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Determination and Hope

October 22, 2016, Hong Kong, X:

“Stop writing. We’re now going to collect your answer sheets…”

At the end call of ACT test, I stared at my essay just finished seconds before. This is the second battle, and also the last one for me in this type of test. In April, I had floundered seriously in the Reading and Writing, and I should correct the stigma in this one.

Of course I need to. I have high n Ach.

November 26, 2016, San Francisco, California, A:

“You have got a new email.”

Oh, let me see who is it. Opening the mailbox, I see a new person, or presumably, a teenager who is going to show his talents. All right, I would save his file to my documents, just like other hundreds of thousands of people.

Every year during this time, I am supposed to get into this job, which is collecting information from people who are interested in the community I work for. I know that from the large bundle of individuals, there are gonna be a lot of “competitions”. It’s really not easy to get into our community, because I received really a lot of people’s information for me to pile. The number has been dramatically increased from about 150,000 during the first year of my work to more than 200,000 last years. Fortunately, only 5 days left for me to repeat this work. Whoops, there is another email coming here, let me see…

November 28, 2016, San Francisco, California, B1:

“You have got a new email.”

I open up the mailbox and see a letter. This letter is written by a person who is intended for our community. Wow, greetings! What a great word. So let me have a check. Haha, really, you think our email guide helped you, that’s good. Hm… oh, the problem about ACT, you say your April ACT score has already been sent you us, and you are going to send another score in October after it is released. OK, as long as you could order the report to our community before the end of the year, it’s my pleasure to update your new score. Wish you will get the satisfactory result and join our big family!

“Click, click. Reply.”

December 1, 2016, Shenzhen, Guangdong, X:

“The October ACT score has been released, would you like to have a check, X?” My friend asks me.

“I haven’t really notice about that. So well, I may get to look how much I got.” I pick up my phone, going to the website for the search for the score.

Oh, why my heart is bumping so quickly. Last time, in April, my score wasn’t happy with me, and I even did not cross the benchmark for reading section. Surely, this is the last chance for me to prove my individual power to conquer this test, and pursue my dream. I have reached my TOEFL goal recently, just for one battle; I won’t fail this time. OK, now the website is open, I scroll down the page and stare at the screen to make sure that there isn’t any error. Two bold digits have slightly appeared, they look like the same digit, and… wow!

As if my body is paralyzed, the intense emotion flow into my mind, I can barely see and hear anything. But just seconds later, I calm down.

“Congratulations, X, you really deserve that score.” My friend cheers about this result.

“Thank you.” I say. Nevertheless, I have to take immediate actions to send the score to my dear dream school. Time doesn’t wait for me. Tonight I will ask my parents to order a report to it and this report would get there much earlier before December 31, 2016.

December 14, 2016, San Francisco, California, A:

“A, here’s a letter for you.” my colleague says.

What’s it? During this time the workload is smaller and I have more relaxing time, though I still may get many letters each day. I slowly tear open the envelope and find an ACT score report. Confirming it’s from one of our applicants, I simply update his new score into the system. But, wait, he gets more competitive this time. I also see that before the letter arrives, his score seems really unfit for taking part in our community. I guess now he will have a better shot at the eyes of those “judges”.

So many talented youths in this generation.

January 18, 2017, Shenzhen, Guangdong, X:

“The rejection letters from two early schools had been for nearly one month. But, I’m not depressed, because I know I’m not capable of that so-called high rankings and high standards – they are not my love, and it was impossible for them to receive my October ACT report before making decisions.

“Besides, my classmates recommended me to register for an interview that is administered not by the universities themselves, but by a third-party agent. Participating this interview was said to enhance my chance of getting into my dream school. I did not think about how enormous effects the interview would brought to me, but if it really could have any bonus for my love’s admission, I would do what I can to best show my abilities in front of the interviewer, as well as the ones who would decide whether I could get into my first-choice.

“Actually, I knew seniors who were already freshmen in universities took part in this kind of interview and got into what they dreamed of. As a result, I asked about how the interview goes down, and the strategies for succeeding this process. I also regarded the preparation as an opportunity to improve my speaking. It is a good way to compensate for my disadvantage of slightly low TOEFL Speaking score. Not even bad during the first week winter vacation.”

So many thoughts come out, I really have to fight for this interview. Stay determined, OK, you can do this…

“X, it’s time for your interview.” the manager called me.

I stand up from the chair, walking straightly to the room for my interview. I greet the interviewer, who is an honest and kind woman. Sitting down, she begins asking me questions, “What plan do you have during this spring break (winter vacation)?”

“Well,” as the large pile of information flow through my mind, I suddenly remember a thing that has been scheduled for me just days after the interview, “I am going to play violin in theater…”

The answer sounds so fluent that even I could not believe what’s going on in my mouth. As expected, or unexpected, I talk about a lot of things that show great significance for me and for shaping my whole person. Academic performance, extracuricullar activies, and future plans … they seem really solidified into my unconsciousness that whenever mentioned, I would give out concrete responses. My dream is … bright!

Stay determined, and I will wait for you.

