CNY Reflection
Friday February 13th 2015, 1:29 am
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我早就知道中国文化是很全面的,但是通过这个星期的春节活动, 我学到了中国文化对细节的重要性。我们参加的活动包括剪纸、写对联、用红包做灯笼和泡茶。对我来说,有最大的印象的活动就是用书法写春联。

我以前以为书法不能算是真正的美术之一,因为看起来非常简单,跟我用铅笔在本子上写字有什么区别呢?确实用毛笔来写字不是一件难得事情,然而,跟每一个种类的美术一样,做成高质量的书法需要很长时间的练习。不但我没有美术方面的天才,而且那天是我第一次写书法,所以我没有办法做个漂亮的春联。我写的字都特别笨拙和弯曲的。最后没有办法来改我的坏方式,就写出了我的名字。我失败了。就这样终于认识到中国文化对细节和技术的重要性。



THIMUN 2013 Reflection
Wednesday February 04th 2015, 5:08 am
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THIMUN 2013 Reflection

MUN is actually a very taxing thing, and by the end of the week, after starting the session on Monday and finishing on Friday, I was exhausted from all the efforts I had made into making this conference a successful one. THIMUN itself does not even include all the time I had invested in researching and writing resolutions; if it did, I actually believe that I would have done MUN for an aggregate time of about 50 hours or so. So in the end I am very glad that my efforts allowed my fantasies of becoming a very good delegate to come to fruition.
This THIMUN conference has offered me more insight, once again. Every year I go, I seem to learn new things, learn as in stare in awe of some of the delegates who speak so fluently and smoothly, yet maintain a logical outlook. In my mind and my respective GA, I particularly took note of the delegates of Iceland and Croatia for this ability to speak one’s mind in such a convincing and rational manner. Although looking at these people, and comparing them to someone like me only ruins my self-esteem, sort-of, it also presents me with an opportunity to set a realistic goal in improving myself. I’ve noticed that at MUN conferences such as THIMUN, there is no room for arrogance because there will always be people more than willing to humble you, whether it is with a speech or a POI (Point of Information). So people should silently work hard to achieve a status where one is not able to be criticized in any manner. This is what I strive to become, and I hope that by next November, I will be a completely changed delegate.
One specific thing I learned, and witnessed live, was the importance of being social and outgoing to an extent. I put extent because there are certain limitations to this, and going past a certain point can have an equally devastating effect; the delegate of Gabon in GA1 demonstrated this with perfection when he made a very inappropriate analogy just to get peoples’ attention (and now is banned from MUN). In MUN, especially larger international conferences like THIMUN, it is very important, especially during the lobbying and merging stage, for total strangers to work together and cooperate in constructing a very good resolution. The problem is that I personally am not the most outgoing person. I am rather social, but only when I come to know someone with familiarity. But at things like MUN conferences, I have no time to become intimate friends with others before starting this MUN business, and so it is rather important for me to change this aspect of myself. So in this sense, I really came to admire Andy Woo, who was also in my GA. Although I really cannot emulate all the things he does, his sense of captivating people, with both his humor and intellect never ceased to amaze me. There were lots of people following him around during the conference, and if there wasn’t, he didn’t feel at all awkward to join in another group of people. The confidence at which he approached things, attacking resolutions nonstop and even making a POI in the GA Plenary session with about 1,000 people sitting around him also played a factor in his likability I think. Even when he wore his SAW mask to the dance party, while I was pretty embarrassed to associate myself with this child, I was simultaneously covetous of the attention he was getting. I’ve gone to a total of 8 MUN conferences, and this has never happened with me. Yet a second-conference Andy can have this effect on the people. These series of events really allowed me to realize the importance of being social, and this is definitely something I will improve upon.

Even though I am all depressed at the things I was not able to do, I am still proud of what I achieved. I definitely did better than last year, and this only gives me hope as to improve in the future as well. I made friends and had fun, and at the end of the day, if I’ve enjoyed myself, I think that’s what it really comes down to. Not being able to accomplish everything just drives my motor and makes me even more ambitious to the things I will have to do next year. This MUN experience at SIS has really been an entertaining ride, and I have to say that I had a good time. Now I should steadily work towards next year.



Chemistry Semester 1 Reflection
Thursday January 22nd 2015, 1:02 am
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Are you happy with your grade in Chemistry?

