We Are Words

Reflecting back on this year, I realized that I have learned a lot about myself and how I present myself to those around me. I had a great amount of freedom and independence in my english class this year and with this, I was able to find a greater sense of myself through my creativity and imagination. For the past couple of years, my english classes have been very repetitive—it’s the same routine every week. I did not expect anything different going into my junior year, but I was very wrong. I learned a great deal of lessons and/or discovered new ideas that have opened my mind through reading the essays that my teacher, Mr. Ziebarth, provided us with in class. One of the most memorable essays that I remember reading was from the beginning of the year. This essay talked about how we are language; humans communicate with each other through words, and these words allow us to express our feelings and emotions with one another.


Russell James © 2015

“Actions speak louder than words”

I definitely agree with this statement but only to a certain extent. Because language is primarily how people interact with one another, the words we use are extremely significant. We use words to explain how we feel because language has meaning. The way we phrase or place words together have a huge impact on how our feelings get across to others. On the other hand, our actions can either reveal what our true intentions are or how we, as humans, make mistakes from time to time. It is very common to feel one way but act another, and I think this is one of the most unique things about being human beings. The emotions we feel inside cause us to feel a certain way but when our actions speak otherwise, it leaves other people questioning our character. After reading Catcher in the Rhye by J.D. Salinger, I realized that though actions do speak louder than words, they do not entirely define who we are as human beings. Throughout the entire novel, the main character, a teenage boy named Holden, constantly expresses his hatred for phoniness. He is in love with the idea of innocence, but is somewhat of a hypocrite because he is a compulsive liar who enjoys putting himself in situations where he is forced to pretend to be something/someone that he is not. This causes the audience to feel like he is an unreliable character and narrator because his actions do not align with his word.


Russel James © 2015

As a reader, I found myself feeling extremely frustrated with Holden’s character because of the inconsistency of his actions. However, after I finished reading the novel, I came to the realization that Holden is like any other teenager and/or human being on this planet. He has his own feelings, morals, beliefs, etc. but sometimes his actions do not line up with these emotions. He strongly expresses his opinions every chance he gets because this novel provides a deeper insight of what it is like to be most teenagers—lost and earnestly trying to find themselves. His character embodies the overall confusion one may feel through a wide range of emotions. Even though his actions do not correlate with what he claims to feel or believe, I don’t think this necessarily makes him a bad character. It is easy for readers to point out that he is a conflicting individual because of his actions; however, understanding the normalcy of this type of behavior makes it easier to accept him as a character. With this, I think people should be more understanding when it comes to people’s words and their actions. There is a huge difference between saying what you say just to say it, and saying what you say because you mean it. I think it is completely normal to feel a certain way but act upon it differently because this is a huge part of learning and growing. Some may say that we lose our innocence as we grow up because we are exposed to different situations or types of people in this world, but I disagree. I firmly believe that innocence is never necessarily lost because learning, growing, and changing are all a part of our lives as human beings. Our innocence will always be deep within the crevices of our hearts because we all latch onto an unknown hope. Actions speaker louder than words, but these actions are not always an accurate depiction of our true character. Throughout this hectic year, I have learned that sometimes we make decisions that do not make any sense. Some may judge and try to beat down your character when your words do not align with your actions, however, I think there are a great deal of people who are compassionate, understanding, and most importantly, forgiving. With this being said, I do not think that we should stop expressing our feelings because even though it prevents people from setting expectations of how we should act, language and words allow us to express our love and feelings with other people. You know the true intentions of your heart and as you grow, you will find the strength to act upon how you truly feel.


Hi guys! I just wanted to share a quick review of a high school play that I attended Friday night.

The play, “Pippin”, was extremely entertaining and exciting to watch. General admission was only $5 dollars, but they sold out quickly so I had to pay $10. Either way, I think the price was definitely worth the money… especially since the money is going towards the theater program.


I went with my friend, Krystal, and we both didn’t really know what to expect. I’ve never attended a high school play before but I have always wanted to. As soon as I sat down in my seat, I immediately started to observe all of the production on and behind stage. I loved watching everything behind-the-scenes come to life. I watched the lights, the music, the orchestra, and the actors/actresses all come together to put on a wonderful show. You could tell that the theater program worked incredibly hard to make the show thrilling for their audience. The acting in the play seemed incredibly natural, which made the show more enjoyable for me; it was never awkward for me. The actors/actresses had so much life to them and they definitely engaged with their audience. The singing was amazing, the dancing was great, and there was a wonderful balance between drama and humor. Every scene blended with each other nicely and I loved how I never knew what to expect! Overall, Pippin was an entertaining play to watch and I highly recommend attending the play!

