- Welcome everyone to our celebration of our first group of Appel Scholars. Thank you so much for being here this afternoon. As you know, you should just keep on nibbling on your lunches, and there appear to be some really delicious chocolate desserts on your tables; those should be eaten before you take off. I'm Professor Crockett.
I'm one of the individuals who's responsible for selecting our Appel Scholars. I work with Melissa Martinez and Ellen Rentz on selecting our Fellows, our Appel Fellows. This lunch is meant to celebrate those Fellow's accomplishments, and they truly are amazing accomplishments.
Today, we'll be hearing from Chloe Cho, from Emma Henson, Valerie, is Valerie here, did Valerie make it? Maybe not Valerie. Valerie Huang is one of our Appel Fellows as well. Nick LaBerge, Blake Lapin, Bryn Miller, and two more of our Appel Fellows who aren't able to make it are Reyna Wang who is currently studying abroad and Melia Wong who is also abroad. I want to take a moment too, to acknowledge the work that our Appel Fellows' advisors put into the process of supporting these Fellows.
These are students who were writing over the course of their summers and beyond on their writing projects, and their Fellows were instrumental in helping them get those projects off the ground and helping to support them through that process, so thank you to those of you who served as those mentors and advisors. A little bit of background regarding this scholarship before I hand things over to our Fellows. It is a scholarship that is due to very generous funding by CMC Alum, Joe Appel. He's part of the class of '87. His idea was quite simple it seems.
The idea was to promote writing at CMC and with the knowledge that writing has the potential to transform individual's lives. And that's really as simple as it gets and yet it can be such a profound observation and such a profound experience for those of us, as I'm sure you all are, those of us who care about writing. The idea is that first-year students will be funded to pursue writing projects during the summer between their first and second years. During that time, this is an ideal opportunity for them to reflect upon what they're going to do next and to enable writing to help them do that work for them. The first cohort of Fellows who we are celebrating today traveled globally. They traveled and worked in Korea. They went to the Iowa Summer Writing Festival, to Cambodia, to Panama, to Morocco, to China, Scotland, New York, and some even stayed even closer to home. Today's lunch, I want to stress, is really celebration of their transformative experiences, whether they traveled very far away from home or whether they stuck close to home.
I would like to turn things over to them and let them tell us more. So if you are one of our Appel Fellows, would you do me a favor and come on up here, have a seat, bring what you want to read to our assembled group here. I'm going to let you decide who goes first. (audience applauds) - I'm going to start by talking about what I did, and then I'm going to show you what I did. For my project, I was at home.
I live in New Jersey, right outside of Manhattan. I have been writing poetry since high school. Like junior year, I wrote terrible poetry. Senior year I wrote poetry that was still pretty bad, but I was getting my feet in the water. I knew I wanted to write. It's like I can't not write. So I had the idea, what if I just write poetry, and then I get like 40 or something, or what if I die (audience laughs), and I could have been writing something else. What if I should have been writing short stories, or I should have been writing prose, or I should have been writing novels.
That could have just been such a waste. So I found this Appel thing, and I was like let's just learn how to write stories. And let's learn how to write fiction and nonfiction. I just committed. We just got this money, I was just home, and I just wrote. I was a full-time writer. My goal was 1,000 words a day, so I just like woke up.
I would read for two or three hours, and then like see people, go out to lunch, and then come back and then I would write. Always trying to hit that 1,000 word a day quota. I was always dissatisfied. In that sense, it was a terrible summer.
I either hadn't written enough. I either hadn't gone to the quota, or what I wrote was terrible, because for me, I just sit down and I write, and I don't think, and I write. And I was just never satisfied. I would go to sleep, and I should have just read another chapter of Hemingway. I should have read another story by Carver. You know, I'm not doing enough. But, in the end, I ended up writing a lot. I have this collection of short stories.
One big project, which was a memoir of my first semester of college. Essays, all that shenanigans. I also went to Manhattan, and I did two workshops. Okay I'm talking a lot.