I’m actually not entirely satisfied with my grades in chemistry, because I was presented with so many more opportunities to do better, but failed to capsize on such opportunities. The retest system is implemented so that hard work can be rewarded with a good grade, but I am very sad that I was unable to take advantage of this, especially with my grade in redox.

2. Are you happy with your overall progress in the IB Chemistry program?

Overall in the chemistry program, I am satisfied with where I am. This is possibly a false sense of confidence, but the fact that all the core topics have been covered with a couple month margin for review leaves me in a very favorable position. Although I have to do my fair share of review, particularly in the topics covered in 2nd semester of my junior year, I did better than I would have expected on the mock paper 1, and that makes me a very happy student.

3. If you want to improve your grade this semester, how will you do so?

I think that for this semester I will try to not procrastinate. That seems to be a reoccurring theme will all the work I do, so I will attempt to cut that out of my list of very looked down upon habits. Recently, I think I have done a lot better in this regard. I hope to build on my very early stages of improvement.

4. Do you think your current study habits in and out of class are going to help you be successful when you sit your exam?  If yes, why? If no, why not? And if no, what can you do differently over the next few months?

I think at this point, no, but if I carry on with the improvements I am making I feel like I will be very happy with the progress that I make for the IB exams. I have recently started solving a lot more practice problems, and this allows me to get used to the format of the IB exams. Hence, if I continue this pattern, I believe in my abilities to be able to do well on the exams.



对SIS使用技术的反应!
Thursday January 15th 2015, 12:19 am
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最近SIS带来了很大的教育变化:在课程里只使用电子书和苹果的MacBook。在大多的方面上我支持这个变化,不过对改革还有一些烦恼。首先说一下使用电脑和电子书的好处吧。上个星期,经济学老师让我们找到一些关于美国经济的资料。好像他不知道在课本里没有他要求的统计,没有什么办法在学校有空时做功课。要是现在能拥有电脑的话,这样的资料应该会太容易找到了。电脑让学生学到更多的材料,加强我们脑子里面的知识。接着,随着生活的节奏加快,一定要重视节省时间。用电脑能减少我干活当午的时间。在电脑打字比手写多么快啊!

可是我也担心,这样的变化会有坏处。因为我会更可靠电脑,我会花很多时间在电脑上做功课、玩游戏、聊天儿等等。我着急做这样的事会导致一些健康上的问题。我已经带眼镜,用电脑的话我的实力应该会更降落。所以虽然我对电脑替换课本很有兴趣,我还是觉得对这个旧的方式有浪漫。



THIMUN Reflection
Wednesday January 07th 2015, 12:53 am
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This year, the conference really wasn’t different at all from my expectations. After having gone from 3 years prior to the same conference every year, I had seen my fair share of strict chairs, cold auditoriums, boring opening/closing speeches, delegation disses, delegation dismissals following those disses, bad analogies, sexual innuendos and whatnot. There really wasn’t much to experience. Even having a chair from my school, a rarity from one such as SIS, wasn’t a new thing – in 10th grade, Jenna Kwon was my chair in GA2.

The only difference that really stands out is the number of opportunities given in HRC to speak. Albeit, having a chair from the same school helps, I don’t think I had ever participated this much in terms of given speeches and POI’s in an MUN conference ever. With that, accompanied better relationships with other delegations and requests to support resos and whatnot. I’ve always been active in MUN, but to make 10 speeches or so in a conference is something that is not going to happen in any GA. I’m not sure if the number of people in the HRC was substantially smaller than that of the GA’s, but regardless, I was afforded with much more opportunities to speak. 

One challenge that faced me during THIMUN was dealing with fatigue that came with the extended conference time. Especially on the last 2 days of the conference, debate sessions would start at 8AM and go all the way into the late afternoon. Even though I got ample sleep, at times I was extremely sleepy and did not want to go through more hours of debate. I think having a partner in HRC really helped with overcoming this, waking me up when I was feeling drowsy and keeping me kept up with the flow of the debate while I was out cold for 5 minute intervals or so. Also, I took this opportunity to make even more speeches and POI’s to be able to in a sense keep me occupied and pass time.

