I Walk

. . .

I walked under the net of stars. Its one of my first memories. I walked from one peak of the hill to the other passing the bonfire in the valley. I walked from the arms of my mother, to the arms of my grandmother. I hardly remember doing this, but I remember the warm feeling of reaching my grandmother and the chilling experience of walking by the fire in the valley alone. I know that the fire was hot, but I felt cold walking by it as I didn’t have the safety of my mum or my grandmother, Buni. The stars made me feel smaller than I had ever felt before, but the prospect of walking by myself made me feel strong and independent. Reaching Buni made me feel proud, and loved. I don’t remember the experience well, but I remember how I felt. What I felt. Why I felt what I did.

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2003/04– Actual picture of me.

We were at camp at the time. I remember we gathered in the big amphitheater for arts activities. They put out supplies to make face masks. I made a mask and disguised myself as a black cat, but I quickly got bored. Soon, I glued jewels to my own face and spread glitter on my eyebrows. Paired with the plastic tiara and the red-yellow paper necklace, I looked rather extravagant. Buni still keeps a picture of me dressed like this on her bedside table. She said that she talks to my picture everyday. I was comforted by her love.

. . .

I walked under the canopy of clouds. They were low that day; I felt like I could almost touch the soft gray-white façade of the clouds. I looked down into a puddle and saw my own grinning face and the rest of the vast sky, vast universe, reflected. I stepped into the puddle with my pink Barbie water shoes, breaking the tranquility of the moment. The rain water seeped into my shoes easily, but I didn’t mind because that is the point of water shoes, to wear them in water; that’s the logic I had at the time at least. I forgot where we are walking to, but it was okay because I was with Buni. She kept me safe but let me wear water shoes out on the sidewalk. As we walked, she explained the water cycle to me.  How water is taken up into the atmosphere and comes back down as rain. I could tell that she was tiered because she explained the whole process in Romanian, too worn out to think of any words in English. I get the same way when I am tiered, even now.

We arrive at the park, and I remembered why we came. We came to collect leaves for an art project. The weather was not pleasurable, but it made our fieldtrip seem more adventurous. I picked all of the biggest leaves, but she picked the most colourful and beautiful. She told me a saying that roughly translates to, “Less is more.” I learned then that beauty is simple. Beauty is in everything, if you just choose to see it. My grandmother was beautiful.

. . .

I walk under the low door stoop and up the stairs. Buni lives on the fifth floor of a walk up. At the bottom of the stairs, I turn on the timed light in the hallway. To conserve energy, the hall light only stays on for a few minutes. It shut off at the third floor and I walk in the pitch dark the rest of the way. The air smells like concrete, and the hall feels smooth but bare; not even a window lines the walls, no light breaks the darkness. The railing is metallic and cold.

On the fifth floor I am greeted by the smell of fried potatoes and the embrace of Buni. I am also greeted by her new husband, but I don’t pay much attention to him. My family and I spend the weekend with Buni. Friday we eat dinner. We haven’t all seen each other in a long time, but everything seems to come naturally.

Saturday morning, she makes a special chocolate sauce to go over my porridge and I eat it with pleasure, though I’ve long grown out of those eating habits. We go to visit her garden in the afternoon and Larissa comes over for dinner. We go to a traditional orthodox church on Sunday and I have to cover my arms and legs despite the heat wave. Sunday afternoon, we go to Uncue Gicu’s house and talk. He is a clever man, but he’s not fast enough for Buni. I remember her retorts pinged of the popcorn-ed walls and hitting him right in the head, sending him into a daze. We got to drink from the fancy glasses that had coloured bottoms and the swirled shades of red mesmerize me. The porcelain dog seemed to keep an eye on me the whole night.

Monday morning, we had to leave. I didn’t want to, but we had to. We had to go home to our lives in Canada. I had to go back to school and my parents back to work. I tried not to cry leaving Buni’s house, but I did anyways. She cried too, once I started to cry, or maybe she cried first. It was all a haze. It was hard to say goodbye, so instead we said see you later.

When I was young I learned that love is what keeps a family together. Once I grew older I saw the beauty in having a family to trust in. Now I see that family is about difficult truths as well.

