Summertime Service

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This is my mom’s classroom right before we get to work putting it together.

Since my mom has been a teacher for over twenty years, I have experienced first-hand all of the work that goes into teaching, both in and out of the classroom. I am well aware of all of the extra work that goes into teaching a few hundred new students each year: planning lessons, grading homework and tests, and an abundance of meetings. I’ve done my fair share of helping my mother with lessons, PowerPoints, grading tests, and sitting in on meetings when I was younger. However, most of my job as a teacher’s child came in at the beginning of the year before my mother’s new students arrive on the first day, and at the end of the year after they’ve gone home for the summer. In order for the school’s janitors to thoroughly clean every room of the school, or to potentially change classrooms, teachers must pack up their rooms at the end of the year so that everything is off the floor and walls, but also be able to put it all back before the students return in August.

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Like Mother Like Daughter

Many people do not realize when I first started seriously considering which college I would attend sometime in middle school, LMU was near the absolute bottom of the list. It wasn’t because there was anything inherently wrong with LMU– I didn’t want to go because that’s where so many people around me figured I would go! They thought this because my mother had recently gone back to school to receive her Ed.S., or Educational Specialist degree, through LMU and I suppose they thought that would make me have a preference for the university. Now that I look back on it, it makes sense why so many people assumed LMU would be one of my top choices, but back then it definitely didn’t make any sense. Every conversation about college eventually brought up my mother’s decision to further her education and the more times people asked if I wanted to go where she chose to go, the more irritated I became.

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While my mother attending LMU had a large and incredibly beneficial impact on where I would eventually go to pursue my own education, at first I wanted to do anything other than follow my mother’s footsteps to college.

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The Fault in Our Blogs

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My whole life has been affected in one way or another by my love for books. As an only child who was rather shy and who didn’t have many friends outside of school, one of my favorite things to do was clean and reorganize the little bookshelf I had in my room. I only had a few dozen books back then but they were my most favorite possessions. Girls my age at the time were obsessed with horses and dolls; I was obsessed with books. I loved to read so much that I quickly figured out how to read and walk at the same time. It seemed like a waste of precious time to simply walk places- I could also squeeze in one more precious page, sentence, or word. Looking back, I think I was always  meant to be an English major!

Certain books stick with me for years after I initially read them and, in some cases, make me want to read them over and over again. Some people do not understand why I choose to read books again before enough time has passed for me to forget what happens so I can be at least a little surprised with the end. I find more in between the pages of a book each time I reread it. I remember what was going on in my life as I was reading a book for the first time when I reread it.  I’ll think to myself, “I was at this part while in the waiting room at the doctor’s office,” or “I finished this book at 2 a.m. on a school night…that may not have been such a good idea.”

I have always struggled between wanting to read a new book I’ve been dying to read for months (maybe years!) or reading a

"Why can't I read seven books at once?"

“Why can’t I read seven books at once?”

TFiOS movie poster with Shailene Woodley as Hazel and Ansel Elgort as Augustus.

TFIOS movie poster with Shailene Woodley as Hazel and Ansel Elgort as Augustus.

book I particularly enjoyed for the second or third time. One of my favorites I have read a handful of times in the past two years is John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars, which has recently been released as a film adaptation and proved to be a box office hit. The Fault in Our Stars, commonly abbreviated to TFIOS by its fans, tells of sixteen-year-old stage IV cancer patient Hazel Grace Lancaster. While attending a weekly support group, Hazel meets Augustus Waters who had a “little touch of osteosarcoma” a year and a half prior to the time of the plot. They almost instantly hit it off and the two of them are left to navigate the two worlds of adolescent romance and the tragedy of cancer simultaneously.

While a great deal of the novel focuses on the growing romantic relationship between Hazel and Augustus, the most profound aspect of Green’s book was the way in which Hazel and Augustus saw and interacted with the world around them.

Warning: Massive TFIOS spoilers lie ahead!

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Malala Yousafzai: The Girl Who Fought for Education

I think I was always born to be in school. Growing up, all I knew was that school was my favorite place to be and, while I enjoyed summers, I counted down the months until August when I could go back. The few times the doctor told my mother I needed to stay home due to sickness was miserable! All I wanted was to go back to what I enjoyed. Having a mother as a teacher must have had a lot to do with why I turned out that way; I loved helping her pack up her classroom at the end of the year and setting it back up at the beginning of a new year. I could not and still cannot imagine myself leading any other life that did not include some kind of education.

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Malala Yousafzai

In my senior year economics class, every morning was dedicated to what important historical event happened that day and important current events. I appreciated learning about the past and what was happening then in the world, but very little topics interested me beyond that. On October 10th, my teacher talked about a teenaged Pakistani girl named Malala Yousafzai who was known for advocating education and women’s rights had been shot in the head by the Taliban the previous day. She frequently blogged about what she believed in and this upset those who disagreed with her. He brought up news clips that discussed the details of the incident and newscasters all over the nation talked about how serious her injuries were. Hearing about the whole thing bothered me all day. I couldn’t believe that a teenager, one who was younger than me, had been met with such brutal force for what she believed in.  Once I had gotten home from school I read all I could about Malala.

