Found Poetry

In social studies, we have been reading The Golden Spruce by John Vaillant. This week, we were tasked with the challenge of creating a “blackout” poem using one or two pages from the book. I chose to use pages 8 and 9 because the imagery the author used to describe the forests of the west coast was very striking, and I liked the idea explored on those pages of the forest being a very powerful force. I really liked the language of many of the sentences on the pages I chose, so there were sections that I did not blackout as much because I liked the sentence as a whole. Though this was quite a bit out of my comfort zone, I am glad that I did attempt to write a blackout poem. I know that it is not the best, but I think that I definitely gained a new appreciation for poetry, the book itself, and also some new problem-solving skills. This was a very involved task and I like that this activity encouraged us to synthesize something from a page of the book into poetry. I think that this activity was a lot of fun, and I would like to do more creative activities like this in the future to push my boundaries and see in what new ways I can apply the knowledge I have gained from The Golden Spruce.


 

Here is the poem that I came up with:

Displaying IMG_20170426_210141730.jpg

If you cannot read it from the picture, here it is in written format:

The trail of  person, the thread of a story,

is easily lost in such a place.

It is not a particularly comfortable place to be,

you can become disoriented.

No future, no past,

only now.

Boundaries between life and death,

blur and blend.

everyone wants a piece of the sky,

the feeling that you will be over grown,

absorbed,

by the slow ancient riot around you,

can be suffocating.

The need to see the sun can become overpowering,

you could easily,

if it weren’t for all those,

virtually unbroken,

rain clouds.

Airborne,

burst open.

It rained enough to float an ark,

essentially,

to support life on a grand scale.


 

The other part of this activity was to choose a photograph or drawing to go with the poem. Since the first line is about “the trail of a person” I thought back to my time in the mountains, at home, and in Nepal. And the last line about “supporting life on a grand scale” also made me think of this picture as the valleys and mountains were so large and the scale was so grand it made me realize that life can be so large. I thought that a picture of a trail in Nepal would be appropriate and would be a good accompaniment to the poem. This is a picture of the stretch of trail just after Namche Bazaar.

Leading up to Confederation

Below is my second confederation blog post, if you have not read my other blog post, then go here to read it. My character is Henrietta Muir Edwards who was a women’s rights activist and reformer. My twitter account for the confederation role play is @Henrietta_Muir. 

This blog post was to take place between 1860-1866 leading up to confederation. It is meant to show the aim, obstacle and action of Henrietta at this time. It is also meant to show Henrietta’s predictions and hopes about confederation as well as any “requests” about how confederation should be.


 

27/10/1864

Cher journal,

Aujourd’hui est très excitant! Today the Quebec conference has ended, with quite a few interesting results. I was happy that the conference was so close to Montreal, it took place in Quebec City, just up the river. I thought that I might get to see some of the politicians from different parties fighting, but I saw very few politicians here in Montreal, and everyone was really very civil. I found a card the other day with Etienne Cartier’s face and information on it! At first I could not imagine what this card would be used for, but later mother explained that each politician had a deck of cards (“calling cards” she called them) with pictures and information of other politicians so that they could memorize them when talking to each other! To me that sounds pretty funny, but of course those old guys would need a little help with their memories.

I am happy that confederation is in the process of becoming a reality, I think that it will lead to a lot of economic benefits, stability, and a strong central government. Father, who is an avid reader of the news paper, says that the Americans had a whole civil war because their central government was weak. I don’t necessarily think it was weak, but they did give a lot of power to individual states. I hope that confederation does really happen, and that it happens with no blood shed.

However, I don’t think that confederation is enough to make for economic benefits, stability, and a strong central government. French Canadians, First Nations, Inuit, Metis, women, and all minorities of Canada need to be recognized and be given a seat at the table. We need to be given equal rights, and to be treated as equals in society as well as in the eyes of the law. We need to be given the right to speak up, and make a difference in the way confederation plays out. We are just as much Canadians as anyone else, and we all deserve to have the chance to contribute to the confederation of a place we all call home. The legislature that they are creating will affect us as much as it will the law-makers themselves, so I think that it is really important to not over look the rights of minorities while creating the legislature of confederation.

Though I have great hopes for confederation, I do not think that equal rights for all in Canada will be a reality for quite some time. Though this confederation is more civilized than others (the American’s for example) it does not mean that it will include more forward laws. Though there is inclusion of French Canadians in negotiations, not everyone has been given a voice, and this means that the population of Canada will not be equally represented in government. This is a hard reality. There is still a lot of misogyny and racism in our society in this day and age, and there is not a lot I can do as a 15-year-old girl here in Montreal.

