Archive for October, 2008

Post #15: Response to “The Woman Warrior at 30″

October 27, 2008

An excerpt from The Woman Warrior at 30″ by Jess Row:

…the most remarkable, and often overlooked, quality of The Woman Warrior is that it is a book without a genre. At various times it has been described as a memoir, an autobiography, a novel, a manifesto; yet anyone who spends 10 minutes with it understands that none of these labels really apply. Not because Kingston sets out to exaggerate the “facts” of her own experience, à la James Frey, but because she deliberately acknowledges that to write autobiography is to stand at the borderline between memory and invention. Like the “ghosts” in its subtitle (the word refers to the white Americans around whom Kingston grew up in Sacramento),The Woman Warrior stubbornly refuses to be either entirely fictive or entirely real. Perhaps the second most remarkable thing about the book is that in its wake, the American literary world still seems to regard the tissue-thin boundary between memoir and fiction as absolute and inviolable.


From the first two chapters of the novel,  The Woman Warrior, it is evident that the writing style of Kingston is peculiar. As stated above, “it has been described as a memoir, an autobiography, a novel, a manifesto.” Throughout the first two chapters, Kingston switches from telling readers about her own experience, making up stories, and speculating things. The writing sometimes is fictional but sometimes nonfictional. 

Despite the fact that the writing style changes throughout the first two chapters, Kingston successfully gets her messages across to her readers about the Chinese culture. For example, she tells the readers that girls are unwanted through her speculations in the first chapter and also through the description of the Chinese emigrants in America.  

In a way, though, this writing style makes it more confusing for readers to catch up and follow what goes on in the story; however, each and everyone of these writing styles are interesting. 


Woman Warrior

Woman Warrior


Post #14: Response to “44% of Korean Ivy League Students Quit Course Halfway”

October 27, 2008

“44% of Korean Ivy League Students Quit Course Halfway”

By: Park Si-soo

Forty-four percent of Korean students at top American universities give up their studies halfway through.

This data is contained in Samuel S. Kim’s doctoral dissertation “First and Second Generation Conflict in Education of the Asian American Community” delivered at Columbia University Friday. 

The drop out rate is much higher than 34 percent of American, 25 percent of Chinese and 21 percent of Indian students. 

The results come from tracking 1,400 Korean students registered at 14 top American universities – Harvard, Yale, Cornell, Columbia, Stanford, UC Berkeley, UC Davis, Amherst College, Duke, Georgetown, Brown, Dartmouth, Pennsylvania and Princeton – between 1985 and 2007. 

As of 2007, 62,392 Korean students were taking undergraduate or graduate courses in America schools, accounting for 10.7 percent of all foreign students in the country, said the Institute of International Education, a non-profit organization. 

By the numbers, it is the third largest following those from India and China, with populations more than 20 times that of Korea. 

For instance, Harvard University has 37 Korean undergraduates, the third largest behind Canada and Britain. Harvard, Yale and Princeton have a total of 103 Korean undergraduates between them. 

Kim said in the thesis that such a high dropout rate is largely attributable to Korean parents forcing their children to study rather than participate in extracurricular activities, an essential part of overseas education for foreign students to acclimate themselves to American society and get a good job in the long run. 

According to the thesis, Korean students consume 75 percent of their time available for studying, while they allocate only 25 percent to extracurricular activities such as community service. 

In contrast, American students and those from other countries tend to equally share their time for both study and other activities. 

He said the Korean mindset regarding education kept Korean students from moving into the American mainstream, citing statistics that of high-ranking officers at World’s top 500 enterprises selected by American business magazine Fortune, merely 0.3 percent are Korean, compared with Indians at 10 percent and Chinese with 5 percent. 

“I saw many Korean students in America isolated from the local community due to their study-concentrated way of life,” Kim said in an interview with The Korea Daily, a Korean-language newspaper published in the U.S. “They should abandon what they were familiar with in Korea to succeed in America.”

1. What does Kim say is the most likely explanation for the high dropout rate among Koreans?

Kim says that rigorous studying habits are the most likely explanation for the high dropout rates among Koreans. In the article, Kim states that the Korean culture, to which the Korean students are accustomed to, is focused too much on studying. He says that many Koreans drop out of college because they cannot adjust to the American way of life in which students spend half their time on extracurricular activities. 

