Saturday, July 16, 2011

Saturday Screen Viewing

Today was a wonderfully restful and slow day.

We had breakfast in the lobby of Hank Ingram today. Because it was the weekend, Aiyana and I decided we would wake up a bit later than usual, which led to us to discover barely any food left when we finally arrived downstairs.

I had some coffee and a cinnamon roll along with some strawberry yogurt, and then we were off to class.
A rather relaxed day it was; for the course of the two hours we had in class today, we watched a video of Axis of Evil’s stand-up comedy. This comedic group focuses on bringing awareness and shedding light on controversial issues regarding people of Middle-Eastern decent, but doing so in a light and good-humored way.

I applaud the comedians’ approach to the contentious issue of Middle-Eastern stereotypes—the most common (and shallow) that “all Muslims are terrorists”. Ignorant statements like these are not only detrimental to the culture of a people, but very hurtful on a personal level as well.

Watching the video, I realized that though the truth may be difficult to grasp, many of us do in fact tend to judge others based on the person’s ethnicity, appearance, or even name. Sometimes, it is no fault of our own—we often pick these presumptions up from others while growing up.

Nevertheless, we ought to always keep an open mind.

After class, we ate a quick lunch at Rand Hall instead of the Commons since it is the weekend, and then signed out with our friend Grace to make a quick trip to the Vanderbilt Bookstore and the local CVS/Pharmacy.
I had barely an hour and a half to catch up on the seven parts of the Harry Potter series before Part 1 of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows would be showing in the lobby downstairs. Later in the evening, we would set off to the theater to watch the newly released second part.

After much frantic reading of the summaries on the Internet, we hurried down to the overly-crowded lobby room where I began my venture into the realms of Harry Potter.

I absolutely enjoyed the first section of the two-part movie and could not be any more excited to wrap it up with the final installment.

We had a nice dinner of pizza (in the lobby once again), and soon were all ready to board the three buses to the cinema. Our spirited proctor group decided to wear matching t-shirts and add some fun to it, taping “Gryffindor” onto the back of our shirts and drawing Harry’s famous lightning bolt scar on our foreheads.
Welcomed by advertisements for overpriced popcorn and soda, we hurried into our reserved viewing room and sat down. I was ready for an epic adventure, and the movie delivered.

I was very amused to see how deeply immersed the fans of the movie were—I heard constant sniffles and saw hands lift tissues to faces, blotting away tears throughout the course of the film.

We all had a fun time and very much enjoyed the motion picture. I promised myself and Aiyana that I will indeed watch the six preceding Harry Potter movies when I have the time to spare.

Tomorrow will be much more relaxed than today—we plan on breakfasting with Ms. Kronenberg and Ms. Bulls at the Pancake Pantry in the morning, and a carnival is planned for us on the Wyatt Lawn in the afternoon as well. Although our schedules as students are always packed with activities literally hour by hour, they are almost always a delight to take part in and entertaining, which of course is a good thing.

The ILC’s Maiden Voyage to Vanderbilt: First week at Vanderbilt

I would like to apologize for my recent absence. I actually dislocated my shoulder for the second time in three weeks and it occurred at Vanderbilt.

In speaking on the first week of the VSA program, I must look back and remember the giants I’ve conquered. A new school, new teachers, new friends, new habitat, being alone, learning to deal with other people, these are all just some of the things I’ve learned to overcome this week.
The Vanderbilt Summer Academy has allowed me a college experience within a controlled environment, allowing me to be able to push myself without fear of failure. This idea is huge at VSA. For example, it’s okay to ask crazy questions in World Religions to understand a concept or to make an assumption based on evidence you may not fully understand. It’s okay to attend the “come as you aren’t mixer” as a “Lax it Bro,” or even a girl and still dance the night away, and it’s okay to stack patties on your burger, or put cheese on your hot dog at the Commons lunch line without being criticized or scrutinized.
I feel as though the staff and students at Vanderbilt are a clear window into the social life at the University. During school they didn’t even know each other. Some students just completed their first year of college while others are beginning to think about their Senior Thesis and their Graduate education, but you would think they all went to school with each other for years by the way they interface and work together united in their institution for higher learning.

When I injured myself on Wednesday, they surprised me by acting immediately instead of looking at my shoulder in amazement. They took care of everything like driving me to Children’s Hospital, transferring my medical information, personally holding my arm in place, and staying with me and Ms. Bulls while my shoulder was prepared. They continue to go above and beyond making sure I take my medication and that I’m wearing my sling. Within the controlled environment we still bear the privileges and responsibility of college students.

