Literacy and Liberty

Instant noodles
Posted by: , November 14, 2018, 9:53 pm
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Instant noodles


Hurried breakfast

Easy breezy lunch

Late late night snack

You name it

Any way, any time

I can never resist myself

From the temptation of

Vietnamese flavoured instant noodles.


It used to be everywhere

As a rather nationwide, ordinary “bowl”

It used to be everywhere

Since the subsidized era, when people didn’t have anything to eat

It used to be everywhere

With its diverse savory and irresistible fragrance.


Because of its prevalence

I never thought one day I would say

“I miss it”

The hot, flavorful broth

The sipping and slurping

The side dishes: eggs, sausages and veggie

The facets that are closer to my true nature:

Being a Vietnamese and enjoying the national “delicacy”.


Three months since I last had my bowl of boiling noodles

Searching high and low

But America cannot offer me the taste

Of my beloved memories

My familiar ambience

My breakfast, lunch and snack

My Vietnamese flavoured instant noodles.

Posted by: , November 14, 2018, 7:19 pm
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Is the key today.

We all grew up getting awards for

Merely showing up to school

And doing our work

Like we were supposed to.

Now, as I grow older,

I feel weak when I

Don’t get a gold star for

Participating in an event

That I don’t care about.

We all participate and

We have been taught that

We should be applauded for

Work we should already be doing.

My Last Season
Posted by: , November 14, 2018, 4:49 pm
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This was going to be it.

There would never be a season like this one again.

Because this year we had made it the district championships

after playing against the best teams in the state.

Realizing if we didn’t give it our all it would be the

end of an era we had been a part of for six years.

Because this was a team of my closest friends,

And we been competing together for as long as we could remember.

All the time together in the weight room, at practice, in film,

On the bus, and off the field. It had all been for this moment.

Because I wanted to win,

Not just for myself, but for my friends, my teammates, and my coaches.

If this game was going to be my last, how I could walk away a loser? How could

I have played my last game letting everyone down?

Because this was my last season,

And we all deserved to go out as winners.

And when that final buzzer sounded in the stadium, we had lost.

But I didn’t feel the extreme sadness and grief I had expected.

Because feeling sorry for myself was selfish, and my boys deserved more.

Because this was my team, and we had given it our all.

Specialized Vocabulary: On Agriculture and Other Things
Posted by: , November 14, 2018, 4:37 pm
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There are farms on four sides of my house, four sides of my school, two on either side of every road,
endless rows of crops, the sea come to land.
Every year we plant the tiny garden, seeding the plot,
tomatoes we will steal off the vines as we play,
the soles of our feet blackened with earth.
We seed the same tomatoes over the kitchen table,
globs of gelatinous matter on paper towels.
When the first one of us is drawn away,
Teased out by social expectations and a desire for something ‘more,’
(something money)
we continue, every spring as the sun sets, to sit around the table,
the produce pile conspicuously bigger without one more person.
Two, three, four, all follow one to bigger things than
the seeded garden plot, row upon dying row,
and we sit, in an empty home,
surrounded by the guts of a life that didn’t need to be improved,
and we seed the tomatoes and it takes long long long
without them here.
It is quiet in the garden where we played and the fields,
with slow surety,
are replaced by fierce warehouses,
sown into the ground by angry men who grind tobacco between their teeth,
cursing wages and corporations
doing nothing about it but hurting the fields.
So they spew black disease into the sky
and the stars disappear into a northern pink haze
and I seed the tomatoes silently.

Something about cameras I think
Posted by: , November 14, 2018, 4:10 pm
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Note: This is not a good poem

Shutters close and open more quickly

Than my eyes do when they blink,

Taking in the image before the lens

And forcing it to stay there forever,


Shutters are pulled closed

When the forecast calls for rain

Stopping the storm

From causing any damage to the inside,


And my lens adjusts,

Focusing on what is left;

On what is permanent.

But the photo comes out blurry,

And I shutter when I see it,

Because someone left the negatives on the floor

And forgot to pull in the shutter

And the rain left an ink stain in the middle of the print,


To accept or To tolerate?
Posted by: , November 14, 2018, 3:25 pm
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(note, this is the first poem I’ve written in years)


“I can tolerate those who are different from me” one may say 

Or, “I can accept those who are different from me”. 

When we tolerate, we project the thought of acceptance 

And lose the effect of action. 

When we accept, we project the thought of tolerance 

And add the effect of respect.  

Both tolerance and acceptance are recognized in society 

Yet people fail to differentiate between the two.  


As you tolerate groups you fail to see them as people 

For they are only recognized by their differences. 

As you accept groups you accomplish to see them as people 

For they can be recognized by their differences. 

The two terms are ambiguous 

How do we decide their uses? 


If we promote tolerance 

Then should we tolerate those who refuse to accept? 

If we promote acceptance 

How should we move past tolerance? 

Should we tolerate school shooters? 

Should we accept people who tolerate school shooters? 


Too often, people tolerate crimes against innocent blacks 

Yet, refuse to accept the wrong-doings of the officers. 

Too often, people tolerate mass incarcerations of blacks 

Yet, refuse to accept their innocence.  

