says “Make your marks on everything” stands by itself and is the last line in the poem. This structure and phrase mocks the “DO NOT MAKE ANY MARKS” directions that are repeated continuously on the answer sheet. This poem basically tells the readers to stand true to themselves and be proud of what they know they are capable of, not the score that they receive from some stupid test.
The poem “First Practice” by Gary Gildner tells the story of a coach speaking to his team at the beginning of the season and letting them know his expectations. The first stanza is the coach telling them whom he is and what he stands for, then the second stanza is the acceptance from his players. The coach was previously in the army and believes that “dogs eat dogs” and hates to loose. He teaches the boys that they need to fight for what they want and what they wish to accomplish. In the end of the poem, he has each of them face each other and prove that they have the drive to win. By doing this, they will realize that in order to win as a team; they must first have the drive within themselves. This reminds me of dance when my classmates and I had to work together to prepare our routine. Before everyone works together and produces a beautiful dance, each individual must have determination and be aware of the desired outcome.
“A Father”, written by Baharti Mukherjee, tells the story of an Indian family that moves to the states. Without support from the government, Mr.Bhowmick struggles for years. He beliefs lie within his traditional practice of Kali-Mata. His wife and daughter begin to think that he was praying too much: “He wasn’t praying, she nagged; he was shutting her out of his life.”(Mukherjee, 907) The truth is he wasn’t praying “too much”, his wife and daughter were beginning to become Americanized and let go of their Indian traditions. In the end, the story takes a shocking turn when he attempts to injure or kill the baby in his daughter’s stomach. Throughout the story, we see Mr.Bhowmick’s reaction to his daughter’s pregnancy and are aware of how excited he is to see his grandson crawling towards him. When he finds out that a sperm donor, American technology, created the baby he goes into a rage, possibly killing his future grandchild.
“Serving Up Hope” was a truly inspiring story about a couple who provided recovering drug addicts such as Tyrone Lewis and Jennifer Brock a preface back into society. By giving them the opportunity to work at their deli, they were able to start fresh and begin to put their drug-addicted lives behind them. The reason that this story touched me is because I have a cousin who has been in and out of jail numerous times because of his addiction to drugs. Although he continues to disappoint his family, we know that by offering him our support and showing that we care, we will help him get one step closer to the drug free life he has always hoped for. The encouragement from the Sampsons and well as the love and support my family has given Chris, has shown me that everyone deserves a second chance; it just takes an immense amount of care and determination.

Jesuits, Social Justice and Reflections on High School

            Last week, I had the opportunity to see where the Jesuits of Loyola live at the Jesuit Open House. I didn’t know much about their day-to-day lives, and had only met a few of them previously, so it was a chance to better acquaint myself with the men who live a mere stone’s throw away from me here on campus. I have to say, I am not crazy about the opulent mansion in which the Jesuits live. I understand that both that house and the house of Loyola’s president were built long ago and are a sort of “reward” for all the hard work they give to our school, but something about it just seems…wrong. With the exception of Father Jack, I also did not find many of the Jesuits to be particularly approachable, and while he was not there, this extends to Father Linane as well. However, one of my professors gave an interesting perspective on our President, saying, “God bless him; inapproachability is highly underrated. Let him have a little mystery to him.” I’m about as Catholic as they come, but something about the entire experience was inherently troublesome. Perhaps it was because I found that a few of them, particularly the older Jesuits, to be a bit condescending and inclined to disregard my questions. I don’t want to pull the gender card, but I felt as though the only explanation for their decidedly cool behaviour was because I am female.
            This assumption – whether true or false – brings me to Bharati Mukherjee’s short story, “A Father”. I related the clearly traditional Jesuits to the father depicted in the story, who still clearly holds the patriarchal values of Indian culture dearly, as is prevalent in the line “Men provide and women are provided for,”. Like many other immigrants to the United States, the father moves to the country in order to afford better opportunities for his family, but is shocked and displeased when his wife and daughter become “Americanized”. His daughter, demonstrates how fully she has attached herself to American ideology and technology by using a sperm donor to get pregnant, even though it would dishonor her family. The way in which the father reacted to the news, beating her stomach until the baby was killed, was nothing short of abominable. The story was so gripping, and showed that the “American Dream” comes at a dear price.
            The article “Serving Up Hope” was really inspiring in a typical sense, because who doesn’t love a story about second chances? Galen and Bridget Sampson are truly doing God’s work by offering employment to recovering drug addicts, which is a considerable gamble on their part. Too often, convicted felons will have a difficult time transitioning back into mainstream society after a prison stint, and that insecurity drives them right back into the welcoming arms of illegal drugs. However, Galen and Bridget offer these men and women a better future through employment and a sense of purpose. Their commitment to social justice is one of which the Jesuits here at Loyola would be proud. I wish more programs like theirs existed in the Baltimore area, which has been so devastated by crack cocaine.
            Both of this week’s poems brought me swiftly back to high school, especially Gary Gildner’s “First Practice”. I was a three-sport athlete in high school, and apart from school it was the best outlet for my competitive energy. I deeply understand what the coach meant when he said that in order to win one must treat your opponent like the one “you hate most in the world.” In basketball, softball or field hockey if I got into a spat with another girl on the opposing team, or perhaps just didn’t like the look of them, it made me all the more determined to win and really play with everything I had. I loved how the poem ended with the italicized Now, as it aptly signified the beginning of the season after the coach’s preamble.
            Had I read Richard Hague’s “Directions for Resisting the SAT” while I was in high school, I probably wouldn’t have taken it seriously. My peers in AP classes and I were incredibly close, but innately competitive with one another, and part of that was seeing who could get into the “best” college. The SAT was crucial and we agonized over it for months. At the time, I thought my scored defined me as a person, but that just shows how much more narrow my world was just a few years ago. While part of me still wishes my score were 100 points higher or so, I now realize how insignificant that test is in the scope of my life. I realize that when I die my obituary will not read "Julia Seibolt will be remembered by her friends as a devoted wife and someone who scored a ______ on her SATs." The average person has over six and a half decades of life ahead of them after they receive that fateful envelope from the College Board, and as Hague says, it should be our mission to "Desire to live whole". This is a truly striking sentiment, and like Henry David Thoreau, I too wish to "suck all the marrow out of life," rather than life sucking the marrow out of me.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Support: Blog 3/27/11