I'm just going to read a bit. I'm just going to start out by how, because I just read this almost every night this summer, so I'm just going to read a little bit of How. I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness, starving hysterically naked, dragging themselves through the negro streets at dawn, looking for an angry fix. Angel-headed hipsters burning for the ancient heavenly connection to the starry dynamo in the machinery of night. Who poverty and tatters and hollowed eyed and high, sat up smoking in the supernatural darkness of cold water flats, floating across the tops of cities, contemplating jazz.
Now I'm going to read a poem. This I didn't write in the project, but I'm going to read some poetry. It's called Beach Ecology.
Truth is swans Dancing on boulders by the shore Hummingbirds (mumbles) fly The ocean bashes on the rocks below the swans Chanting I am me, I am me. Repeating the notion I am the sea, I am the sea. A tear leaks out because the toads cannot laugh And falls into a puddle Which would also like to chant But it's too far up on the sand So it waits to disappear and come back again To sing I am me, I am me.
The pebbles on the beach feeling the spray from the waves look at the boulder With swans dancing Hummingbirds flying Toads crying And men climbing. Men with majuscule rubber shoes that grip where feet cannot. The rocks just feet away from the shit-colored boulder And the (mumbles) pebbles Would want to be bigger But they have been suffocated. And why come back when the world has already crumpled you. Now I'm going to read a Note to the Reader. This is sort of, I started my collection with a short story and then I went to this note, and this talked a little bit about my process. I attempted to write fiction. Everything I wrote was nonfiction.
So describes a little bit about it. I also couldn't escape from my life. I was just talking about my life, I just couldn't stop, and like college and what this is. So here we go.
This is the Note to Reader. I think I am trapped in this world of nonfiction because of my poetic experience. Poetry captures the action of emotion.
Robert Frost said, your fist in your hand, a great force strongly held. Poetry is neither the force nor the check. It is the tremor of the deadlock. It allows you to neither give background about the hands nor the fist and why they are colliding, but it simply focuses on the impact.
For me, poetry allows one to notice the significant of nuanced actions. Poetry captures the soul of life. It captures the beauty of it. I can't escape my fascination with life. I can't escape the real because I envy the real. I take a bath in the real, lather myself in the real, and rinse myself in the real.
The real is the fortunate, and the unfortunate are the most fortunate. Deluded with self importance, I think there's grace to each stage in life, and that I, using writing as a tool, am in a unique position as storyteller. I falsely don't believe that fiction has same value as creative nonfiction. My unshakable and deluded opinion is that fiction can't create better life. I can't help but rejoice in what's real and feel my obligation as transmitter to communicate its vivacity.
Most of these stories did happen, and this is self-indulgent. This is also the painful weakness of my poetic past. Because of my sincere belief in life, I can only take the astonishing moments from my own narrative. I suppose that's the limit of all artists.
I just do a less adequate job of disguising it. While the story is read, the guidelines are the world, and it's words are the truth. It defines the world that exists. Its letters are the reader's reality.
Even if the narrator is unreliable, that world is the reader's world, and which is the only world. Therefore, fiction should be able to do the same work as nonfiction. Making something up has the same impact as real events if they are imagined and communicated with enough detail. I understand the flaw in my belief that nonfiction is superior to fiction. Perhaps I believe the details in life that are important and should be celebrated are two minuscule for me to make up. In short, I am lacking imagination or the bravery to try.
But maybe if I had the knack of creating situations, I would have had less of a talent of noticing the important ones around me. Maybe when I want to tell stories when I'm older, I'll be able to make them up. For now, I don't have a desire to create stories. The ones around me are too good not to tell. It's my duty simply for being the only one stupid enough to sit behind the computer all day to tell those stories. Because I'm so close to the characters, I may have made the fatal error of becoming too connected. In essence, they are still people and not yet characters. They may not be fully developed, and their idiosyncrasies may not fit the context of the stories.
I think with time, I'll be able to create a distance that will give rise to individualism. I want to describe this youthful age. This time of self discovery between dependent and independent adulthood. This is the time when our pre-18 year-old experiences have shaped who we will become, and we begin to implement. With that, I introduce you to characters who attempt to take their learned lines and picked-up facts to test the world. Here is the collection that chronicles that period, and it's called After High School. With my last little bit of time, I'm going to read you the beginning of my like novella memoiry thing. Hmm, maybe I won't.
