Stanford campus photo from above

7/31/2002

I hate to post shameless self-promotion, but hey, it's not everyday that you get your
own article in your hometown newspaper
alongside a headline for a woman who just turned 90!

So I'm back in Marietta, OH now, until Sunday (Aug. 4th) visiting parents, grandma's, and old friends before heading back down to Durham to start my new job. It's been fun lounging around, catching up with people and reading 100 Years of Solitude.

Oh yeah, and what's up with no comments? Someone leave me some feedback.

7/26/2002

This is one of the most interesting websites I've come across in a while:
People for Perfect Economy.

Haven't read it all yet, but I plan to soon. Contains a lot of the same ideas I've been reading about in The Creature from Jekyll Island.
Well, our course officially came to an end today. I'm a bit sad that it's over. Even though I will be glad to never have to eat ASU cafeteria food again. We finished up the course by helping the kids to organize around another social issue. They chose to organize a campaign to protest the US not signing onto the UN treaty on preventing torture. For more info click here. If you would like to join our letter writing campaign, please let me know. Also, Grisha taught them about some of the negative aspects of activism. In the afternoon, we had a guest lecturer (a high school history teacher) come in and talk about some of the reasons why history textbooks are often biased and leave out important information. Examples from Lies My Teacher Told Me were given. Finally, we had them watch My Dinner With Andre. The last 10 minutes of the class were all tears, hugs, and goodbyes, with one student telling us that this was a "life-altering course" and another that it was her favorite class she had ever taken. That's what it's all about folks.

7/24/2002

Here is another really great paper from another one of the students in our class. (keep in mind she's 15.)

Tolethya Quillet July 25, 2002

Existentialism and the American Ideals:
Freedom, Patriarchy, and Racial Oppression


The French philosopher Jean-Paul Sarte is known to have established existentialism in France after the liberation of Paris in 1944. Existentialism is the philosophy that states that the values people choose influences the choices they make and how they interpret the meanings of their decisions. When existentialism was introduced in the United States, it challenged Americans to access their ethical standards from a different perspective.


America is associated with being "The land of the free". However, the American society has set standards on women's roles and racial castes and until these oppressions are eliminated the entire society will never have freedom. What is freedom? Freedom, as defined by Krisnamurti, is a state of mind in which there is no fear or compulsion, no urge to be secure. In the American society there is a need for security and there is fear. People conform to society's ideas to feel secure and fear being different, fear thinking on their own to set their own standards and choose their own values. Sartre's existentialist view of freedom is that it preexists value choices. Because people do not freely choose and follow their values, society creates ideals that control their views in life. These ideals are supposed to maintain order in society by showing everyone their place, but these ideals displace what society should stand for and prevent people from freedom. Should people follow societybs norm or become existentialists and think on their own?


Society has set limits on gender roles with ideals such as male privilege and patriarchy. Patriarchy is the political structure to control womenbs thoughts on their sexuality, laboring, and place in society so they become fixated on thinking they are sub-standard to men. Women are classified as physically, emotionally, politically, intellectually, and economically weaker than men. Women can uphold the same positions as men; but they are paid less, harassed more, and receive fewer opportunities. In the media, women are more exploited than men and it is often portrayed that women are inferior to men. Women and men are treated differently in society, and women have frequently been unable to participate fully in all social areas. However as society has become more technologically advanced, women have shown that they posses the same amount of capability and intelligence as men. Feminism works to change the unjust theories in society by replacing old ideals with a new perspective that women are not inferior to men but are equal. I believe that if society applied an existentialist view into their lives there would be no need for feminism because everyone would agree with what feminism stands for, and patriarchy and male privilege would cease. People would begin to choose values that would incorporate each sex equally because they would begin to think about how the meanings of their decisions affects everyone in society.


If people could begin thinking of how their decisions affect others, it could broaden their view that America is not "The land of the free" if minority races are still being oppressed in this country. Society stereotypes different races in the media, politics, education, and every other aspect of life. Society places certain races on a pedestal with stereotypes that they are better than others and stronger in most areas of life. Because of this belief, minorities are slighted for opportunities. Reasons such as location, past heritage, and stereotypical ways cause minority races to receive less funding for education and fewer job opportunities. In entertainment and the media minority races are belittled with degrading stereotypes of their culture that usually do not apply to everyone in that race and limit societybs perception of that race; there are also less roles for different portrayals of their cultural ways. Groups that put their culture in a view of supremacy cause other races not to strive for higher standards in life because of fears. These fears cause minorities to turn to other ways to try to achieve a better life that they are often oppressed from. Aside from the biases of minority races that crime and selling illegal substances confirms in society's views, it also weakens the entire society because of the lack of education and employment that these races suffer from. These views increase the crime and drug rate and oppose and depreciate the freedom, unity, and diversity our society is supposed to stand for. Instead of separating races from opportunities and having certain groups work to try and obtain equality, everyone in society b the majority races and the minority races- needs to work together to improve the conditioned views of society so that all people are equally represented in all aspects of life and society. The currency used in the United States by all its citizens is printed with the phrase "In God We Trust," and didn't God create all men equal? An existentialist view could help the majority races and upper-class people realize that their close-minded, stereotypical views and values are oppressing and discounting people with the exact abilities that they have and that those views and values weakening society. They could choose new values that would allow equal opportunity for all people and a better society would be able to come into existence. Minorities could use an existentialist perspective to improve their standards of themselves.
The American ideals on patriarchy, male privilege, and race will continue to oppress the entire society from freedom until these views can be changed as people realize what freedom really is. People must first free themselves from society's views by realizing that they have a negative affect on everyone. They must freely choose their own values. When people in society assess their ethical standards from a new perspective and become existentialist, freedom will preexist value choices and people will choose values with the equality of everyone in mind.