Gary Gildner’s poem, “First Practice” shows how similar winning a sports game is to winning a battle in war. The imagery of the doctor checking out the players, the drill sergeant speech given to the players, and the location of the speech (a bunker-like area) all show a connection between war and sports. One could mistake this entire poem to be about war and about boot camp in the army, until you investigate the coach’s name. Clifford Hill was a famous rugby coach and player for Great Britain, but shows how he brings his wartime experience into his coaching expertise.

“Directions for Resisting the SAT” by Richard Hague, shows the importance of being unique and individualistic. The entire poem gives school related examples of conformity, clubs, committees, English class, history class, etc… Hague even goes so far as to warn against falling victim to gravity, the inescapable equalizer. This poem, centered on the SAT, is important because it shows how standardized tests remove the unique traits that each student possesses and gives advice to steer clear of conformity.

“Serving Up Hope” by Stephanie Shapiro shows how even through the most difficult challenges like rehabilitating a recovering drug addict, success is possible through support, understanding, and determination. Unlike most drug addicts, Jennifer Brock and Tyrone Lewis were graced by the opportunity to start fresh, working in the Sampson’s deli. Without the help and support of the Sampsons, however, their matriculation into society would not have been possible. It is seen all too often the inability for ex-cons to attain jobs that provide sustainable incomes. This true story, however, provides a clear example that by reaching out, treating drug addicts and criminals like real people, and caring for them, success in matriculation is possible.

“A Father” by Bharati Mukherjee, shows how difficult it is for foreigners to assimilate into the culture and society of America. Without help from the government, support from his family, or wife, Mr. Bhowmick struggled for years to obtain a legal residency in America, bribing his way through office checkpoints. His entire family took a toll, his wife bickering, and his daughter impregnating herself. As the stress of American life overwhelmed him, Mr. Bhowmick clung to his Indian heritage, worshiping a statue of Kali, his patron goddess of wrath and vengeance, in an almost OCD-like manner. The trials and stress of America proved too difficult for his family to take, and after discovering that his daughter used a sperm donor to impregnate herself (dishonoring the family and done out of spite), he kills the baby by beating his daughter’s stomach. This act shows how he snapped under the pressure of his job, his unloving wife, his ungrateful and secretive daughter, and provides a harsh and dramatic example of the difficulties of matriculating successfully into American society.

Throughout all of the readings for this week, a common theme on the necessity of support can be seen. On the rugby field, their coach, Clifford Hill inspired his team with his use of drill sergeant tactics. Richard Hague provides advice and support for all students, especially those in high school, to avoid conforming, become individualistic, and conquer the world. The story of the Sampsons’ success in helping drug addict criminals in Baltimore, providing them with jobs and care, shows how support can conquer the seemingly impossible. Lastly, the story of Mr. Bhowmick provides a terrifying example of the consequences of trying to make it on your own. Mr. Bhowmick, though advised by his family to talk about his feelings, keeps to himself. His daughter never talks about her pregnancy, and his wife seems distant, always busy with activities. This family, not supported by the American government that they spent years trying to assimilate into, didn’t support each other. The danger of this mentality of trying to do everything on your own is evident, seen dramatically by the murder of Mr. Bhowmick’s unborn grandson. Let us heed this story’s warning and realize the necessity of love, support, and each other.

Blog 3/29/11

For this week’s event, I attended the “What Would Romero Do” discussion. Oscar Romero was a Salvadorian Archbishop in El Salvador. He was known for speaking out against the government, talking directly to Salvadorian soldiers telling them not to obey the government. While celebrating mass on March 24th 1980, he was shot as he was offering the body and blood of Christ up on the altar. Many theories arose to who could have killed the archbishop and it was clear that it was the work of the government of El Salvador who wanted him to stop speaking out against human rights violations that they were committing. Tens of thousands of people came out to his funeral and soldiers opened fire on the civilian crowd. It is estimated that 30-50 people died at his funeral. To me it was clear this man was very influential. One of his most famous quotes that he said two weeks before he was eventually shot and killed was, “If they kill me, I shall arise in the Salvadorians.” It is almost like he knew that he was going to die for what he believed in and he showed no fear as he kept his mission alive in the hearts of the citizens of El Salvador.

For this week’s readings we had to read, “A Father” by Bharati Mukherjee, “Serving up Hope” by Stephanie Shapiro, “Directions for Resisiting the SAT” by Richard Hague and “First Practice” by Gary Gildner. Of all the readings, my favorite was “First Practice” by Gary Gildner. I was able to relate to it the most having played sports my entire life. The type of coach that the main character was I have had time and time again.

“A Father” by Bharati Mukherjee was about a very religious and superstitious Indian man living in Detroit. For all his life he has worshiped the important God of his Hindu religion Kali-Mata. Also for his entire time being married, his mother and his daughter have pushed him around. He is a non-confrontational person and never gets angry and keeps his feelings to himself. One day after superstition arises because he neighbor sneezes and that is a bad omen, he decides to take the day off from work. As he walks back into the house he notices his daughter hasn’t left for work yet. He hears sounds of vomiting coming from the bathroom. It does not take him long to ascertain that she may be pregnant. He keeps this suspicion to himself until one day he hears his wife and his daughter fighting because the mother finds out she is pregnant. He snaps finally and yells at both of them for not knowing anything about anything. His daughter smirks and tells him that she purposely got pregnant from a donor and the story ends as he strikes her belly with a rolling pin to rid the baby from her.

