Why I Write Reflection

After browsing the internet, the first piece that I came across was by Zetta Elliott. Her “Why I Write” was incredibly moving. Elliott begins by describing what it means to be a person of color. She follows that by conveying what it means to be a child. Growing up as a black child, she bridges race and age and delves into her childhood. She becomes vulnerable with the reader, sharing the pain that her parents’ divorce caused her. She brings her piece full circle by stating, “I write books my parents never had the chance to read to me. I write the books I wish I had had as a child.” Another piece that I found was by Oliver Miller, a clearly much less popular writer. He writes a less polished essay about why he writes, but—in doing that—tells and shows the reader how he writes. He quotes favorite authors, describes the substances he consumes before and while writing, and talks about the art of procrastination.

While it was nice to read these “non famous authors’ essays, it was equally interesting to read the work of my peers. I read Zach Carlson’s and Louis Goldsmith’s pieces. Both spoke of personally stories and journeys.  Zach wrote in an honest, genuine way. He spoke about how writing lets him escape, vent, cry. As someone who is thinking about my own piece, I appreciated his frankness; it created a natural voice.

After reading a multitude of “Why I Write” essays, all starkly varying from the next, I appreciated different aspects from different authors. Elliott is one who certainly focuses on her process/journey as a person and draws on personal background. Miller spoke of the physical writing process and what went through his head while writing. Zach wrote from raw emotions. Louis writes to tell stories. Perhaps, when writing my own “Why I Write,” I can borrow certain techniques from these authors in order to ultimately impact my reader.

In My Eyes: An Investigation of Misconception and an Argument for Female Reproductive Rights

Recently, president Donald J Trump and Vice President Mike Pence have made promises to defund Planned Parenthood in an effort to restrict—and ultimately—ban abortion in the U.S. Why is this wrong? Why does it matter?

In my eyes, a woman should have the right to her own body. In my eyes, pro-life ethic conflicts with the basic human right of personal autonomy. In my eyes, government has no place impeding the reproductive decisions of any of its citizens, regardless of sex. My project realizes however, that the “truth” I hold in my eyes is not true for everyone. Additionally, in this novel era of misinformation, false news stories, and alternative facts, what does the word “truth” mean anymore? How is the general public supposed to ingest knowledge and protect themselves from false information and bias? How has the recent disregard for factual evidence affected American policy and what does it mean for our future?

Investigating how different and often opposing truths came to be is imperative in understanding the nature of this culture war around reproductive rights and abortion. I aim to illuminate the true nature of Planned Parenthood and extinguish the stigma that pervades popular opinion. I aim to identify how these misconceptions came to be and ask myself and my audience, what do these misconceptions convey about the social values that dominate U.S. politics and how can we contest them?

A Revealing Exploration of Subculture & Society

Oppression manifests in different ways, but often offers the opportunity for community to spawn. Counterculture movements are one such example of community that takes shape in response to the sometimes-oppressive beliefs and behaviors of “regular” society. The contemporary camping music festival community in the United States is a counterculture movement that offers commentary and perspective on American culture. Fueled by a love of art and music, this community welcomes rituals and rhetoric deemed socially unacceptable outside of the 3 to 4 day jamboree.

Like all counterculture movements, this community is unique to a particular place and time. The personality and behavior of the US camping festival subculture reflect and respond to aspects of American society. Evaluating it will illuminate uncommon perspectives, challenge the notion of acceptable, and help us understand the influences and consequences of society’s expectations in greater depth.

The Right to Health

Is there a “right to health” and if so, are some people more deserving of “good” health and sanitation than others? This question, for most, has an obvious answer, no. However, history reveals a paradoxical tale, one where the term “environmental racism” emerges. Environmental racism refers to the systemically exposing minorities to environmental hazards while disproportionately denying them access to sources of ecological sustenance (such as clean water). Flint, Michigan, a city predominantly populated by Blacks, does not have clean drinking water. The water is not only unclean but the lead found in the city’s drinking water is so corrosive that it corrodes car parts. It appears that Snyder decided that saving cost at the cost of the health Blacks was more important. While this is tragic, this is a large phenomena throughout this country and the world at large. My project will analyze the Flint Water Crisis to determine how this was able to happen and why residents still do not have clean drinking water three years after lead was found in a resident’s home and in an elementary school. I will develop a model so that we can understand environmental racism at large (because this crisis is not the only instance of it. For an example, think of Hurricane Katrina). In order to prevent this from happening in the future, we must understand how it operates, the system that allows it to happen, and why we (the people) could not identify this sooner. My project aims this.

What do the judicial system and slavery have in common?