I have written several times to the local newspaper in response to some articles, but none of my letters to the editor have been published. I have written in about misconceptions, stereotypes, and falsehoods written in the newspaper about women. My sister sometimes says that it is hopeless to write in to the newspaper about those matters, but I insist on continuing to writing, to continue to try my best to break down the stigma around minorities so that we can have a real voice in confederation and real power to create change.

The Quebec conference is coming to an end today, and though I feel very happy that confederation is becoming a reality, I feel hopeless that there is not a lot I can do so that minorities are represented in the future government in Canada.

I hope to make a difference in the future, I have said for a long time now that when I grow up, I would like to go into politics, but right now, it is a rather un-realistic dream.

Précis

The introduction to the report by Parks Canada called, Unearthing the Law: Archaeological Legislature on Lands in Canada was a good insight into archaeological evidence that support the fact that people lived in Canada long before European settlers and uses helpful examples to explain these ideas. It uses archaeological evidence (on land) to show that groups of people lived in different areas of North America at different times in history. The goal of this report was to better understand North America’s history as a whole. The report is very comprehensive and well organized; if you are interested in archaeology in its relation to Canadian history, this is a good report to read.

“For at least the first 20 millennia of human occupation in Canada, no written records were kept to describe lives and events. Even after the arrival of writing, records were usually sparse in describing how our ancestors lived. Sometimes, major events were commemorated in oral traditions; but memories often fade, particularly in details of how the vast majority of any given population lived day to day. Nonetheless, Canada still has powerful tools to illuminate its own roots. Archaeological resources are Canada’s archive of its ancient and historic past.”

Here is the link to the introduction of the report: http://www.pc.gc.ca/eng/docs/r/pfa-fap/sec1.aspx

On Cultural Transmission, Development, and Attachment

Socials So Far

To start off the social studies semester, we have been looking at Canadian history; specifically, the history of First Nations, Aboriginal, and Métis in Canada. We have discussed a lot of questions so far including: What is cultural genocide? What are the aspects of cultural genocide? How did Canada commit cultural genocide? Why is cultural transmission valued and why is its disruption so bad? What is the Truth and Reconciliation Commission? What is the Mandate of the TRC? Why is reconciliation important? What are the key components of reconciliation? I have learned a lot about Canada’s dark past, its implications, what we are doing now to right wrongs, and about the difference between the values of the Canadian settlers and the values of the Aboriginal peoples. However, at certain times, I have had a hard time connecting on a personal level to the topics we discussed in class. I have a hard time imagining the country that accepted my family and I with open arms 12 years ago, could have committed such atrocities against Canadian Aboriginals. I find it hard to imagine the version of Canada does not have the same emphasis and values around multiculturalism.

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We have learned a lot about the TRC. Image sourced from: http://www.trc.ca/websites/reconciliation/index.php?p=312

When we began to talk about the culture and the values of both settlers and Aboriginals, I began to understand the thought process and emotions behind their actions. Talking about the backgrounds, beliefs, and especially the culture of the two groups helped me humanize them, and relate to them on a personal level. I began to see the settlers and Aboriginals through the lens of their culture; I began to see how the progress of time has changed their cultures in to what we are familiar with now. Culture gave a context for the actions taken and a clue to the emotions and thoughts behind the actions. I soon found it easier to imagine being a settler or Aboriginal at the time.

Cultural Transmission

One specific concept that really helped me connect with Canadian history on a personal level, and learn lessons that I could apply to my own life, was cultural transmission.

“[Cultural transmission] is the process of learning new information through socialization and engagement with those around you. The cultural transmission of knowledge is a broad concept, and it refers to knowledge that is gained through non-biological means; the theoretical basis of cultural transmission is that throughout our development, we acquire a considerable amount of knowledge simply by being present in our culture.” (White, 2011).

Cultural transmission is something that I value a lot, and something that is valued greatly by my family. A large part of cultural genocide is the disruption of cultural transmission, and seeing how important cultural transmission is to me, I could only imagine how bad the results of disrupting cultural transmission are.

Questions, Perspectives, and Goals

For our first blog post, we are supposed to answer a question, I have decided to explore: Why is cultural transmission valued and why is its disruption so bad?

To answer why cultural transmission should be valued and why its disruption is so bad, I will be looking at this question through the lens of development and attachment from a young age. I chose this perspective because it relates the topic directly to me as I am still developing, forming attachments, and learning about my culture. I also chose this lens because my mum always told me that attachment is the basis for all relationships. By understanding attachment, and how it is developed, I can better understand other relationships as well; for example, how the relationship between the Canadian government and the Aboriginal people has developed over time.