The next reading was a news article published in the Baltimore Sun titled “Serving up Hope.” The article was about how an experienced culinary chef and his wife started up a restaurant to duel as a place to eat and a place to train former drug addicts how to cook and get their lives back together. To me I found this article very touching and admirable. The Sampson’s took their passion and used it to help others who are having a hard time with their lives. Through the program, Sampson hopes to get drug addicts off of the streets and teach them to live again through the joy of cooking. I believe that he and his wife are excelling at this and more people like them need to be present in our current world.

The first poem I read was “Directions for Resisting the SAT” by Richard Hague. I found this poem to be extremely humorous because the author made fun of books that try to tell you what to actually do on the SAT. Often debate arises because you can be rejected by a college based on this one single test. Your grades can only get you so far and then on one Saturday morning you take a 5-hour test to determine where you will go to college. In my opinion, the SAT isn’t the best way to judge a student. It doesn’t identify you as a person, you’re just a number and if your number is higher than everybody else, you are better.

The final reading and my favorite was “First Practice” by Gary Gildner. In the poem, the author describes the tension of a first practice and if the coach is obsessed with winning it can be a long season. I’ve played lacrosse all my life and I’ve run into some intense coaches but my high school coach took the cake. When I made the varsity squad sophomore year I felt the pressure by my coach to outperform everybody else and win everything. This continued to junior year where in the final round of the county tournament I was pressured to take one of the state’s top defenders 1 on 1 and score the game-tying goal. As I ran past him I shot wide and the game ended. I collapsed on the field in tears as my teammates reassured me that it was “okay dude you tried your best.” My coach kept the game film and showed it to us next year during tryouts. He replayed the part where I missed the shot at least 3 times. I walked out of the film room and quit the team the next day. As a captain this confused everybody but lacrosse wasn’t a game to me anymore. I had been so bred to win and used to winning that when I lost I couldn’t handle it. Quitting the game was the hardest decision of my life, but I realized through it that life isn’t about winning, as much as you want it to be.

Time to Grow Up

During my service hours this week I learned a little about the personal lives of my scholars. Learning more than the answers my students give to the academic lesson helps give me a better understanding of what kind of person they are. The little details that I know about them helps me view the way they see the world. I therefore will be able to relate to them better and teach them things that they can better relate to. Though I thought that the typical middle school student’s interests consisted of recess and dessert, I was surely wrong.

When teaching my group of scholars a literature lesson I noticed that two girls were off on the side not paying attention a 3-4 page handwritten letter. I asked one of the girls about it later to find out it was a letter that she stole from her sister written by her boyfriend. I didn’t ask anything else and she went on to tell me that her sister had a baby. She told me she was 18-years-old and they baby boy lives with her, her mom, and her sister. She continued to tell me how the boyfriend isn’t around often which I assumed what the long letter was about.

I immediately thought how careless this girl was and how she was not brought up right because she was irresponsible and got pregnant at such a young age. It confused me because I had so many questions. I wanted to know how two people could be so careless? How a father could not want to be involved in his child’s life? And what was going to happen to a baby being brought up by a child herself? I then realized I assumed these awful thoughts because of the way I was brought up. I grew up in a town where it would be the biggest news if a girl got pregnant in high school. I was taught the correct order of my life was college, career, marriage, and then children. The poem, Directions for Resisting the SAT’s written by Richard Hague focuses on not following norm and breaking the rules a little to stand out. I don’t think I could never have the strength to stand out and disobey rules I have been taught like what my student’s sister did and raise a child at my age. She was not afraid to take the plunge and care for a newborn even though it was not the plan. I looked at this girl whose family has probably been through so much and my heart went out to her because sometimes the directions in life take a wrong turn and you just have to go with it like Richard Hague says.

As she continued to talk about her little nephew I was happy about this birth instead of more concerned if it was morally right to have a baby at 18. I was rejoiced that this family was nothing like that in “A Father,” written by Bharati Mukherjee, where a girls own father killed her unborn child. This student’s family is a good family because they accepted the fact that there was going to be a new member of the family rather than reject it like this father did. It is better to the teenager who stands out by raising and loving baby rather than have a father figure who does not know how to love.

After reading some of the letter I thought more about the situation. I was not there to judge these children and their families. I was there to help and to make a difference. I relate my aiding to those from the “Serving up Hope,” written by Stephanie Shapiro, story. These two restaurant owners take in drug addicts off the street who have not had such great pasts and give them a chance to turn things around and get back on their feet. I am here for these children to turn them around if they are on their way down the path of making mistakes in life. I am scared for this student because I hope that she doesn’t follow down the same road as her sister. I am there to teach these girls that college is the ideal choice for and 18-year-old woman not caring for a newborn.

After understanding this situation I can see how much my input is necessary for these students. These kid’s interests are maturing by the second and it is scary to see how fast they want to be adults. Their actions are similar to those in the poem “The First Practice,” written by Gary Gildner because they know their life starts now and they are anxious to begin it. Whether it be with boyfriends/girlfriends, driving a car, or being independent, they are ready and heading full force to do it all. With guidance from their mentors they hopefully will start it off in a smart way. Learning this student’s story gave me a better idea as to what maturity level they are on. It gave me an insight into their world and how fast they are growing up. This has helped me because I know that I can relate to them on a more mature level. They are itching to be adults so I am just here to help they grow up into the best person they can be.

Blog 8

For this week’s reading, I read an article, “Serving Up Hope”, a short story, “A Father” and two poems called “Directions for Resisting the SAT” and “First Practice”. All of these works has the common theme of taking control of your own life. In “Serving Up Hope”, journalist Stephanie Shapiro discusses an opportunity Galen and Bridget Samson created for those who are struggling financially by allowing them to work and become trained in the culinary field. By using a traditional Indian father and more Americanized mother and daughter, Bharati Mukherjee relays the message of being strong and not letting yourself get pushed around. “Directions for Resisting the SAT” written by Richard Hague urges students to not listen to anyone else and to make their own decisions. The other poem by Gary Gildner, “First Practice”, encourages readers to not let others force them into something they do not want to do and to seize any chance that comes by. At Care-A-Van, many of the people we serve have obstacles in their way of their dreams. It might be from the lack of money or maybe from a health issue. Either way, I believe anyone can overcome those obstacles if they give enough effort and try hard.

