May 7, 2008

Volunteer Reflection

While its great to give back to the community and help other people, volunteering is primarily a chance to grow individually. I learned so much from this experience; about other people, cultures, but mostly about myself. Tutoring at Augsburg Fairview Health Sciences Academy was a great opportunity for me.
I have never been a social butterfly and I have always been relatively quiet. This experience allowed me to come out of my shell a little more. Not only did I have to talk to the teachers about what was going on that day, I needed to talk to and interact with the students in order to help them. Sometimes it took a little coaxing to get the students to show me their homework. A few times, they were too enthralled with the laptops or secretly playing with their phones.
While teachers have always talked about different learning styles, I never really knew what they were talking about until I started tutoring. Some of the students were auditory learners. By just explaining how to do the problem, they automatically got it. Other students were visual learners. They actually needed to see a problem worked out. I had to try out a few methods for each student to see which one(s) worked best. After I had established what type of a learner a student was, the rest of the session went much smoother. This taught me to think out of the box. I had to think of new and creative ways to explain a particular problem if a student did not understand it the first time around. This can be extremely difficult to do on the spot.
One of my favorite pastimes is people watching. It was very interesting for me to observe the different dynamics in the room. There were some students who obviously want to learn and others to clearly do not. While this is true of most schools, I was really taken aback by the distinct line drawn in this classroom.
Overall, this was a great experience for me. I met so many new interesting people. I was able to interact with people that I normally wouldn’t have a chance to on a day-to-day basis. Most importantly, I learned a lot about myself.

May 5, 2008

Presentation Reaction #2

Another presentation that I thought was interesting was about sustainability in the Mississippi Area. Although my group also looked at Goal #7, I thought it was interesting to see another group take a different approach to it.
I thought it was interesting that they chose to pick an area within the United States for their research. This was a good focus because usually, when we think of unsustainable areas, we think of poorer countries with a high population. This project reminded me that there are sustainability problems in our country as well as abroad.
Overall, this was a great presentation. There was a lot of great information.

Presentation Reaction #1

A presentation in my section that was done very well was one that focused on education in Sub-Saharan Africa. From their presentation, I learned that the enrollment of children in schools, especially young girls, is not great. As these girls get older, it is even harder to attend school (because of distance and responsibilities at home).
I was especially impressed by their solution to the problem. Their solution included making a portable classroom. I thought this was especially clever and their graphics were great.
This group was one of the only groups that decided to choose architect as a focus in their project. This fit their topic well.
Overall, I think this group did a great job explaining the problem and giving a plausible solution.

April 30, 2008


Volunteering this week was great! I helped several students with their projects (the same from last week). I answered their questions about representing data and making graphs. I also got to see several of the students present their projects to the class. It was great seeing them show off all of their hard work!


Volunteering this week was great! I helped several students with their projects (the same from last week). I answered their questions about representing data and making graphs. I also got to see several of the students present their projects to the class. It was great seeing them show off all of their hard work!

April 24, 2008


Because my scheduled tutoring time was canceled last week (there was some sort of testing), I went to the AFHSA this week instead. This week was very productive. I helped several students with their questions. I showed one student a few ways (that may be easier) to solve the problems he was working on. He seemed to understand it better when I explained it a slightly different way. This showed me that not only do students have different learning abilities, they also have different learning styles as well. While one style may work for me, it doesn't always work for others. This has been a challenge for me. I have had to step out of the box, and think of other ways to explain problems that work better for the student I am trying to help.

April 2, 2008


This week was similar to the first week I tutored. I spent the first hour and a half helping the students with their math homework. This week, they were working on a project. In this project, the students were required to create graphs of the trig functions and phase shifts. After helping with math, I went with the students to their science class. Here, I assisted the students in solving a periodic table. I was there to answer their questions (when they had them) and steer them in the right direction.

Text, Images, and Feelings


This image not only shows the smoggy condition of the city without being too revealing. I like the simplicity of the text. The title is still a work in progress.


This image shows the conditions of the slums in Mumbai. It is a revealing picture of the poverty in the community. I need to do some work on the text (and again, the title is a work in progress). I like how the text is in the bottom left corner, but it is a little difficult to read (i'm not sure what color would be best to use).


