Happy Women's Month. One of the most fundamental issues that still need attention, especially in third-world countries is education for women as an empowering tool to uplift themselves. There are still voices of dissent and people who scoff at women who rise in their ranks and claim their places as leaders of an industry, or masters of their chosen profession. Here I would like to share a little bit about Education in Women. Shobana's Musings (https://shobanasmusings.blogspot.com/2023/03/education-for-women.html) I have incorporated a spotlight on my daughter who has just completed her Master's in LLB. A proud moment for us indeed. I have started a Weekly Newsletter and I hope that you will consider following the blog where I share my views on all and sundry. I have a new book published which has garnered great reviews so far on Amazon. You can read the first 2 chapters and the reviews at https://www.amazon.com/Where-Rain-Falls-Shobana-Gomes-ebook/dp/B0BWK6YBH6, Or read it on Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/my/en/ebook/where-the-rain-falls Have a great week. Best wishes, Shobana Gomes https://alittletimewithshobana.blogspot.com
My wedding was in June, 2020 just after quarantine. Every woman does want to have a baby and lives with passion of beacoming mom. So did I. I had to wait almost 6 months to get pregnant. When I appeared to know that I was pregnant I was over the moon. I can't say I had really hard time during pregnancy. I was just sensitive to the smells so I couldn't cook meals and nothing more. However, I didn't know how hard days were waiting for me. At the end of May, 2021 I was informed that baby's water was gone and almost non left. We made several chech-ups but the answers were the same. So I had to go to the hospital. My baby was too small to be born but the doctors decided to take it out after five days of treatment otherwise it was really dangerous for me and baby. Because my temperature was getting higher and higher. They took my baby out by caesarean section in 29th week of pregnancy. It was too small that could not breathe itself. My mother prayed for me and baby all the time, my parents did everything they could so that I and my baby would get better and let it live. After a week baby started breathing himself. It was the biggest happiness for the whole family. We were at the hospital for about a month. Then we went home holding my baby in my arms. Thanks God he is now a healthy boy. He can run, jump, say several words, understand everything he hears, play with his dady and he loves his little brother, too.
I have seen in my own experience that the Covid-19 has had a strong impact not only on people's lives, but also on the economy and education. It was the year I started working at the school after just graduating from university. Since I did not have experience of working with school students, I mainly took classes from primary school and less senior classes to teach. It was just my first year of working at the school. I was having my fair share of challenges working with pupils of varying learning abilities. In order to help them, I had to work with pupils who have difficulty in learning for free. When it was the last weeks of the third quarter, which is the longest study quarter in the schools of Uzbekistan, a week-early vacation for all kinds of schooling was announced that people infected with Covid-19 were also detected in the territory of Uzbekistan. The vacation lasted for several weeks, and the prohibition of going out became stronger as the days passed. In such days, I began to think about such questions like "what will happen to school education?" "How to continue studying?" As the most of my school children were small, there was a high possibility that they would forget their knowledge if they were not engaged for a while. When it became clear that the situation would not improve for a long time, it was decided that school education would be continued online, and teachers of each subject prepared and broadcast video lessons on television. In addition, we prepared topic explanations and gave tasks as video lessons and shared them with the students, and checked the tasks they completed all through the Telegram network. The course of the lessons in this form was a convenient environment for students to copy from each other, at the same time to get grades without studying and effort. This could be seen from the fact that many students (of course, not all) did the tasks and exercises in the same way. It was especially noticeable among primary school pupils. However, warning parents about preventing plagiarism could not help much. This was how the last quarter and the 2019-2020 academic year ended, and the students went on summer holiday. On September 19, which was the beginning of the new academic year 2020-2021, students started going to school following the sanitary rules. In the process of learning new themes with students, the fact that pupils could not master the lessons well during online classes had a strong impact on their ability to understand new topics. Because in the textbooks, the themes are always arranged step by step to study, depending on each other. As older students, who had had less difficulty, developed independent learning skills, it caused elementary school children could not understand the new lessons that during quarantine they had not been able to learn the topics in live examples during face-to-face lessons with the teacher. Their lack of understanding led to the fact that they had missed a lot of knowledge without mastering it, and as a result, the students' knowledge decreased. Not having live lessons with schoolchildren, especially elementary students, brought many difficulties and problems to teachers too. Despite the fact that the quarantine is now completely over, teachers are experiencing the difficulties of filling the "void" in the minds of many students. Because the greatest failures of the future will come because of the poor quality of education today. For this reason, the responsibility of successful future forces teachers to eliminate the problems caused by Covid-19.