“Serving Up Hope” is an inspiring article about helping others less fortunate. Not only are Galen and Bridget creating jobs, but they are developing life skills, propelling them on a career path and taking the addicts’ minds off of drugs and their problems. I am glad this article was published in the Baltimore Sun because it raises awareness and shows the public that we need to work together to solve this ongoing issue. Also Galen and Bridget are perfect examples of people who make a difference in other people’s lives while still doing what they love. This article has inspired me to keep giving back to the community and to continue my involvement with Care-A-Van and CCSJ.

Bharati Mukherjee’s short story, “A Father”, is about a Indian father whose traditional values clash with those of a more Americanized wife and daughter. In the beginning of the story, it describes the father and mother’s morning rituals. The father introduces his daughter to readers as being intelligent saying, “she had been the only female student in most of her classes at Georgia Tech…” (Mukherjee 909). Immediately after his praise, he states that she is not the ideal child and criticizes her modern clothing and ideas. The father continues saying his biggest regret is moving to America. He let his wife persuade him to move away from his fulfilling job and life in Bombay to the stress of the process of immigration to a foreign country. The end of the story reveals all of the father’s feelings revealed when he injures or even kills his daughter’s unborn child. I believe the author is telling readers to take control of the situation before it gets out of hand. Some of the people have to use Care-A-Van or other meal programs as a last resort. If some people use their money more wisely, they would not be struggling as much and their situation would not be as bad. I am not just talking about those who we serve at Care-A-Van, but also addicts and gamblers.

I found Richard Hague’s poem, “Directions for Resisting the SAT”, quite relatable. As a college student, I know it is the norm to take the SAT or ACT in high school. Hague is telling students to not follow others and to make decisions on their own. The last lines, “Listen to no one. / Make your marks on everything.” (lines 15-16) directly state to readers not to be pressured or influenced by anything or anyone. Today, it is hard for young adults to make their own decisions because of the media and social pressures. They are pressured into going into continuing their education, whether they want to or not. A couple of weeks ago, we met a man on Care-A-Van whose parents forced him to go to college. After a year, he dropped out and found a job. Although he is tight with money now, he said he felt happy with his job and does not regret his decision.

Gary Gildner’s poem, “First Practice” describes an athlete’s first practice with a new coach. The coach is a typical one that pushes his or her athlete’s to be the best they can be so they can achieve the ultimate goal of winning. The coach can also represent a teacher or parent. Because the coach is so forceful, Gildner tells readers to seize any chance that passes by, otherwise they will be stuck with the coach and difficult practices. On Care-A-Van when we are packing up and have extra sandwiches, we offer seconds or allow people to take extras. If people do not grab that chance to receive more sandwiches, the sandwiches will be gone. Even those small chances can make a huge difference in one’s life.

Event Blog

The event that I attended for this weeks blog was the showing of Bride of Frankenstein in the Loyola- Notre Dame Library. It was an interesting event to attend mainly because it was during the time our class was reading Frankenstein and participating in discussions about the novel. While we were making connections in class I was able to see a different perspective when seeing the movie. This event also allowed me to explore Loyola and learn about new areas. Most of our discussion in class was related to the relationship between characters and also companionship in life. We discussed how one of the main themes that was evident in the novel was the search for a companion in your life. Both Dr. Frankenstein and the monster where taking part in that search.
The film, however, portrayed a different perspective in Dr. Frankenstein's life. It showed incentive and the reasons for doing something. Throughout the movie Frankenstein wants to settle into a normal life and be done with his creation from the past but intruding forces do not allow him to do so. Dr. Pretorius and the monster both involve themselves in Frankenstein's life and want to create a new monster. Frankenstein is against this creation until his wife is kidnapped by the monster. This kidnapping has given Frankenstein a new reason to build a mate for the monster, his wife will be returned safely if done. This connects to Mukherjee's short story. The father found out the the baby was not created by natural sexual ways but rather through a doctor, it gave him a personal reason for destroying the life of the baby by hitting the mother. Towards the end of the film when the monster realized that even his bride was horrified at the sight of him he realized that they all needed to be brought back to the dead. That encounter with her gave him an incentive to destroy the tower and all those in it. Seeing this movie allowed me to view the readings for this week in a different vantage point and apply them to life and events that go on around me.
Both of the poems, “Directions for Resisting the SAT” and “First Practice” contain ideas that I can relate to. Richard Hague's poem speaks of a test that many college freshman have taken not to long ago. The SAT can be based on luck and does not always accurately represent a students skill. By naming specifics such as “October or May” and “lie about numbers”, Hague makes the poem more personal to the reader. He portrays the message that don't let this test decide what you do with your life. This test should motivate you to “make your marks on everything”, the person taking this test should prove that they don't need a test to show what type of person they are. It relates to the event because the monster didn't need a companion to show that he wasn't ugly, his thoughts and mindset showed his true looks, he was not a bad person and didn't need a mate to tell him that.
Gary Gildner brings the reader behind the scenes of a coach speaking to his players in “First Practice”. He does it through the eyes of a player causing the reader to feel the same emotions that all of the players on the team feel. The coach seems harsh in the beginning of the poem with his appearance and words such as “he was a man who believed dogs at dogs”. But the poem shows the incentive of the coach doing it. His reasoning lies behind the taste of victory. He is a coach who wants to win, so he will push his players to feel the same way. This poem speaks of a coach's desire to win and it portrays his reasons for wanting to win and pushing his players.
The short story “A Father” by Bharati Mukherjee is a story with many issues and layers. One of the main overall themes is the cultural assimilation the family is undergoing as the live their life in America. At the same time the father is more of a traditional person who follows his religion while the rest of his family are agnostic. This causes troubles in the family as issues arise with the father spending too much time on prayer. This is similar to Mary Shelley's Frankenstein as Victor becomes obsessed with his work and does not spend enough time with his family. Another issues comes up in the story when the father realizes his daughter is pregnant. He keeps it to himself but eventually his wife finds out. His wife becomes enraged and the father does not understand why, he is happy for her until he hears that the man who impregnated her was “a bottle and a syringe” rather than a human. This infuriates the father who hits his daughters womb with the rolling pin. His motive for doing so was he did not approve of those methods.
Stephanie Shapiro's short story, “Serving up Hope” relates to the event from this week and the poem “Directions for Resisting the SAT.” It is the story of a couple attempting to change society and to give people a second chance. They take convicts and drug abusers and allow them to become part of their 'family' and help them run their restaurants. Bridget and Glen are making their mark on society. They are trying to change the world and the way people view people who have done wrong. This connects to the theme of incentive and motive for this weeks readings.