As much as I hate to start quoting and referring to the same sources as Mike. :)

Quetions on Bush's War on Iraq.
"WE AMERICANS find ourselves in the extraordinary position of witnessing our government's slow but certain movement toward a major war with Iraq.

Such open maneuvering, with clear statements of intention from the Bush administration, the leaking of war plans from the Pentagon, and the acquiescence of Congress, could not have happened when US power was balanced, and therefore checked, by the Soviet Union, nor when that power was mitigated by Washington's regard for world opinion. Now the only conceivable check on the sole superpower is the will of its own people, manifest through politics, which is why we must urgently take up the subject. "

7/21/2002

Went back to Durham to visit Kim, Graham, Virginia and some others this past weekend. Kim, Becca, and I went to the Rock Quarry and jumped off of this 20 foot high cliff into a natural spring lake. What a rush! The water was really warm at the top, but quite cold about 10 feet down. Apparently the place used to be a gravel mine, but one day the truck hit a certain spot and the natural spring water got free. The story goes that the two drivers escaped, but the truck is still down there. There is a rope that you use to climb back up the side of the cliff and jump again. Wish I had pictures, it was really beautiful there, but alas, I forgot my camera! Oh well, I'm sure i'll be back there at some point!

7/17/2002

Alright! Our good friend Mike is travelblogging from Vietnam! Now we can follow him and check him out. Mike studied abroad in Vietnam for a semester last year and he has another website with lots of pictures from that trip and plenty of links about Vietnam here.

7/15/2002

Class is off to a really great start this week. Grisha is so amazing to be teaching with! I want to do this every summer, I love my job! Besides teaching the kids about feminism, the social construction of beauty, and a bit about psychology, we also taught the kids to organize a peaceful resistance to authority. We're helping them to organize a protest again one of the rules which they see as unfair. Tomorrow we're talking about the power of the media and advertising in society with the help of some videos and Adbusters.

7/14/2002

Friday I went to the Doc Watson Music Festival in Sugar Grove, NC. Doc lives just nearby and hosts this festival every year. Saturday I drove down to Asheville to visit a friend, Hope, and we went and saw the Addison Groove Project. So it was a weekend full of music. Now it's time to plan out class for the next week. We're bridging from self to politics this week.

7/08/2002

7/06/2002

The students arrived today. Grisha and I have 18 young minds (13 - 16 yr. olds) to mold for the next three weeks. Course topics cover the following:

The first week of the course will focus on beginning the process of becoming aware of our own beliefs, assumptions about the world, and opinions. Students will begin to define the term self and explore what makes up our sense of who we are in society. We will begin to explore philosophical, biological, as well as psychological views of who we are as well as what each of our unique perspectives are on the world. Towards the end of the week we will look more closely into the complexities of how it is that we can come to understand people who have significantly different perspectives.

The second week of the course will build on the first by introducing more of the famous thinkers and theories around these issues, such as philosophers Derrida, Foucault, Gadamer, Noam Chomsky, and Daniel Dennet. The class will begin to explore how our assumptions, which we looked at during the first week become the roots of our political assumptions and our society. The students will begin forming groups and thinking about what aspects of our discussion they would like to pursue more in depth in the group projects and presentations during the third week.

During the final week of class, we will begin to tie everything we have covered together by beginning to look towards the future, with an eye to learn from the past. Ideas of progress, the future of humanity, globalization, morality, and the value of technology will all be covered as we look towards new, emerging theories about our culture and the responsibilities we have towards understanding the fellow members of our society. Students will present their own "Wisdom Scriptures" detailing what wisdom they would pass on to the next generation, which they began during the second week to the rest of the class.

Grisha is also going to teach them consensus building as a decision making process.

If you have any suggestions of further topics/activities, feel free to let me know!

This is a test of the new comments section. Please leave me (and everyone else) comments if you'd like!
I went to a little town just outside of Boone, called Todd to watch some old-time music. It was great. Todd has a church, a general store, a stop sign, and that's about it. On Friday nights everyone gathers in this old general store and 6 or 7 of the local musicians all sit around with their mandolins, banjos, guitars, fiddles, etc and play some old-time music and bluegrass.

The TIP kids arrive today and Grisha and I begin teaching our class tomorrow. We planned out the first week in detail yesterday and I think it's going to be awesome.