Through this blog post, I would like to better understand myself, the people around me, and the people I read about from history. I strive to learn the importance and value of culture to different people as well as how to respect other cultures. I would like to learn the importance of having cultural diversity, and the importance of developing an identity as a person, as a culture, and as a country. However, I think that my biggest goal is to learn to understand the multiplicity of history.

Impact of Healthy Cultural Transmission on a Developing Young Person

A lot of the information that we receive daily is through cultural transmission, even if we may not know it. The reason we understand what is socially acceptable, what social cues mean, body language, and other concepts that vary based on culture is because of cultural transmission. For example, no one told me that I have to tip when I go to a restaurant, but because that is what is expected from this culture, I do so by following the examples of friends and family.

Cultural transmission is important for young people to develop a healthy sense of self, and to become well adjusted. “The self develops within a culture, and the beliefs and practices of the culture are absorbed into the individual’s psychology,” (Baron, 2005). Better understanding the people around us, the world around us, and how it all works can help young people better understand themselves and how they fit into the context of their world.

Cultural transmission can create a safe sense of community for the people who are a part of the culture and can help young people to become more open-minded and accepting of others. “As individuals’ psychology is built [through cultural transmission] their behaviour and thinking allow them to live comfortable within the culture and to communicate more easily with others [from other cultures and their own],” (Baron, 2005). As people become more comfortable within their own culture (and with themselves) they can become more accepting of others and more willing to step out of their comfort zone as they continue to have a safe space within their culture.

Image result for community
Cultural transmission can create a strong sense of community. Image sourced from: http://toosmall.org/community

Cultural transmission through a strong support system can aid in healthy physical, mental, and emotional development. “Secure attachments with [culture] have been linked to later social and cognitive competence… Children who have positive relationships with [their culture] are more likely to engage in the kinds of interactions that foster the language skills and other competencies required to succeed in school,” (Vasta, 2009).

Cultural transmission passes on traditions from generation to generation; installing the importance of cultural transmission itself. Oral story-telling traditions are very important to Aboriginal culture and this practice passes on the stories of band history to younger generations. The history of bands has been traditionally passed on orally for many years, with many stories still known today.

Impact of Cultural Oppression and Genocide on a Developing Young Person

Cultural oppression can result in isolation, little sense of self, little sense of community, difficulties in social adjustment, mental health issues, addictions, and devalued perceptions of culture. However, the biggest impact is that people may come to struggle with sense of identity and may be ashamed of their own culture (when their culture is perceived as less than by popular culture). The oppression of one generation continues to be passed down for many to come; parents who are cut off from their own culture may have attachment issues, when they raise their own children they pass on the same attachment issues they struggle with indirectly to the child. This can continue on for many generations and is why reconciliation for wronged ancestors is also very important, though it may be overlooked. Self –worth, support systems and the meaning that we give to life is very important, when these concepts are not explored within individuals and cultures, or views are forced onto people, it can lead to severe mental health and addiction issues as a coping method. Though Aboriginal culture experienced genocide, it is still alive today.Aboriginal, First Nations, and Métis populations had to endure extermination and assimilation efforts and were able to do so because of cultural values and strengths such as spirituality; respect for traditional values and ceremonies; extended family networks; allegiance to the family, community, and tribe; wisdom of the elders’ respect for the environment and the land; connection to the past, adaptability, and the promotion of such themes as belonging, mastery, independence and generosity. (Myers & Spencer, 2004).

Image result for aboriginal art canada
Aboriginal art depicting Canada. Image sourced from: https://www.pinterest.com/angelwilliams10/nwc-art/

So What? What Now?

Understanding the role of cultural transmission throughout history is important to understanding how cultural influences and biases shape our narratives about history today. Identifying the impacts of cultural transmission helps to put the importance of culture in perspective. Looking at cultural transmission through the lens of development and attachment has helped me better relate to the narrative of Aboriginal oppression in Canada on a more personal level. I think that through this blog post, I have come to appreciate my own Romanian and Canadian culture more as well as have come to realize my Eurocentric (ethnocentric) bias. I have come to have more appreciation for the cultures that have undergone oppression and genocide but were revived and continue to live on today. I have come to learn more about the importance of developing identities as individuals, cultures, and as a country. Through the research I have done for this blog post, I have come to appreciate the multiplicity of history, and can see how patterns easily repeat themselves. This research has challenged me to look at the identity of Canada in a different way. Canadian identity and values have changed a lot over time; today we are known as an inclusive multicultural society, but we were not always that way as I have learned from social studies these past few weeks.