January 25, 2017, San Francisco, California, A:

“You have got a new email.”

Let me see … Huh, it’s him again. This applicant notifies me about his sending an interview video of himself, and his mid-year grade report is in here. So, I will just be sure to upload the new information into the system. Record his mid-year grades … Well, he shows something good for us again: his GPA seems to have a great boost compared to his performances during grade 11.

Anyway, time to go on working. After all, I cannot decide whether he will be into our community. But I still expect the “judges” will consider about him.

February 4, 2017, Kunming, Yunnan, X:

I am traveling outside during this winter vacation. Not to talk about the relaxation, but it’s also a great experience to break my new personal report – I had been on a mountain that is 4680 m tall.

Now in the hotel, I have nothing to do except playing with my phone. Suddenly, a news break out, there is a protest in UCB. Reading throughout the text, I contact one of my seniors who are now in that university with concerns about that incidence.

“I hear about a big event in Berkeley lately, does that really happened? I’m concerned about how you are affected.” I immediately send out the message.

A reply comes out minutes later, “Yes, you are right. Recently, our Berkeley college republicans invited a person who supports white male superiority to hold a hate speech. Then, students who were dissatisfied go through a dance protest, but during this protest, a group of masked and shielded people bursted out and used violence, making our school chaotic for a moment.

“But I’m not much affected by that, because there were many helicopters and policemen to maintain this situation, and my university quickly closed all the campus buildings and restaurants…”

What she says to me are dramatic, but realistic. On the other hand, even she can stay calm during this turbulent situation, and what she imparts me is, basically, that UCB is fine. After this wave of assault, it “still shines under the sunlight of California”.

“Thank you for your information. I wish you will be safe during the campus life.”

Would this incidence make my dream ramshackle? No, it would not. My senior has already let me know. I will still determinedly chase my goal.

February 26, 2017, San Diego, California, S:

“Aha, next I would like to discuss about this student.” I say to one of my colleagues.

“So what’s important about him, S? We got only about a few minutes.”

“First, he has a decently high standardized test scores and GPA, which already satisfy, and even exceed our requirements.” I point to the information file and explain, “Like in this test he is not so excellent in English language and art, but his STEM outcompetes nearly 100% test takers.”

“We got many of the similar students, keep saying.”

Next I look into his activites and awards, “You see, he has done a lot of researches into the field of natural science, and there are also interdisciplinary activities. His awards are also generally centered on the major he chooses for.”

“Um, so he has made a rational and decisive choice, huh.”

“What’s important is, he gives us with the interview video and attaches a virtual star to it. I take time to watch his response to the “notable” question, which also relates to his selected profession. So overall I think it is very probable for him to attend our school if he gets our admission. Besides, his score is not too perfect that otherwise he definitely will reject our invitation. So, do you agree to let him in?”

“All right, admission given. Two weeks later he will know about this happy news. Phew, it’s a gain if he really gets into our school. But we should also care about the restricted proportion of international students in our campus now.”

“Yeah I think so.” I ruminate about this problem a while, “Anyway, I guess he is also possible to get into one of the two “big” schools in our system. If that is the case, I will still be glad to offer him a hope of getting a small step into our big family.” I make a grandieur pose and exclaim, “Welcome to California!”

“All right, all right.” my colleague says, “Who’s the next one?”

March 12, 2017, Los Angeles, California, L:

I’m so tired recently, reviewing over hundreds, and hundreds, and hundreds of materials everyday. What happen to those applicants? It’s awkward for them to like all point to our campus for admission.

“OK, this student.” I languidly hand out another piece of material to my colleague for review. “Let’s see, he has a nice school performance, a good test scores, a list of what the ever activities, academic awards. Wow, he is kind of intriguing…”

“L, do you notice that our applicants become really strong that we hardly can make any decisions?” my colleague interrupts me.

“But we still have to make, it’s our job. Go on, personal statements … It’s not bad that he loves about biology and chemistry and I’m glad he gives us an interview video to show that. I think he is feasible for our school. What’s your opinion?”

“Surely. Just make it quick.”

“Yes, so … But, oh,” a slight hesitation, “I think he might choose that school. You know, I mean, that school. According to his selection for his academic major, he may get better at, still, that school.”

“So, what’s your opinion?”

“I think we may not offer him a chance into our school. Really, that doesn’t mean we don’t like him, but he is more likely to like that school. You see, he applies to chemical biology as his major, and we really could not has such great experience for him in UCLA. Again, in the face of college competitiveness, we shold not only consider about the quality of admitted individuals, but we also need to take care of our enrollment rate.”

“But isn’t that depressing?”

“I don’t know if this decision is distressful for him. But if I can, I really want to tell him he is already acknowledged by us. I did many similar decisions like that for him these days.”

“OK. Hope this student will get to UCB. Next one.”

March 15, 2017, San Francisco, California, B2:

“Hmm, so you say he is fit for us, B2? I don’t really think so.”

