Author Archives: Melody Mark

Posts by Melody Mark


Before seeing the African Art Exhibit at the MET Museum, I believed that African Art was basic, and even casual. Because their sculptures seem to be realistic for the most part, I did not think that it required creativity. That is until I understood the composition of each piece.

Analyzing one of the pieces in the exhibit, I learned that African Art was based on geometry. It amazed me that this type of art would be able to influence artists from the 19th and 20th century. For example, Henri Matisse created Female Torso in 1906 with distinct elements from African Art. The sculpture can easily be divided in half, which represents the balance that African artworks have. Also, the proportion of the piece gives off an elegant, yet realistic vibe. Created from bronze, Female Torso also shines under the spotlight. The luminosity of this piece labels it as perfection, yet realistic.

Female Torso, Henri Matisse

African Art tends to replicate human’s physical features and adds a touch of perfection to it. I did not consider this technique prominent in modern art until I saw how paintings from notable artists, such as Picasso, were juxtaposed to African Art. Recognizing the resemblance of the composition of African Art in one of Picasso’s painting made me realize how African Art had already left an impact on famous pieces. Cubism, a style of art that Picasso used, has many features that can relate to African art. Although they tend to be abstract, the geometric composition allows for a unique balance in each piece.

Walking around in the Matisse Exhibition was a different experience in that it focused on the contrasts between his artworks. Throughout the room, there are often two to three pieces that Matisse created with the same subject. Although the setting and objects are alike, each piece emphasizes on different elements of art. Through his pieces, he portrays various perspectives of the same setting. In Still Life with Compote and Fruit and Still life with Compote, apples, and Oranges, he manipulates the lighting to showcase a different environment in his paintings. Although alike in many aspects, these two pieces bring two contrasting vibes. One being bright and blissful while the other one is gloomy. Many of Matisse’s other artworks give the audience many perspectives of the same objects.

Still Life with Compote and Fruit, Henri Matisse

Still Life with Compote, Apples, and Oranges, Henri Matisse

These two exhibits portray how artists have varying perceptions of art. Many well-known artists such as Picasso and Matisse look into African Art for inspiration. However, in their creations, they include their own touch, or in Matisse’s case, multiple versions. In the end, artists have their own style of painting and sculpting that leaves lasting impressions on other artists.

The Moment that Changed Everything

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As a business major in St. John’s University, my aunt Linda’s dream was to work in the Financial District in Downtown, NYC.  She grew up believing that she needed money and a title in order to succeed in life.  Her main goal was to have a leadership role in her company.  Switching from accounting to marketing at Morgan Stanley, she believed that she had found the career that she was going to stick to for the rest of her life.  When I interviewed her, she had a bright smile on when recounting the many projects she completed as a member of the marketing committee. She stresses that she was comfortable with accounting, but marketing was right for her.  Sitting in her office in one of the World Trade Center buildings, she believed that she had everything under control: her career, her future, her life.

My aunt Linda is a person who likes to plan out everything in her life. She knew when she wanted to get married, have children and how she was going to live a fulfilling life.  She believed strongly in her abilities to achieve a position at her company. Looking out of her window from the 64th floor of this tower, she was tall enough to oversee a large portion of Downtown. The WTC buildings also provided a great working environment. People were very friendly and welcoming. She was comfortable in her building.  This environment motivated her to work harder so she could move up in ranking—she had confidence in herself, and it was only a matter of time.

This confidence was ephemeral.  If she were worrying about something on that fateful day, it would be preparing for her next conference call. She, or any of her colleagues, never imagined that a plane would crash into her building, but it happened.  There are many accounts of how people tried to flee the collapsing structure, but my aunt had her own unique story.  September 11, 2001 was the day that threw everything she knew off balance.  The environment she was so familiar with turned into chaos.

She had first heard the news from her colleague. All she knew was that something happened and they should leave.  My aunt describes the scene outside her winder: debris was flying everywhere, and 1 WTC had been hit. That news was enough for everyone to panic. My aunt was scared, but she was able to stay calm and composed.  During a time when everyone was panicking, her and her friends decided to run around and announce this news to everyone on the floor.  Everyone was evacuating, but order was necessary.  My aunt helped keep order when everyone else tried to run down the stairs as fast as they could.

Screams and cries echoed in the staircase as my aunt and her colleagues ran down from the 64th floor.  The planes hit their building when they were on the 20th floor.  Everyone was scared, including my aunt, but she managed to scream aloud that everything was going to be okay.  She was afraid that people from behind would trample over her. No one was sane at this point.  The only thoughts that crossed my aunt’s mind were to hold onto the railing and run down stairs.  Even at times of chaos, she was able to calm people down, even if it was for a very brief moment.

It only took one hit to bring down 1 WTC, it was not going to take a very long time for 2 WTC to collapse after it.  Running out onto the streets, my aunt turned around to see the building that she was so familiar with collapse in front of her eyes.  Pedestrians continued to scream and push.  There was nothing else she could do to help her colleagues, so she ran.

Watching the buildings come down made my aunt realize how fragile life is.  We can be alive one moment and dead the next.  No one can guarantee whether they will be alive in the next moment. Because of this experience, she values life a lot more. Goals such as earning the most money or gaining a title were all superficial.  In the end, nothing is more valuable than one’s life.  Life was too short for a person to waste it doing something they didn’t like. Although she was happy with marketing, she wanted to stay away from the work environment because this is truly what she wanted.

Every year, there are services held in memory of those who passed away because of this attack. However, for my aunt, they served as a constant memory of the experience on that dreadful day.  It is difficult for her to watch the news coverage again every year.  To watch the collision again was similar to putting her in the same staircase and having her listen to screams echo down the staircase.

That one glance back at the building was the point that changed her life. It was almost a wake up call for her. She came to learn that life was too short to do what she was doing.  Soon after, she had her own family. She values every moment she has with her husband and her son.  Although she no longer earns the same salary, money is not important to her anymore. The job title and amount in her bank account would not give her a happy life.  She is aware that she does not need to have money in order to succeed in life.  The suburban lifestyle she has chosen is happier than the one she led when she was working at WTC.  A job title and money can be taken away from her any day, but the moments she spent with her family would always be with her.  These moments are priceless.

A Great Puzzle

The constant switch between the aftermath of The Great Depression and the stock market crash in 2008 drove a perfectly formulated play into a great mess. Marianne Weems directed House/Divided, a play performed at the Brooklyn Academy of Music. By juxtaposing the two eras, she wanted to portray the similarities between the struggles of the time. Theoretically, the techniques she used to compare the two satisfied her purpose. However, the play was as confusing as simultaneously reading two different books. In the end, this was a puzzle rather than a play.

House/Divided was inspired by John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath, which is a story that focuses on the economic hardships people faced after the Great Depression in 1929. Weems wanted to incorporate scenes from this fictional story to parallel them with interviews of owners who lost their homes to banks. These two stories were projected onto a house on center stage and a white background. Throughout the play, actors shifted parts of the structure to serve other purposes. To me, it was a symbol of the fragile economy. If the shifting of pieces can transform a house and serve another purpose, then what is going to stop investment banks from manipulating stock prices to earn money?