 

Resources:

Baron, R. A. (2005) Exploring Social Psychology (4th Edition) Pearson. Toronto, ON

Myers, D. G. & Spencer, S. J. (2004) Social Psychology (2nd Edition) McGraw-Hill Ryerson Toronto, ON

Vasta, R. (2009) Child Psychology (2nd Edition) John Wiley & Sons Mississauga, ON

White, D. (2011). What is Cultural Transmission. Retrieved on 08/02/17 from http://study.com/academy/lesson/cultural-transmission-definition-theory.html

Other Resources:

https://www.boundless.com/sociology/textbooks/boundless-sociology-textbook/education-13/the-functionalist-perspective-on-education-100/cultural-transmission-562-9625/

http://www.nyu.edu/econ/user/bisina/Palgrave_culturaltransmission2.pdf

https://cocosci.berkeley.edu/tom/papers/LabPublications/CulturalTransInfoProc.pdf

https://www.boundless.com/sociology/textbooks/boundless-sociology-textbook/education-13/the-functionalist-perspective-on-education-100/cultural-transmission-562-9625/

http://indigenousfoundations.arts.ubc.ca/

http://ineducation.ca/ineducation/article/view/142/617

http://www.beststart.org/resources/hlthy_chld_dev/pdf/FC_K13A.pdf

http://www.ecdip.org/culture/

Eminent Interview, A Learning Process

I think that the interview aspect of eminent is the hardest for me personally. I sent out more than ten e-mails and got very few responses. However, the interviews that I did end up getting were very helpful and gave me a lot of insight. In the end, I think that it was worth putting in all the work of sending out so many e-mails because I did get three good interviews that really helped shape my project.

Image result for uno langmann limited fine art vancouver bc
Uno Langmann Limited Fine Art http://www.hellobc.com/activitylisting/100413/uno-langmann-limited-fine-art.aspx

I interviewed Jeanette Langmann the curator of the Uno Langmann Limited Fine Art, Adair Harper a curatorial assistant from the Vancouver Art Gallery and Kathrine Dennis the adult programs coordinator also from the Vancouver Art Gallery. All of the people that I interviewed are around art on a daily basis and are often the people making the decisions around what is inside of their gallery. These people are very well informed and I feel very lucky to have had the chance to sit down with them.

Image result for vancouver art gallery
Vancouver Art Gallery http://www.insidevancouver.ca/2014/01/08/free-sunday-admission-for-kids-at-the-vancouver-art-gallery/

Going in to these interviews my goal was to gain more insight into the art world now and in the recent past and put my eminent person into the context of the global art scene. I may not have reached my goals exactly, but I did learn a lot from the experience that I could not have learned any other way.

Before even starting the interviews, I asked how they would first define that art that we would be discussing. The answers that I got were pretty similar in that all of them described art as a mindset or a perspective of looking at things. Katherine told me a story about young children coming into the art gallery. They viewed a piece that was a pile of rocks and were asked, “Why is this art?” and they answered “Its art because its meant to be art,” (as in the artist had intent to make a piece). I think that the small anecdote Katherine told describes the kind of answers I got to my question on the definition of art.

Image result for pile of rocks
http://normazf.deviantart.com/art/Pile-of-rocks-209202278

To get a better idea of art in context, I asked them about what are pieces inspire them and about what makes a provocative piece. I learned that curators pick pieces that start a conversation or grab attention (good or bad) over pieces that are visually pleasing. This was an interesting revelation for me as an observer because I usually think of art in the aesthetic sense first. This helps me better understand the context of Ai’s art in galleries around the world. I also learned that a piece is provocative only if it allows for it. Adair helped explain this idea using a narrative around Duchamp’s fountain piece. When the urinal was first displayed on its side in a fancy gallery, it was shocking, and it made people question why it was art. It was provocative because no one had done anything like that at the time and because it started a conversation around art. Yet, if the same piece were to be displayed now, it would not be as shocking because it has already been done and we are used to seeing more unconventional art now.