In both instances, both tolerance and acceptance 

Are construed to fit the beliefs of the person. 


 Where do we go from here? 

Do we punish those who tolerate? 

Do we punish those who do not accept? 

Or, can we educate on their differences 

And the appropriateness of their uses? 

Or, do we continue to sit in the shadows 

And continue to watch the ignorance of others 

While we refuse to accept our own ignorance 

And fail to educate each other. 











Specialized Vocabularies
Posted by: , November 14, 2018, 1:26 pm
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Throughout high school, my roommates came from all over the place. I had one from the U.A.E., one from New Delhi, one from West Virginia, but the one that I was closest too was my junior year roommate from The Bahamas. I noticed quickly that he always spoke to me in the exact same way all my other friends did, but once he got on the phone with one of his parents, it was like he was almost speaking another language. It wasn’t after hearing this several times that I finally asked him about it. People in the Bahamas speak English, but they speak a dialect of English that eliminates the end of most words that end in vowels and forgoes the verb “to be” in almost every case. Along with that, there were phrases and idioms that I had never heard anyone but him use. It really threw me off the first time he shouted “Mudda sick,” which I eventually figured out meant something along the lines of you’ve gotta be kidding me.

It all seemed kind of novel to me until I went home with him one summer, I might as well have been an elementary schooler learning phrases and new meanings in the language I had always known, I mean who uses the phrase “spry” to mean sprinkling rain?  On my flight home I started thinking about how we think of people native to other countries as frequently switching languages at home and every  and again we remember that African Americans code switch often, but ever since my trip the Bahamas I have been wondering about all of the other versions of English I haven’t heard yet.

Great Britain Feminist Dissent During WWI
Posted by: , November 12, 2018, 6:22 pm
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I am writing my investigative project on Dissent during WWI in Britain. In Britain before WWI, war was thought of as a game, and a great honor. Most citizens believed the war was necessary, to protect the country from ‘barbaric’ Germans. Two of the most famous women dissenters during the war, were Charlotte Despard and Sylvia Pankhurst. Meanwhile, there were powerful men who were conscientious objectors. These dissenters all had turns in jail. I have several questions that I have to narrow down into a focus. I want to understand how the dissent during the war changed people’s minds. Specifically, did the dissent change the narrative of the war effort in the government? Did dissenting opinions reflect the opinions of the public? How did dissenting opinions target the issue? How did dissenting works change people’s minds? How did the dissent influence the narrative after the war? How did the dissent influence different groups of people? What kind of dissent was most effective? I remember one form of dissent that particularly struck me. During the war, there were two options for writing home. Either have your letter censored, and if it’s radical, not sent home, or circle one of a set of options on a pre-written card. One CO who was being taken to be killed for refusing to fight, chose the automatic card, and circled the letters to spell out a message saying where he was.

Investigative Project
Posted by: , November 7, 2018, 10:05 pm
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For my investigative project I want to focus on the education system in Carlisle Area School District, specifically the ways that we teach children to read and the way that (as little as a year later) they’re selected by teachers for participation in the schools’ gifted programs. I’m focusing on it because I have an interest in the ways that some children get pushed out of higher level academic tracking opportunities in public schools (the fact that your parents can pay for you to be tested is problematic) and the class divides that paid academic opportunities encourage. I’m interested in the process of teaching students how to read because it’s something that I have a personal curiosity in as a result of my own rather negative experiences. My questions on that side of things revolve around how quickly we teach kids to read, when we start leveling them off into higher and lower level reading groups, which schools reach state expectations for reading levels and why/ how.

I want to explore these questions on two different fronts (for the two different main questions). For the CASD-specific questions of how children are selected and why, I’m planning on doing a lot of interviewing with school officials and drawing on my own experience and the experiences of other students who either were in or are in the program. For the ‘how we teach kids to read’ question there’s a much more significant body of academic research that I can pull from before maybe sitting in on classes or interviewing teachers.

Investigative Project
Posted by: , November 7, 2018, 5:56 pm
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The internet has completely transformed communication. Ideas can be expressed, spread, and accessed on a global scale, instantaneously. This has allowed for the development of an interconnected and informed global mass. However this is not an inherently good thing, as social networks and internet forums, such as Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube, are discovering. By necessity, some opinions that will be spread on these networks will be perceived as “disagreeable” or even dangerous. “Fake news”, conspiracies, hate speech, calls for violence, and other content which are considered by many to be toxic and divisive, pose a problem for platform providers. In many cases, these platforms choose to address the problem by censoring such content and silencing the voices that spread it.

Unfortunately, it is not always clear what constitutes hateful or extreme rhetoric. The result of this is that many users which simply seek to promote alternative perspectives are being cast in the same lot as those who produce far more radical content. When measures normally intended to stifle extremists are applied to more moderate voices, it is perceived by affected persons and their followers as constituting biased political attacks on their right to free-speech and their ability to participate in the free-market of ideas. This runs counter to the ideals of inclusivity many such internet platforms are based on.

In light of this, we must ask ourselves difficult questions such as, what is free-speech, what constitutes “intolerable” rhetoric, and how far do the protections of the First Amendment go?