"Please wait, the meeting host will let you in soon." My heartbeat pulses through my temples as I click the "Join Meeting" button. That Zoom screen is so daunting. It's a little hard to believe that my thesis defence is about to begin because it seemed like something that would never happen. Then again, I never thought I'd partake in virtual schooling and write a thesis without my academic cohort, but COVID had something to say about that. Yet, here I am, sitting behind my periwinkle laptop, awaiting the biggest presentation of my life. I frantically scan the dozens of post-it notes scattered behind my desk one last time. All year, I'd been fretting about the scenario in which I didn't know the answer to a question posed by someone much smarter than me. Would I be doomed to fail? I tell myself, "Deep breath. Just do your best, that's all you can do. Also, try not to blush." A grey wheel starts spinning on my screen. This defence is about to happen. And I'm as pink as a peeled grapefruit. As I enter my virtual room, I see half a dozen boxes arranged in a grid. I recognize my two supervisors while meeting my two evaluators for the first time. I've read their work and know them by name, but seeing their faces suddenly makes this more real. These are REAL people conducting REAL research, and they've read my work. That's slightly terrifying. "Welcome, Shayna, to your master's defence," our departmental director greets me. "How are you feeling?" Gulp. "Well, I won't lie, I'm a little nervous, but I'm looking forward to getting started." More like I'm looking forward to finishing, but that seems a bit too brazen to admit upfront. "I imagine so," the director graciously acknowledges, "but try not to worry too much. We're all looking forward to engaging in a rigorous conversation about your work." As the director outlines the format of the defence, my attention is partially directed towards a notification on my screen: "Wishing you all the best for your defence today. Love you!" I smile. I would never be in this position without my loved ones. I know my worth isn't determined by my work, but it helps to know that I'll have a wonderful community of supporters regardless of how everything turns out. "Unless you have further questions, let's proceed with your presentation," the director concludes his opening remarks. "That sounds great," I concur. My hand trembles above my laptop's touchpad as I share my 12-slide presentation through my screen. I also say a quick prayer to allow the Wi-Fi connection to work seamlessly for the next two hours. So far, so good. As five pairs of eyes orient themselves towards mine, I begin to speak. I've rehearsed this presentation enough times to know that I can comfortably land within my 15- to 20-minute time slot. Once I finish up my piece, my examiners and supervisors take turns posing questions related to their field of inquiry. I had prepared answers to some of the questions, so those were no problem. But for others, I try to formulate an on-the-spot opinion based on my research. I just hope it's enough. The director speaks again. "Thank you, Shayna. We'll place you in the waiting room for a few minutes as we deliberate and let you back in shortly." Once I'm booted out of the meeting, I exhale more air than I've ever let out in my life. My part is over. Now, I wait. Two minutes pass by in a flash as I try to regain my breath. Then three minutes... Five... Eight... Okay, so I'm definitely going to have to make changes, but whatever. I just want to rip the band-aid off and know what they are. Ten... Eleven... I'm about to pass out. Twelve... Thirteen... Fourteen minutes later, I'm brought back into the meeting. Everyone is wearing the same half-smile, which feels like the most difficult expression to dissect. "Hi, Shayna," the director says. "How are you feeling?" Like my head is about to explode. "A little relieved, but also happy it happened." "Well, I have some good news... We've decided to accept your thesis as is, without any changes." No... That can't be right. Is this for real? "Congratulations, Shayna." I guess so. We exchange a few more pleasantries, but I have no idea what's coming out of my mouth. I'm still fixated on not having to make revisions to a project that consumed my life for the past COVID-ridden year that I can barely hear any voices outside of my head. I fold my laptop to a close, and it takes all of three seconds before I start sobbing at my desk. It's over. My degree is finished. But it's not really my degree—it's the combined effort of several intelligent and loving individuals who helped me at every stage of this journey. My shoulders feel all the weight of that moment as I sit at my desk by myself, soaking up the reality of being free from this defence. Plus, I could finally satisfy my day-long craving for an Oreo McFlurry. Best McFlurry I ever had.