This seems to be a problem for all trips I ever go on for THIMUN, but a different hotel would be nice for next year. Lavender V was nicer as it had a somewhat functioning internet, but I thought there were way too many people. To add the all the THIMUN students, there was a badminton tournament being held at the same time just to add to the sea of students. A hotel with less students would be nicer for next year… However, I must say that location wise, Lavender V was great.



What Works for Me in Chemistry
Friday November 28th 2014, 12:53 am
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Chemistry for me is a hard subject; I just think I’m too dumb for the topic. However, one of its many merits is that at some eventual point, everything comes together, and that is when all the topics that I labored on finally start making sense.
Because of my intellectual limitations, the one aspect of my studies that I need to focus on is solving many practice problems, particularly those that are structured like the actual IB exams. Unfortunately… this hasn’t happened for this particular unit :(. I was away at THIMUN, having a good time, and I forgot about chemistry… sorry. I think by augmenting my studies by solving IB-styled problems, I simultaneously prepare myself for the IB exam. Duh. But it’s true, and for the topics that I did do with this last year, I was able to attain good results.
For this particular unit, I’m going to stay true to my words before doing any retests. I will do the practice problems in the book because they are fairly similar to those on the test we are about to take next May, and also because I am a little bit too lazy to go online and search up all IB-style problems I really hope this will allow me to get a better score for the retest.



Connecting the Dots
Monday November 24th 2014, 3:51 pm
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On Saturday night I just came back from potentially my 8th and last MUN conference of my academic life. I have to say that THIMUN 2014 has been my favorite MUN conference ever, having maximized the number of times I spoke at the conference, with the added benefit of having a chair from SIS, I have returned home moderately satisfied. I qualify my satisfaction because with the cherishing of experiences throughout the past week also emerges small feelings of regret.

During the closing ceremony, which is normally the BORINGEST part of MUN, the Deputy Secretary General, someone by the name of Frodo (huh?)… mentioned Steve Job’s 2005 Stanford commencement speech. It wasn’t much, just a quick mention of ‘connecting the dots’. However, it left me just curious enough for myself to go back and watch the speech on Youtube.

Sure enough, Steve Jobs mentions ‘connecting the dots’. It’s a recollection of his time back in Reed College, where he felt financially irresponsible in attending college and dropped out, instead taking some strange classes such as Chinese calligraphy. At the time, he recalls he had no idea how these sorts of happenings would alter future courses of action, but years later, the first Macintosh comes out with typography and font manipulation, the first of its sort, inspired by the calligraphy instruction at Reed. With subtle Microsoft disses, he then retouches on how he had no idea of how things would end up, but they just happened to do so… some might say extremely fortunate luck, but Jobs accredits this to the connection of dots. He leaves a message: the dots can’t be connected looking forward, but the connections are very obvious looking backwards. It’s the confidence that the dots will connect, a leap of faith, that ultimately leads to success. Bar any other ‘Inception’ references, the last couple of messages really left its mark.

29115-inception-leap-of-faith

Now that my MUN career is at its close, the dots of the past seem very obvious, and regret is a largely reoccurring theme. I should have made that speech; I should have main-submitted at that conference; I should have become friends with that person etc. They’re all regrets that have resurfaced as soon as the President of GA gaveled the podium to mark the end of THIMUN X. But all my coulda-woulda-shoulda statements seem minor next to maybe my largest regret from my MUN career: never chairing a committee. In a way, I never had the audacity. Always being from a smaller international school compared to the rest of those in such conferences, I consistently told myself that such ambitions were unrealistic, and that I should do well with the circumstances presented to myself. After watching Jane chair, I feel as if those circumstances could have been expanded the last 4 years of my MUN career. Regret is a large part of connecting the dots, and as Job’s said, only after everything has past and the situation has settled in that I truly realize my past and my predicament.

But connecting the dots for another, final time, leaves a more optimistic note. The future cannot be a simple extrapolation of the past. I don’t know what the future holds until the future becomes the past looking back; things happen at least until the already existing connections become more underlying connections that can be built on. It gives me confidence, that this, even though being my last MUN conference, on a larger scale, is not the end. Rather it’s a beginning. Until that happens though, I need to create more dots.



The Ultimate Case of “Suck it Up and Deal With it”.
Friday November 14th 2014, 8:48 am
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Lets start off with a joke: How do you catch a fish?

Debait.

^Creativity points? No?

