May 5, 2008

Millennium Development Goals Presentations

While I watched as the honors students presented their projects I realized that each presentation tended to fit into one of two categories. There were the presentations that focused more on the aspect of explaining the current situation in depth and then there were the projects that went more in detail about a specific solution that could be used to reach the goal.
I liked the projects that focused more on a solution because I feel like that's what this entire research project was about. It was nice to hear the other projects that focused on the problem more, but I don't think they fully understood what the project criteria was.

The two honors presentations that I found to be the most interesting and the ones that I liked the most were the two that focused on goal 1: eradicate extreme poverty and hunger and goal 7: ensure environmental sustainability.

I really enjoyed listening to the presentation about goal 1 because that was the goal that my group worked on and it was interesting to see how our projects compared. The honors group focused their research in Africa where as the group that I am a part of decided to focus our research on a Haiti, which is closer to home. I noticed many similarities in the two presentations so it was easy to follow along and learn from.

I also enjoyed hearing about the presentation on goal 7 because the group decided to focus on an area that's in our own backyard. It's always beneficial to hear about issues that affect the people living around you because then you can relate to what is going on instead of forgetting about the issue as you would when thinking about a country that you don't know a lot about. It puts things into perspective when issues that affect you are discussed. It makes you want to take more action.

So, I think the best way to describe my experience with this entire project would be to say that it was quite interesting. From the time we were assigned our groups to the end where we presented our research; I found the whole process to be very interesting, neither in a bad way or a good way. I definitely learned a lot of valuable information about the world that I live in, but I think there are many other things that would have been a little more beneficial to me as a student instead of a huge project that took the entire semester to finish.

May 4, 2008


It was my last day volunteering at PYC this semester. I only worked with Luther because Tyron didn't show up for some reason. Luther and I got a lot done. I asked him why it's so hard for him to get his homework done at other times and he told me that it is better when he has someone watching him so that he stays on track. He explained how he becomes easily distracted by things around him like the other students or music that he decides to listen to. I know that he would do a lot better with his school work if he found a good place to get everything done without any distractions.
Another thing that I noticed while I was working with Luther was that he is a very intelligent young man; he just needs to slow down. He tires to rush through everything when he understands it, but that causes him to make little mistakes that he probably wouldn't make if he took his time to make sure his answers are right. I found myself having to stop him a couple times and tell him to look back at an answer he got and figure out what was wrong with it. He was able to spot his own mistake every time.

I'm really glad that I was able to work with Luther and Tyron this semester. I was a little skeptical going into it, but I ended up enjoying tutoring more than I thought I would. I worked in the after school program last semester with the elementary children, which was completely different from the high school program. This was the first time I have ever really tutored anyone, so I didn't know exactly what to expect, but I couldn't have asked for better students to work with. It was very fun getting to know Tyron and Luther, and understanding who they are. I hope they learned as much from me as I did from them.

April 15, 2008


I spent another morning with Tyron again this week and it went really well. I think we ended up getting the most done with week compared to any other week this semester.
The aspect of this session that I enjoyed the most was when Tyron asked me to write down some "hard" math problems for him to try to figure out before next week. I am just so amazed at his willingness to learn and succeed.
The students at PYC just finished their third quarter so they received their quarterly grades, and I was so happy to hear that Tyron passed every single one of his classes. It's always great to hear when someone is able to achieve something that makes them proud. The part that's even better is that Tyron always encourages the other students around him to work hard too. He definitely sets a good example for everyone else to follow.

April 2, 2008

Cover Page Ideas

So, when we got this blog assignment I thought it was going to be extremely fun and exciting because I love being creative when it comes to laying information out on a page. The only thing is that I am horrible when it comes to computer programs that make tasks like this look good. All I could think to use was word, which is why these layouts are quite simple. A positive aspect about their simplicity, though, is that they get to the point by representing what the real problem is when it comes to extreme poverty and hunger.

I'm sure if I were allowed a little more time to draw or collage some cover pages they would be WAY better.

These will have to do for the time being...
Download file
Download file
Download file

March 30, 2008


It's been quite some time since I have bloged about my visits to PYC because of the crazy schedules that didn't seem to line up very well throughout March. I'm going to end up missing two weeks of tutoring because of our various spring break schedules. The U of M's spring break was two weeks ago, which caused me to miss tutoring on the 17th, and now PYC's spring break is all of next week, so I'm going to miss tutoring on the 31st.
I'm not going to lie... I kind of need the time to catch up on some of my homework that I need to get done this week, but I am bummed that I don't get to see Tyron and Luther for the hour that we usually meet on Mondays. I just love going in there because they are so grateful for the time that I give up for them, which is so rewarding for me.