Blog #8--March 29th, 2011

This week’s readings highlighted the importance of striving to be the best person that one can be. In “A Father” by Bharati Mukherjee, the main character, Mr. Bhowmick, praises his daughter for achieving her goals. In Richard Hague’s “Directions for Resisting the SAT,” its subliminal message hints at the importance of the SAT on one’s future goals. “First Practice” by Gary Gildner illustrates the need for success in athletics. Finally, the article “Serving Up Hope” that was in the Baltimore Sun, tells about helping individuals do more with their lives after an addiction. All of these works that we had to read for class remind me of my service learning. These individuals mentioned in all of these works are similar to the students I tutor at Guilford Middle Elementary School.

The short story “A Father” illustrates the innate need for individuals to strive in life. In the beginning of the story, he tells the readers that Babli was a very successful child. She attended Georgia Tech and usually was one of the few girls in her class. He also describes her success by saying that she “would be able to help him out moneywise if something happened to him” (909). However, by the end of the story, he learns about his daughter’s pregnancy, which he deems as a failure since she is unmarried. But, as a woman, she feels that it is her obligation as a female to bring a child into the world since she already has a steady and stable job. Her situation is the epitome of achievement—she is able to rear a child without the help of a man. The main character’s disapproval of his daughter having a child out of wedlock illustrates how everyone’s ideal self is different, its tailored for each specific individual.

The next work, “Directions for Resisting the SAT” illustrate the need to strive and succeed by using wording that does anything but suggest otherwise. For example, the speaker says “Resign all clubs and committees/ Go down with the ship—any ship” to ironically state that without these memberships we are unable to make connections with other humans (9-10). As we all know, the SATs, as well as extra-curriculars, and one’s class schedule are vital for getting into an excellent university and finding a job. These are all vital markers in having a meaningful life in our society. When the speaker says “do not observe the rules of gravity/commas, and history/ lie about numbers” he is trying to stress the importance of academics on everyday life (3-5). By implementing irony, we are able to see the importance of education on the rest of our lives.

Gary Gildner’s “First Practice” illustrates the innate drive to succeed through athletics. When I read this poem, during the first read, it seemed that it was kids on a football team who wanted to succeed at the game. They are willing to do anything, including “[making] two lines of us/facing each other” in an undisclosed area of the school (18-19). This, to me, demonstrated the willingness to be a part of an activity or an occurrence because it allows one to be one step closer to their future goals. If desperate to achieve a goal, an individual (including myself) would do anything to obtain it. Through word choice, the speaker illustrates the need for achievement in the everyday world.

The article that was required for reading “Serving Up Hope” in my opinion was extremely inspiring. It focused on a couple, the Sampsons and their willingness to help other individuals achieve their goals in life. They help those individuals riddled with addiction have work experience in their café and help them be able to find jobs in the restaurant world when they are able to. This article proved to me that by believing in another person, it is helping make their dreams come true. By the Sampsons giving back to those in Baltimore who needed their help not only did they help those individuals, but they became better people in the process. They gave people in need a chance instead of writing them off as druggies who were not able to keep a job down. And that’s what is most inspiring—by giving them a chance to have a successful job, the workers of the café get a second chance to get their life on the right track.

All of these works today really remind me of my service learning at Guilford Middle Elementary School. Last week we were helping out seventh graders review material for their upcoming test. At first, I wrote these kids as annoyed that they were forced to stay after school with Mr. Smith because their grades were not the best, but by the end of our time there, I came to realize how willing they were to learning. For example, the student I was working with, though at first did not want to be at a tutoring session, by the end of our time together knew every answer on the sheet I was quizzing him on. He also became very excited when he would get a question right after previously answering it wrong. After we left the school, I felt proud of myself for helping a student do better on his history test because I was willing to take time out of my busy schedule to quiz him. Through all of the works that we read for class this week, all of them stressed on success and the importance of striving to be the best that we can be.

Leaving a Mark

Tonight, I went to the panel “What Would Romero Do?” The discussion commemorates the 31st anniversary of Archbishop Romero’s death on March 24th. The Archbishop was assassinated while celebrating a Mass in San Salvador. He was killed because he preached for the military to defy their leaders and not contributing to the repression. Romero was well known and respected for urging an end to growing violence. He defended the rights of the poor, which include being able to demand political change. This was seen as a threat by the El Salvador’s government. Romero once said, “If they kill me, I shall arise in the Salvadoran people.” The Archbishop truly left his mark on the country, as he is now in the process of being canonized.