“But I think he’s very dedicated.” As I talk about X with my colleague, we make a really long debate about whether to admit this student. “Yes his standardized test scores are plain, but don’t you notice the pattern shown in his GPA? He is naturally good during his first year in high school, and he also shows a great strike during last semester. You shouldn’t take his grade slide last year before the striking semester as indicative of his unfitness. Besides, the list of activities has not reached a full capacity, but the time taken for each one is adequate enough for fulfilling his life. Therefore I think he has the potential to reach a high goal.”

“So what, he is even applying for the college that is lack of money and also rare of students. Is it good to give him such a precious seat?”

“I met so many students who decide to apply for a college that is said to be easy to get in, like College of Arts and Science. I don’t know, but I think his choice for College of Chemistry fits his abilities and experiences. You see he has good test and competition results related to biology and chemistry, with the exception of AP Biology Test, which I myself think it’s difficult. Additionally, Chinese students hardly choose to attend SAT Biology Subject Test, and among those test takers, hardly anyone can achieve that high high score. He expresses everything he devoted into these fields among all the contents, like his wetland investigation project, and devising of a new product. Even in the sent InitialView interview video, he explicates on his research and activity experience that closely links to the two disciplines, as well as his future plan.

“Oh, and he is not that strictly confined to academic studies, as proven by his experience of playing violin and making translation magazines, etc. Many of these things illustrate he is not a simple person. He is capable of bring the campus with a unique temperament.”

“Hm … your evidence almost persuades me.” my colleague confesses, “But how can you know he is keen on our Berkeley campus? We need to focus on restricted proportion of international students proposed by the state government as well as the proportion of enrollment.”

“Here is an important thing.” I open his InitialView file and show my colleague an object – a virtual star. “You have known that applicants who send us the star is greatly enthralled by our academic environments, as many predecessors said.” I pause for a while and get into deep thought. “Yeah, the star is a symbolization of a hope to getting into the community where the giver can achieve what he or she wants in order to ultimately promote the world’s development just in this seemingly small area compared to the entire surface of the Earth. In this place, people are arduously studying to strive for the personal and social betterness. He can take this mission. Yes, he surely can. How happy he would be to have the opportunity to be involved and welcomed to this community. X, do you hear me, you are a hope…”

“Hey, B2, what’s wrong with you? Are you okay?” My colleague shakes his hand in front of me.

“Oh, nothing. I’m just thinking about X. He should be admitted, don’t he?”

“Yes. You really take a lot of time to argue with me just for getting me to accept his fitness. I have no excuse to decline your hard work for him.”

“Thanks for your sincerity; I wish he will start his new life here, passing through the unforgettable four year undergraduate program … Now let’s progress toward to see the next applicant.”

“OK, let’s go on.”

March 31, 2017, Shenzhen, Guangdong, X:

Last week was my dear mother’s birthday. My family went for a happy dinner that night, talking endlessly about the life progresses of my parents and me. My father, being a proprietor of a company striving for three-party quality service, has now been busy for receiving orders from a lot of factories. My mother, being an engineer for the city landscape and hydrology of the city of Shenzhen, succeeds in leading a group of her peers to design a plan to treat a severe pollution in a river.

So how about me? My parents appreciated me for being a DIY student who, without the direct help of educational agent, had achieved several university admissions. Well, I myself thought this is not a big progress, because I have not reached my dream yet. Or, maybe I will reach it very soon.

It’s 12 o’clock now, I open the student portal of University of California, Berkeley. As the admission decision website slightly emerges from the screen, I cannot suppress my sudden surges of my sympathetic nerverous system’s response.

Calm down, calm down. I scroll down the page and I …

Congratulations! …

Is that real? I cannot imagine I finally reached this goal. Three years of dedicated thriving have proven me. Now, it’s time to tell my family about this joyful news.

Wait, my seniors say life there is very busy, and students need to finish a lot of assignments, projects, and researches. Can I endure the so-called “business”?

Why I can’t? Everything seems bright for me now.

UCB, here I come.

Aside

Launch a Project Experiment: Gibberellin and Brassinolide

AP Statistics Project Proposal

(It has to be an experiment, no observational study will be accepted)

Group members:

Name ID
Jiayi Liu 2014530054
Ziyi Wang 2014530070
Fan Xu 2014530268
Junhui He 2014530723
  1. Topic (What is the research question)

Comparison of the Effects of Gibberellin and Brassinolide on Soybean Seed Germination

  1. Sampling (Be specific about how subjects might be selected)

Randomly select 120 soybeans that are purchased from the same source.

  1. Variables:

Explanatory variables:

Type of plant hormone being used: categorical, no plant hormone (control), Gibberellin, Brassinolide, or both.

Response Variable: the height of seedlings after 2 days; the height of seedlings after 7 days.

  1. Treatment:

We have 4 kinds of treatments.

For the selected seeds, randomly assign them to different treatments, which is soaking the soybean seeds in specified solution for 12 hours. Each treatment has 30 seeds:

No plant hormone 10-6 mol/L Gibberellin
10-6 mol/L Brassinolide 5×10-7 mol/L Gibberellin + 5×10-7 mol/L Brassinolide

After soaking, transplant the seeds to soil. Water the seeds every 12 hours, take an account of the proportion of germinated seeds. Also measure the height of seedlings after 2 days and 7 days.