It’s at Ocean View High School and it starts at 7 PM!

You have one more day to watch it! Tomorrow night (Saturday)! Don’t miss the opportunity to watch an incredible play 🙂

Emily B xx

Home of the Living or the Dead

Our world has evolved and advanced tremendously throughout the past couple of decades. The emphasis on education has reached the ultimate high and a majority of the world’s population can agree that gaining an education and having a creative mind are essential when it comes to reaching success.

I have a passion for people and I know that whatever I aim to become, I want to help people and impact their life in a positive way. To be more specific, I have always wanted to become a surgeon because I think it would be amazing to save lives and help people when they are in need. The medical field has expanded exponentially over the past few decades, especially when people started to greatly appreciate science and mathematics. Our brains are an incredibly sophisticated and useful organ that is still yet to be fully understood. We have sought to understand many things about this world, but there are things that we, human beings, cannot comprehend—the beautiful complexity of the mind. Our minds.

I love the brain. I love the anatomy of it, the intricate functions that it carries out, the composition of it, the vulnerable fragility of it, the unfathomable beauty that it withholds and the list goes on. The thoughts that we have and the movements of our muscles occur because of the brain. The different processes that need to take place in order for our bodies to respond to our environment are instantaneous. We interact with our surroundings with help from our different senses, and these senses are essentially intact due to the signals from our brain to the rest of our bodies. We are able to do various of things with this organ and without it, who are we? What are we? Nothing?

Easy Science for Kids © 2015

I ask myself several questions regarding the brain because it baffles me how this one organ can declare you dead once it stops working. There are many factors that can contribute to brain death, but one of my favorites to learn about are brain tumors. There are different types of brain tumors: benign, malignant, primary, and metastatic. I love brain tumors not because of the damage that they can cause, but because of their ability to adapt and survive. They remind me of humans in a way since we are all striving to survive in our environment—we all want to live. I feel like if you view brain tumors in this perspective, you are able to deeply think about different ways to gently remove the tumor with deep care. If I do become a neurosurgeon one day (my ultimate dream) I would want to appreciate the brain tumor for it’s determination to live and essentially, for it’s survival.

In my eyes, being able to extract a tumor from a human brain seems like a rewarding yet tiring procedure. Your hands are tightly gripping onto the tools, your eyes are fixated on the fragile organ, you are cutting the brain open, every move is precise; significant. It is just you, the patient, and the tumor. You don’t let the chaos distract you, you are admiring the tumor and solely focused on removing it with gentle care.

Texoma Medical Center © 2015

I could honestly go on and on about the brain: it’s various functions and the amazing things that it does for our body, mind, and soul; however, talking about the brain tumors help me put things in perspective. Life is so fleeting. We all go through life hoping to make something out of ourselves. We all strive to succeed and essentially survive. When I think about how we instantly die once our brain stops working, it drives me to get a deeper insight and understanding of our brains, how it works, and why it wants to work. How are thoughts created? How do we receive our thoughts? Is our conscious physically apart of our body/mind? There are so many questions that are still yet to be answered or fully understood, but if we just took a second to deeply appreciate this magnificent organ, we can (and will) make progress.

The brain is beautiful and tragic. It is the home for the living or the dead.

Emily xx

Godin’s Goods

For today’s blogpost, I am gathering different thoughts and ideas inspired by an intellectual and insightful conversation between early internet entrepreneur, Seth Godin, and a journalist/interviewer, Krista Tippett. This conversation, “The Art of Noticing, and Then Creating”, genuinely opened my eyes to an entirely different perspective on how to be true artists. The conversation between Godin and Tippett reminded me of how beneficial and fascinating one conversation can be when two people are deeply invested in collaborating and sharing ideas. From the very beginning of the interview, Godin talks about how “we are invited and stretched in whatever we do to be artists—to create in ways that matter to other people”, and this idea made me question the different ways I personally choose to express my thoughts and ideas with other people.

Around the time I was in middle school, I realized and firmly decided on living a life that was filled with purpose—and I still feel that way now. I don’t want to have a profession nor do I aim to become a person that doesn’t serve, change, or impact the people/world around me; I view this as a selfish and lonely way to live. Godin’s thoughts on creating something that would essentially matter gave me a deeper insight on not just what, but how, to effectively do that. Some of Godin’s main claims and ideas are:

  • Weave a story, network, product, etc. that means something
  • Realize that you have a position/role in your community—connect with people
  • Do not flee from negative feedback
  • We are all artists
  • It is okay to colaborate and work with others
  • The people who are making an impact today are doing it despite what they learned in school
  • Strip away the things in your life that gives you space to hide
  • Do not be afraid to be wrong or ask questions