Internet is been widely used around the world and the majority of the users are children. It has made communication easy and fast to access. Internet has both negative and positive effects on children. “Blessing and curse are just like the two opposite sides of the same coin”, (Avik Sarkar). The positive side of the internet on kids is that they get the chance to widen their knowledge from lecturers online. “Using the internet for study increases the knowledge and that increases the confidence of the students,” (Pramela). On the other hand it has negative effects if not controlled by adult. Some of the effects on children is poor health. You can find a kid sitting in front of a computer for a longtime playing games. This may cause the kid to have poor sight and among the video games some have negative effects. It can lead to having aggressive thoughts, feeling and behaviors. In order to stop this we need to come with measures that would be good to the society. Like educating the kids on the advantages and disadvantages of internet in a good way so that they understand. Adults or Parents should give their kids a limited time to use the internet and control what they watch all the time. There are many ways to do it, this is just an example am giving out. By doing this we will help the kids not to go astray.
We are done with our training on the new competence based curriculum rolled out throughout the country. #Education #Business #positiveliving #genderparity #positivemasculinity #familyhappiness #resilientlife #communitytransformation
We are done with our training on the new competence based curriculum rolled out throughout the country. #Education #Business #positiveliving #genderparity #positivemasculinity #familyhappiness #resilientlife #communitytransformation
subconscious ordeal* It was a cool Saturday evening, I went to watch a football match which ended at around 11 p.m. I decided to trek home since I had no money left on me. On my way home, I passed through a scary bush path that was supposed to make my journey Short(apian way as we fondly call). While walking through the scary bush path, I started hearing sounds of birds which seemed normal at first, so I walked further. The sound became scary this time, which activated my adrenaline, hence I took to my heels. The sounds came with a terrible breeze and a nice scent which made me wonder where the scent was coming from. I paused afterwards, just to observe if someone was coming behind. My body trembled in fear when I saw no one. However, I could still perceive the scent even more which convinced me that someone was definitely following me, and this heightened my fear. Nevertheless, I summoned up courage and continued my journey home. This breeze came again, but this time with a terrific scent and horrible sound from various angles which frightened me the more. Swiftly, I saw a lady pass, and all of a sudden my heart started beating fast, and my head in turn weighed more than my body could carry. Surprisingly, the lady made her way through the bush and I lost sight of her. That moment, I felt a slow yet heavy slide down my pants, I then realized I had dropped a liquid excrement. My eyes saw my ears and I thought the end had come. Slowly and steadily, I sped off, taking an unknown direction which seemed to be a path leading towards a cemetery. Unknown to me, I was heading closer to the end of my existence! The devil was calling unto me and I was running to him for rescue unknowingly. As I ran and shouted for help along the road leading to the cemetery, I could only hear terrifying laughter and voices and that increased my speed. I felt the earth rotating and I staggered to hold a balance. I was bewildered at the things I saw. First was a grave epitaphed "the end is near", I trembled. Again, I saw a sculpture dripping what seemed to be blood. That moment, I knew I just paid the fallen angel a visit. From a distance, I saw a creature wearing a white cloth with gray hairs all over her head, her face was so wrinkled that I could barely see her eyes. I just saw a ghost. Unbelievable! I was so scared to death that I had to run; but the farther I ran, the closer she came. I was so confused on what to do that I forgot God, I forgot to pray. My body was vibrating as if I was being electrocuted, my clothe was drained with sweat and I felt cold under a very scotchy sun. I gave up the run and Immediately, I heard the woman saying "welcome my son, don't be afraid because tonight you have made the right choice" come and see what place I have kept for you. I was calling death to come soonest before she touches me but little did I know, she was death herself. Nothing was working at this point. Before I knew