I'm not going to because I didn't print it out. (audience applauds) - Hi everyone. My name is Valerie Huang. I'm a sophomore at CMC, and during last summer, I would say that's probably one of the most meaningful summers I've ever had during my 20 years of life. I was so glad to be granted for this Appel Fellowship, and my project is I went to Cambodia. The capital of Cambodia is Phnom Penh. The most popular travel city is called Siem Reap, and there's also a seaside city called Sihanoukville. My journey included these three cities for a 10-week-long trip. First, I go to Phnom Penh and go to an NGO-supported local school called The Happy School, to teach kids computer science because my major is computer science, and then next I go to the seaside city, Sihanoukville, for a retreat, where it's very different from the Buddhist retreat I had many times when I was in China.
After that, I go to Siem Reap to taught in another school, but that school is not supported by NGO, and it's very very different. And after that, I go to another retreat in Siem Reap, and that one is also totally different from the one in Sihanoukville, and that kind of already changed my life. My writing project is like a little documenting diary novel. The whole thing is around 60,000 words, but it's divided into like every day, so I am going to choose some piece that I found meaningful to read it to you. So I'll read the diary I wrote on the first day. I wrote it on the plane from Los Angeles to Phnom Penh, and I was really anticipating the journey but also a little bit intimidated because the reason why I choose Cambodia is my mom told me when I was very little that if you're going to travel, just don't go through Cambodia. I asked why. She said because you're going to get random bomb and you will die.
I feel like that's a very very unfair discrimination upon a country just because of part of its history. Because the Appel Fellowship application requires us to have a life-changing event, and I think to change my life, I first will change some opinions from my parents. The first paragraph I wrote on May 14, 2016. I am now on the plane to Cambodia alone. I've been waiting for this journey for so long, and finally it's going to begin. It's the first time I travel outside my home country in the United States alone. I imagine what I will find out during this journey and how it will change me into a different person. I will try to go over everything happen during this year.
It's my first year of college, and I go across the sea to take the education that I've been longing for since childhood. I have to say I made a good decision. It's a little bit different than I thought. Before I come here, I'm firmly convinced I will work hard and try any means to find an internship for my freshman summer. It's partly true.
I worked hard and do get one. But I'm not going. As for a college that's known for economics, I think about opportunity cost of this trip.
What I miss? I could have gone to the internship in San Francisco, and i could add it to my resume, it looks really good. I could have stayed home and enjoyed authentic Chinese food cooked by my grandma, and I've been missing for one year. I could have traveled to some old city in Europe and enjoy my last fully free of responsibility summer; however, I choose to go to Cambodia and write about my journey. I'm glad I made this choice, and I think that's what my college education has given me. It makes me to think deeply and take actions.
The plane is in turbulence and so is my mind. With my previous conception of Cambodia, I supposed it's a country where you can smell dust on the streets. I heard there is no washing machines in regular households. I'm very possible to get malaria if I accidentally drink some water. To be honest, I'm scared, but I assure myself that everything will be fine. I cut my e-Visa for Cambodia and stick it onto a blank page of my passport. It's a pity that I didn't get a real one.
I looked on Google Maps that I will be living in a volunteer house which has a different architectural style from Chinese American houses. I guess it's Southeast Asia style. I'm excited about other volunteers and their stories.
So that is the gem of traveling alone. You meet new people, and you get to know them. And then I was settled down in that house and began my volunteer. So it took about four weeks to volunteer in the first school. I'm not going to read every day piece, but the thing is, there are around 10 kids in that school. It's supported by an Australian NGO, so they're actually the most well-funded school in Cambodia.
Because they get foreign support. And then they have uniforms and meals and teachers from the West to teach them English and math. They even have a book, which is called English book, where the staffs or directors of the NGO school wrote the book for their kids to learn. When I was teaching in that school, I feel like it's better than I've imagined. The kids are like more clever than I thought. When I taught them basic Microsoft PowerPoint or Excel skills, they were really creative. They used PowerPoint to make like robotic play toys and then they also used Excel sheets to calculate the average age or preference of food from their classmates, and I was really impressed by that. I think that, so usually when we think about local NGO schools in these countries, we think of poverty and like they don't have sufficient resources, but that's really different, and I think that's because they have opened their website on Facebook so western people can get to know this and go to volunteer in the school.