  1. What extraneous variables might influence the response?

Environmental factors, like temperature, light intensity, water, and even soil conditions all could have impact on seed germination.

  1. How does the design protect against its potential influence on the response through blocking, direct control, or randomization?

We would use preliminary experiment to ensure the optimal conditions for plant growth. Despite that, we would also apply:

Direct control: All the seeds are grown in the same room and are expose to the same environmental factors so that the extraneous factors’ effects are not confounded with those of the experimental variables.

Randomization: Randomly assign the seeds to different treatment groups to ensure that the experiment does not systematically favor one treatment over another.

Replication: There is considerable amount of individuals for each treatment to achieve an adequate number of observations for each experimental condition.

  1. Statistical method (e.g. we plan to use…method to explore … We hope to have a …result)

Normally, we would apply what we learned from descriptive statistics: Calculating important statistics, like the mean heights of seedlings, and representing them in the form of a bar chart for comparison.

For the part of inference, we plan to use two-sample t-test to explore whether there is a significant difference in the effects of different plant hormones in the heights of seedlings. We hope that there is significant difference so that we could have evidence to support that one plant hormone is greater in promoting germination than the other.

We also plan to use regression analysis to explore whether there is a linear relationship between the heights of seedlings after 2 days and those after 7 days for a specific treatment group, thus implicitly see if each hormone has prolonged effect.

The Reason, Process, and Meanings behind Gregor’s Transformation in the Metamorphosis

The Metamorphosis presents a story about a man’s alienation from his family: Gregor, working arduously for his family, suddenly turns into a bug, and progressively gets abandoned by his parents and sister. However, beyond this abrupt event, Gregor already is a social “vermin” – justified by his inability to execute individuality; his transformation is, in my opinion, also a gradual process that not only symbolizes the changes in his perspectives toward his surroundings, but also the alteration of his family’s thoughts about himself.

Gregor’s transformation illustrates his problems about general isolation from modern society that put expectations to his hard-working. Long before Gregor turns into a vermin, he has wished to get equally well-treated with his colleagues and family members but fails. As Gregor says, “That’s all I’d have to try with my boss; I’d be fired on the spot. Anyway, who knows if that wouldn’t be a very good thing for me. If I didn’t hold back for my parents’ sake, I would have quit long ago.” (1.5), he is constrained by the working conditions that force him to get up early while seeing other workers enjoying their breakfast. Turning into a giant bug seems a fulfillment of his will to get rid of this job. In addition, he is the only one who can support the family, but after this transformation deprives him of the ability to work, every member attempts to expel him without considering his contribution, further suggesting his verminous position before the metamorphosis really takes place.

The establishing process of transformation stems from Gregor’s tedious lifestyle. Working as a traveling salesman, he can presumably get to know a lot of things from outside world. Instead, he complains that there cannot be long-enduring relationships with other people around this business. Besides, he cannot have the time like his family members to get relaxation from reading newspapers, playing music instruments, etc. Such monotonous life mode makes him distasteful, as depicted after his waking up: “His room, a regular human room, only a little on the small side, lay quiet between the four familiar walls.” (1.2) Though Gregor is familiar with the room, he feels uncomfortable about it, as emphasized by the phrase “regular human room”.

Despite Gregor’s literal transformation, there are more, symbolically, transformations about his entire family. His father most directly shows the outrage toward Gregor, and as he returns to his job, wearing up the clothes, he regains the authority of supporting family and controlling Gregor’s will. His mother, being stunned by the moment as she sees the vermin, feels desperate about her son’s mishap but later turns in to suppress her anxiety. What’s more is about Greta’s transformation: “She had in fact noticed that Gregor needed plenty of room to crawl around in; and on the other hand, as best she could tell, he never used the furniture at all” (2.22). As Greta notices her brother’s needs, she comes to be more decisive in taking care of Gregor, accompanying the decrease of Gregor’s agency. This is even testified later when Gregor scares the boarders away, it is Greta who makes the ultimate decision to get rid of Gregor as the family is dealing with a kitchen bug.

Summing up all the points about the why, how, and what about his transformation, Gregor is unhappy about his situations, living with a verminous lifestyle. The transformation makes him lose respect and the ability to support family, but also changes the entire family’s roles, as exemplified by Greta’s increasing agency of making decisions.


Works Cited

“The Metamorphosis.” by Franz Kafka. Trans. David Wyllie. Sweden: Wisehouse Classics, 2015. Print.

Minded Statistics Mind Map

Mind Map

Recently, we had gone through all the materials covered by AP Statistics. As our teacher announced so far, we students, as separate groups, built mind maps to generalize the entire knowledge system inside the statistics class. I saw a lot of great mind maps from other groups that not only included the necessary things we have to know, but also demonstrated these things with innovative themes, like using some objects to allude to the processes of studying statistics.

The ideals and philosophy behind our groups’ construction were also clear. We separated the learned knowledge into four parts: Collecting Data, Exploring Data, Anticipating Patterns, and Making Inferences, with each part accompanied by certain structure of the plant body, while the plant itself is similar to we students, who are going to make our way to develop understanding about statistics.