The sound effects and lighting played a crucial role throughout the performance. Without them, I would not have understood when Weems was shifting from one scene to another. Each transition came as a surprise, which made it difficult to grasp when each vignette ended. The use of technology to transform the scene from one setting to another only served as a reminder of the stark differences between the two eras, rather than the similarities. Although the man reeling the projected tape gave off an antiquated vibe, the components of the house that made it so versatile also appeared as too advanced for its time.

Aside from the non-traditional way of telling these two stories, the puzzles were easier to put together when there was dialogue. The actors were full of realistic emotions; there were humorous jokes when stock prices were all increasing, and looked distressed when the market crashed. Simultaneously, the Joad family spoke with an Ohio accent, where the family is from. Understanding the parallelism between the interviews and Joads’ moving was the easiest part of this big puzzle because both stock market crashes had left similar impacts on many families. As the Joad family travelled across barren land, other families many years later are facing foreclosure issues.

The structure suddenly collapsed to serve as a table at the end of the play. An actor playing Alan Greenspan was being interviewed at this table/house. This was the final piece of this difficult puzzle. Greenspan was questioned about deregulation and his approaches at dealing with the current economy. The collapse of the house signifies how one man can lead to the destruction of families and homes. In the end, Weems was able to retell these two stories from different eras, but these vignettes were difficult to string together to form the final puzzle. This confusion portrays the inner emotions of people who struggled to survive after these two stock market crashes. From being confused to seemingly understanding the situation and back to confusion, these thoughts represent how people during these eras strived to survive the aftermath of the difficult conditions.


House/divided- credits to:

Separate, Yet United

Apartheid was a era of racial segregation that existed in South Africa. With the power of photography, this harsh system came to an end in 1990s.

Walking into the International Center of Photography (ICP), I witnessed for the first time the consequences of Apartheid. Walking down the row of photos was like travelling back and forward through time. In the timeline of photographs, earlier photographers captured the most brutal part of the segregation, whereas newer photographers captured the changing culture that was a result of Apartheid. From public protests to speeches, South Africans openly protested against the cruel laws that the government imposed. This exhibition thoroughly portrays the progress of the movement with a variety of photographs from different owners. Through this variety, ICP offered a wide range of perspectives of the same movement.

One photo that stood out to me was Nanny and Child taken by Peter Magubane in 1950s. What stood out to me the most were words on the chair: Europeans Only. These simple, yet powerful, words on the chair are able to keep one race away from another. In this photo, the African nanny is looking over the white little girl. Automatically placed in a lower social class because of her race, the African nanny is forced to sit on the other side of the bench. The little girl on her face also has a confused expression on her face. This photo portrays how children were trained at a young age to understand the laws of Apartheid. Even though she seems confused, she knows to sit on her designated side. This photo revealed how Apartheid segregated the two races, no matter their age.

However, in another photo, a photographer offered a different perspective. In the photo The Black Sash, an anti-apartheid women’s group, also taken in the 1950s, is a portrayal of unison within segregation. Jurgen Schadeberg’s photo reveals how women from various races assembled to fight this movement. In this image, a large group of both colored and white women stood together in front of the Parliament and government offices holding a burning candle and wearing a black sash. This was a symbol of unity between races—one that the government had fought hard to separate.

By placing Schadeberg’s photo across from Magubane’s, ICP has effectively separated the two impacts that Apartheid had on society during the time. Although both photos were taken around the same time, these photographers offered contrasting views of how Apartheid impacted people. On one level, white children learned about these segregation laws at a young age. On another level, women from different races were able to unite and fight these brutal laws together. The structure of ICP exhibit played a role in separating the two ideas and organizing the photos in a way that revealed this important theme.

Two Realities

Everyone perceives reality differently, and Katherine Vaz is able to add a unique twist to it in her novels. After reading her book, Our Lady of the Artichokes, I realized that there are two sides to every historical event. One side is the actual event, while the other side is how people involved see the event. In Katherine Vaz’s new novel, Below the Salt, she narrates a story of how John perceives his surroundings. As a writer, she places herself in her characters’ shoes and does extensive research on the events that occurred during the time period.

Katherine Vaz, the 29th Harman Writer-In-Residence, discusses the journey of creating her novel-in-progress. During her reading, she uses strong, descriptive adjectives to portray a realistic setting throughout the passage. Furthermore, these words are strung together to invoke emotions in her audience. In one passage, she narrates, “Twilight is a paint spill…and here you are, here you are born” to describe the birth of John Olves in the jail cell. By creating this beautiful picture, she is able to turn a tragic event into a dreamy one. Her writing style is different from any that I’ve come across before.

In Our Lady of the Artichokes, she uses the same technique to incorporate the two sides of Catholicism. She also includes elements of the New World’s culture into this Old World religion. Through her stories, I am able to have a better understanding of how children from the New World perceived the traditions of Catholicism in Portugal.

Vaz juxtaposes two realities through her writing. By comparing the two, she is giving her audience two perspectives of the story. Also, as a reader, I find myself immersed in her novels because of the effective descriptions she continues to use to develop her story.

Documenting True Beauty

Before coming to Max Flatow’s presentation, I always believed that photographers specialized in one subject. However, Flatow has changed this mindset because his photographs have proven that he “shoots everything.” His wide-ranged portfolio reveals how he is willing to travel around the world to capture the beauty of many things. One photo I remember clearly is the photo of the couple in the middle of a field. He cleverly uses the wind to spread the veil behind the bride, creating a dreamy effect. Not only does Flatow document a connection between the couple, he also captures the mood. As the viewer, I am able to experience the moment in the photo.

Flatow mentions that he doesn’t use flash. Rather, he uses exterior artificial lighting. He is able to create effective shadows in his images. One photo that stands out is the image where two flower girls are standing on the stage. There is a single light in the middle that brightens the photo just enough so that the viewer understands the setting. The fact that subjects are not posed makes the photo even more perfect. The beauty of these photos can easily capture the audience’s attention because the moment is real. His innate ability to snap a photo at the right moment proves that photographers can be successful even if they are self-taught.

Although Flatow is a photographer, he also seems to be a businessman. He understands that his portfolio needs variety if he wants people to hire him. With experience in taking photos of various subjects, he has opened doors to many opportunities. He does not forget to mix up the techniques he uses before taking each photo.

After looking at these photos, I was inspired and determined to take photos of my own. It has always been a trouble for me to take photos at the “right” moment. However, after attending this presentation, I learned that many great photos are not posed. Rather, it’s the natural expressions of the subject that makes the photo just “right.” Photography is also about experimenting and choosing one out of hundreds that best convey a theme. Although it requires a lot of work, Flatow’s portfolio has motivated me to document special moments I see around me.

The Veil- taken by Max Flatow

taken by Max Flatow

Waterfalls- Real vs. Fake

Earlier this year, I went on a 4-day road trip with my friends to Tennessee. We chose this state because it would be a different experience compared to the city-life we were all accustomed to. I didn’t know what to expect besides the fact that we were going to visit caverns and travel in a bus for several days.