it, I was down, struggling to free myself from her grip. Then I had one very last choice to make, facing the evil itself amidst my fears. I turned to look straight into her eyes but all I could see was a burning fire with a sharp tooth desiring a fest. Her mouth was full of blood and her hands and legs were so terrible that I nearly puked. The devil abducted me and starved me for five days. I lost my last strength and hoped I could die away. On the fifth day, I saw the same figure marching towards my direction, in her hand was an axe glittering. She scratched it against a wall hoping to send fear across. She succeded, because all I knew at that point was fear. I couldn't move a limb not to talk of speak. I saw death. When she was close enough, she raised the axe above my head and immediately, I jerked from my slumber to a realization that I had been in coma for two weeks. Just then, I wondered why I had to see the devil while I was still alive. Story by cheif host
Many a time we fail to accept responsibility for our own lives. We forget that we drive ourselves to our own promised land. The most notable winners at some point encountered heartbreaking obstacles before they triumphed. They succeeded simply because they refused to be victims of circumstances. Certainly, nobody glows more than he who let the hurt go. Growing up just like any other normal kid I used to run around whenever I saw aeroplanes in the sky. At school I would say when I grow up I want to be a pilot. Can you imagine the excitement of the Wright brothers on the morning of that first flight? For the only boy in a family of four that would surely make a mother proud. Dreaming, after all, is a form of planning and only execution brings a glimmer of success. Things took a sudden twist in 2009 on the 21st of August when mother was involved in a fatal car accident along Seke road. Her spinal cord was left damaged and there was no hope that she could ever walk again. She was admitted at the Avenues hospital, where her recovery path seemed smooth. Within a few weeks, she was transferred to St Giles where she was to learn how to use a wheelchair. On one particular day, a doctor on night shift mistakenly handled her whilst she was in her sleep and she fell off the bed. Efforts to keep her alive were made but she died on her way to Parirenyatwa. When I received the news I realised that making mom happy was out of reach. The pain I felt made me want to save lives. I wanted to be a different doctor. Peace of mind became a fallen concept for me. I knew that for me to achieve this new found dream I had to work extra hard even if it meant that I had to starve whilst on books. It is during our hardest times that we discover our true taste and desire for success. I refused to conform to the dogmas of the society I lived in. Many a time young children who lose their mothers end up vagabonds. I constantly asked myself certain questions: Who am I around? What are they doing to me? What have they got me reading? What have they got me saying? Where do they have me going? What do they have me thinking? For some time I hated the so called street lingo ‘swagg'. Simply because I had an educational standard I was termed a nerd. I chose not to limit myself because of other limited imagination. I chose to leave a trail where there was no path than to further bare the usual pathway. I conquered my worst fears, failure. I joined medical school in august 2018. Driven by my personal statement: ‘TO BE THE LEAD PROVIDER OF INCLUSIVE QUALITY HEALTH. TO PROVIDE EQUITABLE, QUALITY, INCLUSIVE, RELEVANT AND COMPETENCE DRIVEN HEALTH SERVICES IN OUR BELOVED ZIMBABWE. I do not wish to be the wealthiest but certainly the most educated doctor of my generation with the aim of specializing later on as a neurosurgeon. Too many people wish to cross the fence and be where the grass is clean. I believe I am where I should be, all I need is to just water the grass I am standing on to make it green. The gods are different, the times are different but the underlying precepts of caring for the sick wherever or whoever they may remain the same. Having gone through some of the oath's for doctors I solemnly promised that I would to my best ability to serve humanity caring for the sick, promoting good health and alleviating pain and suffering. I now turn to my calling, promising to preserve its finest traditions, with the reward of long experience in the joy of healing. This promise is made freely and without coercion. Life is what we make it, always has been, always will be. The best way to predict your own future is to create it and live to it. It is under the greatest adversity that there exists the greatest potential for doing well.