The “root” – Collecting Data – is the basis of the entire plant. It is necessary to have good research methods in order to collect, analyze, and use the data we accessed, as root needs to absorb water and minerals from the soil so that the plant can grow taller.

The “stem and leaves” – Exploring Data and Anticipating Patterns – act as support for the plant. We have to harness statistical theories and methods to describe the overall data and predict the trends. Similarly, the stem structurally maintains the plant’s overall shape, where as leaves are required to make nutrients (sugars) through photosynthesis and transport them to the whole organism.

The “flower” – Making Inferences – could be regarded as a beautiful illustration of the plant’s characteristics. We need to infer from the accessed data to get evidence so that we could make conclusions. Like the determinate growth pattern of the apical meristem to floral part should be triggered by biochemical signals and environmental stimuli.

In fact, the plant we drew is a pea plant. It was used by Mendel to conduct research about genetics. Mendel utilized a series of statistical methods, like direct control of the variables, measuring the traits of pea plants, anticipating the probability of phenotypes, and checking his hypothesis using goodness-of-fit test. It was such these statistical methods that aided his generalization of the laws of inheritance. This event, on the other hand, enlightened us to sensibly harness our understanding of statistics and thus make contribution to the development of science, technology and society.

Hope all of you could finally get the “fruits” from statistics!

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Project of Albert Camus’ The Plague

Above is our masterpiece!

(We received the project assignment at the right beginning of the new semester. This project instructed students to interpret one of the four levels operated in Albert Camus’ The Plague: Literal, political, metaphysical, and existential. We chose metaphysical. Through a week’s work for it, we accomplished an artwork. Here’s our project reflection, and two corresponding quotes that help us create our painting.)

Part 1: Reflection of The Plague Abstraction Project

Literary ideas could be simply expressed using abstract objects, such as the different levels of thoughts made in The Plague. This book operates on four lens: literal, political, metaphysical, and existential, each of which could be interpreted using different viewpoints. We selected metaphysical level to create our abstract work through the project.

This process took us about half a day to accomplish our goals. First, we brainstormed about the structure of this artwork and its corresponding properties, like colors, shapes, and some highlighted objects. Then we bought the required materials: a piece of A3 paper, pigments, water, and a paint brush. While three other students of our group have done the purchasing or explaining the ideas behind our creation, Blake worked for painting and finished it before school.

The artwork we created so far was revolved around the metaphysical lens that generally emphasizes the presence of evilness and people’s reactions toward it. Therefore, through this understanding, we attempted to create a scene that there was a red bloody background – symbolizing the deaths in The Plague – and a bar that represents Oran’s isolation. Within the bar exists a black solid circle, which is the plague itself, accompanied by various things that stretch out of the circle symbolizing different people’s reactions.

In my opinion, our portrait of this lens was successful in capturing the metaphysical lens through the coloring, shaping, and highlighting of this artwork. We could envision many different reactions in respect to the plague simply through the objects themselves. Besides the red background and the bars, the gloomy color tone also makes the audience aware that the plague puts the entire town into distress. However, since most of our objects that are attached to the black circle were based upon the main characters, our work could also be misinterpreted as portraying literal lens of the novel.

Nevertheless, I gained deeper understanding about different ways to view the novel The Plague. Instead of focusing on the written texts, I tried to convert the main ideas expressed in this novel into a simpler, abstract painting. Through the project, therefore, I knew to make what seemed complex into a vivid imagery. Moreover, I got to appreciate other groups’ works, and understood that there were other lens successfully portrayed in their paintings. Their works gave me insights about expressing different levels of meanings through abstraction.

Part 2: Analysis of quotes from The Plague in metaphysical level

Quote: Generally speaking, they did not lack courage, bandied more jokes than lamentations, and made a show of accepting cheerfully unpleasantnesses that obviously could be only passing. In short, they kept up appearances. (Part 2, Chapter 10)

Analysis: While the plague is expected to put the whole town into silence and fear, there are certain citizens who, surprisingly, would express their feelings in an extreme way. Instead of focusing on the plague, they seem to be indifferent toward its existence, pretend to continue normal lifestyles, and even accept the truth. This absurdity of actions makes us aware that different people conceptualize the world in different aspects, and thus behave distinctively to the society they perceive. They surely are the observers of this entire catastrophe, but they have different perspectives about it.

Quote: Rambert said he’d thought it over very carefully, and his views hadn’t changed, but if he went away, he would feel ashamed of himself, and that would embarrass his relations with the woman he loved. Showing more animation, Rieux told him that was sheer nonsense; there was nothing shameful in preferring happiness. (Part 4, Chapter 20)

Analysis: Confronting this plague, people may differ in their reactions throughout the passage of time. Rambert, though occasionally attempts to escape the town to seek his wife, changes his decisions through the impact of Rieux. The dynamism of his changing actions imply the transformation of his original viewpoints about the plague and the isolation of Oran. The interaction between the two characters also illustrates that in the face of evilness, they both decide to fight against the plague, though Rieux regards it as a necessary duty, while Rambert does this job through a moral conflict between rightness and wrongness.

