my last challenge journalllll!!!!

So I’ve had way too many challenges with this project than 4 challenge journal blog posts can encompass. More of them had nothing to do with my project, and everything to do with my insane life outside of class but back to my challenges. I definitely did not give myself enough time to finish my essays that I wanted to include, which is sad but this project is not done.

True Crime is a weird fluid genre that is way more difficult to write than it looks. My last challenge is revision. I always have a hard time with revision because I never stop once I start, which I’m told is a good thing. But, let’s be real, when you’re on a deadline, constant revision plus all of the other requirements for this project is not practical.

In the past, I’ve just had to suck it up and turn it in, even if I wasn’t happy with my final product. I’m very happy with mine right now, I just don’t feel finished. Looking back, there have been a lot of things I’ve written that haven’t felt “finished”. Most of my essays I’ve written in college actually, haven’t felt finished.

This feels like a project that in my mind, needs to be finished “just enough” for the parameters of the project. Although this feels like my baby, and I want it to be on display for everyone in its perfect, final form, I know this is going to be a years’ long project that I will continue long after this class is over. Which is so. freaking. exciting. I’ve found a new writing love!

Challenge Journal 3

I’m having a lot of challenges with figuring out how I want my project site to look. I had this problem with my gateway e-portfolio too. I am just so picky and have a very particular vision. I worry about being campy because I really want my project site to be creepy and unsettling–because that’s what this story is, creepy and unsettling (to say the least).

I also don’t want it to be cliche and kitschy (idk how it would be, but that’s always a worry). My goal for this entire thing (even after we turn in our projects) is to keep working on it and add much more as I do more research. I think in order to calm my worries I am going to have to begin designing my project site long before I think I’m ready.

I’m a very linear worker. I like to do things from beginning to end, though that is not always the most conducive for doing things well. I really feel like I need to wait until my writing is finished before I can begin making my site but that’s just…wrong?? Anyways, I began designing my e-portfolio early on in the semester and I still use mine to this day. One of the things I’ve loved most about the MiW is that I can use what I’ve made as I continue, you know, continuing. I haven’t gotten sick of this project once and I hope my design pickiness won’t get in the way of that feeling.

Challenge Journal 2

So I have a lot of experience with creative non-fiction, which is how I approached writing true crime. But I had always been working with facts and experiences that are my own–and it was rather easy to make them interesting. Figuring out how to create a narrative out of my own experiences was a challenge when I first began, particularly when I took ENG 325 and 425 in the same semester (so. much. creative non-fiction. but i loved it). I really struggled with what people would find interesting about my life and how they would react to my stories. For this project, I feel very much the same. Except, these are not my stories to tell and I don’t know what the victims of the murders I am writing about would like said about them.

So it took me awhile to know where to begin with writing their stories. Eventually, I just had to suck it up and think about what wanted to know about these young women. It was sort of the opposite of my method of deciding what to include in my personal essays. I put myself in other people’s shoes and wonder if what I am talking about would be interesting to anyone except me.

Now, I’m putting myself in the victim’s shoes and asking what they would have liked said about them. For instance, I am reading a lot about how one of the girls was really into drugs and often ran away–it was a way for the press to downplay her disappearance and highlight her “high-risk” lifestyle to bring blame to her instead of her murderer.

I do not want to do that, so I’m trying to figure out ways to include her life, without blaming her decisions.


I’m happy to finally say ahnnyeong to this project! To be honest, I don’t love it. It feels incomplete, rambley, and navel-gazey. It was so hard choosing what to include and what to leave out, because everything is so connected. I’m still unsure of what it can do for others.

But it did help me. With five days of college left, thinking through the different communities of my life made me appreciate the experiences I’ve had and the people that have been around me. I went into the project with the question of what I was looking for in a community and whether I’m finding it in my current ones. I didn’t fully answer that question, but writing about my friends and circles made me appreciate them more for their roles in my life and just for who they are.

I don’t know if my experience is too niche to serve others, but I hope that the broader messages will resonate with people. And I hope to continue my journey of self-discovery and spending time with quality people.

Cheers to being done!

The End.

Just like that, the semester is ending and I am now done with this project. Working on this project was nervewracking, inspiring, a lot of learning and discovering and amazing. However, I won’t lie, I am glad it is done. Getting to this final product was not so easy and it is mostly my fault. I love to think things through and actually write them down just before the end comes. Once again, this is what I have done with this project but really I feel like this project would never be fully done. I could probably add more to it every day. A thought. Something I read. A quote from a movie. I just might if one day I find myself wanting to add something new and exciting that I have discovered. But for now, it is done. The end of this project.


The End?

When does something finish?

When you feel accomplished? When you’ve made your point? When you’ve said what you wanted to say?

When you’ve pressed “submit”? When you’ve hit the deadline? When the clock runs out?

The end of all things has made me especially nostalgic and contemplative, these days. I just finished the last competitive softball games of my life. I just finished the last assignment of my undergraduate career (sort of). Soon, I’ll pack up and move out of hopefully the last house of 8 girls I will ever live in. But will I continue to be competitive and play catch? Yes. Will I continue to write and even edit this project? Yes. Will I continue to maintain the relationships I’ve made with my roommates and friends from college? Yes.

