Monday, 21 January 2013

For the Grade 8s and their Chiang Mai Stories

And just like that, we have reached another milestone and tail end of another unit of study.  Right now, I just want to take this time to congratulate the Grade 8s on their recent body of work inspired by their trip to Chiang Mai and our current unit on short fiction and the danger of the single story. 

After curating the Grade 8 pod as an art space and home for your phenomenal photo essays, and uploading all the videos on to  your Vimeo Portfolio for your Chiang Mai narratives, am happy to say that the results have been pretty spectacular.  I totally agree with what Mr. Raisdana said too, your attention to detail, your artistic integrity, and dedication to hard work has been admirable. I know we have placed a lot of demands on you the past few weeks, before and after your trip, and before and after the break, so good on you for rising to the occasion and taking on this creative challenge.  My hope is that your minds and hearts have been opened to the idea that there are no single stories about places and people; that if we looked closely enough with compassion and vigilance, our experiences and perspectives will always allow for what's in between the privileged  extremes.   

A brief recap:  
Essentially, the idea behind these stories was to look beyond the Single Story of Chiang Mai and create a story (either through a digital story or a photo essay)  that lives between the romanticized version and exploitation of Chiang Mai. It is a story that nobody knows and only you can tell based on your unique experience. We were looking for a few simple things:
  • There is a clear narrative. Your piece tells a story or creates an experience that targets emotions over facts.
  • It is clear that you were composing images, not just taking them. (Rule of Thirds, Use of Perspectives and Angles)
  • Your Digital Story moves beyond a slideshow to show mastery of the form by layering a variety of elements to create a complete piece. (Text, Sound, Video, Images)
  • Your Photo Essay is able to speak for itself and stand alone.  It tells a story or follows a theme.
 We know it will be hard for teachers and parents to view all of these amazing tales, so we have listed links below to each class portfolio. Remember that some of the portfolios have more than one page, so click to next to see all the videos. Some of the portfolios appear not to have names, but you can find specific pieces  if you hover over the thumbnail or video for a second or two. 

All the photo essays have quick time versions on the Vimeo Portfolios as well.  For the physical exhibit, please visit the Grade 8 pod (tucked past the Math classrooms between Block B and C).   Here is a preview from snaps I took as Mr. Brooke and I mounted your amazing narratives. 

Mia Taicher 
Zoe Prosi
Hazel Swift
Liam Holohan
Cian Tan 

Ritsuki Yoshida

Shruti Agarwal
Anyway, hang out and stay awhile. Share your pieces and explore others'. Feel free to leave comments, watch or forward these rich narratives with and to family, loved ones, friends and take the time to view every single one.  :) We recommend a quiet room, a big screen and some headphones.  

Here's a peek of this tremendous body of work. 

First to submit her masterpiece...

The Beauty of Nature English Celia DS FINAL from UWC South East Asia on Vimeo.

Check out the surreal here...

Auguste:Chiang Mai The Alley Way from UWC South East Asia on Vimeo.

And some powerful realizations...

Michelle:Chiang Mai Digital Story from UWC South East Asia on Vimeo.

Who knew...poetry by Min Suk

Hide & Seek English Min Suk DS Final from UWC South East Asia on Vimeo.

Get ready for a unique photo/video ride ... 
More than a city English Sonya DS Final from UWC South East Asia on Vimeo.

And see how really seeing a place changes people ...

Recognize Molly 8ELo DS Final from UWC South East Asia on Vimeo.

Anything Essential Is Invisible To Our Eyes Hiroto 8Elo DS finale from UWC South East Asia on Vimeo.

 Feel proud of what you've accomplished and now, published.  Well done, Grade 8! 

Monday, 14 January 2013

Attention Grade 8: If you are submitting a digital story this is meant for YOU

ONLY because we love you, here's a post with instructions from Mr. Raisdana and I. 

Hi grade eights!

I know you are super busy and that we keep piling on the work: :)
  1. Digital Stories and Photo Essays for the  Chiang Mai Project
  2. Revisions for paragraphs for Murikami and Gish Jen 
  3. Reading Adiga for the in class written pieces and planning for that 
  4. Portfolios! 
Wow, will it ever end? Um, nope because we have one more thing that needs to get done
for the curation of your Chiang Mai Project Exhibits/Galleries!   
 I know, I know we are sorry.