When we arrived at Ruby Falls Cave near Chattanooga, Tennessee, the sight inside the cavern was amazing. The beautiful waterfall is lit up by neon lights that constantly change colors. It reminded me of an artificial waterfall that can be found in Chelsea Market in NYC. There are times when NYC tries to emulate various aspects of nature and place them in an urban environment (i.e. the waterfall in Chelsea Market). However, Ruby Falls is so much more natural. The sound of water splashing against the caves, the eroding of rocks, and the smell of the air in the cave is so unique that it’s unlikely that NYC would be able to replicate it.

What made this trip more interesting was how we had to travel through various passageways of different sizes in order to get to this destination. For example, there were paths where we found ourselves slowly inching sideways as our backs lied against the walls of the cave because they were very narrow. During the entire trip, I tried to think of times when I would be able to experience the same thing in NYC, but I never thought of one example.

This tourist attraction may be simple because everything is natural. The only artificial part of it may be the lights that were fixed to brighten the paths. At the same time, the beauty of this cave is different from what NYC has to offer. The cultural difference between NYC and this town in Tennessee is very apparent. While NYC fosters a fast-paced environment and new, breathtaking discoveries through technology, the excitement behind this cave is tracking how Mother Nature erodes and shifts it.

chelsea market


Ruby Falls

Body Language

Prezi Presentation

When someone is speaking to a group of people, it is important to look confident. Not only will this give the person more credibility, the audience will also be more willing to listen to the presenter. In completing this collage, I explored a culture that is not apparent—body language. Body language consists of small, slight motions that portray our inner thoughts. For someone who is presenting, it is important for he/she to look confident. Knowing the body language of a confident person allows one to “fake it till they make it.”

In this collage, I analyzed each part of the body, specifically the face, arms, hands, legs and feet, of a confident person. Each category consists of two to three photos that illustrate the position of the body part. In the first slide, I focused on the face. A confident person always has a smile and keeps eye contact with the audience. Nodding shows that an idea is approved. Because it is related to positive emotions, nodding can also boost one’s confidence. In the next set of slides, I focused on the positioning of the arms. When a person’s arms are taking up space, the person is dominating his/her surroundings. This is why it is natural for athletes to raise their arms in the air when they win a race. Our hands also reveal how confident we are. When giving a handshake, one should have a firm grip. In the second photo of this set of slides, the man is sitting with his hands behind his back. This is the sitting version of hands on hips. This position portrays the person as someone who is ready for anything. In the final sections of this collage, the positioning of the legs and feet reveal even more about what the person is thinking about. The natural position of the legs is when they are staggered. Although crossed legs may be comfortable for many people, it shows that the person is defensive. Finally, the direction of our feet reveals where we want to go. A confident person should have their feet pointing at the inside of the circle to show that they are engaged and interested in the conversation.

I chose to use Prezi for this collage because I can zoom in on each photo using different frames. The template looks like a stick figure with several arrows pointing at the center. This is to depict how all of these small details combine to form a confident person. One major difficulty I came across when creating this collage is how Prezi is unable to support .GIF files. For example, I could not show how someone would nod during a conversation or how people shift their stance slightly when their thoughts change.

Although body language is silent, it plays a part in our conversations. Most importantly, it shows how confident we are with what we say by revealing our inner thoughts.

All photo credits to their owners.

Struggle Between Cultures

Growing up, I have always been told that I have to learn an instrument, specifically the piano. I remember sitting on the stool for hours every week trying to play a symphony by Beethoven. I could not understand why I had to practice for hours. Other children in my neighborhood were always outdoors playing sports and simply having fun. I wanted to be part of that culture. I remember asking my parents, “Why do I have to learn an instrument?” They responded with, “Many people play the piano, so you should too.” I could not understand this. Overtime, I began to realize that this was their response for every question I asked. When travelling to a relative’s house, I would ask, “Why do we have to take the subway?” They told me, “Because everyone who is going is taking the subway also.” At times, it would be frustrating to do what everyone else is doing because that was the general consensus.

On the other hand, I remember my teacher telling me to “find something you like to play” during band class. This response was so strange to me that I spent a long time trying to decide which instrument was the right one to choose. Ultimately, I chose to play the flute simply because I liked the sound of the notes coming from the instrument. This time, my decision was not based on what everyone else did. Rather, it was because of my interests.

In school, teachers often fostered the notion of creativity. Whereas, at home, being unique was the wrong. There was this constant struggle between individualism and doing what was better for the entire group. Fortunately, I was able to find a balance between these two cultures overtime. I would still play the piano occasionally, but they would be pieces that I enjoyed listening to.

Looking at Old and New

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This street photography was complex, yet simple at the same time. It was difficult for me to think of a theme because New York City has so much to offer. It was challenging to focus on one subject because there would always be another scene that was more appealing to the eye. In addition, themes seem to overlap each other, making it even more difficult to find photos that would clearly represent my theme. However, this old versus new architecture theme developed over time as I began to take more photos. As I walked down various streets in the city, I found myself captivated by the beauty of buildings at night or under certain light. My experience is similar to that of Larry Sultan’s (author of a passage from Photography Packet) in that I did not know what I wanted until I took multiple photos. I chose this theme because there are buildings everywhere in NYC. However, I rarely stopped to look at these structures because they all look the same from the ground level. However, if I stopped to assess my surroundings, I would realize that every building is unique in its own ways.

This part of the project gave me the opportunity to travel to various areas in NYC. Old buildings seem to be common among new neighborhoods, or rather they would stand out more. I was also generally pleased with the quality of the photos because they were taken with my phone. It was difficult to zoom in due to the settings of the camera, but the shutter speed was quick. Images were not blurred when they came out.  When choosing locations, I focused on old buildings that seem to be in the center of new ones. This allows for a more apparent comparison of the two buildings’ conditions. In various images, I focused on how older buildings tend to be taller than the newer apartment buildings. Isolated buildings were more interesting to observe because their features would be more apparent. In these photos, newer buildings are often set apart from older buildings, which were connected to each other.

Issues I came across when I was snapping photos of various buildings in the city were lighting and positioning. It was difficult to find the perfect spot where I can capture the entire background. In a couple of photos, I had to decide what I could leave out of the frame and what needed to be kept. Every time I shifted my position, the lighting would change slightly. This forced me to readjust the screen and reassess what should be in the photo.  For many of the photos in this set, I wanted to follow the Rule-of-Thirds. However, this was not easy to accomplish because these tall buildings would take up most of the frame. It was also challenging to experiment with different depth-of-fields because I was unable to adjust the camera’s setting.

Also, I depended on natural light when I took photos. As a result, many photos were dimmer than what I expected.  Noticing this trend, I was able to utilize the light to illuminate many of these buildings. For example, in the photo of City Hall, I was able to use the shadows of the new buildings on the side to highlight the outline of the old building, which is positioned in the middle. Many photos in this set utilize this method to accentuate the difference between the old and the new.

The final challenge I came upon was choosing the “right” photos and organizing them in a way that made sense. When I first uploaded all of my photos into the computer, I had a lot more than twelve photos. Some were duplicates of the same position, while others were different angles of the same building. It was difficult to narrow down to the final twelve. I had to find photos that did not just look “nice,” but also worked well with other photos. When juxtaposing two images, I wanted to create a flow. I wanted photos to transition well from one type to the next.