So I sit, in my navy blue cap and gown, observing the torrent of cars flood the street. Our car is dull, black, and inconspicuous, just how my mom prefers it. She didn't come along, she despises crowds. My brother sits ruefully in the backseat, conned by my father's bait of ice cream afterwards. He is also graduating, and will attend my high school next year. I can't blame him for being somber; his trips and celebrations were hijacked as well. The parade feels like a sham, and so I sit, festering in a puddle of sweat, at the mercy of the sun and the driver in front of me. Many parents spared no expense - painting their windows, balloons tied to mirrors, proudly proclaiming their children's name, and future university, that is if they were ‘one of those parents'. Others proceeded with less pomp, perhaps some chalk on the windows, a flag to half-heartedly twirl. Then there were those like us. My dad breathed a sigh of relief when he saw a considerable proportion of cars barren and hollow. Passing grade. I wonder what kinds of families occupied those cars. We pulled onto the major road and the procession grinded to a halt as the leading cars pulled into the parking lot. Many families stood on the sidewalks, waving signs and hats and banners. Proud of every graduate, whether they knew them or not. Proud of their community, of their future, of who we had become… I wonder what kinds of families twirl those banners. Inching along the street, I glanced out the window in systematic intervals, deflecting eye contact with anyone I vaguely knew. A classic high school obstacle - eye contact. Catching eyes, calculating whether I knew someone enough to say hi, then waiting too long until we rudely rip our connections to shreds and walk past like strangers, even though a couple seconds ago, we hardly were. My dad waves more than me. How am I supposed to wave at someone I don't know? My brother, done sulking but still not ready to admit it, peeks his head out the window. All I can do is watch and smile listlessly. It seems like, with half the parade over, half of high school had been squandered as well. As we turned the corner onto the last stretch before the parking lot, someone caught my eye. I cried out to my English teacher, a warm, soothing, refreshing woman who I grew to love and respect over the year. She smiled a mother's smile, and I felt some baggage slip off my shoulders and sink into the car seats. In the home stretch, most of the families on the streets were taking photos of their graduates. I made the most of it, smiling, waving, doing things that came naturally to a chosen few at the beginning. Some cheerleaders performed on the side. I remember at basketball games being miffed by their chants everytime we scored. This time, I was glad they were here. At the stop before the parking lot, I noticed a rising senior, an officer of a volunteer club I was co-president of. She was our choice for president, an intelligent, charismatic, outgoing, unabashed figurehead. Everything I was not for the majority of the ‘parade'. I stuck my head out the window, inquiring across the street if she had picked a leadership team for next year. She looked away, smiled sheepishly, and congratulated me. Always an escape with her. I sat back down, mildly concerned. She would do a good job. I smiled softly, wondering if she would take the club where I could not. We zoomed into the parking lot, my dad excited by the space the car in front had finally conceded. The final turn. I held a piece of notebook paper with my name on it for my announcer. I almost already knew, but Mista Bale, my basketball coach, econ teacher - the man who had shaped me today was rocking the announcers booth. He boomed into the speakers, “My man, Pranav Mitsumurthiiii!”. My stats teacher snapped a quick photo of me, and shooed us along a line of crazy, rowdy, deafening teachers. I smiled genuinely, perhaps for the first time, as I saw them, living four years again in the 30 seconds the line lasted, until finally, suddenly, it was silent. Graduate. As we drive home, my hair, untrimmed and chaotic, finally dislodges my grad cap, shoving it to the floor between my feet as it springs upwards. I stare blankly out the window, thinking so many things and nothing at the same time. Given the circumstances, the school did a fantastic job. But the parade also represents cruelty, helplessness, regret, and for the life of me I cannot forget that. So as I see friends pile out of their cars onto the grassy fields to celebrate and commemorate, all I remember are the experiences I left behind, and the opportunities that were cruelly wrenched from my grasp. And when I finally get home and flop onto my chair, one final smile dances across my lips. I have many regrets. But we are the class of 2020, and we have become strong.