2. How does the dropout rate among Koreans compare to the dropout rate among other groups?

The dropout rate among Koreans much higher than the dropout rate among other groups according to this article. Kim states that 44% of Korean students dropout while 34% of American students, 25 % of Chinese students, and 21% of Indian students drop out. 

3. What are you currently doing to increase your own college readiness? Is there anything you think you should do before you graduate from high school to be better prepared for university?

Currently, I am doing many things to increase my college readiness. I believe at college, students will spend time studying as well as playing. Right now, I try to divide the time I use to play and the time I use to study so that I will be prepared to play and work at the same time when I go to college. Not only this, but I am starting to depend less on school teachers to learn things. I think at college, professors will be too busy teaching to help me when I need help. To prepare for such situations, I try to study on my own and read the textbook or information from other sources if I do not understand what goes on in class. I also started talking to unfamiliar people because I believe that at college everyone will be new to me because of the big number of people there. Through this, I think I am preparing myself to make friends in an environment where I don’t know anyone. Last but not least, to increase my own college readiness I have went to a summer program at a college in the states. I believe that through this experience I realized what it would be like to be a college student and learned a bit more about what I would have to do at college.

I believe that before I graduate from high school I should start learning how to talk to my teachers to be better prepared for university. I think that at university the professors will be hard to approach so if I don’t start talking to my teachers who are easier to approach, I’ll never be able to talk to my professors when I need help.

Post #13: Diaspora : Spread

October 12, 2008






Diaspora in Things Fall Apart

·    Church: When the white missionaries came in, many of the Ibo were opposed to the church. However, there was a minority that was in favor of it. The osu, the outcasts in the Ibo society, finally found a place where they were welcomed and accepted. The church, unlike the Ibo society had accepted these people. People, other than the osus, who joined the church protested the presence of the osus, so the church had to force the osus to shave their hair off. Not only this, but people like Nwoye and others who went against the Ibo traditions found something to believe in and found a source of answers to their questions at the church. Although the church had a positive influence on the osus, many of the Ibo were opposed to the church and its teachings. People like Okwonko felt offended by the white missionaries. The church negatively influenced some people like Okwonko, getting them to become more violent, fighting against the church.

·    Courts: The egwugus were originally in charge of keeping peace and justice through the lands. They never seemed to make harsh decisions and ruled quite leniently. For example, when the husband and wife came in with a problem, the egwugus told them to try living together again and so on. The people were not punished severely. However, when the white people came in, the court system and ruling system they set up was harsh and strict. Just because the the Ibo men, including Okwonko burned down the church, the men were whipped, tortured, and required to pay a fine. Not only this, but killing someone in Ibo society was forgiven through exile or payment. However, the white people believed that it was unacceptable to kill others. For example, at the end of the story when Okwonko had killed a white messenger, the white people came after him to kill him. In short, the new courts were strict and had more influence over the people. If the power was used in an accurate and just way, it would have kept order and kept the people organized. Despite this fact, because the idea of punishment and strict rules were unfamiliar to the Ibo, they had trouble adapting to it, and many people despised the white rules and courts by rebelling against the white. 

·    Schools: The Ibo originally passed on their stories and history through oral traditions. However, as the Christian missionaries came in and set up schools, some of the Ibo were educated to read and write. With time, the Ibo would have communicated and passed their stories and history down through reading and writing. This would have made the stories and history more accurate. On the other hand, some of the Ibo protested this new institution, believing that it would take away from their culture and traditions. Although many were against this new institution as it was a “white” thing, no actions were taken against it due to the fact that it was a minor offense against the Ibo culture.

Korean-American Diaspora         

·    Education is a change agent that impacts the Korean-Amerian diaspora. Many Koreans and Korean-Americans are educated to speak English, go to international schools and eventually colleges and universities abroad in english-speaking countries. This causes the younger generation of Koreans to become more “Americanized,” speaking English, disrespecting elders, voicing their opinions, following their dreams, and what not. This change may allow Korean-American students to become more creative thinkers who can go after the things they believe in; I believe it gives students more freedom. Although this is true, I feel like the new generation of Koreans are losing their cultural heritage. Many “Americanized” Korean-Americans no longer respect their elders, believing that everyone is their equal. Not only this, but they do not follow any more traditions like holding spiritual rituals for the dead. 