I enjoyed writing captions for these photos because they did not have to be mediocre captions. Rather, I was able to include my voice in them. These captions also highlighted what I wanted my audience to notice in the photo. Together with the contrast between light and shadow, the audience would know what I wanted to focus on in each image.

I like the experiences I earned from completing the Street Photography project. I learned that photography is not about capturing the pretty moments. Rather, it is about letting the subject come to me and exploring it through different angles and techniques.

Hurricane Sandy: Dancing Trees

This hurricane did not affect me as harshly as it had affected other people in various areas of New York City. However, my family learned that we should always stock up on food in the future before a hurricane. In the past, we relied on the bakeries and supermarkets in our neighborhood for food and other necessities. It did not occur to us that stores might not have food in stock after the hurricane. As a result, I did not purchase more food beforehand. For the entire week, we had to live off of the food that was already in my refrigerator. We were fortunate in that we had just enough food to last us a couple of days.

The night before the hurricane, I was worried that the old tree in front of my house would collapse. Trees in my backyard have also been there for over a century, and they were definitely large enough to damage the house. On the day of the hurricane, I spent hours listening to the news as weather channels tracked the path of Hurricane Sandy. Every time the trees swayed violently, I became more worried. However, I tried to stay optimistic, and chose to describe them as “dancing trees.” The sound of strong winds continuously banged against the windows. I began to realize that this was one of the few times that my house was actually loud. It was very different from the quiet and calm environment that I was used to; the sound of the wind made the house livelier. I had to continuously tell myself this so I could stop worrying.

Facebook was another crucial source for me to communicate with friends and family. With every click of the refresh button, I found more pictures of places around NYC that was flooded. Just from looking at the pictures, I can almost hear the waves crashing onto the sidewalk, washing away whatever had been there. People who were in the west also sent me photos of the latest places that had flooded. This goes to show that Hurricane Sandy did not only affect people living on the East Coast; those who lived on the West Coast were paying close attention to the progress of Hurricane Sandy also.

Hurricane Sandy: Stuyvesant High School

I finally forced myself to sleep when I realized that those who were affected by the hurricane would not be able to receive assistance until days later when everything calms down. Although this idea was not comforting, there was nothing I was able to do except to hope for the best.

Funny Photo

Struggle for Power

The décor of The Metropolitan Opera sets a grand atmosphere for the opera it is presenting. From the size to the quality of acoustics in the theater, it is able to give the audience an authentic experience. Recently, they presented “Carmen,” a classic opera created by Georges Bizet in 1800s. When the opera was adapted, the directors emphasized a struggle between powers through the smooth, yet dramatic dance moves, and high-pitched yet powerful arias. Combined with the intricate details of the theater, the performance had the audience clinging onto every emotion and word, even though it was performed in French.

Met Opera House; credits to

Before each act, two ballerinas, Maria Kowroski and Eric Otto, are dancing in front of a red backdrop. Performed before Acts I and III, the intimate dance moves are setting the mood for the respective acts. The red background also serves as a tool to draw in the audience’s attention.

When Act I began, it became apparent who was the lead even if the viewer did not know the storyline. The voices of Carmen and Don Jose, sung by Anita Rachvelishvili and Yonghoon Lee, respectively, dominated others. When other soldiers were pursuing Carmen, their voices were noticeably softer and weaker than Carmen’s. The director seemed to have used the strength and weaknesses of the casts’ voices to underscore the plot and the overall dramatic effect. That is to say, those who could not win Carmen’s heart had weaker voices than Don Jose, whose voice rung in the theater and overpowered Carmen’s.

Carmen; credits to

Throughout the opera, the director constantly used this technique to depict the stronger character. Another instance was when Micaela, played by Kate Royal, wanted to take Don Jose away from the world of gypsies. A soprano, Micaela sang her aria with a sweet, high-pitched voice; this is paralleled to her thoughtful and loyal personality. On the other hand, Carmen, a weaker mezzo-soprano by Act III, still sounds fierce and more prominent.

Although the technique was useful in emphasizing the overall dramatic effect of the opera, the ending did not have the same positive effect. Though Carmen’s death was dramatic, it was also abrupt. It was almost as if someone had ended a song in the middle of an important verse. Yet again, the grandeur of the Metropolitan Opera may have set the standards too high, making this opera’s ending seem a lot weaker than it really is.


It’s interesting to know what each photographer focuses on when it comes to capturing a moment. Although there are basic techniques that everyone commonly follows, each photographer has his or her own style and approach. Because people come from different backgrounds, their perspectives of the same object are different; everyone also has a different definition for “photography.” Alexander Rodchenko realizes that photos are generally taken from “belly button level or from eye level” (Rodchenko 1). He believes that one should take photos from new viewpoints to fully “present a complete impression of the object” (Rodchenko 5). His method of photography is a holistic view of a single object or scene.

On the other hand, Berenice Abbott believes in documenting things she sees, and capturing moments that will leave an impact on those who view her work. It’s important for her to record what is happening at the moment and spreading that to people. I believe this is an effective method of sharing experiences with others because everyone cannot share the same memories. Documenting a moment has a way of changing one’s perspective of what this world is like.

The piece that I really enjoyed reading was “Pictures From Home” by Larry Sultan. This is the most relatable piece because his experiences with photography are so simple and common, yet meaningful. He essentially takes pictures of anything he comes into contact with. However, he ends up disposing these moments because they “aren’t very interesting” (Sultan 49). When he’s taking a photo, he can’t formulate in his mind why he’s taking it. This is significant because it may be his subconscious mind dictating him. Oftentimes, I find that moments are worth capturing, but I can never answer why it’s important.  Ultimately he realizes that he was trying “to stop time…[and] wants [his] parents to live forever” (Sultan 50).

Each photograph is a representation of how people view this world and what they want; it is not simply adjusting the lighting and exposure. As cliche as it may sound, each of these photographers captured photos that have stories that need to be told.

Ambient Light

The available light completely surrounding a subject. Light already existing in an indoor or outdoor setting that is not caused by any illumination supplied by the photographer.


Placement of colors, light and dark masses, or large and small objects in a picture to create harmony and equilibrium.


Too low in contrast. The range in density in a negative or print is too short.


The area between the camera and the principal subject.


The quantity of light allowed to act on a photographic material; a product of the intensity (controlled by the lens opening) and the duration (controlled by the shutter speed or enlarging time) of light striking the film or paper.

Helping Others

“Do you need help?” my neighbor shouted as I was taking plants down from my balcony.

“No. It’s fine! Thank you, though!” I smiled.

Then we talked about how disastrous this storm might be.

“I hope that old tree across the street doesn’t fall.”

“Yeah, me too.”

We were a day away from the arrival of Hurricane Sandy. Everyone in the neighborhood was outdoors securing garbage cans, sweeping leaves that the strong gusts of wind had blown onto their lawns, and, like myself, bringing plants into the house. For the first time, I saw neighbors and pedestrians offering to help each other secure objects. In the back of my mind, I have always viewed New Yorkers as people who would focus on themselves. Typically, everyone is rushing to get from point A to point B that it is difficult to stop and lend a hand. This was the culture that I am used to.