“Ayushi, could you wait back?” Mr. Bhati, our economics professor stops me from leaving the class for the period break. “We expect great things from you. Continue to work hard. I believe you can top the state and get the highest in economics this year.” ‘Sir, I will try my best.' I was the promise made eagerly, broken promptly. Dopamine, the pleasure hormone, is released not only after an achievement but also much earlier, in anticipation of it- A lesson I learned last week from Dr. Robert Sapolsky's lectures on neuroscience but one, my subconscious has always known. The reason this happens, Dr. Sapolsky explained, is that the dopamine release acts as a bait to encourage hard work towards success for more. I had chanced upon a shortcut- finding satisfaction in the multiple mini releases, never striving harder for better. I didn't last anywhere near the top. Instead, I was so nervous during the economics exams, I missed the last question. I wrote such elaborate first few answers that I felt short of time towards the end. ‘I knew everything but didn't keep track of time,' I repeat after being awarded the GMAT's penalty on not finishing a section. Twice. A stellar employee makes a major blunder in the second project she leads as an analyst. Yes, me. I crushed on my best friend for over four years, only to break up in a week fearful of the insecurities that started to pop up. He cares, he cares not. What if I start liking someone else? Will I be a cheat? Then and since, as I repetitively failed expectations, I also developed an acute phobia towards commitment. Almost chick, never chicken. Instead, the remains of an unfertilised piece of egg excreted monthly, promising potential, never promise! I didn't make it big. I didn't make it. Instead, I quit the job and made it back to my parent's house hoping to find something I was good at and happy to do. Two years and three jobs later, I am working with my sister to create a utilitarian art brand, still here, in my parent's house. We were starting to do well when COVID hit. Confused, scared with no clarity about the future. The extra hours and limited distractions struck at the rusting pendulum. Oscillating between the regrets of the past and ever-so dreadful ‘expectations' from the future, for once, I am struggling to gain a foothold in the present. Refreshing IG feed every hour no more transforms into an hourly wallow of self-pity looking at friends traveling or getting promoted. The world hit pause and now, most everyone is working from home, cooking, and reading. I fight temptation, delete IG to work, and work on myself. In those hours of uninterrupted introspection, I finally made the long-awaited tear-jerker of a ride 12 years back to when I was made to take accountancy, commerce, and Mr. Bhati's economics as my electives instead of biology, chemistry, and physics because father thought I wasn't dedicated enough to pursue medicine. I had not worked hard enough since. I don't know what contributed more to that prophecy. His words. My rebellion. Both. Sitting on the floor leaning on the wall closest to the router, I type a cover letter to what could have been an application to a med school until my ass hurts and my eyes burn. Desperate to compensate for the last decade, I spent the first few weeks of the lockdown learning to speak in French, cook, garden, write and invest. Days passed, became weeks. The initial enthusiasm started to wane because there was a lot of learning but as many results. I realized I was getting better at things I learned by doing like cooking, unlike those I learned passively about. I had to converse in French. I had to type, scribble, jot. Not just read books on it. Anything is easier read than done. Attempting to do everything, I wasn't doing anything well. I had to streamline my subjects. Call it greed, I chose to start with investing and designing. Impatient to recover all the past losses, I started out to make a few mistakes, costly ones but slowly I am learning to pick better quality companies. We are creating better designs for our art brand too, some that inspire for a happier present, others in the hope of a better future. Now, when someone asks me what I do for a living, I won't mumble that I am a Chartered Accountant and a CFA, distracting them with my academic qualification. As I think back to the still very empty bank account and the room I continue to inhabit in my parent's house, I now have hope. With every unrealized gain I make on the investments and with every positive feedback we get on our designs, I stand a little bit taller, my eyes smile a little bit wider. If tomorrow, I wake up to hear that quarantine has ended, I might not jump out of bed with excitement. After a long shower and a slow breakfast, when I step outside, it will be with equal amounts of hope and dread that the unknown brings. The world would have changed. I would have changed too. For the better.
We are faced with deciding how we are going forward. Will we accept that there is going to be a new normal? Or are we going to live in denial of the facts, and strive to return to the old normal? It is human nature, it seems to me, to resist changes, and to seek what is already established. I have friends who believe that we have been lied to about the coronavirus, its source and about how serious it is. They believe it's not as serious as we have been told. They believe we need to return to the old normal. Unfortunately, we can find anything out there to support our preferred point of view. I believe that we must keep an open mind, but at the same time we must ask in every situation, "Is this really true? Is this really what the facts support?" It really is a question of continuing our education! A matter of doing a full and completely honest job in our research. We can't afford to be less than honest with ourselves! We must separate facts from myths. I believe that we must accept, based upon honest research, that there is a new normal. It would be nice to share more than one photo per post, but that's not how this platform is set up to focus on. I accept that. Here's a photo that lacked much color prior to editing in Snapseed.