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Duchamps Fountain http://www.beatmuseum.org/duchamp/fountain.html

To get a better idea of the influence of art and influences on art I asked about arts effect on society, the implication of mass media, arts effect on modern philosophies and the societal issues that are common in art today. At these questions there was pause. They are all rather broad questions, and I got an array of answers. However, what I got out of it was that art doesn’t always affect societies directly but can impact individual people. With mass media art is now seen in the public eye more often and is more accessible to people. I learned that common societal issues in art are ever changing and very different from place to place and time to time. Many artists right now are currently focused on politics, in Canada Aboriginal themes are very common. Though these questions were rather vague, I think that I got some good information and it helped me better understand the vastness of the art world.

At the end of the interview, I simply asked if there was anything else that I should know based on the questions I had been asking. I am now very glad that I took the time to ask this question because I got some very helpful answers. All three of the people I interviewed recommended that I continue to pursue researching art, pursue experiencing art, and pursue making art. Katherine said that the best way to learn about art is to get immersed in it. I found this advice very helpful. Though I am currently very busy, this made me pause and think about visiting a local art gallery as a learning experience. I hope that I find the time soon to go to a local art gallery, I think it would be very beneficial for my project and would challenge me mentally.

I think that these interviews helped me look at Ai Weiwei from a broader perspective. The interviews shed light on the opinions many people in the art world hold about influence, inspiration, society and controversy. These interviews helped me put my eminent person in to context to better understand the influence of his work and what it means today. However, I think the most important thing that I learned from my series of interviews is that art has big roles in the lives of many and is something that should be held dear to our hearts. Art can convey deep emotions and we should not take our freedom of expression for granted. This interview helped me better appreciate the career path not just of my eminent person, but of all the artists, and curators out there. The passion of Jeanette, Adair, and Katherine really moved me and made me think about trying to pursue some form of art in the future.

Eminent D.O.L.: Speeches are coming up!

If you have not already checked out the small Ai Weiwei biography I wrote in my intro post, you should!

Eminent has been a very good experience so far. Though I expected to be very stressed and worried at this point, I feel surprisingly calm. I think that everything is going very well, and though my posts are a little late, I still feel okay about the work I have done so far.

I am now very glad that I took so much time to pick my person as this project has been a lot more fun. I have decided to really take my time with all the steps of this project and I think that it has helped me to gain everything that I can from this experience. I think that though there is less we have to do this year; I have learned more because we really have to synthesize this project as we embody the person.

Image result for ai weiwei
We look like twins! Right?! http://www.zimbio.com/pictures/Tub97RiVTX/Ai+Wei+Wei+Sorry+Exhibition+Opening/WrEOUJwXIr1/Ai+Weiwei

In the beginning I really struggled to even imagine embodying Ai Weiwei simply because we look so different; but as I began to write my speech I found ways to connect with him through philosophies and history. I think that his fight for freedom of expression and transparency is very important and I agree that he is doing right by standing up for himself and for others. I have never gone through what he has, and I don’t think that I ever will in this day and age in Canada. However, my family has had similar experiences to Ai. Both of my parents grew up in a communist country and experienced first hand the oppression of their government when they were restricted to express themselves, to read certain books, and to travel anywhere. Media at the time was limited and heavily controlled by the government. My parents went through similar hardships that Ai is still facing today, and this connection has really helped me better understand him and relate to him.

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Weiwei and his son Lao http://friendsofaiweiwei.tumblr.com/post/54872152918/ai-weiwei-and-his-son-during-a-visit-to-the-park

For my speech, I chose the perspective of Ai talking to his son Lao as he is being taken away to jail. This viewpoint reminds me of my parents telling me about the hardships they faced as young people. I picked this angle because I think it will make for the most impactful stage presence and overall speech. I have inserted my speech below, it is a rough draft and I am sure it will change a few times before NotN. If you have any suggestions for my speech, please comment below, I really appreciate it!

You ask why the police are putting me in jail? Why your father is being taken away? Why I am being forced into to prison?

I’m not sure what to tell you son.

This is not the first time I have been sent away, I was in exile for the first 18 years of my life. My father was an artist, like me, and we were all sent away because he spoke his mind.

He did not do anything wrong, I did not do anything wrong, my mother did not do anything wrong.

Nothing has changed; and I have not done anything wrong now.

I am being silenced, censored, suppressed.

I spoke out when I saw wrong in the world, the way my father taught me and the way I will soon teach you.

Let me tell you son, in Sichuan, 5,192 young students died; because of the crumbling school infrastructures. And they did nothing. The government launched no investigation, they released no names, and they laid no blame.

But I knew who was to blame for the 5,192 deaths of children. The deaths of children like you Lao. My investigation was only meant to bring peace to the families of the departed. They deserved to know that their child is truly gone.