When my neighbors moved in, we only spoke to each other if we left our houses at the same time. Even then, it was a simple, “Good morning,” or “How’s everything?” The conversations never lasted for more than a minute because we were in a hurry to catch the next train. This Saturday evening was the first time we were able to hold a conversation for longer than a minute.

One positive thing about natural disasters in New York City is that people begin to genuinely care about each other more than usual. Friends and family members who have not been in contact for long periods of time are suddenly calling each other to make sure everyone is safe. Even pedestrians who are probably rushing home to their families are willing to stop and help. After this incident, I can finally say that New Yorkers are not as self-centered as we appear to be.

Saving Pets from Hurricane Sandy

In Unison

At the New York City Center, the Fall for Dance Festival comprised of various forms of dancing that appears to be forming one theme: unity.

The first form was Ballet West, which was expected to appear on stage. The peaceful, rhythmic music carried the girls from one side of the stage to the other, as they formed semi-circle after semi-circle. There was a smooth pattern in their adagio choreography. That is, until fast-paced music filled the theater. Unable to synchronize, the ballerinas’ legs formed waves on the stage: one ballerina was kicking up as another was coming down. However, the principals were able to overshadow this through their swift, graceful movements. Eventually, all mistakes were forgiven when the male principal performed a series of fouette turns. Their emotions lie in the controlled body movements and precision, as the music complemented one sauté after another as it lifted ballerinas in unison.

Juxtaposing ballet to modern dance, High Heel Blues, the sequence of this event portrays an element of spontaneity. The singing made it easier for the audience to understand the humor behind the female dancer’s love for shoes. The quick, then slow, movements of the body seemed to control the flow of their emotions, as the female dancer crept along the platform in front of the male dancer, and artistic director, Uri Sands.

The Night Dances piece is different from the others in that it casts off a gloomy feeling into the audience. The performers, dressed in red, drummed a rhythmic tune that echoed in the air with precision. The banging of their drums may have been able to rid the air of fear, keeping their emotions under control. “Red” may have symbolized the blood that spilled into the air along with the notes. This dance was based on the emotions of people who were affected by the earthquake in Indonesia in 2009. The circles they formed on stage were a representation of unity at times of grief.

Nan-Jombang, picture credits to

The final set of folk dances of the night was a combination of Russian pieces, collectively named Moiseyev’s Classics. Each dance was a depiction of their lifestyles in different places of Russia. Their gypsies’ dances differed in terms of music. Some were fast-paced while others were slow and elegant. However, there was a connection between each style of dancing. Every performer wore a colorful costume, plastered smiles and moved in unison on stage.

Moiseyev Dance Company in “Suite of Moldavian Dances.” Photograph by E.Masalkov

This idea of unity connects the various forms of dances into one event. Different genres, whether it is folk dance, modern dance or ballet, emphasize the importance of unity as a form of power. These dances are powerful because dancers moved in unison to convey each emotion.

Shifting Forms

Many choreographers look at the past when they are searching for inspiration; Loie Fuller became Jody Sperling’s inspiration. This was surprising because the Serpentine Dance, developed by Loie Fuller, is a very modern form of dance. This was a learning experience for me because I have never heard of this form of dance. She had presented Fuller’s background and the development of the dance with a sense of excitement and familiarity.

She was able to describe various aspects of Fuller’s performance, from costume to effects. It turns out that the skirts worn by Fuller were made from layers upon layers of silk. Though burdened by the weight of the cloth, she was able to move swiftly to the rhythm of the music. Not only is the Serpentine Dance innovative, the colors projected onto her skirt were constantly changing. This creates an additional effect on top of the spiraling patterns from the movement of the skirt. Sperling explained that filmmakers had to paint each shot when they broadcasted Fuller’s performances during the black-and-white film era.

Jody Sperling

Sperling’s passion for dancing the Serpentine Dance was even more evident when she played recordings of her performances. Her explanations of each setting proved that she is experienced in this field. In one of her videos, she explained that she had to stand on a platform with various-colored light inside, so that the same effect can be replicated. From her videos, one can observe that Sperling has incorporated the basic elements of Fuller’s Serpentine Dance into her own, creating a new style. In the video’s shown, Fuller’s original version of the dance was paced quicker, while Sperling’s choreography were more elegant. Nonetheless, this presentation has taught me that it can be difficult for this form of dancing to gain the audience’s approval.

Not only is Sperling a choreographer and dancer, but she is also an entrepreneur. As the owner of Time Lapse Dance, she has various fundraising plans to earn money for performances of this form of dance, such as wine-tasting events. As she explained during her presentation, many dancers want to own a company and perform, but it is difficult to maintain and continuously apply for dance funds. From Jody Sperling, I learned that with passion came dedication and determination.

Language Barrier

Over the summer, I traveled to the west coast for the first time. Before I boarded the plane, I had my worries. Are people going to be nice to tourists? Will hotel rooms be comfortable? Am I going to have fun during my stay? All of these questions crossed my mind at one point or another. Except I never thought that I would have to ask myself this question: Will there be a language barrier?

Growing up in New York City, I didn’t think that I have an accent because everyone around me spoke the same way. My friends and I understand each other even though we come from different parts of NYC. However, when I held conversations with local people in California, I immediately sensed a difference in our cultures.

I was walking down a street in Downtown L.A. when I saw a group of teenage girls walking towards me.

“Hey. Excuse? Where’d you guys get your bubble tea?” I asked them. (This may have sounded like: Where’dju guys getjour bubble tea?)

They looked around, thinking that I was speaking to a group of men behind them. I realized that I had used “you guys” when I was referring to a group of girls (something very common in New York), and quickly changed my question. “Sorry. I meant to ask, where can I get bubble tea?”

One of the finally asked, “What’s bubble tea?”

At this point, I was very confused. “What you’re drinking,” I said, pointing at his drink.

“This isn’t bubble tea. Its called Boba!” she chuckled, pointing me to the shop.

I felt my face burning on the spot. Throughout the entire trip, I had tried to avoid acting like a tourist. This 2-minute conversation had ruined that. After that day, I realized that “bubble tea” was a term used solely by New Yorkers. Terms that I used often, like “you guys” (referring to a group of people) and “whatjuwannado” (fast way to say “what do you want to do?”), are, in reality, esoteric. Needless to say, I was glad to be back in New York after my brief vacation in California because people can understand me here.

There is no language barrier between New Yorkers because we’re all experiencing the same culture. However, this culture had formulated an English accent, one that only New York residents would understand. The combining of words into one word and casual terms used to describe groups of people all formed the New York accent. Stepping out of the city, I was a tourist who spoke English with this accent.

Here is a link to more terms New Yorkers use.

“Train Driver” Review

“There are no white people sleeping here,” Simon Hanabe (Leon Addison Brown) exclaims, “Only black people.” Athol Fugard, the playwright and director of The Train Driver plays with a notion of redemption and has the audience anticipating every word of the dialogue.