Later when I go to Siem Reap for that non-NGO supported school, everything changed. So I will jump over and read my story on the Siem Reap school. That school is operated, owned, and taught by only one teacher. She's a female. She grew up very poorly, and she was supported by a priest in a Christian church, so she thought that she had to give back to society after she grew up. Her name is Ally, and I wrote something she told me that really impressed me. If I don't tell you that they come from very poor families, you will think them as rich kids. This statement from Ally was very true. When I first saw the kids, I thought they must have come from families that were in much better conditions than those I met in Happy School in Phnom Penh.
They were tidy uniforms with clean sleeves and colors, with the low side of the shirt put into their dresses or pants. Their hair were well combed, and all the girls had ponytails and boys had nice short clean hair. But when I saw them today, I was totally shocked. Today was Saturday so the kids did not need to wear uniforms. They came here for a shorter period of lessons and listen to Ally for some teachings about personal hygiene and disciplines. I was convinced that they were really from very poor families when I saw them in their own clothes. Many of them were dirty and had lots of patches on them. Out of surprise and curiosity, I asked Ally about what I saw.
When they first came here, they were very different. Many of them were really bad in behavior and personality. Their parents took them to me and said this is not my kid, I want to throw him away, or I have no way to discipline him or her. Don't throw them away. If you are going to throw them, throw them to my school, not on the streets. This was how Ally replied to their parents. After she made sure that the parents no longer want their kids, she gave them an agreement and took the kids to her own house, which was exactly located inside that school. She gave them haircuts and combed their hair, gave them a shower, a new uniform, and disciplined them very strictly.
After two years of going to school, these kids changed totally. Ally told me many of the parents came to her, and they were very surprised to see their children become applied and diligent student. I tried for years to make him a good boy, but I could not. How do you do it? The parents often asked Ally and thought she had some magical ways to change their kids. No kid is bad. They can always be turned into a good student if we give them strict rules and love. I asked Ally about the strict rules she had on the kids. She said it was simple.
She asked them to sit at the corner of the classroom if they did something wrong, like not respecting the teachers or speaking bad words or not doing homework. All the other students were able to see that kid. If he felt embarrassed this time, he would not do it again. I do not scold or beat the kids; I change them.
So I was really impressed by how a Cambodia local woman could have such an ideology of education where we, ourselves, try so hard to emerge ourself in so-called good education. When I taught in that school, there is no classroom. I sit on the playground where there is like a little temple, sheltered by leaves and wood that is built up by Ally. After that, I feel like the word education probably needs to be redefined in my mind where even in the same country, two different places, one gets supported and one did not get supported, are very different; however, the one that did not get supported, let me see how adults and people in poor area or (mumbles) area of the world, I really want to change them, so I decide I will definitely go back and help them. Thank you. (audience claps) - Hi, I'm Emma, and I got Appel funding to attend the Iowa Summer Writing Festival so that I could kind of gain some tools and some motivation to finish a novel that I'd been working on for a few months at that point. Shout out to Professor Moffett for being my advisor. Thank you. I was writing about the Cuban Revolution.
The working title for the novel is Viva. I am writing about a fictional woman and her relationship with Che Guevara over a period of 10 years. Che was actually born in Argentina, and he went to medical school and graduated medical school in Argentina before traveling through Central America and meeting Fidel and joining the revolution.
So they meet in medical school. They have kind of an affair that falls apart. He goes and marries another person. She goes and she marries another person. But the book kind of follows how they come together and come apart throughout the 10 years, and eventually when her marriage is falling apart, she goes to Cuba to help fight the revolution. It's difficult because they're not the same people that they were when they fell in love. This is told from like a romantic relationship, but I feel like it happens in kind of a lot of relationships where it's frustrating when you meet people again because you're not the same person, and they're not the same person.