This injustice should not be silenced, censored, suppressed. We have the right to know and we have the right to speak. I want change and I will fight for change so that you will not have to.

I know now what to tell you son.

I am being taken away in chains because…

(I will get dragged off stage at this part)

Thanks so much for checking out my speech. Just a few more days until we go on!

I also wanted to highlight somebodies work, because they have worked very hard. Rachael has had quite a difficult time with her interview and she has kept a very level head about it all; I really admire her or that. If you want to read more of her work and learn about her interesting eminent interview, you should head on over to her blog! I think that she really deserves the recognition for her hard work.

I hope that everyone is having a good eminent experience this year! I know that though it may be a struggle now, everyone will be more than great on the night of with their speeches and learning centers. Good luck everyone!

Finding My Eminent Person

I have really struggled to pick someone for eminent this year. There were so many great people that I wanted to study that it was hard to pick just one person! I really wanted to step out of my comfort zone again this year by picking someone in a field I don’t plan on actively pursuing in the future but am very passionate and curious about. I thought about picking someone in the field of science research, but I feel that I already learn about this in my own time; I really wanted to take advantage of this learning opportunity and get as much out of this experience as possible.

This year I decided that I really wanted to study an artist, and at first I looked into the “classic” artists that I could study. For a week I pursued studying Salvador Dali, but after researching him further I realized that he wasn’t a good fit for me as my values didn’t seem to line up with his. I also struggled to relate to him as he was a rather privileged person. This seemed to be the case with many of the “classic” artists (Vermeer, Rembrandt, Monet) I pursued. Most of them were white men who came from privileged families, though not all were.

Image result for ai weiwei
https://c9e2175da161f40140e5-aa0d32f8a22e15794b262b38ea14b77e.ssl.cf3.rackcdn.com/index.html

So, I decided to look into contemporary artists and I found so many wonderful artists with similar values and backgrounds. However, China based artist, architect, curator, and filmmaker Ai Weiwei stood out to me because he is also heavily involved in activism. You may know him best from the “Bird’s Nest” building he created for the 2008 Beijing Olympics, yet I soon found out he has done so much more. I began to research Ai Weiwei’s biography, then his art installations, then his activism, then I watched some of his documentaries. I wanted to pick someone for eminent that I was not just intrigued by, but captivated by; and I think that I found that in Ai Weiwei.

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5.12 citizens investigation, http://teachernina.weebly.com/journal-entry-five—ai-weiwei—personal.html

I think that Ai Weiwei is eminent in his field because he really evokes thought through his projects and has shed light on many important issues. An example of this is through his “5.12 Citizens’ Investigation” project. At 14:28 on May 12, 2008, an 8.0-magnitude earthquake happened in Sichuan, China where over 5,000 students in primary and secondary schools perished in the earthquake, yet their names went unannounced by the government and press. In reaction to the government’s lack of transparency, a citizen’s investigation was initiated to find out their names and details about their schools and families. This project had political implications, but more importantly this project brought peace to the friends and families who had lost loved ones in the Sichuan earthquake.

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Painted Han Dynasty Urns, http://artasiapacific.com/Magazine/70/AiWeiweiDroppingTheUrnCeramicWorks5000BCE2010CE

This is just one of his monumental works. Ai Weiwei has been sparking conversations and controversy through some of his other projects which include painting and breaking Han Dynasty urns. However, my personal favourite work of his is “Sunflower Seeds” which was an installation at Tate Modern where he scattered 100 million porcelain “seeds” hand painted by 1,600 Chinese artisans—a commentary on mass consumption and the loss of individuality. The effect is amazing.

Image result for ai weiwei sunflower seeds
Sunflower Seeds, http://www.juxtapoz.com/news/ai-weiwei-sunflower-seeds-mary-boone-gallery-nyc/

However, his road to success in the art world was very rocky up until very recently. In 1958 at the age of one, Ai and his family was sent to a concentration camp in Beidahuang, Heilongjiang. They were exiled to Shihezi, Xinjiang in 1961, where they lived for 16 years. Upon the end of the Cultural Revolution, the family returned to Beijing in 1976. In 1978, Ai enrolled in the Beijing Film Academy and studied animation. Later, Ai moved to New York to pursue art and lived there in the 80’s and 90’s where he had a few art pieces and installations showcased. However, in the 2000’s he began to really take off. He had his art showcased, books published, and he founded his own architecture firm, FAKE, and made a studio for himself. His messages of freedom of expression spread all around the world. However, his messages often clashed with the philosophies of the Chinese government. After years of harassment and physical abuse from the government he was arrested and held by the police for 81 days, with no charge. After being released, Ai Weiwei continued to work on his art and continued sparking dialogue between the contemporary world and traditional Chinese modes of thought and production.