When I listened to Godin’s response to the points or questions Tippett brought up, I realized that most of his claims are what most people, including me, think. We’re just too afraid to say it. On the other hand, some of his claims are quite complex and difficult to fully comprehend since he uses deep observation and analysis in order to form these ideas. I have certain questions regarding some of Godin’s claims but for the most part, his thoughts are familiar to mine, and some of them even relate to what my english class has explored since the beginning of the semester. Some of the ideas that we have explored so far in our class revolves around the idea of looking at English literature as a form of art, and to act as artists in order to create something that matters. The idea of being true artists is essentially what Godin is trying to emphasize throughout the entire coversation. After understanding the message he was trying to convey, I started to ask myself: Are you truly growing into an artist and if not, what can you do to flourish into one?

Salt creek Beach_D3X8435_1In the beginning of, “The Art of Noticing, and Then Creating”, Godin speaks about how we are all artists and that we need to understand the role we play in our community. This reminded me of an individual vs. community topic that my english class tirelessly discussed for a couple of weeks. Our class question was: “How does an individual affect a community?” and this brings me back to Godin’s thoughts on recognizing the role you play in your community and fulfilling that position by connecting with people. Personally, I think that I can connect with people very well because I am hospitable and welcoming. Developing deep connections and relationships with people are something that I am extremely passionate about. At an early age, I realized that putting others down is not a useful way to spend my time. I knew that I wanted to use my voice in order to stand up for causes that are bigger than myself. How do I see my role in society? I am a teenager. However, I am a teenager that has the desire to help others when they are in need. I know that if a person needed my help, despite who they are or the mistakes that they have made, I would step up, become a leader in my community, and help. I find myself fulfilling my role in society by giving freely to those in need, by picking up my trash and recycling any chance I get, by showering for not as long so I can conserve water, to help people with homework when they need it. These examples may be small but when you combine them together, they help define my role in my community. I am a firm believer of making change without needing materialistic resources—all you really need is pure intenions, a small group of people that are willing to listen, and doing something that is “genuine and connects”. Standing up for a cause or creating something that is “fake for entertainment” will most likely not resonate throughout the world with longevity. Sure, it might last for a few days, a few months, or even a few years, but nothing would compare to a cause that is honest and authentic.

A crucial and valuable skill that I have developed over the sixteen years of my life is the ability to not run away when I am given criticism or negative feedback from others. Sometimes, I find myself being sensitive to the negative things people say about me or the things that I am proud of, love, cherish, etc. However, particularly in the past couple of years, I have gradually been able to accept the negative feedback and run with it, not away from it. Like everyone else, criticism will sometimes get to me, but I am proud of how much I have evolved over the past few years. In my english class, we do many peer reviews with our essays, blogposts, and projects, and I have grown into enjoying receiving the feedback from other students. Being able to gracefully receive constructive criticism is one of my biggest strengths when it comes to growing as an artist [and as a person] because it gives me an opportuity to be open-minded and accept other people’s ideas, instead of creating work based on my own knowledge.

When Godin speaks about how we need to create things that matter to people, I started to think about all of the work I have done in my english class and whether they are merely just another check off my list of things-to-do. Am I really putting my heart and soul into the things that I create? Does my work have any impact on my community or humanity as a whole? To answer these questions, it is a yes and no. I know I sometimes hold myself back because I start to doubt myself or I am simply afraid. Fear. It gets the best of us sometimes. I am certain that fear can prevent us from working to our fullest potential because my own fear of rejection and failure plays a driving force in why I sometimes choose not to openly express my thoughts and ideas. I am sure that if fear didn’t have such a huge impact on my life, I would be able to create, confidently display, and share my work with those around me. I have the right intentions/ideas when writing an essay or creating a blogpost, but it can be extremely difficult when I have this deep concern of being wrong and not succeeding. Although this fear does not cause me to necessarily give up or run away, it does sometimes hinder my abilities to create something that I can be truly proud of. After realizing and acknowledging this fear, I know I need to work on it if I want to grow and flourish as an artist.

This brings me to another point that Godin discusses in his conversation with Tippett. I recall him saying something along the lines of students being too afraid to be wrong nowadays, which correlates to my personal fears when it comes expressing my ideas and thoughts. His observations on high school/college students reassured me that I am not the only student that feels this way. Godin also noted that kids in pre-school or elementary school are able to raise their hands and immediately ask or answer questions because that fear of being wrong has not been instilled in them quite yet. I find this an awfully unfortunate situation because I feel like our current education system is inhibiting our students from being creative, which essentially prevents us from using our imagination. This is a major flaw in the way students are gradually developing in our current society.

