It takes a long time to become young.
- Pablo Picasso
Thank you for all the happy wishes and love!
Archive for September, 2010
It takes a long time to become young.
- Pablo Picasso
Thank you for all the happy wishes and love!
As I am considering all the possibilities that could present themselves over the next few years I am just baffled as to how anyone chooses one thing to do with their whole life.
According to the New York Times article ‘Why Colleges Are So ‘Selective’?’ “On average, in 1965, 10 students postmarked applications to 30 schools; today 10 students easily email applications to 70.” In addition, students are becoming more selective about the programs they consider. If they are interested in the sciences, only a few schools will meet the expectations of the prestige desired. The same expectations apply to fashion, film, politics, art, business, journalism, and technology.
I have trouble believing that the students who are so selectively choosing these programs can really be 100% certain of their interest. Like many recent graduates I have gained a huge honor in completing my undergraduate education and have gone out into the world to apply my knowledge in a way that will earn me enough money to live with, satisfaction with my job tasks, and growth opportunities for my future. The trouble is that there are too many things I am interested in doing. I have already switched careers twice since graduating in May 2009. And I have loved every one of them. I have had the steepest learning curve of my life and I thrived on the variety, plus I have the most diverse and well-rounded skill set I could ask for.
It comes down to the fact that I could easily succeed in business, science, or teaching. I could also be a great anthropologist, journalist, researcher, restaurant owner, oenologist, or administrator. The big decision has nothing to do with whether or not I am capable but resides in the question of how to commit to just one discipline.
What is the most valuable quality in a professional? Is it better to be an expert in the knowledge of one industry? Or would there be more desire for a multitude of skills that can be translated between seemingly unrelated jobs.
How do you choose a graduate program when you continue to discover new areas of interest and talent with every new job? And how can you validate the cost of a specific area of study when the education you already paid so dearly for has become so small a component of your value in the workplace?
I have applied for such a huge variety of jobs since graduation that it is hard keeping track of the different versions of resumes I have filed away. Nothing has been a perfect fit, but everything has engaged my curiosity. I feel bigger than the purpose of the positions. I want to be making a difference. I want to see the results of my work. I want to have spent physical energy on challenging work. I want to tackle important subjects and discuss solutions that I will be able to follow through. I don’t want to feel the disconnect between my individual tasks and the overall purpose.
I am greedy. I am impatient. I am egotistical. I have an outrageous image of myself. But I want to do good things and I want to help people. I don’t believe in putting in my time. And I don’t think anyone in my generation really does. We are urgent, and pushy, and we want to be of some use other than sitting at a desk. We ALL want a job that we can be proud of. Right now.
First of all; Read this…
WWU researchers say they could dramatically cut cost of solar power
JOHN STARK – THE BELLINGHAM HERALD
BELLINGHAM — A team of Western Washington University researchers have developed a new approach to solar electricity generation they say could eventually cut solar power to 1/10th of its current cost.
The team recently won a three-year grant of $970,000 from the National Science Foundation to continue their research.
Brad Johnson, chairman of WWU’s physics department and a member of the university’s Advanced Materials Science and Engineering Center team, said it’s too soon to estimate how quickly the new solar panels could be ready for mass production.
But he and his colleagues are confident their new approach is well beyond the “what if” stage. The team already has applied for one patent in connection with the project, and more applications may be forthcoming.
The new solar panel technology has cleared what scientists call the “proof of concept” phase, demonstrating that their approach really works. That enabled them to win the grant.
“Now we actually have to try and gather some of the details that make the whole thing possible,” Johnson said. “At this point there’s a basic idea that makes it very sound. … There is some new science to be done.”
Team member Stephen McDowall, an associate professor of mathematics, said solar researchers have been trying to develop something like this for about 30 years.
Another team member, physics and astronomy assistant professor Janelle Leger, said the next phase of work being funded by the grant will attempt to create actual working prototypes.
Leger observed that while it is already possible to generate significant amounts of power from conventional silicon-based solar panels, the cost makes it impractical on a large scale. The WWU researchers believe they can change that.
The new system they envision will rely on plastic polymers containing special dyes that capture solar energy for transport to silicon chips that turn it into electricity.
While conventional silicon solar panels collect energy only from the red portion of the sunlight spectrum, the new approach uses the entire spectrum, which enables it to convert more sunlight into electric power.
The new approach also would be much more effective on cloudy days, creating more potential for solar power in places like Western Washington.
“It’s a local solution to a local problem,” said team member John Gilbertson, assistant professor of chemistry.
David Patrick, professor of chemistry and director of the research center, called the new approach “a chemical lens to capture the light.”