Rhetorical Analysis of Man’s Search for Meaning

During the time around World War II, psychoanalysis had set its reputation in the field of psychology. Nevertheless, new theories of interpreting psychological factors arose and got new attention from the public – logotherapy was one of them. In Man’s Search for Meaning, the author explicated on his experience in concentration camp and the lessons derived from his sufferings. These things obtained him new insights about logotherapy as he explored deeper into the psychology of human beings.

Of course, the first part of this book took a long account telling the experience, but what’s more important is the three phases of the prisoners inside the concentration camp. “When one examines the vast amount of material which has been amassed as the result of many prisoners’ observations and experiences, three phases of the inmate’s mental reactions to camp life become apparent.” (P22) As Frankl observed the prisoners’ behaviors, he generalized them into three discontinuous segments, and took separated paragraphs to illustrate several examples of these phases. Moreover, the story was not written in chronological order, but rather in the form of different episodes that included different characters’ interactions. The full book itself is in first person, but besides the introspection Frankl took about his own experience in the concentration camp, it also encompassed other people’s thoughts about their own life’s meanings, as Frankl concluded from his observations: “It can be readily understood that such a state of strain, coupled with the constant necessity of concentrating on the task of staying alive, forced the prisoner’s inner life down to a primitive level.” (P40) Obviously, the author took his voice to convey the meanings that various factors implemented inside the camp might contribute to the mental disorder of the prisoners. By contrast, therefore, the author, having blocked the negative impacts of these factors, has gained the credibility of explaining what he envisioned about logotherapy.

The second part, being more naturally theoretical, describes his own psychological theory. In this part, Frankl explored on the way his school of psychology came into maturation, including his experiences of being a psychotherapist and his patients’ diagnosis. As he proposed several basic components involved in logotherapy, he also postulated this theory as similar but different from psychoanalysis: “Logotherapy, in comparison with psychoanalysis, is a method less retrospective and less introspective. Logotherapy focuses rather on the future, that is to say, on the meanings to be fulfilled by the patient in his future.” (P104) Through this explanation, Frankl successfully arrived at a new concept for the society to be learned, that is, looking forward to the dreams people have, and the motivation they inherently possess instead of neurosis. Compared to Freud’s relatively emphatic tone in The Interpretation of Dreams, Frankl tries to be communicative with the readers to introduce this seemingly sophisticated topic, thus making them readily capable of understanding his psychological theory’s concepts.

The postscript plunges into the optimism beyond tragic situations. As he mentioned, people suffers in different degrees, they have distinct views about their lives: some people are capable of coping with stressors while others are not. This distinction had given the readers a warning sign about their own attitudes toward living. Traumatic events and daily hassles all implement on the psychological well-being of men, so “the human capacity to turn creatively turn life’s negative aspects into something positive or constructive” (P139) is rather a fundamental part of Frankl’s ideal about tragic optimism. It is easy to observe this pattern during our learning of ideals of human emotion, stress, and health. Therefore, if the previous two parts are said to be describing his own psychological theory, the postscript answers the readers’ confusion of the theory’s application through connecting concepts of logotherapy to the general knowledge in the field of psychology.

Life has a meaning. Throughout this book, this central theme almost surrounds the entire text to testify different people’s fates inside the concentration camp, as they have diverged degree of hopefulness. Frankl often quoted Nietzsche’s maxim, “He who has a why to live can bear with almost any how.” (P5) This sentence emphasizes his belief that men possess the ability to choose what is meaningful in his life. There are also a lot of arguments inside the first part. For instance, love gives life meaning. As the Frankl thought about his wife in the concentration camp, he could be relieved from the hardships he experienced: He did not know about his wife’s status, but was rather empowered by taking the emotional burden he had for thinking of her. In author’s view, religion also gives life meaning, as individuals are aware of the assignments the divinity gives for them a reason to survive. What’s surprising to the readers, still, is Frankl’s idea that suffering gives life meaning. He was not frustrated with the will to meaning though he was in bad conditions. He suffered for his loss to honor something he once owned.

The intended audience, ostensibly, is those who have experienced intense stresses in any way. Just like what the author mentioned about his life in concentration camp and other patients’ accounts, they could, in some way, be connected to the powerful message of this book about dealing with those stressors. It also has certain identification with people who have other sufferings, such as oppression or persecution, though not physically implemented, could also hurt their feelings. They might find some ways to cope with the stresses through the exploration of this book. Nevertheless, even people with relatively easy lives could find ways to connect to this book. They surely have gained adequate success, and possibly possess need for achievement. However, Frankl still prompted them to find deeper levels of their lives’ meanings. We adolescents, who are susceptible to identity and role confusion, can also be enlightened by this book’s reflection on purposes of people’s life circumstances and choices.