Another idea that Godin brings up in the conversation is how most people who are making a powerful impact in their community or world are doing it despite what they have been trained in school. He expresses his thoughts on how collaborative work shouldn’t be prohibited and looked down upon—and I completely agree. Now, I am not condoning cheating in any way but speaking for myself, I would not have the desire to obtain answers from other classmates if there was not a huge emphasis on always being correct—getting that perfect answer our teachers are searching for on our homework, quizzes, tests, etc. The amount of pressure students are in to always acquire the right answer essentially impedes their ability to effectively learn. Going off on this idea, the topic of ‘collaborative work’ interests me on a whole different level. In my opinion, I find that if students are taught to share ideas and work together, this will surely benefit our society and world all together. I am constricted to work by myself and though this may work for many other people, I find it nonbeneficial. It restricts students from developing vital skills that they will eventually need to build in their future. For example, being able to effectively work well others is important for any career. Some people may be more stubborn than others, therefore it is important to teach students to open their minds and consider suggestions or ideas from other people. To me, this is what helps humanity’s knowledge progress and evolve. Although I loved listening to Godin’s thoughts on how to be successful and how the people making a change in the world have a common foundation, I was slightly confused when he talked about how these people could “find a way to understand the mindset of a person before they even meet them and then put a story into the world that resonates enough to start changing that mindset”. I didn’t quite understand this point; maybe it is because it is more complex to understand but I wanted to know how one could do these things, and why this could make such a difference in the world.


A topic that Godin stresses a lot of emphasis on is the fact that we are all artists. He believes “you’re not going to make it as a workerbee”, but by constantly thinking of what to do next and being confident enough to showcase your work to the world. I feel like art is not limited to a specific area only involving drawing, painting, sculpting, etc.; art can be expressed in several different ways. In my english class, my teacher always talks about how english is art. Our beautiful language, smoothly-formed sentences, and the different structures of our writing contributes to the creation of art. This reminds me of the, “Essay”, written by Daniel Coffeen. One particular sentence that stuck out to me was when Coffeen described what he would do before he started writing. He would sit “down before a blank screen and then lean into language to see how my [his] thoughts will meet words and grammar”. I found this such a beautiful sentence because you can physically see the words meet the actions he is describing; it all flows together in such a graceful manner. After reading this essay and thinking about Godin’s thoughts on finding the courage to show the world your work, I made it a personal goal for me to be able to write more skillfully and eloquently while also making it seem effortless because I knew this would help me feel more confident in my writing. I knew I would be able to do this if I read more books, essays, and blogposts from other writers—this has helped me immensely. Ever since I have been reading more, my writing has slowly but surely improved. Although I am not where I want to be, I find myself being able to provide more specificity and details that allow my writing to flow effortlessly. I find beauty in the smallest things—my examples and comparisons are not as generic and cliché, which was something I had a problem with before. The idea that we are all artists is a fascinating thought and it has helped me realize that we are all capable of creating wonderful things that will impact our world in a positive way. Create something that matters.

How are we going to find the courage to show people our work? Godin’s thoughts regarding this subject is by stripping “away the things in your life that give you a space to hide”. When he first said this sentence, it immediately caught my attention. He talked about how he does not spend time on social media because it can be a waste of time. His questions—”Is technology levraging you in a way where it makes you uncomfortable? Will it put you in a spot where you need to dig deeper to do the work that you will be proud of?”—caused a powerful rainstorm to begin in my mind. I started thinking of the way my social media such as twitter, instagram, facebook, etc. has benefited me and my creative work. Thinking about the things Godin has discussed, I realized that social media is a way for me to give a snippet of my work; however, I believe that if I actively dedicate one form of social media to my work, I will be able to effectively display my work for people all around the world. The internet is such a great and useful tool for me to show my work, therefore I want to continue to dedicate more time on writing and creating, rather than simply socializing to pass by the time. Ever since I started writing more on my publishing house blog, I have been gathering more ideas from my own personal observations and experiences. With all of these new ideas and thoughts, I yearn to write more on my personal blog and I find it very exciting. I start to feel overwhelmingly inspired and motivated when I see all of my drafts saved onto my personal blog because it reminds me that I have more topics to dig deeper in. I want to write stuff that matters to me, my community, and the world.

Thanks for reading!

Emily xx

The Intertwining of Our Thoughts and Writing

One of the many essays that our class has read so far is the, “Essay” written by Daniel Coffeen. When my teacher assigned this essay for our class to read, I figured it would be “just another essay” to read and takes notes on. For me personally, it is quite difficult for me to read a novel, short story, essay, etc. and be genuinely interested throughout the entire thing. Sometimes when I read, I realize that I am not comprehending half of the stuff I am reading. This has become a growing problem for not just me, but a lot of other high school students. However, after reading this essay by Coffeen, it opened up my eyes to a whole new perspective about reading, writing, and how these two actions can intertwine to create something magical.