When I first stepped into the theater at Pershing Square Signature Center, the play’s setting amazed me. Knowing the story behind the play, I did not picture the set to be covered with sand. It looked like a combination of a landfill and a desert. The seats are also situated in a way where the audience can almost touch the grains of sand in front of us. “How is this setting related to the story?” I wondered to myself. Similar questions continued to cross my mind before the lights in the room were dimmed.

There are only two characters. Each representing a culture that is fated to collide with each other.  Roelf Visagie (Ritchie Coster), a South African man who comes from a culture where the deceased have crosses on their labeled graves, and Simon Hanabe, another African man whose people steal wooden crosses from the graves with no name to make fire. Fugard juxtaposes the two characters to portray the disparities between the mindsets and imbalanced privileges of one African man from another; Apartheid had segregated the colored from the white men in the 1950s. Sleeping in a hut, Simon is wearing a thin set of clothes with multiple holes, whereas Roelf has a t-shirt, jacket and a pair of pants to keep him warm from the cold winters. There are multiple effects during this part of the play. The lights grow dimmer to reveal a shift from day to night and sounds of whirling winds can be heard. I shivered from the cold air, as if I was also in the frayed hut with Roelf and Simon.

This was not the only instance when my emotions changed along with the actors’. When Roelf cursed about the struggles he had to go through, I, too, wanted to curse with him. His voice grows louder when he recounts the conversations he had with his wife; his wife had told him that the accident was not his fault. His voice lowers to an almost inaudible volume when he expresses his regret for being behind the train when it ran over the woman and her two children. The audience can hear the frustration behind his accent even if his words were incomprehensible. Fugard is amplifying the differences between the human mind and conscience with the rise and fall of the actors’ voices. This enhances the captivating qualities of The Train Driver.

Sitting in the theater, I felt as if I was the one searching for a way to redeem myself. I had almost wanted to shout with Roelf,  “I’m not looking for white people. It is black people I am looking for.” Throughout this play, Fugard utilizes the audience’s various senses so that we can experience the South African man’s journey to redemption and the colored African’s living condition. The encountering of the two different cultures reveals the conflicted feelings that many of Simon’s people may have felt during the Apartheid era. It also reveals the perspective of South African men who may have benefited from the Apartheid, but felt guilty about the privileges that were given to them. Whether Roelf was able to redeem himself in the end is questionable because the ending left many questions unanswered. However, this may represent the South African men’s unredeemable sense of guilt from the Apartheid era. The unresolved ending has convinced me to want to watch other versions of the same play; I may be able to find clues to answer the various questions.

Signature Theater

Marriage Customs

I was reading Tereus, Procne, and Philomela in Metamorphoses by Ovid, which inspired me to research different cultures’ ways of sustaining a marriage. This Roman myth focuses on the failure of Tereus and Procne’s marriage. Some interpreters believe that this happened because they did not have proper wedding rituals, which is one with the presence of Juno, the goddess of marriage. I also stumbled upon an article related to the superstitions of marriage, titled “Wedding Superstitions from Around the World.” This article basically points out the various cultures that people have adopted as part of their wedding ceremony.

I find this topic interesting because of the unique superstitions that cultures have when it comes to a wedding ceremony. For the Romans, it was the blessing of gods. For couples in Finland, they believe that a lit match will sustain their marriage. For Chinese people, they go to monks, fortunetellers and the calendar to search for the day and hour that will bring fortune to the marriage. For Swedish families, mothers place a gold coin into the brides’ right shoe and fathers place a silver coin into the brides’ left shoe. These are just some of the examples that cultures have adapted throughout the years.

Many of these customs have little, if any, proof that they’ll keep a marriage intact. However, they’re able to give people the confidence that their love for their spouse will, in fact, last forever. It’s fascinating how people have faith in these superstitions, and they seem to be effective when compared to other cultures that may not have these customs. From the graph, the U.S. has the highest divorce rates. If these superstitious customs are adopted, is there a chance that the number might decrease?


Collage Proposal

The theme of my collage will be, “Body Language.” I see body gestures as a universal language where people are not separated because of language barriers. Simple gestures are able to convey emotions and ideas effectively. These gestures are also connected to the subconscious mind, whereas words are able to conceal one’s true emotions. I also see it as a form of art. The spoken language is often decorated with adjectives, nouns, verbs, adverbs, etc. Words are stringed together to form a complex idea. However, body language portrays only the most fundamental ideas. When two people with different cultural backgrounds meet, I believe the first form of communication will be through body language.

For this collage, I will be making a digital collage with pictures of various gestures and descriptions of what these gestures imply. I will be doing research on the connection between body language and the subconscious mind. I’ll also be taking pictures around NYC’s neighborhoods where cultures are constantly clashing. Some of the most obvious body gestures are evident when people come across a new culture for the first time. I will be capturing these emotions and natural body gestures. Together, the collage will depict a culture of unspoken words.


I think it’s impossible to say who I am exactly because people are changing constantly. Whether it’s a new experience, a new article I find on the Internet, or a person I meet recently, all of these little things will have an impact on me one way or another. I like to think of myself as a filter. Whenever people tell me about their new experiences and what they could have done to improve them, I would learn from their mistakes. I’m also constantly filtering out flaws in the things I do, and then searching for ways to fix these flaws.

In a couple of words, I may be a perfectionist to some and a determined person to others. I always want to excel in the things I do, and picking out flaws is the first step to improving. For example, it took me many months to learn how to play “Croatian Rhapsody” by Maksim Mrvica, on the piano. I didn’t have a piano instructor at the time so I had to depend on what I learned in the past in order to play this tune. From merely figuring out the major to finding the notes to each chord, I spent hours in front of the piano every weekend. Originally, I thought I would only have to spend a weekend searching for each chord. However, one weekend turned into one month, and this was just the first step. I still had to figure out the style of the music, and perfect the transition between each chord. This is an everlasting process, just like how defining myself is. Sitting in front of a piano and practicing a piece for hours at a time can be tedious at times. Giving up always seems like the easier option. However, playing the piano has taught me that determination does pay off in the end. I enjoy the feeling of satisfaction I get when I’m able to play one piece with the correct style and notes.

I can always improve on a technique I use when I’m playing this piece, just like how I can be improving a part of my personality as society’s standards change. I’m constantly learning from my mistakes and improving. The ultimate goal is not to be a perfectionist, but rather, to be proud of what I do.

So who am I? A girl who is trying to search for an answer to this question because my answer changes constantly.

Here’s a video of “Croatian Rhapsody” performed Live by Maksim Mrvica
[iframe width=”640″ height=”480″ src=”″ frameborder=”0″ allowfullscreen></iframe]


I remember watching a movie next to my parents called, “I Not Stupid,” a Singaporean movie based on their educational system. Although the movie included aspects such as poverty, education, and social class, their method of discipline is what stands out and remains in my memory until today. Children were beaten because they could not achieve their parents’ expectations (i.e. high grades). They were separated into classes based on their intelligence. Also, other parents would encourage their children not to speak to those who were in a  “more stupid” class. There was almost no way out of this system. All resources were allocated to students who the government believed would be able to excel in the future. Whenever these children were standing up for themselves, others saw it as defying authority, which resulted in more punishment. As I sat through this movie, I could not help but cry every time a mother pulled out her stick and repeatedly lashed her child’s hand because he did not obey her. I winced every time the stick came down, almost as if I was experiencing the same pain. Whip! Whip! The sound of the stick replayed in my head. I felt bad for the children behind the screen because they were punished for not accomplishing what society wanted them to accomplish.