We have opportunities to go tour the beautiful sites in the Music City, to go and see the new Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows movie, to wake up early and utilize the campus recreation center, we can visit campus cafés for coffee, we can choose various activities from sports to knitting to do during our recreation period, we are able to explore the surroundng community during sign out periods, and we also have the chance to take interesting classes to learn new things like fencing or how to step. At the same time we must get up early enough for us to maintain our hygiene and get to class on time, we are expected to clean up our own messes from our rooms to the cafeteria, and we must conduct ourselves in the highest manner on and off campus.
This first week was truly eventful, full of both victory and defeat, with a little pain added in, Most of all we learned a lot this week and learning is most important both in and out of the classroom because the more knowledge one can accumulate the more power they possess. Next week is a just a few days away now and there is no telling what it will hold in store. It’s great to know I have God, family, friends, the ILC, and VSA behind me for support. So in the words of Harry Potter, “Lets finish this how we started,” strong.

No Worm for an Early Bird

“The early bird gets the worm” seems to summarize my morning pretty well. Too bad I wasn’t considered an early bird. Saturday and Sunday schedules are planned out differently compared to weekday. Breakfast is available in the lobby of the dorm building from 8:30 to 10. Now when they say that breakfast is available until 10, one would assume that one could actually find food to eat for breakfast until 10. Well if you think that would be true, you’re actually mistaken. Julia and I went down to breakfast at 9:30, only to find three trays with plenty of crumbs, and platters with a stray strawberry or lost melon chunk. I was so sad looking down into what could have been my food for the morning. Julia luckily snagged one of the last cinnamon-roll-looking things and some coffee, but it didn’t look all too appetizing. So my idea was to go to the café by my class to get a pastry and a hot chocolate. Again, to my despair, I found the café closed. Both my original plan and my backup plan had failed. Plan C was to rush to my dorm and grab some chips ahoy and Ritz cheese and cracker packets to eat in class. Thankfully, this plan followed through, and I made it to class in time.

Class was only from 10 to 12 today. We reviewed the homework last night, which was the reading of sections of the Qur’an. In this holy book, God, technically Allah, is intimidating, compared to other depictions of God, like in the Bible, where he is shown to be more of the forgiving type. The Five Pillars of Islam which is: 1) the testimony that there is no god but God, emphasizing that Muhammad is only a messenger, and idolatry is strictly forbidden; 2) giving generously to those who need it; 3) daily prayer; 4) fasting during Ramadan; 5) and a pilgrimage to Mecca. Islam is an interesting religion, in that it specifically mentions that they believe Christianity is not valid, because they say God has no son. I have never seen a holy text specifically invalidating another’s belief. But Islam is welcoming of all faiths, and all who do good deeds and give faith to only Allah, are rewarded.

For the rest of class we watched a Comedy Central performance of four Middle Easterners. They were telling stories of how the bombing of the World Trade Center changed their lives. Through their comical stories, including interpretations of George Bush, and mocking the opinions of both Americans of Middle Easterners and Middle Easterners of Americans, they showed us how one event can alter an entire group of people’s life, and how differently and unfairly they are treated, even by those closest to them. One Italian/Arab comic said, “The night before 9/11, I went to bed treated as White man, and the next morning I was Arab”.

We had free time/sign out time from 1 to 4:45. Julia, Grace, and I went shopping for cosmetics and bathroom supplies, and then headed back to the dorms to watch a playing of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1. It was a good refresher, since we were going to see the brand new, super cool, awesome, intense, fantastic, spectacular Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2 just a few hours later!! Julia, who has never read any of the Harry Potter books, and has only seen about half of the second movie, read summaries of all the books in about an hour online, and I filled her in on all the rest.

Vanderbilt actually rented out an entire showing room of the theater just for VSA kids, all 133 of us. We loaded onto some buses, and drove to the nearest theater. Some people dressed up in full out Hogwarts costumes, others had makeshift costumes, like one kid who taped a golf ball over his eye to look like Mad-Eye Moody. Our proctor group dressed up like Gryffindor students, and some even drew on scars and glasses to look like Harry Potter. We put signs on our back over the V-House logo, so it read, Gryffindor House.

Let me just say, that this movie was phenomenal. I cried (way too many times), I laughed, and I jumped. We’re all sad that the movie series is finally at an end; although it needed to end sooner or later since Daniel Radcliffe is already over 20, and is way too old to be a Hogwarts student.

I like the amount of relaxation and free time we are granted on the weekends. It’s a nice change from the rest of the week.