“80% of my friends change after college in their first year of full-time job”

“80% of my friends change after college in their first year of full-time job”, a friend said.

For better or worse?

“Subjective to judge. For the worse I’d say.”

Really? That gives me a chill in this time of the year when graduation is around the corner and everyone is squeezing out every single second with their friends. Well…don’t panic. That is just one guy saying his experiences. I’m sure there are plenty of variations. But still, change is probably necessary, whether in order to formalize a new budget plan (and actually sticking to it) or maintaining a different lifestyle.  

“Well. But sometimes people did not really change. It’s just that we didn’t see their complete or various selfs. We see only part of it and when the other parts reveal themselves, our biases tell us that they have changed. Most often for the worse”, another friend commented. As much as my emotion tells me to counter that, my rational side tells me that there is truth to it. Yet, there is certain excitement to see how people will change, for both better and worse, after graduation. Will that girl become an international human rights lawyer one day? Will that guy reform the Singaporean educational system one day? Will that friend really open up her own gallery one day?

These questions ring in my ears as I hear great news from couple of my friends about graduate school applications and job search. It’s exciting to think about that but it’s also clear that we won’t have a GPA anymore. There is no such thing as GPA for life. No first honors. No honors with distinction. No dean list. Not even that ribbon for “most enthusiastic participation”. There is only us and the people around us. We can choose to either look for motivation externally (peer competition, salary raise, promotions) or internally (experience of flow, enjoyment, sense of possibility, passion)

So I guess that is like senior second semester when senioritis kicks in (sorry, I got caught too). We all somehow get the idea of “before” and “after” graduation for our senior last semester. “Before” lives in the college life and “after” in the “real-world”. Yet, reflecting on this, it seems that the “freedom” we have in last semester of college is simply a prelude to the accountability we will have on ourselves after graduation.

So? Goodbye, napping, TV shows, spontaneous outings, and daydreaming. Time to set this straight.

Speaking about Translation and Content Draft

As I have gained my feedbacks for my capstone project’s first content draft, I realized that I had overlooked my audience’s language and prior knowledge to my topic (cultural differences amongst mainland China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan). I gave a moment of reflection to this during my translation class when one classmate commented that translated versions should stay as close as possible to the original text and our professor challenged, “What is close?”. I realized that the gap of my content draft was not based on the research I have done, but rather, the sources of research. I used English to search for online documents. I used the school’s databases to conduct a more in-depth research, also in English. And many of these documents are translated materials. In other words, I realized that I am looking at the topic from sources that were intended to be for an English speaker centric audience. It means that details originally emphasized might be deemphasized and vice versa.

Therefore, I think I should try to conduct my research and gather perspectives in the local languages of these areas, especially when words could carry more than one layer of meanings. It will be an interesting ride.

Writing with English as a Second Language

As I finished Haruki Murakama’s What I Talk about When I Talk about Running, I wish I could read Japanese and read his memoir again. Would he have a different personality in the Japanese original? How would a Japanese reader perceive him?

I remembered as a kid, I never thought about learning other languages. If it were not Hong Kong’s mandatory English and Mandarin curriculum, I probably would have a much harder time for my study in the United States or perhaps wouldn’t have pursued educational opportunities here. After seven years studying in the U.S., writing, speaking, and listening to English became a default mechanism as I opened a word document. However, looking back, I once used to write letters and diary in traditional Chinese and somewhere in the middle of my second year in the U.S., I began writing in English. Last summer, when I re-read all my diary entries, I found that in Chinese, I sounded more carefree and silly, while in English, I learned that I liked to take a more poetic voice.

I attributed these to how I used to learn English – focusing on grammar instead of articulating an idea. Part of speech, reported speech, use of conjunctions, past perfect tense vs. past tense, use of article (a vs. the), and verb with preposition made me become sensitive to all the tiny details of my readings. Using past perfect tense vs. past tense had a very subtle, yet important distinction in my concept of English (the former being a past event that significantly impacted another past event and the later being a past event that could be or not be impactful). English as a language is spatial and time-sensitive to me. In hindsight, as I was exposed more to the English writing in U.S. and began to explore writing instead of grammar, I found writing intimidating for there was not a specific set of rules for mastership. However, I like it nevertheless for its opportunity to reflect, express, and see the unseen.

Yet, after seven years of not having Chinese lessons, I miss my Chinese writing sometimes. If English were a young and energetic time-traveler, Chinese were a wise old man with each character drawing meanings from centuries of historical events and its composition. Chinese does not have a tenses but each character is both the director and actor at the same time – its meaning could stand alone or be transformed as it paired up with other characters in groups of two, three, and four. It’s full of stories.

Each language has a different texture, appealing to the ears and eyes differently. Through learning another language and writing in that language, I learned to appreciate each language much more, knowing the different characters they play. So I’m curious: If you have to be fluent in a foreign language, what would you choose and why aside from functional purpose?

post-production plan plan

“What’s your project about then?” (in Mandarin)

Next to a court at CCRB where four kids are having an intense double match of badminton, I’ve found myself struggling to explain my capstone project in Mandarin to this kid whom I’ve just met. “It’s about cultural differences amongst the mainland China, Taiwan, and Hong Kong”.