As your stories come in on Wednesday or Thursday this week, 
we still need a way to share them with people in a non-digital way. While each class will have a 
portfolio page like these on Vimeo, we still need to direct traffic from the eighth grade pod 
and the library to these digital spaces. How will we do this I hear you asking? 
Posters and QR codes.

You have been asked to upload your completed stories to a Google Drive folder that we have 
shared with you. Please also create an additional Pages poster

On this poster you must include:
  1. An image from your story: Still shot frame or photograph from your story.
  2. A title
  3. A tag line or piece of text that hooks the reader (Optional)
  4. Your name
Here is an example:

Don't worry about the QR code for now. Once I have all the videos uploaded, I will create a 
table with all the URLs, and I will email instructions on how to create a QR. At which time 
you will go back into the Drive folder and add the QR code to your poster and come to class 
on Tuesday, Jan 22 with it printed out.
Mr. Raisdana promises that it's an easy addition to everything else you have to do. :)  But
please add any questions below.  

Okay, that's it.  Good luck and may the force the be with us.  

Friday, 11 January 2013

a short message and a poem: Welcome, 2013!

Ah, and just like that it's January 2013 and the first week back to school has come and gone.  Once again, there is so much on my mind, so many things I want to tell you, so many drafts unpublished and blog posts jumping at me too quickly, I am not fast enough to write them all. But here we are; hopefully back to populate and nurture the spaces we all have carefully created together. 


Tell me what you're thinking, spending your time on, investing in, questioning, pouring your heart into, letting go of or loving right now. Seriously.  Those are great places to start again or continue the conversations we began in 2012.  

As always, I'm listening.  

Anyway, to my 8s - I am looking forward to your Chiang Mai Project narratives.  Whether you exhibit your beautiful photo essays or produce digital stories, I can't wait to celebrate your realizations, epiphanies, your voices.  Let's do this.  

As for my 7s -- our Poetry unit  has come to an end as we make our way to Journalism and Media.  The unit is done but I hope that poetry will remain in your hearts and souls forever.  Let those words drip endlessly from your pens and never be afraid to share your verses with the world.  So many wonderfully crafted pieces emerged from those weeks and I am really so so proud of all of you. From free verse to sonnets, you guys outdid yourselves. Bravo!  

Finally, as promised, I am publishing my own Where I'm From poem (inspired by George Ella Lyon).   For those of you who posted your poem on your blogs, thank you.  Your lines inspired me to finish mine, for sure.  Now, it took many drafts and time for me to arrive at this version.  The final editing happened during New Years Eve while we were counting down the last few hours of an awesome year.  I wanted to do something I loved (writing) for people I loved (you guys) during the last night of 2012, so I opted to revisit, revise and finalize that earlier version of the poem you heard in class to well, this one.  I hope you guys like it. *gulp*  Here goes...

This is dedicated to my students, the most important people to me right now.

Where I'm From

by Ms. Pau

I am from an old house on 21 Lilac St. 
from rooms with stories, secrets 
and slippers in my father’s hands
occasionally hitting the exposed
surfaces of my little body.
I am from extending stolen tearful
 glances at my mother who 
didn’t know what to do. 
Making that first note to self: 
never cry where your young 
angry father 
could sense you. 

I am from the stone balcony that looked out
at the dusty street
and our big black steel gate
where I watched my 
Yaya Shirley leave unexpectedly 
after she was almost stabbed 
by our other evil helper.

The road ahead
I am from abandonment that I 
got to know too intimately at a very young age, 
from the expectation to be 
strong, silent and sure, which 
meant I was being a good girl because
I understood why,
because I didn’t cry.
I am from thinking that moving houses
was never supposed
to be traumatic. 
Haunting images of my parents, 
partners and friends
leaving me again and again and again
from Sunday tears erupting from my core
for no good reason except the thought
of another goodbye
even years later
as a grown woman

An older me
I am from a bigger backyard, a bigger house
a bigger gated subdivision that left
an even bigger gaping hole in my heart.
I am from this place where I learned to say the words 
“I love you” second and not first;
“I am sorry” first and never second.