Anyways, personally I think that statistics are very overrated when it comes to debates. While, it can be very handy when proving a simple point, they are often manipulated to look more favorable, so don’t think that you are on the only side that possesses pertinent statistics to support your cause.

During debates, it seems like people will not stop the use of statistics, and so SURELY at some point everything will become a regurgitation. I’ve noticed that the best position to be in during a debate is one in which the opposition knows you must be right, but is not aware of anything more; so what could possibly be better than bringing up a Supreme Court case to make the opposition go “WHAT?”… nothing.

really

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here we go trying to break a court case down…

Alexander v. Sandoval
What happened?

Alexander 
v. Sandoval was a United States Supreme Court case settled in 2000 when Martha Sandoval sued the Alabama Department of Public Safety in 1997 for discrimination in providing driver’s-license tests in English only. (More on Washington Post).

Why was this a problem in the first place?
In 1990, the state of Alabama declared English to be its official language; afterwards, the Director of the Alabama Department of Public Safety, James Alexander, established for driver’s-license tests to only be offered in English.
As some of you may know, through many fellow Yup Fish blog posts, supporting bilingualism costs a lot… about $2.4 billion to be exact. I won’t go into any specifics as others have already done a thorough job, but this cost incorporates all sorts of federal papers, interpreters and the like… way too much money.

What was Sandoval’s case?
Martha Sandoval sued the the Alabama Department of Public Safety for discrimination, based on Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, in which section 601 “prohibits discrimination based on race, color, or national origin in covered activities” for entities that are supported by federal funding, as well as the following section, 602, which forces those entities to “effectuate provisions of  [the previous section…] by issuing rules, regulations or orders of general applicability” (Find Law).
In this case, ELI5, Martha Sandoval accused the Alabama Department of Public Safety, and its head, James Alexander, because according to herself, the department was not taking into consideration the need for driver’s-license in multiple languages. To her, the driver’s-license test had the effect of discriminating against her national Hispanic origin.

What happened next? 
Sandoval won the case in both the district court and the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit. In both cases, the court determined that the Alabama Department of Public Safety was indeed violating sections 601 and 602 under Title VI, and that litigations were appropriate for the instance. The defendants then submitted an appeal to the Supreme Court that was accepted for only the questions as to whether Martha Sandoval had a legitimate “private cause of action to enforce the regulation” (Find Law).

What was the Supreme Court question? 
Does the Civil Rights Act of 1964, especially pertaining to Title VI, contain a private cause of action that causes that forbids the provision of an English-only system that could possibly have the effect of discriminating people based on race, origin or national origin?

What the heck is a private cause of action?
As the entire case seems to built on the existence of a ‘private cause of action’, it only seems logical to explain what it is and what it entails.
A private right or cause of action is a set of established principles or facts that can adequately justify to sue to obtain the enforcement of a right (Alexander vs. Sandoval), money or property.
In this situation, Martha Sandoval was seeking to justify herself a cause of action to have the grounds to sue the Alabama Department of Public Safety to retract on state law, and incorporate multiple languages into the application system.

What was the Supreme Court decision?
In the end, Martha Sandoval lost the lawsuit in a 5-4 decision under a ruling from the Supreme Court that stated that she indeed did not hold a private right to action to enforce disparate-impact regulations, situations in which an employee or customer feels an “adverse impact” regarding their protected rights. The decision claimed that as the discrimination that Sandoval claimed was not born out of intentions, it could not be considered under legitimate grounds of discrimination.
Sandoval was unable to take away a settlement, and the Alabama Department of Public Safety was off the hook for now. Sandoval was forced to go home to this message:

a_610x408

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So What?
As implied in the title, this Supreme Court case evinces the need for the input of “suck it up” ideology. Although what it advocates may or may not be right, as the debate needs to be approached from a pragmatic and realistic perspective, and Supreme Court cases, especially those that serve to overturn already made decisions, occupying even more time from the initial appeal, the argument proposed can go along the lines of “deal with it”.
The significance of this Supreme Court case is that it implies that technically, as demonstrated by such rulings, citizens of the United States do not have the right to sue federally-supported entities in regards to supporting multiple languages in infrastructure, because as long as there is no malicious discriminatory intention involved with the subtle discrimination cried foul by Martha Sandoval, it does not count as any form of violation of law. Were a similar case to be brought to the court, most likely, from cases such as these, the claim for supporting languages other than English are to be dismissed on identical grounds.
This is where a sinister turn is taken. People from national origins or backgrounds are now backed up against a wall as their cry for a level field in language usage in federal activities is heard by deaf ears. Therefore, instead of trying to prolong an inevitable conclusion, these people should work to adjust to existing parameters.
Establishing English as the official language of the United States is a mechanism to reduce any more commotion and public outcry about implementation of bilingualism or more languages in such processes. By transferring English as an official language from the scope of 31 states to an entire country will eliminate any such events in the future, that CLEARLY only serve as a avoidable disturbance. Anyone who interferes will only be dealt a similar ending as to what Martha Sandoval faced. So…