Leaving a mark on the world is a common theme in all of the literature we read for this week. In the short story, “A Father,” by Bharati Mukherjee, a father worries about what marks have been imprinted on his daughter. He, a traditional Indian man, fears the effects of growing up in a provocative American society. Because his daughter didn’t grow up in his hometown, she doesn’t have feminine charm needed to find a husband. When the father learns his daughter is pregnant, he is grateful and upset. He rejoices because someone found her attractive, but is upset by the shame she will bring on the family, in addition to the shame of the abortion she will probably have. The father resolves to accept the baby so he may see his grandchild. He dreams of meeting the father of the baby and welcoming him to his family. This is a sign of his acceptance of new culture. When he learns the daughter is pregnant through in-vitro fertilization, he is infuriated by the mockery of his traditions. He hits his daughter’s stomach with a shoe, aborting the baby.

Leaving a mark on the world is not usually a negative occurrence. In the article “Serving Up Hope” by Stephanie Shapiro, readers of the The Baltimore Sun learn of Galen Sampson. He is the owner a deli and teacher of a culinary school to help people with troubled lives get back on their feet. He teaches valuable skills to help former drug addicts, and other troubled citizens transition back into society with jobs and opportunities to progress. Sampson leaves his mark on the Baltimore community by letting troubled people know that their opinions matter, they can improve their lives, and he is willing to help them.

Finally, we read the poems “Directions for Resisting the SAT” and “First Practice.” When I first saw the title of the first poem, I remembered how much I hated the SAT. My family wasted valuable time and money to prepare me for a test, which, despite the hype, didn’t have an impact on my life. Richard Hague, the author of the poem, agrees with my view of the SAT. He says forget all you are forced to memorize and flaunt for the test, but instead, go into the world and make a difference. The second poem, by Gary Gildner, recalls a coach at the first practice. The coach explains that winning means everything to him and he will do all it will take to win. He promotes the boys to brutal to each other. However, he follows up by saying he doesn’t want to see any of the marks after the dress. This is symbolic of the coach’s admittance that his impact on the children is not one that should be respected, but rather covered up.

The lesson of the readings and event this week share a common theme of leaving a mark. There are some marks that are better left covered, for they are detrimental to society, but more often it is the opposite. There are plenty of people who are ready to go out in to the world and improve everyone’ quality of life. The first step is to know that no matter who you are, or what your past is, you matter and you can make a difference.

Creating Your Own Success and Passing It On

In Tuesday’s readings, each piece discussed the values of traditions and faith and how they affect a person’s relationships with the people around them. In Bharati Mukherjee’s short story, “A Father”, the themes of traditions based on a person’s faith is discussed and evaluated through a gender-based lens. In Shapiro’s article, “Serving Up Hope”, she retells the story of a local Baltimore couple and their work towards using their faith to provide opportunities to those recovering from drug addictions in the community. In Richard Hague’s poem, “Directions for Resisting the SAT”, he takes a different approach, stating that it is necessary to not necessarily uphold traditions in order to have your own happiness and success. In Gary Gildner’s poem, “First Practice”, the speaker recalls a time where he is pushed to succeed forcefully and how his relationship with his coach forced him to act this way. During my service at Guilford, I realized that a student’s relationship with other people in their life greatly affect their response towards school and will dictate how hard they work to succeed.

In “A Father”, the first theme that plays a prominent role throughout the story is the role of traditions and faith. The father’s relationship with the idols and its shrines are almost preoccupying and his Buddhist faith dictates all aspects of his life. He is hindered by a simple sneeze on his way to work, which completely debilitates him. Instead of allowing himself to succeed, he finds simple things that are merely superstitions and magnifies them because of his faith into something a lot more. Although, he has times of confliction when he thinks about his pregnant daughter and how he will soon become a grandfather. While he disagrees with the decision his daughter made to get pregnant based on their faith, he realizes how great it will be to become a grandfather. Another theme that is prevalent in this short story is the relationships between men and women. The father never considers that his daughter could be giving birth to a baby girl. He also almost begrudges the easy success of his daughter because of how hard he has struggled in finding stability in his new life in Detroit. Like Koro, in “The Whale Rider”, the father places a lot of stock in tradition of the gender roles and believes that males are the prominent roles in society and should have the most success. The father is also hesitant to divulge from traditions, despite the changing times, or in the father’s case, a change in culture and location. It is ironic that when the daughter reveals that there essentially is “no father” to her baby, the father is the one who hits her with the rolling pin, and not the mother. The daughter places emphasis that this “father” is a good genetic candidate and shouldn’t pose a problem, but all views of becoming a grandfather are blurred by the hatred of this breaking of traditions and social expectations. I think that that main point portrayed in this short story is that where there are traditions and faith, which each of a role in the relationships you have with other people, sometimes these aspects in life need to be separated in order to have healthy relationships.

Shapiro’s article was enlightening because it was an article from The Baltimore Sun, which is a local newspaper here in Baltimore. Since moving to Baltimore in September and attending Loyola, I have learned the importance of “cura personalis” and other Jesuit ideals. Giving back to the community and allowing people to develop their own strength while developing your own is something that I have come to value a lot more since coming to Loyola. In this article, it allowed me to see a couple achieving this goal by reaching out to the community and doing what they love at the same time. The article discusses how a Baltimore couple maximized their business potential and their individual strengths by coming together to open Dogwood Deli, which allows for people to learn how to cook and serves as a stable transition period for people who are rehabilitating from drug use in the area. The program teaches these people work ethic and provides them with a support system that helps them stay sober. Through this couple’s faith, came a responsibility to give back to the community. By passing on their skills as chefs, they are allowing people to find their own strengths, which for some, was never possible when they were using. This couple epitomizes the idea that a person creates their own path for success and that no dream is too big to achieve. I think that it is completely true that each person gets out of a situation what they put in, and that one person’s actions has the power to change someone else’s life.