I am from Alabang Golf and Country Club
holding hands, bad poetry read to young crushes
who thought they had found their true love
Big words and alliterative phrases 
clumsily strewn together for loved ones I vowed
I would never forget
never wanted to forget 
to forget me

I am from betrayal, deep sadness
and harsh secrets learned too early; 
from an awkwardness in my own skin 
I clung to, not knowing how else to be
from fighting for a self that he, she, and
everyone I knew thought was perfect
except my-self
I am from everything they said I couldn’t be

I am from one day realizing I had wrapped
myself voluntarily in a cocoon, so difficult
to escape and wiggle out of
feeling like I deserved to hide there, and
to prove me right I had to
break my heart
over and over and over
But I am also from the paper thin wing that 
made the first finest tear
the path to redemption and forgiveness
began with
the other wing setting me free...

Butterfly Bound 

I am from books that adorn my walls
fortified from anyone who thought I was 
illiterate and not critical enough
Yes, from a thousand books
I can’t live without today
A thousand friends who have 
kept me company, have helped
me escape, who constantly remind me
all to well about my own humanity.

My books live here
I am from a hundred films, movies 
and pirated DVDs; characters like
Tyler Durden, Mr. Keating, and 
Lara Croft, I wish 
I were instead of me sometimes.
Their happy endings, misadventures
and worlds combined 
leave me envious and confined
As I gaze vacantly at the laundry
spinning round and round

I am from the quest for kindness 
gratitude and turning the corner
 but still not having a clue
from women’s rights and claiming feminist
and not believing in God for awhile
because according to my Masters Degree
 that made me look weak
I am from all of it boiling down to that angry little girl
who wasn’t allowed to speak
or make an appearance
All she wanted was to be heard and be herself
I call her Olivia 

I am from writing and writing and writing
during nights desperate for answers
and from days like this, where I am writing
and writing still 
I am from many complicated, 
complex and convoluted corners
that don’t remember everything 
like I thought I did

I am from wondering what it all means to 
all of it making sense
I am from seeing the world behind a lens
and through my pen and lined journals
from finding solace 
in the sound of the pounding of keys
I am from these eternal lines and shared images
from these two always, always saving the day

I am from malignant tumors
that peppered my neck and upper chest
from cancer that came out of nowhere
but taught me the most important lessons
in life
from being in remission 
and from being spared
for a reason

I am from my body image, the final frontier
 that is the total contradiction of who I am now
fissures from an old script
of a self worth defined by a society screaming
I need to be stick thin to be beautiful 
tiny cracks in my psyche that need 
to be filled 
healed and sealed

Self acceptance
I am from metamorphosis that only happened
when I stopped trying
from being transformed by 
gratitude and a love that overflows
from the ultimate well spring of life 
I am from my Creator
who reminds me that I am 
wretched and yet
still the best thing that’s ever 
happened to Him.
I am from a God who says
I made you for a reason and has
a son who helped me understand
the words, ‘I forgive you.”

I am from the earth and the sea and my
sun kissed skin 
from beneath the shallow surface
of the ocean, watching dugongs
swim away as I listen to my heavy breathing
and celebrating a heart that’s so full 
it could burst at any moment

I am from my Kuya I was born to adore and 
a mother and a younger sister I learned to love
and a father, now older, less angry, my biggest ally
These pieces make me who I am
the best bits that make the most sense
most of the time
the very basic
definition of where I belong begins
with Mon and Maqui, Eddie and Rae

Family Gold

My sis

I am from my classroom
the conversations that wow me on 
a daily basis
to collaboration, asking important questions
and reclaiming the power of storytellers
and storytelling
I am from always challenging myself as a teacher
and learner and from saying
I can still do so much more

Special beginnings 
My classroom today
 I am from spaces that we create to build a new life
three hours away from where I was born 
From missing the sound of the clipping carabiner 
to finding peace on the mat
I am from the inked narratives on my skin
that remind me that the pain, it always ends.

Here we go
The big move
I am from my mistakes and
my redemption and transformation
that has already begun.
I am from where I am headed, 
where goodbyes become easier
and where everyday there are 
warm hellos.

I am from today, still alive
more than okay
the best I’ve ever felt 
in 39 years
I wouldn’t recognize ennui
if it sat in front of me to have tea

I am from 
looking out my balcony
writing these verses for the most important 
people in my life right now
finally coming home to a huge party 
where everyone is invited