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Poetry’s The Word!

The great Maya Angelou.

With the recent passing of one of my most favorite poets, Maya Angelou, I decided to make a post discussing the impact that poetry and spoken word has had on my life, especially in the past year. I never liked English too much in middle school; I actually was determined I would never go to study it in college! I certainly did not like poetry much back then either.  The first poem of Angelou’s that I read, “Still I Rise,” made me figure out that I didn’t hate poetry and I actually kind of liked it! Though I would not come to realize the effect that Angelou’s writing would have on me for many years, I have her to thank for having a part in creating who I am today.

As I’ve mentioned in previous blog posts, Shakespeare and the thought of performing in a play have interested me and language is a passion of mine. I enjoy all forms of literature, but among my favorites is spoken word poetry. I decided years ago that I wanted to major in English and read all the best books and learn about the lives of all the greatest authors. As I’ve spent more time listening than reading, I realized that words don’t have to be printed on a page for me to love and appreciate them. I love words and the thought that with just 26 letters in the English language we can communicate so much is phenomenal. I found that one of the greatest applications of those 26 letters is through spoken word poetry, a form of poetry that is meant to be performed in front of an audience. Rhythm, body language,  and lots of emotion characterize spoken word and allow it to have such an impact on its listeners.

Although I cannot remember how or why I stumbled across my love for spoken word, I do know that it was a wonderful accident.

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Spamalot

A few weeks before school was to be out for the summer, I received a text from my dad asking me if I would like to see a play at the Clarence Brown Theatre located on the University of Tennessee campus once I was done for the year. I had only seen one professional play before and it would be a nice way to start off my break, so 20140522-213516-77716087.jpgI quickly texted back a “Yes!” and looked up information about the play. Spamalot, I read, was a playoff of the movie Monty Python and the Holy Grail, a movie my dad and I are both fans of. Many reviews I read lauded the entire performance, from the venue and costumes to individual actors and the comedic value of the whole show. I was so excited to go! The last time I had been at the Clarence Brown Theatre was in middle school with my Beta Club to see Seussical the Musical. I loved that show so much that there was no doubt that I would enjoy this one.

Being able to take pictures during LMU’s Godspell rehearsal interested me in all the aspects that go into making a production happen. Seeing Spamalot made me see how enjoyable it is, not only for the castmembers, but how a fantastic performance can get such a wonderful reaction out of the audience. I’m not one to voluntarily speak in class much or handle speaking in front of crowds, but having these experiences opened my eyes to the possibility for my future in a production. I’m not looking to become a Broadway star or anything; I think it would be something new and fun to try. A majority of my friends have taken part in the productions we’ve had on campus and thoroughly enjoyed them, whether they were actors or worked as stage crew. In the fall, the LMU Players, the students who take part in theatre, normally put on a regular play. In the spring each year, a musical is usually done. I was able to see the performance last fall of Daddy’s Dyin’… Who’s Got the Will? in which so many of my friends had acting roles or worked behind the scenes. There were hard times, especially when rehearsals became a little rough, but I was told that the good times certainly outweighed the bad times.

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Looking Back, Looking Forward

I can’t believe it: I’m no longer a freshman! These past few weeks have been crazy with papers, last minute homework, studying, and, of course, finals. I don’t think that it as hit me quite yet that my first year of college is already done with. I am back home in Knoxville but part of me still thinks that I will be heading back to campus any day now. Knowing that I won’t be back in Harrogate until August will take some getting used to!

Looking back to how much I’ve changed just since my freshman year of high school has absolutely astounded me. Back then I wasn’t completely sure where I wanted to go to college and what I wanted to study, let alone any other future goals that I

I can't get enough of French humor!

I can’t get enough of French humor!

had. Even now there is still a lot left unanswered for me regarding future goals of mine, but I feel comfortable with my courses of study and my place at LMU! A lot has changed in the past four years. I would have never been able to present at a research conference, considered joining a sorority, or ever find out my love for foreign language, as shown in my previous blog post!

This newly found passion of mine has me set on a new goal. I loved going to my French classes and doing extra work wit Dr. Churchwell for honors credit, but I felt as though something is missing from my experience with the language. I can get a lot of experience from class and my own reading but it would never be the same as experiencing the language in a “real” setting. I’ve done a lot of research and I have decided that I will work on studying abroad in France sometime next year. I have yet to decide exactly when or for how long, but I will have plenty of time to get all the necessary paperwork and finances together before I board a plane! One program I am strongly considering is through the American Institute for Foreign Study (AIFS) at The University of Grenoble Stendhal. The University of Grenoble is widely known for its involvement with hosting students from foreign countries and offers courses in exactly what I want to learn: French! In the summer 2015 section that I am right now considering the most, classes meet five days per week for four hours a day. That would be twenty hours per week of intensive French language suitable for my level which would be determined by a proficiency exam that I would take my first day at the University. Take a look at the link to the AIFS website here!

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