Last Monday I just met with Tyron because Luther was sick. We went through a lot of his math homework, but that's not what I want to talk about in this entry.

I actually want to talk about mine and Tyron's spring breaks, which have turned out to be very similar. Over spring break I went on the Pay It Forward Tour through Students Today Leaders Forever at the U of M, which is where 9 bus loads of about 40 students travel on different routs to Washington DC where they all meet up a week later. On the way each bus stops at various locations to participate in service work for communities in need. When all of the busses arrive in Washington DC all of the students from all nine busses participate in one collective project.
When I got to PYC on Monday, three days after I got back from my amazing trip, I was glad that Tyron wanted me to tell him about all of the different things that we had done because I wanted to tell as many people as I could about the amazing experiences that I had. I was astounded at how interested he was in the stories I was telling him, but what astounded me more was when he told me that he was participating in the exact same trip thing over his spring break. Realizing that Tyron is so willing to give up his break to do the same thing I did caused me to find a new respect for him.
I feel as if I originally came into tutoring with a stereotypical view of what I thought my time with Tyron was going to be like, but I was COMPLETELY wrong in every aspect of my thinking. He has opened my eyes to so many things, and when I think that there is no more to learn, he goes and teaches me something else. I am amazed every time I walk out of that school after spending only an hour with Tyron.

March 12, 2008

Documentation Styles

So there are many ways to document our information about our projects...
Here are a few links to some websites that document information about hunger and starvation in Haiti, which happens to be my group's topic of research.




That's all I have for this entry...

March 10, 2008

3/3/08 and 3/10/08

So, I missed posting about volunteering last week so I figured I would catch up this week.

I absolutely love tutoring at PYC. It's so rewarding when the students you are tutoring tell you that they don't want you to leave and that they don't know what they're going to do next week when you're not going to be able to make it in because of spring break. It really makes you feel important and it's good to know that the time you are spending to be with these students is beneficial.
Last week I started tutoring another young man by the name of Luther. Now the three of us (Luther, Tyron and I) work together for an hour on each of their math homework. Although I thought it would be harder to work with two people at once I find that it's really rewarding for the two of them as well as myself. It's fun to see the interaction between the two of them. They both help each other out when they can, which is really nice.

While working with Luther today I was asked an interesting question...
He asked me if I ever felt intimidated while I was in "the hood."
My immediate answer was no, but right after telling him my answer I thought to myself if that was really true. It's hard to answer a question like that when there are so many factors that contribute to that answer. I feel like I see things differently when I'm working with Tyron and Luther. We seem to have a lot of fun while I'm there instead of just working on math problem after math problem. This experience seems to be turning out way different than I thought it would, which makes me wonder about the way I view different situations that involve different people.

One word comes to mind when I think about these situations...
It's all around us whether we want to admit it or not. I know that I have constantly classified myself as someone that isn't racist, but from time to time I find myself placing stereotypes on other people without even knowing it. It's like my brain is programmed to think that way and there is no way to override it. My inability to take control of these thoughts frustrates me a lot because how can I promote racial equality when I'm not even a part of it myself?

If anyone reads this let me know what you think about it. Have you ever experienced the same kind of situation or something similar to it? I'm curious.

March 5, 2008


How does the built environment affect me?

I find that the oppositions within the built environment fascinate and affect me the most. When discussing each of the oppositions one must use their creativity in a productive way to oppose the opposition. DUH!
Each of the oppositions affect me by making me think… That’s an affect isn’t it? It’s crazy to see a built environment that tackles one of the six oppositions because it makes me question so many aspects of the environment. Who interacts in this built environment? What is the significance of this space? When is this environment utilized? How in the world was this created? Why didn’t I think of that?

I do admit that some frustration occurs as I ask myself the last question, which can create a negative affect.

Anyway, here are some pictures that demonstrate how a built environment evokes each of these questions...

house 2.jpg


house 3.png

house 4.jpg

While looking at each of these images I find it fascinating to answer all of the questions stated above. Whether each of the images is real or imaginary, the thought that is provoked by each is what is important. Each of the images gets me to think in a way that the others can't. Each, with its different approach to tackling the oppositions, affects me in a different way. What better way to learn about the built environment?