When I tell people I want to study classics, they give me weird looks. “What?” “That's so random.” And I agree; it's completely and totally random. Like many competitive schools nowadays, my classmates — including me — are hyper STEM-focused. Here, you'll find Robotics flyers posted on twenty-three different Instagram stories, enthused student officers screaming at you to sign up for Finance Club, news alerts about our national championship Math Madness team and the like. There's this newfound belief (read: pandemonium) that STEM education holds the key to a secure, prosperous future. And if the pop-up of private, $30k/year schools with STEM-focused, Advanced-Placement-driven curriculums aren't indicative warning signs, I'm not sure what is. A belief? Maybe. I think it's a madness. I've spent most of my time delving into the world of science and math. So I'm not knocking on the merits of STEM education at all; my chemistry research mentors and Science Olympiad advisors would be at the very least offended if I threw away their gifts of knowledge like that. Yet, there's something lost in the neglecting of humanities; in a sea of future mathematicians, entrepreneurs, and engineers like myself, I can count the number of history/literary hopefuls I know on one hand. My interest in classics is recent. I've only just begun to delve into the two-thousand-year-old world, and I'm only starting to put together the pieces of the field's significance. For the most part, classics, like other non-STEM fields, is soothing. It's fun and interesting. I'm fully aware that there's genuine passion and fulfillment in crunching numbers and solving physics problems, but the arts and humanities just strike a different chord — one of free expression, boundless imagination, and infinite understanding. Unlike STEM, I believe classics is relevant in teaching the value of us — our past, our motivations, our fate, our dreams, our limitations — through the lens of myths. As Homer famously says in the Iliad, “Hateful to me as the gates of Hades is the man who hides one thing in his heart and speaks another.” Classics, unlike many liberal arts fields, draws value in stripping away deceptions and cloaks; it gives us raw anguish and emotion, dissimilar to modern works, which arguably encourage an understanding of complex historical context. But the field of classics is fundamental — there is nothing prior, only other myths in context. As the basis of Western literature and really, civilization, classics is incredibly crucial to unlocking the secrets of famous works. T. S. Elliot's well-known “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” makes clear references to Hesiod's Work and Days and opens with Dante's Inferno — the latter of which literally features Virgil throughout. Elliot also makes references to Shakespeare's Hamlet, which cites the Fall of Troy (the Aeneid), among other allusions I definitely missed. Mind. Blowing. (Or am I just a nerd, and this epiphany only surprising to me?) I imagine the average Biopage reader is well-read; if not specifically in classics, at least with contemporary literature, modern journalism, and the sort. It's something I aspire to be. And for me, and all my fellow science nerds, perhaps the best way to find ourselves is by reconnecting with our roots — even if it's old, dead, white men.
It was the first summer that I was here in Ashland when I still enjoyed an innocent and unbounded hope about the future, which since then has given way to a far more pragmatic sense of qualified optimism. I was taking math classes at SOU, my son was not yet born, and I took a certain joy in doing my calculus homework in the evening, after my wife and infant daughter were already sleeping, at the few late-night haunts in town with a decent kitchen staff and after-hours menu. That night, I was at Harvey's with a cheeseburger and fries, nursing a cider, and working out integrals per a worksheet of common transformations, in longhand on graph paper. I happened to overhear an exchange between the bartender and a slightly-drunk, eager beer-drinker who had just arrived from a show that had just finished down the street at Standing Stone Brewery. Bartender: What can I get you? Customer: I'll have a tap beer, whatever you got in an IPA. Bartender: Sure thing. Where ya comin' from? Customer: I just saw the Brothers Reed over at Standing Stone. They just finished up. Bartender: Cool, you know, I've heard about those guys but I've never seen them play. How was the show? Customer: [Blank stare]. They're very popular. I met a retired professor from Berkley at a holiday party earlier this month. It came up in our conversation that he hastened his retirement (only slightly, he was quick to clarify) in part because his students would no longer visit him during his office hours; instead, they sent him text messages, wondering how soon he would be able to post a PDF of the minutes from his latest lecture to the class forum on the university intranet. Human interaction has quickly become a side-product, a hassle, a sort of if-I-must technicality of last resort. He felt less connected to his students quite generally, and also felt the pressure to make