So I'm going to read something really quick. It's actually the end of the novel. The last few paragraphs. So it's right after the battle of Santa Clara, which is the battle that kind of ends the war. They still had to go to Havana at that point, but once the Battle of Santa Clara was won, they knew that they were going to win the revolution basically. Dasha stood at the window and looked out over the soldiers in the square, singing and celebrating and drinking stolen molasses rum. Ernesto sat and watched her. The sun set behind the city, past those endless fields of sugar cane, and when she squinted her eyes, it looked like the world was on fire.
I've gotten it for you, right here, Ernesto, it's the moon on a string, she said, her voice soft in a tepid silence, and he did not respond. Dasha leaned forward, resting her sternum on the windowsill, she wondered lazily, why she could never remember the beginning of things but that every ending was sure to stick around like a poorly-healed wound. Back in the times when war was made on horses by men with bows and swords, the Mongols had left their dead, naked on an open plane to be picked clean by birds.
They thought it freed the soul. Now, in this room, living this wound where she finally felt old, so old her soul was achy, she knew that was what they had been doing for seven years. From Buenos Aires to Cartagena to Santiago de Cuba. They had been lying their bodies to be picked clean, freed somehow through subsumption. No one had ever told them that people were just people, and so they spent years making wretched tragic heroes of each other. Dasha turned to him, looked to the good familiar face. His hair was too long, and he cut the flat of his cheek shaving.
There was a scar of red against his skin. I'm afraid, he finally said. And she laughed, this high brutal sound that stuck in her throat, but his eyes stayed level on hers. I'm afraid, he repeated.
Surely you know that you'll always lose a bare-knuckle fight against the world, Vara, she asked. He didn't answer, just reached for the gilded cigar box that sat on the governor's desk. She watched him cut the end with a knife and light the cigar with a match longer than her ring finger. Vara exhaled, twin tusks of smoke obscuring his face.
Sighing, she pressed the heels of her palms into her temples, wondering how many times she had done this for him. Let him lay his heavy head on her chest. Come here, she finally said. He walked to her and sat in the leather chair at her feet and leaned his forehead into her ribs. He held the cigar in his left hand and flicked the ashes under the finely-woven carpet. She ran a palm down the back of his skull, through the oil and dirt in his hair. It's a battle you'll always lose Vara, but it's also a fight and no one expects you to win. There was a long silence, and she wondered if maybe they just said everything in the world to each other.
Do you know Dasha, about the first time I saw you, he asked, running an open palm across his chin, down his neck? You were covered in blood. I was walking through that old yellow building at the medical school, and you were in gross anatomy. All the doors were open because it was 90 degrees in December. There was this dead body in front of you. You were looking down at it so seriously, and you were just covered in blood. Your arms, your apron, there was even some in your hair. He stopped, that palm still rubbing at the pain where his neck met the mantle of his shoulders. He just looked at her, and she felt this great open sadness blooming in her chest.
We were happy in a different life, he said. Oh Vara, she muttered. Of course we weren't. We were Antony and Cleopatra in a different life. Caesar and Cleopatra, he amended. Caesar conquered more. And he lived longer, she countered.
Ah, but they both died young, didn't they. Ernesto, she asked. Yes Dasha. I'm going home. (audience claps) - Everyone, thanks for coming.
My name's Nick LaBerge. My goals for last summer were that I wanted to travel and experience new things and widen my perspective on the world, and then also I have battled like a lifelong life with dyslexia, so the Appel Fellowship seemed like a great way to merge those two things, and so I have some pictures. I'm going to pull those up.
I ended up in Colón, Panama, in a small town called Buena Vista, right there. I worked with a small nonprofit organization called Cambio Creativo that works with a small, like marginalized group of people. They're an underprivileged group of people who were relocated after a fire about 30 years ago to a small U.S. Naval Base called Coco Solo.
That was supposed to be a temporary stay, but they ended up staying there for 30-plus years, and then the facilities were totally dilapidated and terrible for living, so I was in Buena Vista. This is government-funded housing where they were moved. So I was working with the kids there, tutoring them on their homework.