February 27, 2008

Learn to Teach, Teach to Learn

If I were to be completely released from the constraints of the architecture school program my life would consist of two main activities that would probably take up the majority of the rest of my life. First I would travel around the world in search of examples as to how Americans can help save our Earth by examining the way other countries deal with certain issues. At that point I would stop for a bathroom break, maybe get something to eat. Then I would return to America and introduce my findings to some of my most favorite people; kids. They are the ones that will take over the world when we're gone, so why not give them a little nudge in the right direction?

Fact #1: Our planet is very sick.
Fact #2: I LOVE KIDS!
So why not combine the two and call it a life?

There is very little controversy when it comes to the issues that are discussed about the sickness of our planet. Americans deal with countless issues each day, so why not learn from others with the goal of reducing our ecological footprint in mind.

Look at how well the Chinese cut back on car polution... ding ding ding! I sense some learning taking place!

Here are some fun (or not so fun) facts to get your brain moving:
-Americans make up only 4% of the World's population yet we consume nearly 26% of its resources.
-Americans spend more annually on the purchase of garbage bags than the combined GDP of 90 of the World's developing nations.
Why do these facts not surprise me…?

Americans have a lot to learn about the ways we live, which is why I would love to be a part of the learning process in an attempt to nurture our Earth back to health.

How fun would it be to travel around the world?
I’ll even let you come… but only if you’re nice.

earth in hand.jpg

facts from

February 26, 2008


Today was my second day volunteering and PCY (I wasn't able to go in last week because the students didn't have school because of Presidents Day). This time Tyron was there so I was able to tutor him for the hour that we have. He is much starter than I had anticipated. The way PYC sets up students with their tutors is that they match the tutors with students that requested a little extra help. When I think of students that need tutors I picture them with a fairly small amount of knowledge about the subject they are being tutored in, but Tyron knows a lot more math than I thought he would. I guess I wouldn't expect a student that has that much knowledge already to request a tutor.

I found out today that Tyron wants to go to college and major in Psychology. He told me that I have to pay attention in the psychology class that I'm in now so that I can report back to him. It's easy to tell that I'm going to enjoy my time while working with Tyron. The hour that I was at PYC this morning flew by. I just hope he is benefiting from the time that I have to offer him.

February 20, 2008

Why Wait When Time Falls Away?

Our world faces countless problems every day; so why do we keep WAITING ON THE WORLD TO CHANGE?


When I think about poverty and starvation I immediately think of Africa. It is very common to hear stories or see pictures African people barely clinging to life. I’ll be the first to admit that I have changed the channel when I saw a commercial advertising an opportunity to save the life of an African child in need for just eight cents a day. Maybe I can’t stand seeing the pictures of all of the children in need because I feel bad for them, or a feel guilty about the way I live my life. Or maybe it’s because I don’t think my contribution would make a difference. I’m sure I’m not the only one to have done this, which makes me realize that IT'S NOT THAT WE DON'T CARE, WE JUST KNOW THAT THE FIGHT AIN'T FAIR. So how do we restrain such a huge issue that is staring us directly in the face?

Gandhi has been quoted for saying, “you must be the change you want to see in the world.? So, where do we begin? I believe that the best way to overcome a situation is to hit it head on with what we know now and to educate the children that will be given the opportunity to tackle the problems that the world faces when we’re gone; poverty and starvation being two of the many. ONE DAY OUR GENERATION IS GOING TO RULE THE POPULATION so we must make it a priority to HEAL THE WORLD and MAKE IT A BETTER PLACE. It may seem like a lot to overcome, but THERE ARE WAYS TO GET THERE IF WE CARE ENOUGH FOR THE LIVING.

CAN EVERYONE AGREE THAT NO ONE SHOULD BE LEFT ALONE? I believe the answer to this is yes, so when addressing the issue of poverty and starvation let us not dwell on the severity of the issue, but LET'S SEE HOW FAR WE'VE COME thus far, and let’s go above and beyond what we have already accomplished. OUR LIVES ARE MADE IN THESE SMALL HOURS, so let’s show how much we care and make a difference while we can. In the words of Mother Teresa, “We cannot all do great things, but we can do small things with great love.?


songs used for this entry:
John Mayer - Waiting on the World to Change
Matchbox 20 - How Far We've Come
Michael Jackson - Heal the World
Rob Thomas - Little Wonders
Filter - Take a Picture

February 14, 2008

Faulty Design

With the 35W Bridge collapse happening in the University of Minnesota’s backyard it’s hard to ignore the impact of a tragedy that could have been prevented.