So, when is something over? I consider this frequently, as events are marking the end and the beginning. In August, I will move to Tanzania for a year. I’m engaging in another contract with Father Time. He was there when I moved from each block of my education, and he is back again giving me a time frame to start and finish. I’m wondering if he ever goes away. Maybe after you get a job or get married, does he let you live on your own like a good parent weaning their child? Does he think we get to make our own decisions about beginnings and endings?

This is a borderline-existential extension of my project claiming that we do not get distinct starting and end-points in our lives. We do not have separate occasions of ascent, peak, descent. And we don’t know how we will feel during each one.

As we all move onto another stage, no matter how ambiguous or planned yours may be, I remember this quote by Elizabeth Gilbert that reminds us to continue adjusting and changing, because we are always learning: “You make some big grandiose decision about what you need to do, or who you need to be, and then circumstances arise that immediately reveal to you how little you understood about yourself.”

When I started college, I never thought I would be complementing my degree with Writing or Swahili, but here I am, with the two notched on my resume as cornerstones of my college career. Be prepared to start anything, and have the courage to finish them.

On Observation

This project has been a headache and a blessing…. all at the same time.  And quite honestly, I couldn’t have hoped for anything better.  Wrapping my life up here in Ann Arbor has been messy and exhausting and this project has returned some comfort to me in places of my life that I was rather unsure about.

Gentrification, an Infestation has helped to prepare me for my future in Brooklyn, NY.  What I learned from documenting my research is that being an observer/ being aware of current, past, and future conditions is of utmost importance in terms of moving forward as a society.  While you can’t necessarily tell people how to live or change, you can at least ask for them to be knowledgable about their impacts and hope that their moral-selves will edit their lifestyle when necessary.

While the project isn’t perfect and I had hoped for a larger answer or outcome, I think I have learned and reflected upon a valuable skill: of being observant.  Deep-read/ observation will be very important to the ways that I carry myself in Brooklyn so that I am continuously informed of my impositions on the existing context.  For now, that is all I can ask of myself.  For later…. who knows 😉

So I Guess I’m Done Now?

Welp. I am finally submitting my capstone. Two weeks ago I honestly did not think it would get done in time and now I am finally submitting it! The journey to get to this moment has been pretty wild, and my submission feels weirdly anticlimactic….sorta like this entire graduation weekend to be honest. Part of me is extremely pleased with where I have landed and knows that I have truly done everything I possible can within the realms of the class, and another part of me feel like there is so much more that I could have done. That being said I do plan to continue working on my project this summer, so check back if you’re interested.

In the meantime, welcome to my capstone!!


That is, in some ways, the title and the point of my project. It is called, Umeshindajewhich translates to “How are you conquering?” in Swahili. The phrase is used colloquially as “How are you?” but I find it ironic and meaningful that its literal translation is something much more drastic than the average greeting. And don’t we conquer something everyday?

So, I used this phrase as inspiration and the backdrop of my project: when I conquered a mountain and my first intercultural experience. The piece juxtaposes my time in Tanzania against my time climbing Kilimanjaro—mimicking my arrival at different mental (and physical) checkpoints throughout my journey. If I had more bandwith, I would have upheld the same style for my journey after returning from Tanzania: because that is when I came down the mountain, metaphysically. 

This is something I have wanted to write about for a long time, and I am thankful to have had the opportunity to tackle this obstacle. And it doesn’t have to stop here. I hope with my project, I can inspire people to conquer the barrier between our culture and African cultures: even if it is just a small foothill one day to the next.

Thanks for a great semester!

Final Project

Here it is! I can’t believe the time has come to submit my senior capstone project. We’ve worked on them all semester (and heavily the past few weeks) and I can honestly say I’m surprised by what I’ve created. It’s not perfect by any means and I already wish I had more time to edit, but it’s a genre I’ve never done before and in that there is something to be proud.

Initially, I had a series of ideas—each of which I stuck with for a period of time—before deciding on something completely different. As a senior, I felt very overwhelmed by my impending graduation and the struggles of finding a job. Driving my stress I realized were the conversations being had around this pivotal moment. It very much felt like the only option I had was to graduate and immediately move to a new, exciting place where I had been hired by a glamorous company with exciting benefits, and offered the new and improved status of “successful hired person.” Except, this wasn’t what I had lined up and the more I talked to other students, the more I realized that many were in the same position.

I started thinking that if so many people feel unsatisfied with their immediate future and so consumed by a fear of failure, even though others were in the same boat, the story that we’re being told isn’t right. It’s too easy to get sucked into the narrative that life after graduation is a straight path to success, but in reality, every person has to make their own path and most aren’t straight. You might find yourself at the dead end of a cul-de-sac or driving two hours in the wrong direction. It happens.

The intent for this project was to explore these ideas through interviews with UM employees from the Career Center and the Center for Campus Involvement as well as UM students and present their stories (as well as my own) through a short, six episode podcast series. I wasn’t entirely sure of my goal at the start of this project. I wasn’t trying to necessarily give advice or complain about the difficulties of graduating. I just wanted to provide a bigger picture than what I think we’re given or at least what we buy into.

Thanks for everyone’s support and advice throughout this process. I hope you enjoy listening!