Many of them, before moving there, hadn't had much experience reading or writing or doing anything with math. So there was a lot of work to be done. Then I also, on the weekends, I also taught weekly English vocabulary classes in the Buena Vista centra, which is just like the center of the town, it was next to the church, it was part of the church, and then on the weekends, I would also explore with friends, and I found that the most valuable parts of my summer experience were actually the friendships I made.
This is another part of the space in the centra, and that's where I did the tutoring five days a week. Also I helped facilitate workshops. This was like a fossils workshop. We went and looked at really old rocks.
It was really fun. This is my room. I stayed with a host family, and that was my house. My host family was amazing. My host brother was my best friend during my whole trip. We became very close. Despite the kind of homophobic atmosphere of Panama, I did come out to him, and he was very accepting. He told me I'm his friend, and I'm his little brother, and that he'd accept me for whoever I was.
That was pretty remarkable I thought. That's me and Enrique. He's my host brother. And me and him again. And then this is me adventuring with friends. This is Lago Gatún, which is where the Panama Canal, that's where it crosses through. This is a place I'd run up the hill from Buena Vista, which is down at the bottom of this valley, and spend some time up there. This is the going-away party they threw for me. It was super fun.
During this entire trip, I wrote daily journal entries. For my final project, I kind of drew from these journal entries to kind of write chapters on different themes, and so I'm going to read you something quickly from on family, and it's about conversations that I had with my host mom, Vicki. Vicki and I often had long conversations at the centra when things were moving slowly. After each talk, I became more amazed with her. She was cast out from her home at a young age because her family did not support her decision to continue schooling. Her family wanted help with chores around their rural home and didn't see the point in further education.
A school teacher took her in and provided her with housing in exchange for help around the house until she finished high school. She was the first of her 14 siblings to graduate high school. Although she did not make it all the way through college, she helped pave the pathway to higher education for her six younger siblings.
She married young and found herself unhappy, so she divorced her controlling husband and moved off the grid to Buena Vista so he wouldn't be able to find her. He hired a private detective who searched for two years before finding her. She explained that in her life with her past husband, she went by the name Victoria; thus, when her ex-husband went around looking, nobody could point him towards the correct Victoria, as she started going by Vicki. When he finally found her, she was happily remarried. One time, when she was a young girl, she was spending a nice afternoon on the shore of a lake, watching her small dog paddle around happily in the water, when a crocodile came out of nowhere and ate the dog, right in front of her eyes.
As a young adult, she was stabbed on the street. Oh my God, this is serious. She was stabbed on the street by a complete stranger. When it happened, she was able to completely lift her attacker off the ground for a moment before she lapsed into a 15-day coma.
She remembers hearing the people around her hospital bed saying that she was a lost cause and that it was time to pull the plug. She made an appeal to God and ended up surviving, and she still has the scars, and she showed me. She also lost 30 pounds on a dieting health program, Herbal Life. She proudly explained Herbal Life's business platform, which aligned exactly with my understanding of a pyramid scheme, and now she still has a portion of her Herbal Life shipments to monthly customers.
She claims to make a good sum of money with the program and enjoys being a part of it. So somebody from the United States came to Buena Vista with a $25,000 grant for the community member who came up with the best nonprofit program. She presented her idea for the centra as a violence-free space, that's right here, where kids could play games, take classes, and hang out.
Although she did not expect to win, she ended up following through with the project. She loves to work with kids because she believes in the job's importance. Vicki is now phasing herself out of work at the centra in order to start her new project, an alcohol-free space for teens and young adults to have fun dancing and listening to music. So in my first week in Panama, I caught a cold that came with a mild cough.
After coughing a few times in front of her, it was decided that I had to visit the doctor. No matter how much I tried to explain that wouldn't be necessary, they told me that I had to check just in case. It was frustrating, but when I took a step back from the situation, I was very touched by their compassion. The doctor prescribed me a decongestant, and it made me feel a lot better.
I was in amazing hands, and the people I met just blew me away, and so although I have mixed feelings about my finished written project, I found that the experience as a whole, I deem it just like a complete success, and I wouldn't trade it for anything, and I'm grateful for the Appel funding. (audience applauds) - Hi everybody, I'm Bryn. Thanks a lot for coming today.