From time to time, my parents would remind me that I am lucky for being able to grow up in America, where there are laws against child abuse.  They would say, “If you were in China, you would be beaten by now. Not only would your parents be beating you, your teachers would also be beating you.” They wore frowns as they told me this, a clue that they were probably speaking from personal experience.

Discipline has taken so many forms throughout various cultures. In U.S., children are encouraged when they do poorly in an academic subject and rewarded when they excel in a topic. Generally, there are no consequences when people question the authority. In China and Singapore, children are beaten for not being able to understand a certain topic. They are also beaten for not obeying the authority. (In this movie, the authority would be the teachers and parents.) This makes me wonder, if success is the ultimate goal, does their form of discipline hinder or assist a child from achieving this goal?


A synopsis of the movie can be found here:

Two Speedy Cultures

BEEEEP! I glanced at the speedometer, which read 60 mph. I felt dirty looks on me as drivers raced past the car. Sixty miles per hour was right below speed limit, I thought to myself. Why are these people horning? I was very confused. However, I did not have enough time to contemplate the matter any further. “Drive half mile and exit at Santa Ana South,” my GPS announced. Taking a quick look, my mom changed to the right again and again. “Six, five, four, three, two, one,” I slowly counted the number of lanes we still had to cut before we were in exit lane. A dimly lit lane appeared and the car drove down it. “Preparing to reroute,” the GPS declared almost too clearly- a dreaded moment that occurred for the fifth time that night. We were lost. Again.

I was under the impression that New York City would not be too different when compared to Los Angeles because NYC was also a fast-paced city. This is not true! Because people need to drive everywhere they go, California has designed freeways with seven lanes; whereas NYC has an average of four. Multiple signs line up side by side while more signs are posted next to the highway. How are these drivers able to choose a route when they are driving at 70 miles per hour? California is very different compared to New York in that driving has become second nature to residents. In NYC, a person is able to navigate everywhere within the city with the metro system, which runs all day. I had difficulty wrapping my mind around the idea that cars have become a necessity in some cultures. How would someone without a driver’s license navigate around the city? How difficult is it to find parking spaces in a city where every family owns a car? These questions remain unanswered. After this trip, I appreciated the metro system in NYC a lot more. I cannot imagine a day going by without having to run to the train station to catch the next train that will bring me to a new neighborhood in the city.

Critical Terms

  1. melodrama: a play, film, etc, characterized by extravagant action and emotion
  2. dramatic irony: irony that is inherent in speeches or a situation of a drama and is understood by the audience but not grasped by the characters in the play.
  3. Conflict: a state of opposition between ideas, interests, etc; disagreement or controversy
  4. Dialogue: conversation between two or more people
  5. Monologue: a long speech made by one actor in a play, film, etc, esp when alone

Cultural Encounter

My friends and I were walking around in the city, scouting for a new cuisine to try. When we approached Union Square, we found a restaurant with a bright, red sign that shouted, “Spice” at us. Immediately, we knew that this was the place. Spicy food isn’t something we eat on a daily basis, but it does leave an unforgettable taste in our mouths. After further research, we learned that we were standing in front of a Thai restaurant, a rare restaurant to come across in our neighborhood.  I walked into a dark, but loud room. The ambiance was very comfortable and relaxing. Women in woven, silky vests approached us and brought us to our table.

I ordered Pad Thai and Thai Iced Milk Tea. The combination of the two orders complemented each other. My first sip of the milk tea reminded me of the milk tea I make myself. However, simultaneously, there was an additional flavor that made the drink very unique and tasty. Then, I dug my fork into the pile of noodles, in hopes of scooping all the different ingredients at the same time. There were chicken, eggs, peanuts, bean sprouts, bean curd and scallion. The sauce used in this dish had a mild spicy flavor; it did not overpower the flavor of the other ingredients, but it was still noticeable. The combination of the ingredients reminds me of dishes that I would normally eat; yet, there is a distinctive taste that separates Chinese food from Thai food.

My experience at this Thai restaurant made me want to try new cuisines in the city. At the same time, I’m definitely coming back to this restaurant for more food.