References

Frankl, V. (1992) Man’s Search for Meaning (Fourth Edition.). Boston, MA: Beacon Press

Thank You, My Interview

This winter break, I am not relaxed. Earlier than that, I had declined my classmates’ several invitations of a trip to Japan. From the start of the break (January 12), I was just preparing for the upcoming InitialView interview in six days, and struggled for a while to think about my own words: What I could say about myself? Is it really good to say this? Will the admission office of my dream school value my speech? Sometimes I even thought whether my TOEFL Speaking score – the unchangeable label – would put stereotype threat to my interview performance.

Obviously, I took a lot of time to draft my interview according to my past events. I picked my most dedicated extracurricular activity – mangrove forest protection – as the main topic around the interview. “Whatever the interviewer’s trick is, I am going to swerve his or her interest to this activity.” Additionally, NOVA Monthly magazine club, my violin playing, as well as my campus life, are all encompassed in the big bundle of my mind. Gradually, I also got many insights beyond these activities, making me surprised about the power of introspection.

The preparation was intense, but it worth. Everyday I stared at the mirror and warned myself to be expressive. I sat in front of my father, who was, not definitely great at English, acted as my interviewer. As he questioned me about various aspects of my life, I really had to take time to process what he intended to say despite answering his “curiosities”. Nevertheless, I found myself really fluent in speaking, and whatever question my dear papa asked about, I would provide satisfactory response that was already packed in my mind full of the materials. Of course, my seniors also cordially offer their experiences last year during the InitialView and encourage me to catch this chance and make a hit; my foreign teachers in my school, though not available for preparation, also provide tips for me to get rid of this interview.

Still, the day will come. I got into the CBD of Shenzhen and was elevated to the fourteenth floor of the Time Finance Centre. There I saw teacher who instructed me to take a writing. “How to love a person?” Well, this topic was easy, and I harnessed what I learned from psychology course. After the writing, I was sent to have an interview.

At first, the interview asked me about my plan, and I told her the truth, that I would play violin on stage. (Actually, I just finished my performance yesterday!) However, as the interview progressed, I thought the topic about violin was talked about too much, and I took a strategic turn to swerve her attention to mangrove forest protection. Fortunately, I finished the entire interview process.

Today, I received my report, and I was quite satisfied with my results. My parents took a look at my chubby face and my seniors, as well, appreciated how great my interview was. I am confident to send my interview video to my dream school’s admission office. Now, as I send my InitialView video to the admission office of my dream school, I also send a seed of hope to it.

Status

Bourgeoisie’s Anxiety

Nowadays, more and more families decide to send their children study abroad. Despite those definitely rich people who regard the tuition fee as an ignorable fraction of their income, more and more middle classes, including my family, also make this choice. What’s different, though, is that we have to make plan to use money.

No need to mention my motivation beyond studying abroad. The core question is, why would my parents overcome the challenge of great cost and support my education? From the beginning of my high school life, anything about testing, studying, and applying is tied to certain expense.

Standardized tests are necessary part for our profile. However, registering for a test is, though not that costly, still countable to my parents’ weekly salary. For rich students’ ideals, it is good to test frequently and show the greatest score to the application office. But for the relatively poor students like me, I have to decide when is the most suitable schedule for me to plan a test and guarantee that I cannot lose the chance to best behave myself at that time. You now perceive the stress. Moreover, lack of context also puts stereotype threat to me. I must to confess that rich people really experience more about the world, and they have greater insights to certain questions. It seems inevitable for me to be considered less knowledgeable.

Cram school. Yes, in this generation full of intelligent people, it is common to see many students studying in such a place. We see from a lot of institutions hosting such auxiliary classes that their advertisements are great lists of students who get high scores on specific tests, thus implicitly propagating the effectiveness of aided education. But the cost is even far higher than the standardized testing fee itself. When preparing for such an exam, rich students really put great efforts in cram school. On the contrary, I am not able to assess the class simply because I have to seriously manage my cost. Furthermore, there are many academic competitions that require exceptional skills on certain subject field, and I heard my peers taking part in the course and got big, big, big prize. Is the prize really big? Or, it is just exaggerated by those cram institutions. Well, at least my careful listening to the school class and self-study technique work for me to win prizes important for my career interest.

College application is more of a big deal, even the cost of testing and studying is relatively too cheap to be mentioned. Of course, the application fee is not expensive, but the expenditure beyond the college application could be so enormous for some students who get to… Oh, the next thing I am going to say may be sensitive. Due to incomplete statistic, the majority of the international students in my district take agencies. You might not know this, let me explain this term to you. Generally, the agency is an institution which manage registered students’ materials and give them advice about the best way to succeed during application period. Sometimes, students who get to agencies earlier in high school do extracurricular activities out of their suggestions. It seems that the applicants who do not have an agency but apply by themselves are heretics, and even my community of international applicants make a term for this – DIY applicant. I am not completely DIY, though; I just use another way to aid my application, that is to ask help from seniors and my own school’s counselors. They are totally free and are glad to solve my problems.

We bourgeoisies are really not in advantage about these matters. However, we have different mindset from those of rich students which put more emphasis on intrapersonal intelligence. To make ourselves more self-aware is to make ourselves more outstanding.

Is Don Quixote Really Insane?

(Just a homework-level response.)