I remember being paranoid for a while after hearing about and seeing the aftermath of a tragic social design issue that ended in a way no one ever would have imagined. One of the biggest questions that circulated conversations around the world was the question of how this could have been prevented. Why does it take a tragedy like this to open peoples’ eyes to the danger that surrounds countless numbers of people every day? A Minnesota bridge warning was issued in 1990 indicating what bridges throughout Minnesota posed threats to the people that used them; the 35W Bridge being one of them. Why wasn’t anything done? What other priorities take precedence over faulty bridges that take more than fifteen years to solve?

Continue reading "Faulty Design" »

February 13, 2008


Monday the 2nd was my first day working at Plymouth Youth Center and I wasn't quite sure what to expect. I knew that I would be tutoring a high school student, Tyron, in math so that he can prepare for the basic standards test, but I wasn’t sure how the two of us were going to interact. I had the chance to meet Tyron a week ago while I filled out my application and I realized that he is a very polite young man that is willing to learn, so I wasn't too worried about the outcome of our tutor session.
I was a little bummed when I showed up on the first day and Tyron was no where to be found. PYC has an open attendance policy, meaning that the students don't have to show up if they don't want to. It startled me to know that Tyron hadn't shown up that day because I was informed that he has one of the best attendance records at the school. We'll just have to start up the next time I go in.

It amazes me how many of PYC's students are on time and ready to learn at the start of the day when there is an open attendance policy. I can remember times in high school when I didn't want to go to school at all, but I had to or else there would be some pretty sever consequences. It's nice to know that I will be working with students that want to be in class and that want to utilize the time that I am going to be working at PYC. I look forward to seeing what we learn from each other.

Next week the students at PYC don't have school on Monday because it's President's Day, so I won't be going in to tutor again until the following week.

February 3, 2008

1. The City

As Andy Goldsworthy said, “time is a great teacher.?

In regards to a city, every day brings a new transformation. When imagining a city, some may commonly thinks of businesses, crowds, traffic, and noise; while many others think of leisure, recreation, and excitement. Whichever way the city is seen by a single person, it is constantly changing. New ideas flow in each day while old ones flow out. New employees are hired while others are fired. These occurrences help one understand the energy, flow and transformation of the city, which happens all around us every day.
As stated above, the energy of any city can be interpreted in many different ways. Everybody has their reasons for being in the city whether they go to feel successful, to play, worship, mourn, or to just see; there are countless possibilities. When I think of the city, or better yet, when I am in the city I feel as if I am engulfed in immeasurable possibility. Every sound, every sight, and every structure is there for a reason and it is my responsibility to recognize why. A recently released film demonstrates one of these aspects in full detail. In the movie August Rush there is a scene where a young boy imagines that he is conducting the music of the city as he walks along the streets and listens to all of the noises around him. This scene demonstrates the power that the sounds have on this boy and the energy he receives from hearing them.
The flow of a city is similar to that of energy in the way that it is ever changing. During the day the city can become a chaotic mess of cars all trying to be in different places at the same time. This obviously creates a situation that everyone is familiar with; traffic. The flow of a city is commonly measured by the number of stop lights that one must travel through before reaching their destination, or the number of accidents that should be avoided on the way. There are few that really acknowledge some of the simple details that contribute to their everyday experience of the city. These details that affect the flow of a city are different for everyone, but they too contribute to the experience.
The two aspects of energy and flow of a city combine to explain a city’s transformation. No two days are alike. Different people come for different reasons creating a type of unscripted scene that unfolds as the day progresses. I find this aspect of the city to be the most rewarding because, in a sense, you are not controlling what goes on in the city, the city is controlling you. Not only does the city transform from day to day, but your experiences while in the city contribute to your individual transformation. This is why some people love being in the city while others do not. A person that is willing to soak in this transformation, such as myself, has no problem coming back again and again for more. The city teaches as you spend time with it. It’s up to the individual to experience the city for what is has to offer.