Flight – English Descriptive/Narrative Piece

Flight

 

I remember my dad always told me he’d love to fly, just float freely in the sky with not a care in the world. My dad and I were always close and because of this, his desire to fly was passed on to me. I spent my childhood yearning to soar. Every day, at breakfast, my dad and I would share our thoughts and dreams of a new flying device, something that might somehow lift us up to the clouds.

The other kids never approved of my childhood dreams to fly. “Maybe if you ever figure out how to fly, the sun would burn you up so we’d never have to look at your face again!” they said. I wish I could say it didn’t hurt, but it did. Every day, they’d wait for me. At the sight of them, a chill descended through my bones; I started to shiver. I distinctly remember this cold, and how much I dreaded it. The sun never seemed close enough or warm enough. If only I could get closer…

After graduating high school, I committed myself to the world wide search for a means of human air transportation. Over the years of my study, there had been many attempts at flight, many instances where my dream could’ve come true. Yet, sadly, none successful. Our funding started to drop, and dreamers like me lost hope. The fire I once saw burning in their eyes started to wither away, only to leave husks of the people they used to be. They had no passion, no goal in life anymore. But not me; every day when I woke up I had new ideas, possibilities, and the fire that left their eyes burned even stronger in mine. I felt excited about the future, I was going to make my dad proud.

Then the idea came. I don’t remember exactly where I was or what I was thinking but when it came, I knew it was right. In my mind I saw myself again as a small child, dreaming about flying to the sun. I feverishly ran into work, quickly sketched out some blueprints and ordered it to be produced.  I watched over every detail of production and made sure everything was perfect. Every weld had to be exact, every measurement precise. I knew that this was going to be the one.

Two weeks later, it was done. When I first set eyes on it I was speechless. Everything I had imagined was there, the gleaming domes, the hardened glass, even the paint job was exactly to my specification. But of course, it was. Without me, the human flight program was worthless, I was the real genius here.

There was only an hour until test flight now and I was suited up and ready to blast. As I triple checked every one of the blood red knobs and dials I thought of my father. I remembered our early morning conversations over breakfast, I remembered the fire in his eyes every time I mentioned flying. I thought of when I first told him I wanted to dedicate my life to the passion we both shared. I remembered at that moment how his mouth slowly grew into a smile, the tips of his eyes twisted slightly upward, and it seemed like he was floating, almost like both of us had always dreamed of.

In the distance I could see the flashes of cameras and the stoic faces of my remaining colleagues, praying that I’d succeed. This was our last chance, if this went downhill, we all knew we’d be out of jobs.

 

I heard a crackling through my headset, “this is it, 20 seconds until launch.” A tingling sensation started at my toes, slowly moving up the ladder. “5…4…3…” I heard a loud rush as the engines turned on below me “2…” it was deafening now, I could barely hear myself think “1…” and I was in the air. Everything seemed to slow to a crawl and below me, I saw millions of eyes open as wide as the stars I was going to touch, mouths dropped open as I hit fifty feet.

 

Sadly, everything didn’t stay quite so positive. Immediately after launch, I felt a jolt rattle through the cabin. I looked behind me in alarm and saw one of the four engines that were keeping me up had burst and fuel was leaking onto everything. Slowly, the rear of the cabin began to burst into flames as the vicious mix of highly combustible fuel and the high oxygen level made its way towards where I was seated. In my heart, I knew what I had to do but I couldn’t bring my fingers to hit the ejection switch. This couldn’t have happened! Everything had been so perfect! The flames were licking my heels now, hungry for the taste of my flesh. With the little strength I had left, I pressed down on the ejection button which sent me rocketing out into space.

 

I clearly remember falling and watching my hopes and dreams burn away into nothing. The flames had almost fully engulfed my craft when I hit the ground and blacked out.

 

All I remember after the incident was waking up in a hospital bed. I was alone, and surrounded by white linen sheets, “get well soon” notes, and the drawl of a TV news host in the background. Suddenly it all came rushing back to me, the launch, my elation, then the fire. Weirdly, I wasn’t sad, or mad, or even in pain. In my mind, the last image of my craft alight was seared into my brain. It was seared so strongly that I felt that fire inside my gut. It was pushing me, urging me, forcing me, to get out of that bed and get back to work to do better. To this day, I feel that fire inside me and every morning it drives me to get up and get to work. New ideas are constantly popping into my head because of that fire inside of me, without it, I would be nothing. That fire is pushing me to achieve my goal and one day, I will.