Slavery still exists in the United States. It lies directly beneath, yet above us, and is continuing and expanding every single day. The judicial system is our new slavery, and the poor are our new slaves. This has become some kind of messed up common knowledge amongst researchers and professionals alike, yet we have done nothing to stop it. In true American fashion, we won’t go down without a fight, or even a war. When will it come to this? My estimate is soon. We cannot continue to exist in a society where discrimination runs rampant and instead of building an equal society we label the lesser as criminals and put them into a system designed to betray them. These are not criminals, they are not murderers, and they are not less of a human than you or me. But if you were to put any of us in the situation that they call life, we would have no choice. I will not continue to manipulate the unspoken as a way to make profit. I will not stand for police brutality, unequal education, or the continuation of this prison system, and neither should you. This chapter will illuminate why we are in the place where we are, the people who are truly suffering from these decisions, and how we can do something.

Katie Pak’s Capstone Project—Social Media and Travel

Each year, more and more Millennial students are electing to travel abroad, sometimes in the form of a gap year (a la Malia Obama) or perhaps as part of a structured study abroad experience through their institutions or separate organizations. For our generation, social capital is based more on experiences had than material owned, and more importantly, one’s ability to prove they’ve had these experiences. With a perfectly-composed “candid” shot against a stunning natural or urban backdrop, a just-right filter, and a caption that says “I’m having an amazing experience but being casual about it because this happens every day for me,” young travelers contribute every day to an explosion of very specific, curated images saturating every corner of the internet. What is the impact—culturally, socially, and individually—of this phenomenon? With apps like TripAdvisor, Yelp, Airbnb, Hostelworld, etc., are travel-minded Millennials over-producing their experiences, and at what cost? What is a “true” travel experience, and how does the pursuit of a specific, quintessential experience promote certain imaginings of places and cultures and undermine others? These are questions I hope to provoke, explore, and attempt to answer in a project that will incorporate my personal experience traveling as well as a critical analysis of the impact of social media on travel.

why you should INVEST in my project on social impact INVESTing

I imagine that as a professor, you thoroughly enjoy watching your students grow, learn, and challenge themselves. Well, I can assure you that I will grow, learn, and challenge myself a great deal through this project, a project that has piqued my interest and will build upon my passions.

My curiosity is record-high, and there are many questions that I have begun to and are excited to ask. Intellectual curiosity makes the world of academia go ‘round, and I have plenty of (perhaps too much) intellectual curiosity at this moment. While it may sound overly optimistic, I also believe that there is potential for me to discover something new or something that was overlooked—or to see something in a different way.

Furthermore, this project presents an opportunity for me to make a difference in people’s perceptions, and to inform them of their abilities to be active, virtuous members of society. While I am only one individual, and it is inherently difficult for me to change the world on my own, I do intend to use this project and the research that comes out of it to make the world a better place (even if ever so slightly).

And, well, by investing in my project about social impact investing, you are subsequently making a social impact investment yourself —which, after reading my final paper, you will understand is an investment worth making.

Online Linguistic Patterns

The advertisers and marketing departments in the world appear to be beyond bewildered right now. What do the kids like? They seem to be asking each other. Gorillas? Frogs? What’s a meme? It’s not new that there’s a divide that gets wider and harder to bridge with each new generation in recent decades, but with that widening divide, there comes a business challenge that seems increasingly insurmountable. How do we get the kids to buy our product when we don’t understand them? But there is a way to understand them! Through understanding their language, and in noticing the trends in advance, online linguistics, even on strange sites like Tumblr, can be completely decoded. There are rules to the way that communication happens online, even if it seems strange or nonsensical. Understanding this better is of personal interest, since I’d very much like to decode not only what the hell I’m talking about when I’m online, but also the why.

A kid can do that…

So much of what you notice when you people watch at a museum (which I can’t help but do even though I am simultaneously engrossed by the art) is a strong sense of disconnect. There are the academics or the appreciators who are not wandering in without a sense of purpose. They know what’s available and they are there to soak up the historical importance of the canvases hanging on the wall. They understand that curators spend weeks agonizing over tiny details. How many centimeters apart should these two works be? Is the lack of chronology confusing or informative? These two works share little historical context but within their own spheres are surprisingly alike – do I still place them together?

Across the divide are the people who see art museums as a tourist attraction on TripAdvisor’s Top Ten list. You can’t fault someone for not knowing the history or significance of the various collections, but to watch some of the glazed stares you might encounter at the Louvre or the Chicago Institute of Art is a stark reminder that many people just can’t be bothered to care.

The Vienna Secession sparked my interest as soon as I first encountered it in class reading. I care about this topic very much, and the passion that arises from a person writing about something they care about is both important yet banal – we have very nearly come to expect that sense of passion at this point. But the bigger picture here is that when I look at a moment as pivotal in art history as the Secession was, I want to make that context relatable to people who might look at a modern masterpiece and think, A kid can do that. It’s not possible to eradicate that saying entirely, but it would be nice to try.