Besides the potential for revolutionizing green power, the WWU project also will provide exciting opportunities for graduate and undergraduate science students.
“Undergraduate involvement in research is a cornerstone of the Western experience,” Patrick said.
Grad student Tristan Butler, at work in the research center lab, agreed.
“I transferred here as an undergrad largely because of the opportunities in the chemistry department for undergraduate research,” he said.
Yep…my little brother, who I wrestle with on the living room floor, share a bed with on the Eve of Christmas, tease about girls, fight over who gets the last raspberry in the fruit salad, and generally just treat like my brother, is a major player in developing solar electricity generation for the masses. Which means his contributions will benefit humanity. People will use the results of his hard work and labor far down the road into the future. I am just so proud to say that he is part of my family.
For some reason I cannot fall asleep tonight. So I am here cleaning up my hard-drive and writing to you.
So many wonderful things have happened since moving here. I have met new friends, who I will hopefully be in contact with my whole life, I have seen things I could never imagine at home and tasted foods I never thought I would have the courage to eat. But I also came here to work. This isn’t study abroad, or a vacation. I am being paid to share my expertise and knowledge with these children. Maybe it is a bit objectified and stereotyped, but it is still taken seriously by the school educators.
I am getting better as a teacher. Each day has a new challenge but also a little ray of shining light. I do need to be strict in order to be heard. And I do need to pull teeth in order to get a simple yes or no response at times. But I also get to be a guide for those students who want to learn and who have big dreams.
As you saw on my previous post, last Friday was Teacher’s Day. Even though I have seen my students maybe twice since the start of the school year, I got bouquets of flowers, gifts of candy and cards telling me how happy they are to be able to learn from me and how pretty I am.
And I love them. The kids have such individual personalities and are curious about everything. I can tell many have strong opinions about certain topics and I cannot wait to touch on one that starts a little fire within them to discuss and learn and talk to each other.
Lots of the kids are shy during class, only speaking when I do call and response, which is where they repeat the meaning or word that I call out to them. But after class I get surrounded by students who have questions about where I am from, if I have a boyfriend, whether or not I like China, If I think Chinese culture is better than US culture, what is school like for American kids, etc. etc.
The level of their English is so much below the level of their curiosity that it makes lesson planning quite a challenge. One boy in my class, was doing an activity of writing an invitation to his Sweet 16 (we are doing a lesson on birthdays this week since mine is just around the corner). And where many students couldn’t get past articulating what food and beverages would be served, he had decided to invite the “important world leaders of today” as his guests. As he says to me, “I invite world leaders because this is topic I am much interested in”. Such interesting thoughts for 14-year-olds. Another invited Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Jim and Pam from The Office.
Since I see them only once a week it is hard to quickly develop a relationship, but I just need to remember that my time is less limited than it feels like now. I can slowly get to understand my kids and develop in them a desire to know more and experience more.
You can’t see these photos very well but they are from the ceremony from Teacher’s Day. This day is when students bring teachers gifts and flowers and cards to show how much they appreciate the work they do at school. It was a nice ego boost and the kids were adorable when they presented me with flowers and presents. Basically each teacher was presented with an award based on their years of working at the school and the students and teachers all put on many performances for about 4 hours. It was interesting to say the least. One of the groups of children performed a dance about computers. They carried little computers around and ran around in circles. It was adorable. The teachers did an umbrella dance as well as a drum song.
And where they really got me hooked was when the student orchestra performed the songs from Phantom of the Opera perfectly. I pretty much melted in my seat seeing how seriously those children played my favorite music.
Just wanted to send a little China Love to my wonderful best friend. I hope you have a fantastic 24th birthday! I will be celebrating from across the world for you. Love you forever and am missing you each and every day!
“I’m a great believer in luck and I find the harder I work, the more I have of it.”
-Thomas Jefferson, President of the United States
As I am slowly setting up my new apartment and collecting the essentials for life; dish soap, shampoo, laundry detergent, food supplies etc, it has occurred to me that although I feel the same wave of comfort when I come home after a long day of work or out walking around town, it isn’t the same feeling of walking into my own house. I have noticed that when I am looking for groceries or supplies I am always comparing to the closest related article I can imagine in the US to evaluate whether the item is good enough.