That was enough to bring a moment of suspense before our match.  Sensitive topic. I get that. And then off we went, starting our game in an open court.

I couldn’t deny that I love putting things in order. As much as I felt conflicted about the many tiny decisions that would add up to be my capstone project as I finished off the production plan, I am excited that I have a sense of direction to look forward to, a number of components I could pinpoint to, and the level of standard I hope to achieve…except this sense of satisfaction lasted for a night and then I confused myself again: I was hesitant towards the outcome of the capstone project or more precisely, I was unsure whether how much in the production plan I would be able to achieve. This was mainly because

1) I realized that I have a total of eight components in my production plan (“Really? What was I really thinking? EIGHT components?”)

2) Half of the components are products I had zero experience in, including an oral history, a film editing, and several artifact analysis. (“What if the person kept rambling on random things during the interview? Should I stop or not stop him / her? How should I phrase my questions? What kind of tech tools do I need?”)

3) Since we are reverse engineering, I’ve found myself care about the outlook of the final project site a great deal. I want it to encompass a theme, interact with the audience in a dynamic way, and aesthetically beautiful…meaning I could spend countless hours coding a web app.

Well. I went through this series of concerns, questions, and exercise of my imagination of million possible scenarios in my mind for a 15 minute and then force myself to go play badminton to keep my mind off. I came back to these with some action steps:

  1. prioritize components (quality > quantity)
  2. start doing (looking at different artists’ and writers’ personal websites and the web building platform to see what kinds of features are feasible)
  3. start targeting possible interviewees (utilize the Spring Break time efficiently)

After all, I guess what’s unique about this project is the fact that we get to reverse engineer while make some discoveries in the process. Pursuing something predictable while being flexible with the unpredictable. I know my action-oriented side will get on my nerve at one point and overwhelm myself with all the doings and forget the essence of the capstone project is discovery and creativity in the process itself. So I guess for now, I just need to be extremely short-sighted and have one step at a time (and I’ve decided to join the badminton club and go work out daily to develop a routine in my schedule.)

Idea Evolution

Well…here we are, finalizing our capstone project proposal which elaborated our interest, intent, and most importantly, the topic or central question we each want to spend the next two months intensely investigating.

In my Psychology research lab, my research sponsor once mentioned that we should drop down our inspirations or questions that crossed through our mind in a notebook. So I did. When I learned about our Capstone Project, I took out the notes I had scattered across scrap papers (I am not as organized as I should be in collecting those random thoughts). I stared at them and thought to myself, “Many things seem equally exciting? How should I pick which topic to pursue?” Some of the ideas I have include: How do one recognizes beauty? Why do we have intuition? What does it mean to face grief early in life? How do we make quick judgements on Arts in the blink of an eye?

While many of these topics are things that I would like to answer, I thought to myself, “I have the chance to explore something with a lot of ownership and flexibility. Why not untying some knots that go beyond what research and academic could tell me?” And therefore, I settled on my topic on the cultural differences amongst mainland China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan through the lens of their cultural products. I want to understand the place where I grew up in and my cultural heritage thought a combination of academic research and creative expression, something that I’m yet to try.

Now, I have to say that the formation of this idea and after going into office hour to discuss this topic with Ray, I was thrilled and excited, ready to tackle this topic. I ended up watching two movies produced by Taiwanese directors. However, as I draft the proposal, I realized that I needed variety in the presentation of my findings in other to truly explore the topic beyond the academic research I am familiar with. I also realized that I wanted to study this topic out of care of people around me, a personal relevance that seems not significant or strong enough, but by the end of the day, when I thought about the culture of these places, I thought about my family and friends scattered in these areas. I thought about wanting to meet them or return to my hometown someday. I thought about the gradually unfamiliar feelings I had about them when they discussed about the future of these places. As graduation is approaching, I thought about how actively understanding and appreciating their perspectives, identities, and experiences are probably more important than bringing my Bachelor certificate back, especially to my grandmother.

So here I am with the project, ready to run.

Project Idea: One-Child at Home

I realized that I have been procrastinating on writing this post because I want to retain the feeling of possibility towards the final project. My six preliminary ideas are all interesting to me in some way, some being more intellectual than others while some seem more as an experiment or immersion writing. Anyway, I would like to explore the idea of understanding the cultural influence of China’s one-child policy. It is an idea that I think will be more challenging to work with and something that I could see myself continuously exploring.

It is of particular interest to me not only because of my personal background of growing up in Hong Kong, one of the few places that are exceptions towards the policy, but also because I have been bombarded with biased information towards how unethical / ethical the policy is. In some way, China’s one-child policy could be a discussion of the pro-life or pro-choice debate. However, having met many of peers who came from Mainland China and made friends with some of them, I realized that it is not uncommon to hear that they would like to have siblings to grow up with. In some way, they recognized some social phenomena the policy brings. For example, resource is centralized on one child in a family and therefore, the policy indirectly encourages a high growth of competition in education and career. There are some news articles, op-ed, and non-fiction works that have explored the cultural implications of the policy. However, it seems that all the information I have encountered is negative. Therefore, I would like to understand whether there are positive cultural impacts of the policy and if so, how the future may look like of a system of values and believes in the Chinese community.