way for faculty that had more facility with that stuff: presumably email, and text messages, and online form-filling. He mentioned as well that working out grades at the end of the semester seemed to be decidedly more error-prone, now that he was forced to fill out a spreadsheet online, instead of using the now-archaic combination of ink and paper. That yearning for a curated experience has spilled over into music for the younger generations, it would seem - as if the music fans of today are only interested in perusing the top 10 list for their genre of choice, with little regard for how it is assembled, or what the criteria are for excellence. Perhaps, a kitschy twist on the line from Arnaud Amalric, and the disastrous Albigensian Crusade: "...the Lord knows who are His." As long as someone is sorting something out, little matter the details. Just tell me what is popular, so I don't have to waste time figuring it out for myself. Where's the fun in that? There was once a time, that I remember fondly - if, to be fair, with some embellishment - that personal tastemakers ran amuck in society, doing very tedious things to make their preferences known. Things like designing their own band t-shirts with markers and ball-point pen, making garish tie-dyes in plastic buckets, and spending hours making cassette tapes from radio broadcasts for sharing with friends, or prospective lovers. The mix-tape has resurfaced of late, but it no longer represents what it once did - the mark of a tireless commitment to personal branding is now gone, such that we can simply enter a phrase into a search box, click a bunch of '+' symbols, and share to socials without so much as having to press play and record at the same time on a cassette deck somewhere. At the risk of sounding like an old man waving his fist at a windmill, I would just like to make the point that in those days it seemed both plausible and logical, perhaps even inevitable, to have differences of opinion - and by extension, many if not all of us were forced to contend with the ambiguous details of our own taste. Today, not so much. Even with a few beers in his system, even when speaking to a friendly and attractive bartender with genuine curiosity about the music he just saw, the average concert-goer can only muster up a fuzzy reference to collective opinion, and a slight sense of horror at being asked to form an opinion on the fly. It is possible that from the quaint confines of our Rogue Valley, the great patterns of humanity are too far in focus to yield any empirical verity. Yet, it is also possible that we have lost sight of a simple truth: that personal conviction is sexy, and blind allegiance to the perceived zeitgeist is not; and that unless we make time and space in our society for the individual's need to turn inwards and explore, only vague intimations about collective opinion will remain in place of the once-passionate embrace of unique preference. With that, I yield the remainder of my time to the youngster who speaks, without irony, for an entire generation.
Although this is not my first venture into the online literary club this format is a tad bit more fluid than WordPress. To begin my online Tale I would like to give you a back story on who said young black male is. I grew up around white people all my life in south florida. All my teachers and majority of my friends were white. The last girl I dated for years was also white. I knew that the differences between us were apparent but I simply refused to acknowledge it.\n\n Through out my life I slowly felt as if I didn't belong. Outside of sex, drugs and video games me and most of my white friends had nothing in common. I was nothing like them and regardless of how long we were friends at the end of the day are differences effect my relationships. One of the biggest wake up calls was when I got was by one of my closest friends. I truly believe that at the end of the day Im just a black guy and the divide between blacks and whites is an large invisible wall.\n\n I no longer ignore the blatant racism or avoid the gazes of hatred or fear. In my primary profession I communicate with elderly caucasian people damn near every day. I frighten, disgust or insult certain guest simply with my presence. It's incredible that every black person or person of color understands completely yet rarely discuss the discrimination that they face. I have to be a happy go lucky clown at my workplace or else I'd end up being the stereotypical angry black guy.\n\n The worst wake up calls I have received are \\"snow bunnies\\". White girls that make it very clear they exclusively engage with black men. I learned fairly quickly that these types of girls think less of black men than openly racist bigots. To \\"snow bunnies\\" you are just dumb enough to keep her entertained. I assumed my ex found me attractive but when they say they love black men they love them all. It was a hard pill swallow when I had to admit that white girls will always see me as just another black guy at the end of the day.\n\n Besides friendship and relationships an incredible wake up call I have received is at my workplace.\n
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