Colored pencils, toothpaste, cooking seasonings, tape, clothing, you name it. And since I live the most western area of Shenzhen I am able to find everything I want, but today Jenna and I went down to Seaworld again to wander around, grab breakfast, and check out an imported foods store. We went to Starbucks first and as we were sitting there I saw more meigoren than I had ever seen in one area. There was one family who sat just outside the doors that caught my attention. The father walked up first carrying a little baby girl on his arm, just like my dad tells me he used to carry me, and with the other hand was holding the leash for his golden retriever. They happily walked up the courtyard and took a seat at the wooden outside tables, the dog circling three times before laying down and the little girl staring wide-eyed at whatever angle her father’s arm was turned. They looked so normal to me. The little girl’s two sisters ran up holding doughnuts from a place down the walk, and the mother followed pushing an empty stroller and distributing more doughnuts once they were all seated together. Coffee and chocolate milk were purchased and they all sat together enjoying their Sunday breakfast. From our table inside (where we were enjoying cheesecake and panini’s for breakfast) I could not have told you whether we were in the US or China from watching the scene outside.
My first thoughts were concern that these cute little blonde girls must feel so lonely and different here. I wondered if they get stared at when they are out walking to the store. I wondered if they can get the level of medical care they must have been used to. I wondered if they have to get friends and family to send adorable OshKosh B’gosh outfits so that they are just as cute as their cousins. I wondered if they made friends with other children or if they played mostly with each other. I wondered how they were able to find a golden retriever in China, and where they go to have their hair cut. In just a few seconds I judged that family to be living in a place that they were always trying to make more like home.
Then I caught myself. Why on earth would I assume that this family was anything but satisfied with their living arrangement? They have three children under the age of 5 who look happy and healthy, a dog who is well-behaved, enough money to sit together on a Sunday morning enjoying treats and from that I jump to the conclusion that something is missing from their lives.
I just wonder, when I see families and young children, what the tradeoff is when a permanent home in a new country is decided upon. When is the point that you stop feeling like you are substituting one thing for the item you are ideally hoping to have? Is this an inverted law of diminishing returns? As you learn more and discover more and add more to your daily knowledge of the new surroundings the substitution becomes less and less pronounced until you reach a point where the secondary good or service is preferred to the original? Do those girls’ parent’s feel as though they are missing out on the customs and cultures they grew up with? Are they creating a pseudo culture within their home? Are foreigner families ever actually able to fully assimilate? Are they not only satisfied with their location, conditions, and amenities but enjoy them more than previous luxuries they have had? As I consider how long I am going to be here, and whether I could spend another year or two actually becoming a member of this neighborhood, I am not worried that I will miss my house, or friends, or things from home. I know those things are stable. Rather I am worried that I will always feel as though I am substituting instead of welcoming the differences.
I am currently watching my first Tsunami from my bedroom window at midnight.
I love storms. For some reason the loudness of thunder puts a huge grin on my face and tonight is some of the very loudest I have ever heard. Even in Louisiana I did not experience a storm like this.
When Jenna and I were walking home we couldn’t figure out the strobe light that seemed to be lighting up our whole neighborhood. The lightening was not accompanied but thunder yet and was so regular we though it was related to some sort of rave or huge department store sale.
It wasn’t until I was taking my laundry in that I realized that the air was heavier than ever and the first winds of a storm were blowing around my school grounds.
As I was sitting in bed reading, I heard the first crack of thunder and an almost immediate downpour of rain. And that is when I moved myself to the window sill and sat watching the streets flood and waiting as each rumble became louder!
I got a beautiful new Cannon Rebel T1i just before I left for China and have been experimenting with the different settings and focuses etc. since we got here. slowly I am getting the hang of which settings I like and how to make them work for the type of photo I want to take. Some are still a little fuzzy when I am using manual focus but it’s getting better each time. So here are a few of the photos that have turned out pretty decent over the past month.
*Quick disclaimer: I really like to take photos of people, especially children. It’s only creepy when you see it happen, the photos turn out adorable. So don’t judge.
While walking in a toy store
The day before today,
I overheard a Crayon Box
With many things to say.
I don’t like red! said Yellow.
And Green said, Nor do I!
And no one here likes Orange,
But no one knows quite why.
We are a box of crayons
that really doesn’t get along,
Said Blue to all the others.
Something here is wrong!
Well, i bought that box of crayons
And took it home with me
And laid out all the crayons
So the crayons could all see
They watched me as I colored
With Red and Blue and Green
And Black and White and Orange
And every color in between
They watched as Green became the grass
And Blue became the sky.
The Yellow sun was shining bright
On White clouds drifting by.
Colors changing as they touched,
Becoming something new.
They watched me as I colored.
They watched till I was through.
And when I’d finally finished,
I began to walk away.
And as I did the Crayon box
Had something more to say…
I do like Red! said the Yellow
And Green said, So do I!
And Blue you are terrific!
So high up in the sky.
We are a Box of Crayons
Each of us unique,
But when we get together
The picture is complete.