 

Canada’s ‘Economic’ Action Plan in Progressive Terms

Identity, economy, government, and geography: which is the most compelling? Personally, I believe that economy is the most compelling political narrative, and I believe that the Liberal Party of Canada represents this narrative best through their political views and ads. Allow me to explain why.

It is very difficult for any country or nation to succeed in identity, government, and geography if the economy is not stable and fair. We live in a world where money can buy you almost anything, and where money is a necessity by many to obtain a proper education and live a healthy life. As a result, I believe that any political party wishing to run in the upcoming election should implement methods to ensure a healthy and growing economy. Having said that, the economy is not always easy to control, however having the understanding that a strong economy is needed to run the country will put me at ease and will allow me to give more trust to the Prime Minister and his/her respective political party.

Speaking of political parties, there are four main politcal parties in Canada: the Liberals, the Conservatives, the New Democrats (NDP), and the Greens. Each party has a vision for what they want a successful Canada to look like, and each has a particular narrative that guides them through their campaigning process. In terms of the economy, I believe that the Liberals are doing the most effective job of expressing this narrative, and this is mainly because of their increased focus on the middle class.

If elected, the Liberal Party of Canada promises to provide increased benefits like tax cuts and child benefits for the middle class. To support their motto, “#fairness”, the Liberals believe in equal opportunity for all Canadians to thrive, and an economy that is balanced and fair. As expressed in their ads, the Liberals have made it clear that they are working to provide families with fair retirement and tuition benefits, aiming to align with the many family values that exist within their homes. What’s more, the Liberals are constantly searching for ways to strengthen Canadian economy and provide more jobs across the country, while ensuring that the environment is not at risk. The Liberals oppose projects like the Northern Gateway Pipeline but support the Keystone XL pipeline. While both provide strong economic benefits and increase the flow natural resources, the Keystone XL Pipeline’s route does not interfere with the environment and aboriginal land, and its approval rate is far higher than the Northern Gateway Pipeline. This makes it a more effective choice.

The Liberal Party of Canada may be the ‘underdogs’ in the 2015 election, but they are working hard to ensure economic justice and to provide Canadians with first class economic benefits that are fair and ethical. In addition, the Liberals are trying to encompass values from parties like the Greens and the Conservatives in order to widen their popularity and to show that they are aware of the needs and wants of many Canadians.

Is “#fairness” a motto you believe in? Who will you vote for? Or will you not vote at all?

 

 

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Canada’s ‘Economic’ Action Plan in Progressive Terms

Identity, economy, government, and geography: which is the most compelling? Personally, I believe that economy is the most compelling political narrative, and I believe that the Liberal Party of Canada represents this narrative best through their political views and ads. Allow me to explain why.

It is very difficult for any country or nation to succeed in identity, government, and geography if the economy is not stable and fair. We live in a world where money can buy you almost anything, and where money is a necessity by many to obtain a proper education and live a healthy life. As a result, I believe that any political party wishing to run in the upcoming election should implement methods to ensure a healthy and growing economy. Having said that, the economy is not always easy to control, however having the understanding that a strong economy is needed to run the country will put me at ease and will allow me to give more trust to the Prime Minister and his/her respective political party.

Speaking of political parties, there are four main politcal parties in Canada: the Liberals, the Conservatives, the New Democrats (NDP), and the Greens. Each party has a vision for what they want a successful Canada to look like, and each has a particular narrative that guides them through their campaigning process. In terms of the economy, I believe that the Liberals are doing the most effective job of expressing this narrative, and this is mainly because of their increased focus on the middle class.

If elected, the Liberal Party of Canada promises to provide increased benefits like tax cuts and child benefits for the middle class. To support their motto, “#fairness”, the Liberals believe in equal opportunity for all Canadians to thrive, and an economy that is balanced and fair. As expressed in their ads, the Liberals have made it clear that they are working to provide families with fair retirement and tuition benefits, aiming to align with the many family values that exist within their homes. What’s more, the Liberals are constantly searching for ways to strengthen Canadian economy and provide more jobs across the country, while ensuring that the environment is not at risk. The Liberals oppose projects like the Northern Gateway Pipeline but support the Keystone XL pipeline. While both provide strong economic benefits and increase the flow natural resources, the Keystone XL Pipeline’s route does not interfere with the environment and aboriginal land, and its approval rate is far higher than the Northern Gateway Pipeline. This makes it a more effective choice.