Discipline: History, Psychology, Legal, Economic, Sociology, Culture, etc.

Focal object: Children, environment one was raised in, social values

Confounding variable: Humor? Comics with caption?

The Last Run of Why I Write

Yesterday concluded the last class for my writing gateway course. It has been a fruitful journey with all the writings (still an ongoing journey as we are having out last stretch of the portfolio and remediation project). Particularly, the flexibility of mode and topic in the Why I Write, the Repurposing, and the Remediation process has been the foundation of many self-discoveries and self-imposed questions for me in this class. One that has constantly occupied my mind is the Why I Write project. I remembered spending hours of conversation with my friend as I moved into my multiple draft, asking why they paint, sing, dance, draw, and play guitar. Sense of inquisitiveness I concluded “eventually” for myself but I know there is something else – it was not merely a means to explore the unknown and the satisfaction of self-expression that have driven me to write. If I were to rely on writing as a means of self-expression, why not other expressive forms like singing? dancing? drawing? This was the question that has loomed over my head.

I couldn’t word the answer until last week, I was unexpectedly and very badly ill with an array of symptoms, one being an intense sore throat that caused my voice to be lost almost completely. In order to communicate, I either write or using my last bit of effort to speak in a one word per ten seconds frequency. My desire to articulate a thought well has been stronger than ever with the first means of communication. The latter made me realized it was my passion for language that drives my passion for writing in the first place. Shall I use “pointy”, “long”, or “yellow” to describe the pencil that I hope my friend to retrieve for me?  Probably yellow as it was most vivid and most closely associated with the image of pencil in my friend’s mind. It was during these moments that reminded me that decision does matter in writing, so as the linguistic and social connotations of different words and languages. Eventually, it was the vocabularies of each language that drive how we communication and perceive an object or spark another thought. There is a quote from Margaret Thatcher that I really liked: “Watch your thoughts, for they will become actions. Watch your actions, for they’ll become…habits. Watch your habits for they will forge your character. Watch your character, for it will make your destiny.” I guess in the end, writing is a form of thought articulated and a spark of actions. So what does this mean? It means writing is not merely a means of communication and self-expression. It is fundamentally how we think, perceive, and interact with others and only history knows how writing has somehow developed itself into the system.

Time for the last run for another draft of Why I Write.

Three Lists

In order to revise my repurposing and complete my remediating projects, I need to draw some knowledge from different disciplines.

Repurposing:

  • History 20%
  • Political science 20%
  • Communications 40%
  • Psychology 20%

Remediating

  • Creative Writing 70%
  • History 20%
  • Communications 10%

Moving forward with my repurposing and remediating projects, there are couple things I need to know and  learn how to do:

  • making visually appealing display of messages
  • producing claims that holistically support an overarching argument
  • finding representative primary sources
  • practice and practice and practice

 

Resources for Remediating

For my remediating project, I have settled with the idea of making a fictional messaging conversation on my topic, the Millennial Generation’s take on Hong Kong protests last year. Even before making a fictional messaging conversation, I’m collecting primary sources of virtual communication that highlight the topic from stakeholders of the protest, may it be the participants or observers. These primary sources will mainly come from my connections in Hong Kong and abroad students. To make the actual messaging conversation, I realized there is an abundance of “fake iphone text generator”, “fake facebook messenger generators”, and “fake whatsapp generator” by simply Google them. However, all of them will be in image format so if I would like to incorporate animation in the future, I may utilize PowerPoint or consult tech support (ISS) for possible software to do so.

 

Remediating the Repurposing

For my remediating project, I think it would be challenging, yet more fun, to remediate my repurposing project instead of Why I Write. My repurposing topic touches on the civil right movement transformation by the Millennial Generation in Hong Kong. It involves a wide array of areas, including Arts, Technology, Politics, and generation gap in Hong Kong. It was challenging to be able to illustrate the interdisciplinary theme with merely words and pictures as the essence of my repurposing topic comes from the interpersonal interaction and means of communication. Therefore, for my remediating project, I hope to push my argument further and perhaps, use the project itself as a demonstration of my argument and means to involve with my targeted audience.

With these in mind, I think my remediating project could take form of a messaging communication, whether similar to Facebook Messenger, Whatsapp, or WeChat. Particularly, I’m thinking that it could hence involve videos, pictures, as well as dynamic conversation amongst characters. One creative idea I hope to incorporate is showcasing the conversation dynamically. As the readers are engaging in my remediating project, they see messages exchanged instead of reading through all of them. However, the technical opportunities are still yet to explored for this aspect. Some of the things I hope to take advantage of with this new medium are establishing a rhetorical position of a peer instead of a writer to reader relationship, using non-fictional artifacts from the Hong Kong protest to elicit emotion, and developing a sense of active engagement rather than passively reading about a case study of Millennials on civil right movements.

I’m very excited for this project and would certainly expect some emoji along the way! 🙂