Nowadays, I feel like so many people, especially students, are too focused on making their writing formal and gramatically correct that eventually, their writing becomes repetitive and boring. Each essay ends up lacking a sense of personal thought and inviduality, thus hindering the audience’s ability to be interested. I am sure that several students try to play it say by writing about the same generic topic with the same plain writing structure. Who can blame them though? The education system has sort of molded our generation into thinking that we need to fit a “certain structure”. Because of this, students are so determined to get the maximum amount of points that they forget to remember that they are in school to learn and continuously strive to improve. Reading this essay gave me a deeper insight into why writing is not a boring task, but a wonderful way to express our thoughts or to get a glimpse into other people’s minds. This is where the rhetorical triangle fits into play: the writer, the audience, the message. How does these things correlate to each other?

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Reading Coffeen’s essay reminded me that you can read something over and over again but still leave with something different in mind. Whatever the author’s intentions may be, their audience can look at their writing in a completely different perspective and therefore, it allows the audience to gain a different message from what was intended. Does the intentions of the author matter? I say no but people can choose to argue, which brings us to the rhetorical triangle. Everything is an argument. Can you argue with that? Yes.

When my teacher introduced the ‘zero draft’ to my class, I felt great comfort because it gave me the opportunity to let my raw thoughts pour onto paper. I was able to, “sit down before a blank screen and then learn into language to see how my thoughts will meet words and grammer. Which part of my thought will become the subject of the sentence? What actions will it take? And how will it do it all – emphatically”?” (Coffeen). I loved the idea that we as students had the chance to write about what we truly felt inside. My thoughts were running wild—I believe that being able to express our feelings and ideas onto paper is a better form of learning because it gives us the opportunity to revise and improve the way we structure our ideas. Writing down all of your thoughts onto paper may seem easy, but it isn’t. At first, it was an unfamiliar task since I am so used to responding to a specific prompt but I believe that if I continue to zero draft, I will flourish into a better writer.

I love how Coffeen’s essay provided us little yet significant details that helped me visualize what a great writer can, and should, do. He noted that, “as thoughts are distributed on and by the page, constellations crystallize and dissipate, sometimes simultaneously” (Coffeen). I find this act of writing absolutely magificent and brilliant. I strive to become the writer Coffeen described — one that is able to skillfully but naturally pour their feelings and thoughts onto paper with such easy grace.

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Notes That Fit

Have you ever found yourself repeating the same daily routine and not feeling satisfied with the way you are living your life? As teenagers, it can be really hard to find the time to balance schoolwork, maintain a social life, spend quality time with family, excel in your sport; the list can go on. As we grow older, we are simply piled with more responsibilities and required to fulfill the expectations that are given to us.


Clifton Bieundurry, Russell James, russelljames.com, CC-BY-2.0

Especially in our society today, I find myself surrounded by people that either live their life to the fullest, or they live according to their ‘dream plan’. Unfortunately nowadays, it is rare to find many kids that can balance all of the different areas in their lives. It is quite saddening to see the amount of people not genuinely happy with their life. For the kids that live according to their ‘dream plan’ and allow school to take over their lives, you may find the genuinity in their smile and laughter gradually fading. On the other hand, kids that live without a care in the world may end up going down the wrong path, essentially “ruining their future”. Now, this is not always the case but from my personal experience, this is what I have noticed.

For the past couple of weeks, my AP English class has been working on our descriptive essays—revising, revising, perfecting! After correcting my drafts, I’ve noticed that the tiny, significant details are usually within a huge idea or concept. When we were assigned the descriptive essay, I knew I wanted to describe the relationship my father and I had. At first, I had my big ideas of what I wanted to write about, but then I asked myself, “How am I going to make this father-daughter relationship special? How can I describe the feelings towards my dad so my audience can get a little glimpse of our personal relationship, not the generic, healthy father-daughter relationship?” Then it hit me. I had to provide little details that actually mattered. How would these details be significant to my message? What are the details aimed to!? The questions running around my head flowed down into my hands and onto my keyboard. After writing all of my feelings down, I revised it in order to create personal details that would be understandable to my readers, but also distinctive.