So last summer as an Appel Fellow, I worked at a newspaper last summer, with a bit of a more conventional summer internship experience than the really cool projects described earlier. To give you some background on how I chose this project. Since I was a kid, I've always been interested in linguistics, foreign languages, and journalism. I distinctly remember doing a group project in my fourth grade teacher, Ms.
La Vecchia's class where we were asked to design and write the front page of a newspaper, and I went overboard. I used all the Word Art. Do you guys remember the different shadings and the colors? It looked really good (laughs).
And I had my dad, who worked as a journalist out of college, painstakingly go over my papers. When Ms. La Vecchia gave me back my project, she wrote something to the effect of, wow, like you'd be an excellent journalist some day. I don't think Ms.
La Vecchia actually meant that, but I took it to heart when I was 10. Since then, I focused on improving both my English and my foreign language skills. After college, I spent a year studying Arabic in Marrakech, Morocco, on a language learning scholarship.
Last summer, I wanted to go back to see my friends and to also practice my Arabic, but I also wanted to explore journalism a little bit more. I found an internship at Morocco World News, which is one of Morocco's English language newspapers that's based in the capital, and I hoped to spend the summer learning more Arabic, writing a lot, and learning about the day-to-day operations of a newspaper. And I was lucky enough to get funding from the Appel Fellowship to make the summer possible.
I don't think any of you really want to hear news from Morocco from three months ago, so instead of reading you some of my samples, I'm just going to talk a little bit about my experience there this summer. Once I got to Morocco World News, I discovered that the operation was a little bit less organized than I had imagined it would be, but that was actually great for me. As a freshman, coming out of my freshman year of college, I never would have gotten really good hands-on experience in a more professional news organization. I never would have been able to be actually writing and editing and getting bylines. So at Morocco World News, I was one of the few staff members who was a native English speaker. I got really incredible hands-on experience. Since my bosses gave me pretty significant leeway, I was free to cover at least two or three stories a week of my choice. Relying on mainly Arabic, Spanish, and French sources, with a lot of help from Google translate, forced me to practice my language skills, and pushing out a couple of stories every day helped me practice my ability to write concisely and quickly in English.
By the end of the summer, I was confident enough in my Arabic abilities to go to a nonprofit health center, interview the staff and patients there, take photographs, and write a feature article about the nonprofit. Since my boss gave me a lot of autonomy as long as I edited and produced articles for him every day, I was able to convince him one Friday to let me take the day off to do research to write a feature piece. This research was an awesome overnight hiking trip to climb the tallest mountain in North Africa and write a travel article about it. So by the end of the summer, I had written about 70 published pieces for the newspaper. My experiences this summer also drew my attention to linguistic differences between English and Arabic that provide some really interesting cultural insights. I wrote about these differences in a series of essays for my Appel writing project. One, in particular, stood out to me since it highlights not only these linguistic differences, but also some of the reality of journalism. When Michelle Obama and her daughters visited Morocco to promote girls education this summer, my boss asked me to write a short article on the state dinner that the Obama's attended with the King's family.
He asked me to focus on the dresses since their choice of attire seemed symbolic to him. Mrs. Obama and her daughters were wearing dresses that the Americans would describe as a caftan-style dress.
Dresses that definitely strayed from the First Family's normal style, I didn't know how I felt about writing an article about the First Family's dresses, but it was my assignment; however, in Morocco, caftans refer to a very specific piece of traditional clothing that women wear to weddings. So under my boss's guidance, I wrote an article talking about how the Obama's visit to Morocco and their decision to wear these caftan-style dresses was a symbolic gesture of support and commitment to the U.S.-Morocco relationship, but the second that it was published, commenters on Facebook began criticizing the article, sometimes a little bit harshly. They were pretty mad that this young American girl had, in their eyes, mislabeled one of their most important cultural clothing pieces of the nation. To an American, however, the Obama's were just wearing caftan-style dresses. This linguistic disconnect produced a controversy that would have been completely unnecessary if I had understood the difference in how the word caftan was perceived by Americans and by Moroccans. In addition to this linguistic insight, the caftan incident provided me with a little snapshot into the experiences of a real journalist. Although some of my pieces received positive comments, some were definitely criticized, and it was very useful to learn how to constructively observe criticism when appropriate, and also when to ignore it, which I think is a critical experience for anyone interested in writing as a living.