Comments by Melody Mark

"It's interesting to know that sweets was what connected you and your best friend. Although you may have lived in different areas, it's comforting to know that sweets will be very similar everywhere you go. Whenever I travel to a new area, I'm always looking for food that would remind me of NYC, or anything familiar. Just looking at your photos makes me want to eat sweets right now. Also, I like how your post is very personal. Thank you for sharing your story!"
--( posted on Dec 9, 2012, commenting on the post About our sweets )
"I like how you travelled to Canarsie to personally look at this neighborhood. Also, I think it's very natural for people to want to live in an area with people of their own race. Seeing the cultural differences may intimidate some people, leading them to move out of these neighborhoods."
--( posted on Dec 9, 2012, commenting on the post White Flight )
"Southern hospitality is definitely strange for New Yorkers. I went to Tennessee a few months ago, and I had a similar experience. Like what you said, people there are very nice and willing to talk to you. Besides the spontaneous greets, people in Tennessee would apologize for the smallest things, or for things that we, as New Yorkers, would not apologize for. I remember that I was waiting in line to purchase something, and the man in front of me, who was paying, turned around and said "sorry" because he thought he was taking too long. It would be nice if people in NYC could adapt this attitude too."
--( posted on Dec 9, 2012, commenting on the post Encountering a Southern Attitude )
"I enjoyed reading this post because you included so many elements of NYC in one post. From retail stores to celebrities, NYC is definitely full of excitement and constantly changing. When I'm bored, I find myself aimlessly walking around in the city also. There are so many things going on in NYC and it is really up to us to go out and explore."
--( posted on Dec 2, 2012, commenting on the post The Big Apple )
"I like how you analyzed the methods other governments use to punish criminals. It is unfortunate that some governments find this form of punishment effective. A criminal can be punished in so many forms, yet they choose to use this method. Other than embarrassing the criminal, I think public caning also serves as a warning for other civilians."
--( posted on Dec 2, 2012, commenting on the post Caning )
"I really like how you decided to focus on the MTA system to show how "the city never sleeps." When I hear people talking about this phrase, they are often referring to Times Square, Herald Square and other tourist attractions. However, you decided to focus on the fundamental transportation system that NYC functions on. This post also reminded me of all the times when I would hear sanitation workers picking up garbage in the middle of the night. It's difficult to imagine what the city would be like if these people were not awake when everyone else is sleeping at home."
--( posted on Dec 2, 2012, commenting on the post Private: The City That Never Sleeps )
"It was definitely unsafe to be Trick-or-treating after what the hurricane did to so many neighborhoods. However, I understand why children would want to still celebrate Halloween. It's a holiday that they look forward to every year, so it must have been disappointing when they found out that the weather did not permit them to leave their houses."
--( posted on Nov 8, 2012, commenting on the post Hurricane vs Halloween )
"This post is very relatable because I would go through the same thought process. Every time my friends and I celebrate special occasions, we would worry about the price of the food and opt for the cheaper cuisine. However, at the last moment, someone will always decide that the more expensive food was tastier and that it was more important for us to be able to enjoy the celebration than to save money. My friends and I never seem to learn from our experiences. Instead, we convince ourselves that everything was worth it. Adding onto what Professor Bernstein mentioned, I believe that one has to compare the opportunity cost and benefit when choosing one cuisine over another."
--( posted on Nov 8, 2012, commenting on the post An Italian Birthday )
"I really like how you decided to bring up this part of Korean culture. The greeting etiquette in Korea is definitely different from that of Chinese customs. I have noticed that customs are constantly being simplified or altered. Sometimes I wonder if these practices will live on when you mentioned the Americanized parents. Will the younger generations continue to use the same bowing techniques, or will they simply wave, "Hello?""
--( posted on Nov 8, 2012, commenting on the post Private: Learning The Bowing Etiquette )
"This post reminds me of this conversation my boss had with her customer. One spoke Cantonese while the other spoke Mandarin. Both of them tried to accommodate with each other, and they ended up mixing Cantonese and Mandarin in each sentence. It was similar to how I might mix English and Chinese. I think you pointed out an important point in your post when you mentioned that "they still have bits and pieces that are very similar to each other." Even though there are so many dialects in the Chinese language, I find it interesting that we still try to find short phrases that resemble our own dialects. This also stresses how much effort humans put into communicating with each other."
--( posted on Oct 29, 2012, commenting on the post Cultural Encounter )
"My parents essentially tell me the same thing. They are always saying, "I was able to cook for my family when I was ten." Or, "When I was your age, I had to earn money for food." I agree with Nancy's comment. Standards and expectations have changed since there are more opportunities today to succeed. Resources are also easily accessible. Living in a society where there are public education and medicaid, we are indeed spoon-fed the fundamental things we need to survive. After further thought, I believe this is our parents way of telling us not to take the things we have for granted."
--( posted on Oct 28, 2012, commenting on the post At My Age )
"Some questions that I cannot answer are: Does Roelf truly redeem himself in the end? Did Fugard intend to imply that "death" is the only solution, or was it his way to end the train driver's search for the bodies, and ultimately, redemption? From the ending of the play, I am assuming that South African men never truly find redemption because Apartheid had left such a big impact on African men at the time."
--( posted on Oct 12, 2012, commenting on the post “Train Driver” Review )
"After reading this post, I realized that this happens to me too. I think there is a misconception that all Chinatowns in NYC are similar, if not the same. However, I definitely agree with you when you mentioned that there is a difference between Flushing and Chinatown. I find that the one in Manhattan has retained a traditional Chinese style, where one has to go from one store to another in order to buy everything the person needs. On the other hand, Chinatowns in Flushing, 8th Avenue (in Brooklyn) and even Avenue U (in Brooklyn) all have supermarkets that allow for more convenient shopping experiences. Sometimes, modernization gives people what they need in a shorter period of time. Other times, people can still benefit from experiencing the traditional style."
--( posted on Oct 12, 2012, commenting on the post Private: A Culture, Re-Encountered )
"I think one of the factors that led to the mindset you proposed is the fact that we live in New York City, known for being a fashionable city. People here are expected to follow the latest trends and to spread this culture, or religion, as you call it. After reading your post, I see this as a form of peer pressure. Although consequences are minimal, it seems to me that people are pressured to have and pursue these materialistic desires. I'm not trying to say that one should not own a pair of jeans; I actually think jeans are very comfortable. However, I'm glad that you brought up this issue."
--( posted on Oct 11, 2012, commenting on the post A Pair of Jeans )
"I agree with Wesley's comment. Since Stuyvesant is so close to Zucotti Park, I was able to learn more about the movement and actually witness the living conditions people stayed in. Unfortunately, organized activity is not easily achieved, and this was definitely evident during my visit, and possibly yours. However, in my opinion, these strikers are commendable because they are able to express their beliefs and the problems they have to face in a faulty economic system."
--( posted on Oct 11, 2012, commenting on the post Occupy Wall Street )
"I think that it's interesting that you compared Times Square to an amusement park. Now that you mention it, the two do hold some sort of resemblance. Whenever I'm in Times Square, I tend to speed-walk through the sea of people, weaving in and out. It's actually fun! I really like the environment Times Square creates; as cliche as it sounds, it's like a city that doesn't sleep. The neon lights are able to illuminate the streets in a way that I don't realize that I'm actually there late at night. I definitely agree with Isabel's comment. Not many people will think about apologizing if they're in your way."
--( posted on Sep 30, 2012, commenting on the post Times Square )
"I really like this post because I was in a similar situation many times in the past. Going out of my comfort zone to try something unfamiliar has also been challenging for me. Before, I, similar to you, would try to avoid food that I don't like altogether even though it may taste good in a different recipe. However, I am learning to step outside of my comfort zone to accept new cuisines. I'm really glad that you decided to try the carrot soup!"
--( posted on Sep 30, 2012, commenting on the post Private: Cream of Carrot Soup )
"Smoking is one of greatest difference between Chinese and American culture. You have definitely highlighted this difference through the description of your experience. I think that Americans are more aware of the aftermath of smoking because media portrays it as a horrible act. Although I have never visited China, it doesn't seem like Chinese people are aware of the consequences that come along with first and second-hand smoking. Similar to the people sitting in this restaurant, I used to think that second-hand smoking was normal when I was a little girl. However, I am really glad you wrote this post because you reminded me how clean air should be smoke-free."
--( posted on Sep 18, 2012, commenting on the post Private: Cultural Encounter )
"I agree with previous comments. This post is really funny! It's interesting how a phrase in one language can have a meaning in an entirely different language. I have also noticed this occurring often when I'm communicating in Chinese with friends who are not as fluent in the language. It's frustrating, yet hilarious, when they mistaken my words for a different meaning. Thank you for writing this post. Now I'll be more conscious if I ever use those words in a conversation with someone who doesn't understand Chinese well."
--( posted on Sep 18, 2012, commenting on the post THE Word )
"I find it intriguing that you compose music because I have never met someone my age who composes music. Also, I can tell that you have a strong passion for music from different cultures. I have also attempted to watch Japanese and Korean dramas, but I always end up being frustrated because I have to depend on subtitles to understand them. This is why I am very impressed by the fact that you are able to connect with these cultures even though you don't speak the language. Finally, I hope you publish your music here!"
--( posted on Aug 30, 2012, commenting on the post My Culture– My style )
"I have always wondered how people would perceive New York City. I am really glad that you wrote this post. Also, I agree with you when you mentioned that you felt "a sense of loneliness" even though there are millions of people in this city. When I am walking down the bustling streets, I often feel excluded. As a result, I am always on a mission to find a familiar face. Generally, people in NYC move from point A to point B, with a goal in mind. Rarely will anyone stop because NYC is very fast-paced. However, I am sure that you'll be able to adapt to this new environment soon enough. Wish you the best of luck!"
--( posted on Aug 30, 2012, commenting on the post Far from Home. )