These kind of little yet significant descriptions remind me of how kids are. We have this idea of how our life is going to be and some of us work tirelessly in order for it to happen but the reality is, our life will never go according to our plan. There will always be moments where you feel out of place, confused, frustrated, etc. and life will throw bullets at you; however, just think about the little details of the dream that you want. Some of us want to be teenagers forever and ‘live in the moment’, while some of us want to be adults and grow up too fast. There are pros and cons for each dream, but I think if we want the young generation to learn how to balance their lives, we need to teach them the idea of discovering the little details of each “dream”. If you live in the moment, how will this affect you? Yes, it can be fun but think about the gradual impact it will have on your life? Do these little details contribute to your future? How about revolving your life around schoolwork? How will this affect you? If stressing out about your life and working too much starts to take a toll on your life, how will this help the outcome of your life?

Think about the little details and question yourself: Am I living the life I want to live? If not, how can I change this?

Individual vs. Community

For the past couple of weeks, our class has been discussing the “essential question”: how can an individual affect a community? Reading The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne and other essays in our class/spare time was supposed to help us come up with diferent, in-depth answers to this “essential question”. I love this question because it is extremely broad, therefore there are multiple different answers that will satisfy this question.

“A throng of bearded men, in sad-colored garments and gray, steepler-crowned hats, intermixed with women, some wearing hoods, and others bareheaded, was assembled in front of a wooden edifice,” (Hawthorne 1.1).

When Mr. Ziebarth assigned us the task of reading and annotating the page that had an excerpt from The Scarlet Letter, it was clear that this would relate to our discussions regarding the individual versus community topic. From the little excerpt that we read and annotated, it was obvious that the prisoner was causing a group of people [a community] to come together. Because Hawthorne used words that created a sorrow yet anticipating emotion, you can infer that the event being taken place evoked a gloomy and dismal response from the people.

“It was a circumstance to be noted, on the summer morning when our story begins its course, that the women, of whom there were several in the crowd, appeared to take a peculiar interest in whatever penal infliction might be excpected to ensue” (Hawthorne 2.2).

When I read this sentence in Chapter 2, I believed that Hawthorne was trying to display the judgemental and ridiculing behavior from the community towards Hester. As you read on, you will start to realize that the community is gathering together with the solid foundation of hatred and scorn for Hester Prynne. Their common disgust towards Hester is what essentially unites them together and this is a prime example of how Hester, the individual, is affecting the overall community. By the townspeople’s sickened reactions towards seeing Hester, it is obvious that she was no respected in the community due to her adultery. The sin that she had committed immediately defined her as a person.


Innocence, Russell James, russelljames.com, CC-BY-2.0

When Hester is released from prison, the community surrounds her only to immediately judge her. Her soul is bare for the community to see, and while her innocence and purity is now considered “broken”, the townspeople decide to isolate her from the community; however, this poses an interesting question for me. Why would a community of people willingly shun a member of their society? The women in Boston were eager to see Hester killed for the sinful act that she had committed, but why should a group of people unite with common hatred instead of common love or compassion towards a human being? Yes, the townspeople were Puritans which could be viewed as an exception for their brutal and relentless behavior— but is this type of cruel attitude being practiced today in our current society? Do we, as civilians in the 21st century, unite together when we have a common animosity towards a certain person or a sensitive subject? If so, how can we change this in order to unite the people together when there is a common deep appreciation and compassion for humanity?


Inhibition Portrait, New York 2000, Russell James, russelljames.com, CC-BY-2.0

In my opinion, I feel like the answer is clear and simple—fiery passion, complete selflessness, and persistent determination; however, the literal practice may seem difficult. We can easily relate this back to our history because there are several individuals that have affected and essentially changed an entire community. Some influential leaders are Martin Luther King Jr., Rosa Parks, Abraham Lincoln, Jesus Christ, etc.; the list can go on. Respectively, these people have affected their communities for different reasons and in different ways. However, they all have something in common—they all had a vision, unselfishly worked to watch that vision become a reality, and fully accepted the probability that their life would be at risk for their cause. Each and every one of these individuals impacted their community, and eventually, this impact affected the world on a global scale.

“After many days, when time sufficed for the people to arrange their thoughts in reference to the foregoing scene, there was more than one account of what had been witnessed on the scaffold” (24.1).

I have always believed that when a person dies, it is usual for grieving to take place for a day, a week, a month, or so on. After the grieving process gets a little easier, people would usually remininsce on good memories— they woud like to remember the good things about a person; to let their dignity or character rest in peace. When Mr. Dimmesdale passed away after giving his speech to the people, finally admitting to his sin and revealing the “A”, many people were still awfully confused. He was a reverend and in his society, he was set to fit a certain role; however, his lies could no longer be covered up, for his self-concience was starting to eat away at him— mentally, emotionally, and physically. He affected the community because Dimmesdale was the man that took part in the famous Hester Prynne’s sin. As a reverend, he was most likely the last person the townspeople would suspect to commit such a sin. It is unfortunate that he had to die as soon as he spoke his last word in his speech but the murmurs and debate on whether the reverend had the “A” on his bossom was still talked about in Boston. This just proves that his speech and his sin still had an affect on the community. Although he was already deceased and the questions could not be asnwered, the community still took it upon themselves to discuss the question of whether or not the scarlet letter was existent on his breast.