I don't really have any future plans for those essays or for these articles, but I know that I plan to continue reflecting on linguistic differences and their significance when I'm studying Spanish and Arabic in the future. My experience in Morocco this summer also renewed my focus on learning more about politics and history, improve my language skills, and becoming a better writer so that someday maybe I'll be able to work in journalism and fill my 10-year-old aspirations. Thanks so much to Professor (mumbles). I don't think she could be here today, but she advised me throughout this whole process and was really helpful, and also to Mr.
Joe Appel for making all this possible for us. Thanks for coming. (audience applauds) - Hello, I'm Chloe, and I'll talk a little bit about my trip in Korea. Since early childhood, I have established a very diverse and international background from living in three countries. Korea, United States, and Mexico.
This living experience was a really tremendous experience for me to not only explore and understand different cultures but also accepting that cultures can be different. But, however, at the same time, it has also kind of like forced me to question my identify, so Appel Fellowship gave me an opportunity to find my identity in Korea that is part of my family's history and a core piece that defines who I am, but it was also an undeveloped piece of me that I had not been fully able to understand and explore. So for about eight weeks, I traveled around in Korea and wrote a travel diary. I visited many historical sites, went to many museums, and I also watched many traditional art performances. The reason why I was so focused on also watching traditional performances was that I really wanted to experience the collective emotions, ethos, that Koreans have that cannot be fully articulated, and after watching several music and traditional art performances, I came to realize and experience the unspoken intangible narrative of the Korean national ethos, which is the emotion of sadness from the Japanese colonialism period. So every day, I ended my day, my travel, by writing a travel diary, and this is how writing played a significant role in this journey.
It helped me to synthesize my floating ideas, expressions, into a very tangible format, and it was a time for my self reflection and my personal maturity. So of all the many places that I visited, this is my favorite place that I enjoyed the most. It's called Samcheongdong. It's located in central Seoul.
When I first visited there, I felt like I was in like a time travel. Seoul is very modern, and this place is very antique and very old fashion and traditional Korean styles. But at the same time, it's a very unique village in Seoul because it has both trait of Orientalism and westernism, and I would say that it has a westernism because of two findings that I found in this village.
Actually, the picture in the top right corner is actually a Starbucks Coffee Shop. Yes, it's a Starbucks Coffee Shop. It's the only Starbucks shop in Korea that has its sign board written in Korean. All the other Starbucks in Korea has its sign board written in English, but in this village, it's written in Korean. When I saw this, when I saw this sign board written in Korean, I did not feel Starbucks to be like a very American coffee shop. It blended so well with this traditional antique village that I was so impressed. Also, if you look at the bottom picture, it looks like traditional housing, right? But actually this place is an Italian restaurant.
This Samcheongdong, this village, is home to more than like 100 traditional houses called hanok that were built more than hundreds of years ago, but now they are used as serving coffees and Italian foods, which is so amazing and interesting. Actually, this restaurant is also listed in the Michelin's Guide of must-go place in Korea, so if you ever visit Korea, please go. It's such a great vibe and environment. The more I began to explore this village by just like looking at this architectural design and going to art galleries that exhibit western European handcrafts and also serving western foods, I came to realize that this is the village's distinctive characteristic that makes it different and unique from other villages.
This realization also made me to reflect on myself and notice how much I tried hard to describe my identity in one word, but after visiting this village and Italian restaurant, I learned that having this multi-cultured background defines who I am and it's not a poison but an asset for me, and it's something that I want to continue to utilize and develop, so after spending eight weeks in Korea, I am very proud to say that my diverse background is something that I am very proud of, and that's something that I want to continue to develop. I also learned that as long as I have a firm foundation of understanding different, a country's culture and historical background, I would be able to add and stack new aspects of different cultures on top of my firm base. Thank you for listening, and thank you for giving me this amazing opportunity over the summer. Thank you. (audience applauds).
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