In Richard Hague’s poem, “Directions for Resisting the SAT”, the first thing I thought of prior to reading the poem was how the SAT was such an important part of the transition from high school to college. So many teachers put so much stock on a student’s success based on their SAT scores that it was somewhat discouraging when my SAT scores did not reflect the grades that I usually receive in school. However, after reading the poem, I found a similar message to the one that was portrayed in the Shapiro article. This poem allows readers to play with the idea that one single moment in a person’s lifetime does not determine the success you will achieve for the rest of your life. While a moment can be somewhat defining, it does not necessarily dictate how a person will react to that moment and how they will embrace change and strive for success. In the poem, there was no space until the final line, which I believe is the most powerful line since it relays the message of the poem to the readers. I think that this no spacing is the poet’s way of breaking the traditional rule of poetry by creating stanzas and dividing ideas. Instead, the poem is a single stanza, which represents unity and the power of a person, followed by a single space, which symbolizes an individual’s interpretation of unity and power and their own personal success. I think that this message is important to consider at all transition points in a person’s life because often times, people get hung up on the “process” of life and forget to actually live, learn and grow.

Gary Gildner takes an opposite approach, stating that some kind of competition is not only healthy, but it necessary to achieve success. He states that each person has a strength within them that needs to be harnessed, but it can only be harnessed after a fight or struggle. Like the poem “Success is counted sweetest”, Gildner agrees that a person must face turmoil or even lose along the way in order to have some sort of success. In this poem, the coach states that all girls must leave, which emphasizes the coach’s stereotypes that girls cannot do as much as boys in terms of athletics. He also plays a stereotypical role of someone resembling a drill sergeant or tough coach, stating that he has been through a war and divides the team to face each other. This stereotype emphasizes the divides among certain people and how success can sometimes divide people because where there is success, there is also failure. The spacing of the word “no one” creates a sense of hesitation in the team, which is parallel to the hesitation of students when faced with important decisions, such as where to attend college or what scholarship to apply for, or even for picking a major and minor in college. The title, “First Practice” shows that sometimes the initial experience of something can dictate how hard you work, which will then dictate the rest of your life. This idea goes back to the idea portrayed in the Shapiro article. Whereas some people get discouraged after a difficult practice and choose to quit, others will choose to power through it and will end up gaining more in the end from it. I think it is important for people to commit to things and “power through” so that they can learn from their experience, even if they don’t see any “success” coming from the experience, these people are essentially succeeding just because they finished something, even if they didn’t do the best job along the way.

Through my service, I have realized that a lot of the students that I tutor each week try really hard to succeed, whereas some of their friends do the bare minimum to get through middle school. While students are working hard in the classroom, there are at least 3 or 4 students in the hallway or in the classroom distracting their friends from studying with us. At first, it was hard to ignore these students because they were rather disruptive. Now, these students have stopped coming by, but so have some of the students that come to get tutored each week. Since we have been serving at Guilford, I have worked with a different student each time. Some students were more eager than others. Most of the time, it was difficult for me to get through to each of the students because most of them didn’t want to be there in the first place. For the past three weeks, only one girl, Tanya, has been there each week. For the past three weeks, we have been working on the same 7th grade Social Studies study guide, and by last week, Tanya had no problem reciting the 34 answers without any hesitation. I realized that because Tanya has been dedicated, she is eventually going to surpass the rest of her class and excel more than the others. Even though some students come each week, Mr. Smith convinces them or forces them to stay one way or another, which eventually will do nothing, because they are not willingly learning. When a student starts to willingly learn on their own, then they will learn more and eventually succeed more. 2 weeks ago, we were talking to Tanya about college life and what it was like being away from home. She seemed genuinely interested in going to college and wanted to learn a lot more. She was really intrigued when we told her about Relay for Life and wanted to see if there was anything like that in the area for her to get involved with in the future. Last week, she asked if Relay for Life had taken place, and I realized that she really was interested in what we were saying because she remembered something that didn’t even involve her! I was so surprised when she asked, and I was pleased to tell her that it was happening during the weekend and that I couldn’t wait to tell her about it next week. I realize that a person’s success is all dictated in a person’s outlook on life and how they react to the situations around them. If they become defeated, they will be defeated. But if they are persistent and dedicated, they will eventually succeed and be able to help their own peers succeed in the future.

Blog Entry

This past weekend for an event I volunteered to help out my coach, Mark Mettrick, and Farther Jack tutor and train inner city Baltimore students (between the ages of about 7 – 14) to play soccer. This seemingly a chore at first turned out to be much more fun then I first anticipated, the kids all welcoming and happy to be there to just have fun and play on the turf field we have here at Ridley. There were about four other soccer players there to help the kids learn some basic skills and another six or so students who I presumed to be their tutors and they knew them previously. We taught them how to dribble and with the ball by playing games with them on the field which at the beginning I found to be awkward but it turned out really fun during it as they were all competitive but still just wanted to have fun. After that we took them for a tour around Ridley stadium showing them locker rooms, a few others rooms and then ended up in the media room where they were allowed to ask us questions. Obviously with there age they just wanted to have fun so they were laughing and joking around with all of us including the coaches but one thing we all did as soccer players were to subtly pound into there heads if they ever want to play at somewhere like here or have these sort of facilities at there disposal they needed to stay in school and get good grades. As a parting gift we bought them pizza to finish it off. All of them were grateful and were really looking forward to coming back to play on the field again and watch the men’s soccer team play this year. This experience taught me a lot because it felt like we made what those kids only hear about come true by being college students and showing them what is out there if they just try and stay in school and I think it will have a long lasting impression on them.

For the readings this week we read two poems: “Directions for Resisting the SAT” by Richard Hague, and “First Practice” by Gary Gildner. The first poem “Directions for Resisting the SAT” was very impressionable on me because I felt I connected with it well as it both referenced the SATs and leaving a mark on everything you do. It claims that luck can affect your life but you should take all credit for what you’ve done and not explain it that way. This relates back to the event I did because I believe I left a mark on those kids lives for the better and hopefully more of them will go to college instead of drop out of high school.

The second poem for today was “First Practice” by Gildner also affected my life as it explained a coach who seemed to feel like winning was more important than anything else in life, as he tried to continue his legacy with the kids leaving an impression on them just as I did to the kids I trained and just as Hague believed you should do on everything.