On pages two hundred and eighty to two hundred and eighty-one in our Language of Composition Textbook, it provides a letter that Martin Luther King Jr. wrote while he was in his cell. In the “Letter from Birmingham Jail”, Martin Luther King Jr. firmly believed that, “when rights are consistently denied, a cause should be pressed in the courts and in negotiations among local leaders, and not in the streets. We appeal to both our white and Negro citizenry to observe the principles of law and order and common sense.” Martin Luther King Jr. wanted to come to a compromise without the use or act of violence. In other words, he felt that fighting in the streets or killing others would essentially not resolve any issues for the long-term, for this would cause a deeper division between races. I believe that this is one of the several reasons why he was, and still is, heavily admired. He was committed to not using any form of violence in order to achieve his dream [goal], and although he was assassinated on April 4, 1968, he is still honored and remembered for his notable achievements. He stood up for his beliefs and despite the difficult obstacles that stood in his way, he was able to leave his legacy behind and further spread the equality that he has always dreamt of since he was a little boy.


On page two hundred and ninety-six in our Language of Composition Textbook, I read the essay Where I Lived, and What I Lived For. I loved this essay because it gave me a real glimpse inside an individual’s mind. Henry David Thoreau believed that, “when we are unhurried and wise, we perceive that only great and worthy things have any shadow of the reality. This is always exhilarating and sublime.” I admired his perspective on the reality of the world and I appreciate his strong voice of opposition towards the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850. The Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 required the return of escaped slaves to their owners or masters; the citizens in free states had to abide by this passed law. Despite the consequences of going against the United States Congress, Thoreu wanted to “live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, to live so sturdily and Spartan-like as to put to rout all that was no life, to cut a broad swatch and shave close, to drive life into a corner, and reduce it to its lowest terms”. He was not simply a follower but a leader—seeking justice for human rights, particularly over the issue of slavery. This individual willingy chose to defy the odds and fight tirelessly for what he firmly bellieved was true and righteous. Because of his determination and commitment towards the abolition of the Fugitive Slave Act, he affected his entire community in a remarkable way.

How can an individual affect a community? It’s quite simple actually. Just start. Do not hesitate, do not stutter, and most importantly, do not stop when you feel hopelessness weighing down on your shoulders and heart. You are your thoughts—whether negative or positive. Find a cause that you are crazily passionate about and find ways to gather your community. Social media? Funny trends? Your words? Your creative talents? Showcase your gifts and talents to your community and let it spread like wildfire.

Unite. Love. Spread. 

Until next time,

Emily Bui

Be Brave and Flourish!

Hello Lovelies!

Eleanor Roosevelt has once said, “The purpose of life is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experience.” Throughout life, we all go through hard struggles that affect us in several different ways; however, the way we react to these obstacles in our lives shape who we are as human beings. Many people around the world experience or witness traumatizing incidents that can develop a mental health condition called post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Four main symptoms of PTSD are: recurring memories or nightmares of the particular incident, avoiding situations that remind you of the event, negative changes in personal beliefs and feelings, or increased emotional arousal. [1] Depending on the person and the severity of the trauma, these symptoms may appear months or years after the event. Having PTSD can affect the way you live your life because it disrupts your social and personal life, creates unhealthy habits, and causes you to lose your identity.

British-Soldier_799595c      e_phillips_colorado

            Most people associate PTSD with battle-scarred soldiers [2] mainly because the majority of them develop this disorder after their time in war. When they go back to their normal life, the horrific pain that they had to endure or witness may be engrained in their memories. A good amount of soldiers end up experiencing the dramatic effects of invisible injuries such as depression, nightmares, and emotional and physical distress. [3] Many doctors are trying to find a remedy for patients who suffer this disorder but Dr. Paul Sedge, an impersonal leader at a mental health clinic, claims that PTSD is the most common type of mental-health injury in combat operations. It is also the most difficult to diagnose and the most complex to treat, [4] therefore it may take some time before doctors find the solution to PTSD.