The Black Cover BookThe White Cover Book [PW07]The Grey Book Cover [PW12]

Images of publications sourced from: https://www.moma.org/interactives/exhibitions/2012/printout/works/the-grey-book-cover-pw12/index.html#

Ai Weiwei is now one of the most influential Chinese artists and political activists today. I am very excited to try portray him, though I am nervous to impersonate him as we don’t look alike. I hope that through this eminent project I can learn more about the art world and political activism and develop my passion for these topics.

Division, Discrimination, and Community

Human beings are hardwired to connect and to belong. We all have this great need to be part of something greater than ourselves, to connect with others, to be part of a community. I believe that belonging to a group is essential for thriving and wellbeing. Collective identity has the right intentions of creating a community so that the people with in feel safe and they feel that they have a purpose and meaning. Collective identity builds a sense of solidarity, a sense of support and courage. When people get a great sense of belonging and if they feel that their voice matter, they become more loyal and as a result their group becomes really cohesive.

Social Division photo from: http://blackandwhitestreet.com/sites/default/files/styles/bws-copy/public/Social%20Division-1.jpg?itok=QMp987Yh

On the other hand, Collective Identity is that has a tendency to create a gap between people who belong to different groups. We identify and feel loyal to people belonging to the same group. it then creates a gap between the people who are not inside the Collective Identity. Though it is meant to unite people, it more often isolates and divides people by creating tight boundaries around our groups and communities. Some examples of these groups might be cliques in the school or government parties. No matter where you go, these communities exist, and though they do not mean to isolate themselves from other people or groups, the inadvertently do so by creating a specific Collective Identity that the members of the community conform with. The idea that I am focusing on is “Collective Identity is constructed and can change over time.”—if you haven’t guessed so far. I picked this topic mainly because as a person who is passionate about social justice, I hate to see people suffer from racism, classism, sexism and many other things that Collective Identity can often lead to. I talk about Collective Identity through two content areas unifying the content and the main idea with the theme of division and isolation (ironic, right?). I then go on to talk about competencies through the lenses that I asses social through—my mindset and perspective.

Community Photo from: http://www.raww.org.uk/images/community.png

The first reason I picked this idea is because it is a theme that shows in many areas of my life and I subconsciously and consciously relate my learning to this idea because it is something close to my heart that I deal with every day. Which brings me to my second reason which is, I deal with this topic everyday as the TALONS group forms a collective identity. The grade nine talons are now storming and norming to create a dynamic community and a big part of the process in creating a community as such involves making a Collective Identity as we are now. I also learned more about my big idea through my eminent person who was a big civil rights and social activist that faced a lot of hardships. Collective identity is something that has impacted my life and those around me as Canada has a very open collective identity that takes pride in the people all around the world that have come to live here, and for that I am very grateful. If we had moved somewhere else with a collective identity that isolated immigrants, I would be a very different person today, which is an important reason that I picked this as my big idea. The last and perhaps most prevalent reason that I chose this theme is that Collective identity can often isolate people and create a division which may lead to racism, sexism, classism, and more. I am very passionate about social justice and I don’t like to see people be torn down by discrimination so this topic stood out to me. I just want to add that though Collective identity can create a division sometimes, it also creates unity and is a key part in building a community.

Canadian Collective Identity Image from: http://www.tvdsb.ca/webpages/dowsettr/imageGallery/history/timhorton_snow1.jpg