The third reading for today was not a poem but a story written by Bharati Mukherjee entitled A Farther. This story described the interactions between a farther and his daughter, as she was pregnant at a young age. This troubled the father as he believed he left a ‘mark’ on her daughter as Hague described in the poems, that was impressionable enough to stop her from making these poor choices and be a perfect girl as her farther always wanted. Mr. Bhowmick only wanted to leave an impressionable mark on his daughter for the better by looking out for her best interests just like, I tried to do with the children and it seemed like the coach and Hague tried to both do as well.

The final reading “Serving up Hope” by Stephanie Shapiro is also another instance of trying to make the world a better place by leaving your mark there. This article explains how they use their skills, cooking, in this case to help people rejoining society to find jobs and get back on there feet. This once again relates to Hague’s argument about doing what is right in order to leave a legacy in this world for people to look up to and admire.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

The readings this week were of a darker nature than usual. Emily Dickinson’s poems, coupled with Ernest Hemingway’s short story painted a macabre picture of death. This theme continued when I went to see the movie “The Bride of Frankenstein.” The fear and acceptance of death is a very significant part of human life.

In “The Bride of Frankenstein,” Dr. Frankenstein “defies God” again and creates another life. This does not go to plan, however, because his new creation still does not love his original monster. I feel that this story is showing us that if we do not accept the human limitations, such as death, then we will not be able to live happy lives. We must accept our human nature.

In Ernest Hemingway’s short story, “The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber,” we see a man who does not seem happy. His wife has cheated on him after he proved himself to be a coward. His death at the end of the story came as a surprise to me. I felt that he would redeem himself through the story, but when his wife shot him I was completely shocked. This man was far to young to meet his demise, but the story reminds us how fragile human life is. We will never know if today will be the last day that we live. It is a very sobering thought.

In the poem “Tell the Truth but Tell it Slant,” the idea that “ignorance is bliss” is brought to the forefront. Many people feel that they would be happier if they did not have to know the entire truth, and this poem confirms that. Emily Dickinson talks about the human race’s inability to live with the complicated truths of life. Throughout history, many civilizations have created story and folklore to try to explain the truths that they do not understand. I feel that this poem gives a great deal of insight into that same idea. Humans try to bend the truth to comfort and benefit themselves.

“Success is Counted Sweetest” is a poem that draws from an ancient argument. “If you do not know cold, then how can you appreciate warm.” It is the idea that one does not understand true happiness without experiencing misery. This is an idea that I have firmly believed in my entire life. You have to embrace the tough parts in life to enjoy the easy. Someone who simply cruises through life will not realize how good he or she really has it. Emily Dickinson does a great job explaining this idea.

“I Head a Fly Buzz When I Died” brings us back to the idea of human fear of death. The speaker is lying on her deathbed, clearly wishing to be alive. The sound of the fly “buzzing” is her last chance to try to stay on this earth. She is listening to the sound, trying to will herself to life, and stay connected with the living.

The poem, “Because I Could Not Stop for Death,” encompasses some ideas from all of the other works. The poem is an excellent depiction of how truly fragile life is, and how every moment can be our last. We are not guaranteed stay on this earth. We don’t have a set amount of time we can live, and this poem shows those ideas excellently.

Why is it that the human race is so afraid of death? Why are we the only animals that think about it? When elephants die, they walk to the graveyard to die peacefully, why is it that mankind cannot embrace such a natural phenomenon? These questions have been asked since the invention of language, and I fear that we will never have an answer.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Anthony Mahfood

March 21, 2011

Dr Juniper Ellis

Understanding Literature

Facing the Truth

This Monday was the second time I went to the Higher Achievement after school program where I mentor children in six and seventh grade. The first week I went there I spent the first hour helping them with homework and getting acquainted with the students. The next two hours I spent in a group session with another mentor teaching them about Japan and reading stories about life in Japan. It was interesting to see what they thought about life in Japan before and after we were done with the discussion. Much of their previous knowledge was completely incorrect. The second time I went was yesterday and I found it to be a lot more rewarding as I was able to teach a few student how to find the area of circle, squaring, and the volume of cubes. After that I went to my group for mentoring. This week I was assigned the three students I will be mentoring for the next 5 weeks. They are all great children with great spirits. However, TJ has a bad work ethic, but the other two children, Devon and Evan, both work really hard and are very smart. I really enjoyed working with the children and I am excited to go back next week. I found that encouraging them with candy or small treats helps motivate them to do their work.

In Emily Dickson’s poems all come together through the theme of facing the truth. I found this in all of Dickson’s poems: “Tell all the truth but tell it slant”, “Success is Counted Sweetest”, “I heard a Fly buzz when I died,” “Because I could not stop for Death”.

In the poem “Tell all the truth but tell it slant” Dickson states there is “success in circuit lies.” This forms an image of an unending circle, never ending each lie fueling the other. She implies that we cannot handle the truth and it is better given to us in small doses so we can slowly understand what is happening. In another poem Success is Counted Sweetness she shows that in life people always want what they cant have which is another fact of life that people often find hard to believe. People are greedy by nature and she points this out many times even through the title it is clear what she is trying to say.

The poem “I heard a Fly buzz when I died” shows how the woman dies she tries not to face the truth and instead of thinking about her death she thinks about the fly buzz. In the last poem “Because I could not stop for death,” she is saying that if you don’t stop and face reality it will eventually catch up with you.

In Hemingway’s short story “The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber” we once again see when someone is afraid to face the truth and they are scared so they run away. Just like in Dickson last poem reality always catches up to you and Francis get shot by his wife because he is being a coward.

This theme is very true to life and I feel like it relates to my community service because many of those children don’t want to face the facts that they can actually do something with there life. They feel that they have grown up in a lower class home and it will always be like that but I truly believe that a lot of them have potential if they just put in they effort they will succeed because they have talent.