Don Quixote, thought by most of the characters in Don Quixote, is really insane, because he has all the characteristics of a mad person, such as a crazy set of ideas that make him expose both himself and others to danger. However, his behaviors are actually out of consciousness, for he is involved into the chivalric fantasy illustrated in the books he read and tries to restore it by taking the actions that are, though, unacceptable for others.

Throughout most of the story, Don Quixote tries to deal with certain issues with his basic standard of loyalty, humility, and honor, besides the violence part. Definitely, he does great endeavor to protect “Dulcinea” from being debunked by other people about her beauty, showing that by taking righteous actions, he possesses faith to his love. Don Quixote also has humble and honest temperament, as he is sharing the story with the group of people he met in the mountain: “The canon stood amazed at Don Quixote’s methodical and orderly madness, in describing the adventure of the Knight of the Lake.” (1.4.23.2) The phrase “methodical and orderly” illustrates that Don Quixote has a conscious and sincere explication about the adventure he describes. In fact, because he has read so many adventure books and knows the rules so well, he has, basically, created an entire belief system that is open to rational argument. Moreover, his chivalric deeds do win some people’s admiration, though most of them just think of them as entertaining. Nevertheless, in protecting his honor, as in the moment when he is defeated by Knight of the White Moon, he does follow the conditions and decide to return back home.

Actually, Don Quixote is never too stubborn about his optimism about being a knight-errant. At part I of the fiction he shows great enthusiasm for preparing to save the world, leaving others with the impression that he is insane. However, when the story progresses, we can obviously see that his behaviors are controlled, as he thinks about the rationale behind his chivalric deeds. Near the end of the story, he returns to his true self, “I perceive nonsense and impertinence of my knight adventure books.” (2.1.74.5) What might account for the gradual change of his behaviors is the changes in others’ perspectives about Don Quixote. From the start of the novel, he is already sane, though not recognized by the characters around him. But as he grows reputation, people tend to regard him as a celebrity, therefore finding out more details about his personalities. These people put some impact on Don Quixote’s life experiences that help him regulating his actions in a more rational way.

“He is mad past recovery, but yet he has lucid intervals.” (2.1.18.4) Ostensibly, we see Don Quixote as insane because of his abnormal actions. However, looking deeper inside his motives, we should know that he is a propagator of chivalric spirits, transforming the core value of knights into real-life use.

 

Works Cited

“Don Quixote.” The Norton Anthology of World Literature. Trans. Samuel Putnam. Third ed. Vol.C. New York and London: W. W. Norton, 2012, 386-516. Print.

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Review of my 2016

A new refreshing year is awaiting. With just thousands of seconds to count down, here I would like to casually reflect back my life in 2016.

First, I want to share my personal developments. Through this year, I achieved a lot of skills, like winning a national prize, being able to play electric piano, etc.. These new things I learned were memorable, because they came from my commitment. Moreover, I also made plenty of new friends that had distinct backgrounds. Together, we could share ideas and talk about things we were interested in. I also got to know more deeply about Chinese culture. I visited a lot of great natural sceneries and their corresponding civilization. Those things make me more prepared for introducing my culture to people from other countries.

Second, I would like to discuss about school life. During this year, I gained a lot of declarative knowledge that is practical. And I got to pursue my career interests with more opportunities to broaden my vision. I did a lot of researches about chemistry and biology, which really enhanced scientific skills. What’s more, my environmental protection organization goes well, and successfully survived “the Great War of hundreds of clubs”. I honorably became a peer tutor this November, when I was already stepped into college application period. Certainly, the senior 2 (grade 11) life was so busy that I experienced great GPA downfall this year. No wonder flaws of grading and evaluation rumored around my class, I was more optimistic because I really learned a lot of things. The final exam for this semester is coming, and I am sure to fight back the downfall and save my GPA and make my dream more approachable in this senior 3 (grade 12) moment.

Third, testing. At the beginning of this year, my standardized test score was so low that I even considered quitting the international curriculum, but after months of endeavors, I am very glad to achieve such great scores in TOEFL and ACT. Moreover, I accomplished a great miracle: No mean to brag, I was the first person in Shenzhen Middle School who got a full mark in SAT Biology test. Many special occasions did happen, though. During the AP exam period, one of my dearest relatives passed away, while my parents held this as secret until I completed the last test; all the June ACT tests in Hong Kong were cancelled, compelling me to take another one in October.

Is 2016 a perfect year for me? Seriously not. Chaotic situations frequented around the society, shuffling my view of the world many times. Sadness, joy, leaving and reuniting… too many things to be listed. However, I mentally grew up much more than I expected. Instead of escaping from aversive occasions, I would like to take relatively wise actions to dispel those troubles. Looking back, I saw many twists about certain aspects, but those things generally came out to be good in the end. Of course, I will not easily give up in 2017, because I am going to boost up and catch the goals of getting into my dream university, to get involved into the competitive but enlightening education system. Still, the future is full of uncertainty, but I would live my best in the present.

Oh, there is only about half an hour left. So, with the last sincere wish for everyone, I would like to conclude with the most commonly used sentence: “Happy New Year!”

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