In the novel, Lethal Warriors: When the New Band of Brothers Came Home, the author does an excellent job at revealing the real psychological trauma soldiers have to undergo after being in a war. One of the soldiers in the story claimed that many of his fellow comrades became mentally crazy after serving their time in the war. He believed that the war in Iraq was a significant factor as to why several soldiers were being arrested for murderer. He wondered if the violent environment of the war played any roll in what made these soldiers pull the trigger. [5] This story just proves how former soldiers can easily loser their self identity due to post-traumatic stress and this type of disorder can be incredibly dangerous to a person’s mental, emotional, and physical health. The events that these soldiers had to see or go through makes it very arduous to forget about when they go back to their normal, every day lives.

Mayi Mayi child soldiers at Mangangu 'Political Retraining Camp'

Another topic that many people are interested in is the affect that post-traumatic stress has on little children. Children who have PTSD will struggle to overcome this disorder because a person’s memory at a young age is at its prime. According to an article, former child soldiers who have PTSD are usually against the act of restoring relationships with others and they are more likely to seek revenge in a situation. They are blamed and stigmatized for the atrocities they have committed, and their psychological recovery and reintegration into civilian society is a burdensome task. [6] This is mainly because they were forced to adapt to witness and commit horrific acts in a dangerous environment. Therefore, living a regular life can be extremely difficult to readjust to due to the way these former child soldiers grew up.

According to the survey that I conducted, nine out of fifteen people believed that they are capable of completely getting over an event that has dramatically affected their life, while the other six were not sure. The majority of people that took my survey agreed that big, traumatic events could cause a huge change in your daily life because it alters old or creates new habits. One in particular claimed that their daily-life has changed in terms of the way they avoid situations that remind them of the event. This person no longer takes long walks and they cannot ride their bike anymore due to a frightening accident that occurred a long time ago. If the little things in your everyday life remind you of a horrific event that you experienced or saw, “you will be forced to think about it, making the situation even worse.” [7] This can cause you to develop unusual habits and essentially, these habits prevent you from living your life to the fullest potential. I also interviewed a woman that is currently dealing with post-traumatic stress today and she admitted that her disorder has caused her to distance herself from loved ones. She has been trying to cope for several years now and her inability to open up has affected her social and personal life in several different ways. This helped me realize that it is vital to heal properly when you encounter or witness a shocking incident because it is extremely easy to gradually develop PTSD without being aware of it. This anxiety disorder can take months or years to overcome and it is important to let others know that they can conquer this mental health condition.

Essentially, I believe that post-traumatic stress significantly affects our lives and the way we live because it causes us to lose our self identity, changes the way we behave, causes us to create new habits, and it disrupts our social and personal life. Traumatic events occur every single day and whether you actually experienced or witnessed it, these events can either help you grow as a person or it can negatively affect your life and cause you to develop PTSD. Remember to be extra careful when choosing how to cope and deal with your emotions. I would like to end this blog post with a wonderful, simplistic quote by Aldous Huxley: “Experience is not what happens to a man; it is what a man does with what happens to him.”


[1] “Symptoms of PTSD”, http://www.ptsd.va.gov/public/PTSD-overview/basics/symptoms_of_ptsd.asp

[2] “Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)”, http://www.helpguide.org/mental/post_traumatic_stress_disorder_symptoms_treatment.htm

[3] & [4] Gayle Macdonald, “PTSD: Scans reveal soldiers’ brains stay in hyper-aroused state,” http://www.theglobeandmail.com/life/health-and-fitness/health/ptsd-scans-reveal-soldiers-brains-stay-in-hyper-aroused-state/article19056977/)/

[5] David Phillips, Lethal Warriors: When the New Band of Brothers Came Home, 18

[6] JAMA Network, “Association of Trauma and PTSD Symptoms With Openness to Reconciliation and Feelings of Revenge Among Former Ugandan and Congolese Child Soldiers”, http://jama.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=208207 (August 1, 2007)

[7] Emily Bui, “Big Events”, https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1bJPM_rrWjhB5OAvxxFY9tcjJOakUgHNv11W-pz7Ajjk/edit

Works Cited

“PTSD: National Center for PTSD.” Symptoms of PTSD –. N.p., n.d. Web. 06 June 2014.

“Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).” : Symptoms, Treatment and Self-Help. N.p., n.d. Web. 08 June 2014.

“PTSD: Scans Reveal Soldiers’ Brains Stay in Hyper-aroused State.” The Globe and Mail. N.p., n.d. Web. 09 June 2014.

Philipps, David. Lethal Warriors: When the New Band of Brothers Came Home. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2010. Print.

“Association of Trauma and PTSD Symptoms With Openness to Reconciliation and Feelings of Revenge Among Former Ugandan and Congolese Child Soldiers.” JAMA Network. N.p., n.d. Web. 09 June 2014.

“One Account. All of Google.” Google Sheets. Emily Bui, n.d. Web. 09 June 2014.