I see Collective Identity in many of the content areas but particularly discriminatory policies, attitudes and wrongs as well as nationalism—which is an us vs. them scenario in this case. I picked two content areas because I feel that they are intertwined and that it would be hard to talk about one in this context without mentioning the other. The common link that connects Collective Identity to discriminatory policies, attitudes and wrongs as well as nationalism is the idea of division. Though collective identity unites, it isolates everyone who falls outside of that identity and that can lead to nationalism, discriminatory attitudes, discriminatory policies, and all around wrongs. It creates the idea that everyone within the collective identity is better or right and that everyone outside the collective identity is less than or wrong. Because of these warped views, discrimination can arise. I have seen many examples of this idea and content areas in my learning, but there are a few that are especially dominant in my mind. When I learned about Maya Angelou through my eminent study, I got to be educated on racism quite a bit through her life story. Maya grew up in a time of extreme inequality for African Americans and for Women; she had to go to a separate school just because of the colour of her skin. She had to use different bathrooms because of the colour of her skin. Her life was de-valued because she did not fit the collective identity America had at the time just like the lives of the many Native Americans that we learned about when we talked about Columbus. Columbus treated the lives of the Native Americans with disregard because they did not fit the collective identity of the Europeans. Columbus created discriminatory policies against the Native Americans, treated them in an unfair way and over all wronged a very peaceful people greatly. Columbus didn’t look at the Native Americans as fellow humans, but as a species separate from his own. People are scared to step out of comfort zones, we welcome familiarity as an old friend and cast away change like an enemy. However, if we don’t want to repeat the same mistakes that Columbus made, we need to reach out and try to understand other groups. When we understand our common humanity, the things we have in common become stronger and the things that are different aren’t so scary, they just make us unique. Then, we are more likely to accept those that are different than us and work together in the human struggle to overcome our difficulties, big and small. Another example of this type of disconnect can be found in the English Civil War as different religious groups, the Protestants and Catholics, as well as government parties, the parliamentalists and the royalists were divided and fought for many years. The groups did not understand each other and casted the other off as wrong and bad. However, I think the strongest example of Collective Identity in relation to the two content areas, discriminatory policies, attitudes and wrongs as well as nationalism is the niqab issue which we talked about in class. The niqab has always been allowed at citizen ship ceremonies as long as the people wearing them are identified beforehand. However, all of the sudden, there was a big motion to ban them. Not too many people were harmed by this motion, in fact, one of the young ladies who was stopped from getting her citizen ship received it just a few months ago. However, Harper implied that the collective identity of Canada was dsc_05511very open and that the niqab is “un-Canadian” because it comes from an “anti-women culture” and because it hides the faces of the women. However, if he thought the Canadian Collective Identity was open, then would it not be open to religious head/face wear? Harper created a division between him and the Muslim community that day by saying that wearing the niqab is “un-Canadian”. Harper claimed that he was trying to free them from their oppression by taking away their right to wear the niqab. But by taking away this right, is he not oppressing them? Harper attempted to create a discriminatory policy that violates religious rights in Canada, he had a discriminatory attitude towards the niqab and did not try to understand the women involved in the problem, he offended many people in the Muslim community by creating that divide and overall wronged those women. As you can see, there are many examples in my learning of this idea in relation to the content areas that I picked.

Trial of the King Image from: http://assets3.parliament.uk/iv/main-large//ImageVault/Images/id_303/scope_0/ImageVaultHandler.asp

I think that I have done well with the inquiry, and ethical judgments competencies but have quite a bit of room to improve on the significance and evidence competencies. I think that my ability to asses the significance of people, places, events and developments especially are not very strong. My other area of weakness is assessing the justification for competing historical accounts after investigating points of contestations, reliability of sources and adequacy of evidence. I think that I got to explore these competencies more in the trial of the king, and though I attempted to get better at focusing on evidence and significance, I believe that there is still a lot of room for improvement. I think that if I made a bigger effort to read more about the topics, consciously focus on the facts at hand, and try taking notes in a way that shows the significance of ideas I could make progress. I hope that at the end of this term I will have gotten better at these competencies. I think that an area of distinction is making reasoned ethical judgments about controversial actions in the past and present, and whether we have a responsibility to respond. I think that as we studied Columbus and the English Civil War, I got to put these skills to the test as we considered ethical questions like, “is the end worth the means” and “what is progress”. The other area I believe I did well with was in using the social studies inquiry process to: ask questions, gather, interpret, and analyze ideas; and communicate findings and decisions. I believe that my curiosity helped on the more open-ended assignments that we had, for example when we tried to sum up the history of the world from the 1400-1600 or when we researched our person for eminent. My mindset when it comes to social studies is deeply rooted in emotions and ideologies. This perspective has helped me a lot when it comes to making ethical judgments and in inquiry around topics, but has not been advantageous when looking at evidence and significance.

The common thing tying Collective Identity to my content areas and to my competencies is of course, me. Me and my passion for social justice. Me and my mindset around socials that is embedded in emotions and ideologies. Me and my life as a TALONS learner as we create a community and as I learn more about the world through socials. Collective Identity has good parts and bad. I am still learning about them all and I am excited for the rest of this term to continue to cultivate my skills, improve others and learn more.

I couldn’t add all of the image sources in the description because of formatting issues so here are some of the other sources:

http://kfor.com/2014/06/10/native-american-commercial-targets-washington-redskins/

http://www.masterjules.net/columbus.jpg

http://ahwazi-action.org/