The Liberal Party of Canada may be the ‘underdogs’ in the 2015 election, but they are working hard to ensure economic justice and to provide Canadians with first class economic benefits that are fair and ethical. In addition, the Liberals are trying to encompass values from parties like the Greens and the Conservatives in order to widen their popularity and to show that they are aware of the needs and wants of many Canadians.

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Social Media/Studies

UntitledIn addition to more critical efforts to conduct inquiries into history as it intersects with our present landscape, the TALONS class has come to embrace dramatic efforts to enact and recreate history in their social(s) learning. Whether engaging in a mock trial of King Charles II, or making impassioned speeches as characters in the French Revolution, such theatrical turns have traditionally made for memorable classroom moments.

A few years ago, a group of TALONS grade tens approached me to see if they could ‘pitch’ a unit plan for our upcoming French Revolution study: in blog posts and classroom activities, members of the class would each adopt a character from the revolutionary period, and strive to realize and represent diverse perspectives on events in 18th century France.

In the years since, the unit has evolved to include Twitter, as well as a series of improvised discussions, debates and addresses – all in character.

Thus the class is able to imagine and take in the passionate decrees of a young Maximilien Robespierre:

In the future I believe that it is not enough for the monarchy to only lose a portion of its power. France should be a country run for its people by the people, a democracy! At this moment I do not have enough political power to share my views in such ways, but in time I shall express my desires. One day I assure you, I will find a way to improve the lives of the poor and to strike down those corrupt from power.

And see the story through to his betrayal of Georges Danton, who addresses his friend:

I curse you.

We once had, if not brotherhood, at least mutual understanding. We were creating a France that our children would be proud of. I know not when your idealism became madness but I must have failed to see the signs, because I was not prepared for all the murders, and all the terror that you instilled into this country.

Robespierre, you will follow me into dissolution. I will drag you down screaming, and we will fall together.

In addition to these perspectives developing on individual blogs in monologues and comment threads, classroom time is spent charting the development of significant revolutionary events against characters’ reactions which are presented in improvised debates or speeches. And the dialogue continues on Twitter, as each character adopts an avatar to not only promote and archive their blogged artifacts, engage in dialogue with their allies and nemeses, and exercise their own democratic rights in carrying out the final assessments in the unit:

Screen Shot 2015-03-23 at 9.38.18 PM

Screen Shot 2015-03-23 at 9.39.55 PMSensing that there might be a popular uprising against a tyrant teacher bent on sticking steadfast to an arbitrary deadline, I asked to see a show of support for the idea:

Screen Shot 2015-03-23 at 9.43.23 PMThe idea was taken up quickly.

By philosophers:

Screen Shot 2015-03-23 at 9.42.33 PMThe King of France:

Screen Shot 2015-03-23 at 9.44.41 PM

Feminist leaders:

Screen Shot 2015-03-23 at 9.45.54 PMAnd even the farmers:

Screen Shot 2015-03-23 at 9.47.26 PM

At the culmination of the unit, each of the TALONS delivered a final address that looked back on their contributions to the revolution, and how they might have done things differently with the benefit of hindsight. And while each member of the class was only tasked with creating one unique angle on the historical events being studied, the effect rendered by the series of addresses on the unit’s final day presented a nuanced and multidimensional look into the various subjectivities that (might have) helped shape the revolutionary period.

From each of their perspectives, what the French Revolution might be about would likely sprawl in a dozen different directions: a part of a historical march toward justice; political reform; a spark in the narrative of female activism; the story of scarce resources driving extreme behaviour. And to ‘teach’ toward these myriad truths is at once a curricular requirement and Quixotic pursuit, revealing the tensions of education for citizenship in a pluralist democracy, asking How do we create unity and cultivate diverse perspectives?

In interpreting history, as well as our present moment, students ought be engaged in rehearsing this act, and with the dramatic role play the answer offered to the pedagogic problem lies at the heart of narrative.

Of sensing an individual’s arc at the centre of a multitude of shared and individual lives.

Of constructing ‘we’ out of many ‘I’s.

Whether face to face or in the online sphere, this is the task of schooling in the multicultural society.