·    Subways are one of the major contact points that impact the Korean-American diaspora. When Korean-Americans ride the subway and speak english, many of the elders complain telling them that koreans should speak korean. Although this happens, the Korean-Americans continue speaking english. This shows how the gap between the older and more conservative generation and the Korean-Americans is growing.

·    Clothing and products are change agents that impact the Korea-American diaspora. Many Korean-Americans tend to favor American brands of products and clothing and while in Korea look for American brands. On the other hand, Korean people favor Korean products and Korean clothing despite poor quality. The Korean-Americans wear and use different things than the Koreans. This causes Korean-Americans and Koreans to shop and buy different products, creating a bigger gap between the two. 

The Title: Things Fall Apart and Diaspora

  The title of the novel Things Fall Apart comes from the poem by William Butler Yeats’ “The Second Coming.” Both the book and the poem talk about a group of people falling apart and a new beast appearing to make the situation worse. In the book, the group of people falling apart are the Ibo people. As the Ibo people fall apart and lose connections to their ancestors and heritage, the white people come in to make things worse. In the book, the black people who have fallen apart due to white influence struggle. The newer generations of the Ibo people, like Nwoye, start believing in white and Christian philosophy leaving their parents, siblings, and friends behind. From the center of the Ibo, a tightly unified group, things start falling apart throughout the story. Many Ibo people change while others protest and others are indifferent to the whole situation. Because of conflicting views, the Ibo people start to fall apart creating a diaspora. Because this is so, the title of the novel is Things Fall Apart.

Post #12: The Ackee Fruit

October 10, 2008

A case shared with Dr. Sanders:

          A middle-aged man, visiting his family in Jamaica, suddenly felt dizzy and lightheaded after a meal at a restaurant. He excused this discomfort and forgot about it until it happened again and again. Surges of nausea and dizziness came back over and over. He felt that something was weird after it happened a third time. He checked his blood sugar which turned out to be very low. When he finally decided to consult a doctor, the doctors were not able to figure out what was wrong. The man was relatively healthy; he worked out everyday and ate a mostly vegetarian diet. It was not diabetes, his liver was fine, he did not have anemia. It was the Ackee fruit. When eaten in an unripe phase, the ackee fruit gives off chemicals that limit the body’s ability to release its backup supply of glucose when glucose levels are low between meals. Beware of the Ackee.


The Ackee Fruit

The Ackee Fruit

Post #11: A response to: “The Second Coming” by William Yeats

October 3, 2008

 “The Second Coming” (1921)
William Butler Yeats

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the center cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.
Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand;
The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out When a vast image out of Spiritus
Troubles my sight: somewhere in sands of the desert
A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
Reel shadows of the indignant desert birds.
The darkness drops again; but now I know
That twenty centuries
of stony sleep
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?

The Second Coming

The Second Coming

• What is the meaning of the phrase “Things Fall Apart” within Yeats’ poem?
          In Yeats’ poem, the phrase “Things Fall Apart” means that the a certain group of people is falling apart. The group cannot hold together as one and is the people within the group are scattering outwards to follow their own beliefs. For example, the group of people can be a representation of people today. The younger and newer generation and their new beliefs and longings can be what cause things to fall apart by creating a gap between the older and newer generations. The falconer can represent the older generation while the falcon can be represented by the younger generation.
• What does the Second Coming refer to in general?
          In general, the second coming refers to the promised return of Christ on Doomsday, the end of the world.
• What does the Second Coming refer to in Yeats’ poem?
          In Yeats’ poem, the seconding coming refers to the coming of an unwanted force or being, instead of the promised return of Christ. In the poem, the arrival of the “rough best” refers to the second coming which occurs after things falls apart. The sphinx, who was originally asleep, arises.  In the poem, the “rough beast” is portrayed as an ominous force.
• As you read Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe, note how the novel both takes up and changes Yeats’ version of the Second Coming. Who or what in the novel represents a “rough beast” that “slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?”
          The novel, Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe takes up and changes Yeats’ version of the Second Coming. In the novel, Ummofia, an African Civilization is disrupted by the arrival of the Christian missionaries from Europe. In the novel, the white Christian missionaries represent the “rough beast” that “slouches toward Bethlehem to be born” from the poem.