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Sources
http://www.oyez.org/cases/2000-2009/2000/2000_99_1908
http://caselaw.lp.findlaw.com/scripts/getcase.pl?navby=CASE&court=US&vol=532&page=275#275
http://www.splcenter.org/get-informed/case-docket/sandoval-v-alexander
http://www.splcenter.org/sites/default/files/sandovalvalexander_scdecision.pdf
http://www.colorincolorado.org/article/49704/
http://www.justice.gov/crt/about/cor/coord/titlevi.php
http://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=1356&dat=20010117&id=S_FPAAAAIBAJ&sjid=awgEAAAAIBAJ&pg=6665,234380



30 Hour Famine
Friday November 07th 2014, 5:06 am
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I really haven’t done much since the inception of this idea, but I still intend to carry it out someway. I am interested, along with a lot of my fellow seniors, in introducing the 30 hour famine to SIS. The 30 hour famine is a fundraiser, where a group of volunteers agree to not eat any food for 30 hours while being locked in a secure site, eg. school, church etc. and in return get donations from others. The purpose of the starving is to experience first hand the struggle that the majority of the world undergoes, something that as privileged kids, we’ve never had to undergo.
There are complications to this plan. First of all, school policy has it that events cannot go over 12AM, but I firmly believe, if persuasive enough, that we can convince authorities to allow us to do otherwise. The activity does have a purpose. Another more prominent issue that arises is with fundraising itself. Although in the other schools that I have done it with, somehow and in some way people free up donations, however much they may be… looking over it again, were I a little more stingy and less liberal to the idea, I would have no incentive to give money for people to starve. So raising awareness to elicit empathy and creating a fun method to raise money is the crux to introducing the 30 hour famine to SIS.



‘Alien’ DNA
Tuesday May 13th 2014, 4:49 pm
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With the recent expansion of synthetic DNA, in particular the development of the new X and Y nitrogenous bases, an infinite number of possibilities are imminent. With potentially 200 amino acids (although I do not understand this number as 6P3 = 120) coding for all sorts of proteins, the potential to diversification and expansion of the functions of organisms is ever growing. As of now, it seems that therapeutic use is still the number one priority of the majority. Scientists are actively working on new ways to code for proteins that will perform specific functions and then integrating them into living organisms so that these functions can be carried out. Professor Romesberg shares my sentiments as he says that “we could encode new proteins made from new, unnatural amino acids, which would give us greater power than ever to tailor protein therapeutics…”. Already can we see some of the uses of cell programming come to being, as things such as genetically modified bacteria are already being used for health benefits, such as insulin production for people with diabetes, blood clotting for people with hemophilia and production of HGH for people to treat dwarfism. If anything, 2 new DNA bases will allow for flexibility and expediency on the scientists’ part to accomplish this task.
I must admit, when I first saw the term ‘drug delivery’ in the second question, I thought it had to do with the physical transport of medicine from one geographical location to another, but looking on wikipedia, I realize now that the term relates itself to the administering of drugs through the human body in terms of location, quantity and duration. A fifth and sixth nucleotide could serve to be quite useful, especially with human manipulation. Medication can be administered several ways, most commonly thorough inhalation or the mouth. But there are still some vaccines and protein medicines that cannot be administered through these normal techniques, largely due to molecular size and enzyme degradation from pH factors. It raises a question as to whether these obstacles can be removed altogether with the development of new amino acids, enzymes and proteins, using X and Y bases, that are immune to normal enzyme-affecting factors and more condensed in size. If this were to be accomplished, we would be able to take all medication and vaccines ourselves through the simple swallowing of a pill; shots would no longer exist, and I would certainly not be unhappy about this.



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