This image looks like any other city. It doesn't reveal too much about its content. I like how the white text contrasts the dark image. I'm not sure if it fit the message we are trying to portray, but it is a beautiful image.

March 12, 2008

March 12 Volunteering

The number of students that ask for help is increasing each time I tutor. This week was a little difficult for me. The students were using their graphing calculators ( I never really got the hang of them), but I was able to help for several of the problems. I helped one girl reprogram her calculator, and several other students with word problems.

“Sometimes the questions are complicated and the answers are simple.? - Dr. Suess

In high school, I had to do numerous projects and presentations, each having their own requirements and guidelines. I am planning on using my past experiences in this project. These experiences have included essays/research papers, models, and movies.
Research Paper
Although I would prefer not to do a research paper ( I find them to be boring), they can be the most successful for portraying information. Within research papers, you can display pictures, graphs, and data to explain and prove your ideas.


Another way to present information is to create a model. I have spent many years making models (usually for sophomore biology class). I love making them, but they do take a lot of time...


(I actually make a piano cell model.. it was by-far the coolest thing I've ever made..)
Thank god for my mac... I made so many videos/movies in high school. They may take a lot of time, but they're relatively easy to do and are a good way to combine visual images with information.


March 5, 2008

That Which Surrounds Us, Defines Us...

In general, our surroundings define who we are.

Dorm room

Obviously from the picture above, I am a freshman in college. I’m just learning how to live with people other than my family and how to clean up after myself (this concept isn’t catching on so well). My framework is my dorm room. Although it is not aesthetically pleasing, my dorm room serves the purpose of housing my two roommates and me when we are away from home. This room protects us from various oppositions; the weather and noisy people. (This is actually what it looks like everyday. We try to clean but it never stays clean…).
This room also creates a few oppositions. Nearly every morning, I have to carefully climb down this:


I haven’t fallen yet, but its early in the semester. The residence halls know these set ups are dangerous, that’s why they make you sign a release form. That way if you actually do fall out of bed, you can’t sue….
Another framework in my environment is the University of Minnesota. I am consistently within its boundaries when I walk to my classes. Because of the diversity, the U of MN campus is great for people watching. Since I have been here, I have noticed that the campus seems to incorporate many different styles and personalities of the people it encompasses.
This framework also protects its students from the city. Although there have been several muggings lately, this campus is relatively safer than being in downtown Minneapolis.


Just like my dorm room, the campus also creates a few oppositions for me. On numerous occasions, I’ve had to narrowly escape being hit by a biker. (I’ve also caused a few bike accidents too.. I’m sorry whoever that was!).


My school days are my clockworks. They run in cycles that repeat every week. Although I am only taking 16 credits this semester, I am still really busy. I wake up every morning, get ready in less than 15 minutes, go to my classes, come back to my dorm, study, eat, study some more, and finally go to bed.
My messy dorm room, the U of MN campus, and my classes are all incorporated into the phenomena of my education. As the United Negro College Fund slogan states: “A mind is a terrible thing to waste?. I’ve always kept this in mind when attending school. In my family, I will be the first woman to get a degree, and I am determined to do so. This drives me to study hard and do well in all of my classes.

February 28, 2008

February 27th Volunteering

Volunteering on the 27th went a lot smoother than the first week! The first half an hour I was there, I helped several students with a nasty graphing problem. These kids obviously wanted to work, because they missed their lunch hour. I also got the opportunity to just talk with a few students about their interests. The next hour I helped more students with various math questions. I answered questions about exponents and graphing. The last half an hour was a lot slower. Not as many students asked or even wanted any help.
I'm really enjoying my time tutoring. I'm still a little nervous about not knowing how to do something, but I know it will get easier as the semester goes on.

February 27, 2008

"the city is my jungle gym"

When I was younger, I spent a majority of my time outside. I climbed trees, built forts, and biked down to the nearby park to play with my friends. This kind of interaction with your surroundings is important. Not only does it familiarize yourself with your community, it makes you more aware of your environment and its needs.
Nowadays, kids would rather work on their Guitar Hero skills rather than go outside. They spend hours in front of the television everyday. Some parents even have to bribe their children to get some fresh air. ( I know this to be true --- my parents pay my younger brother double to mow the lawn, just so he steps out of his “lair?).
I found this poem by Dee Cohen called “Playground? (1)

Watch us go to the park,

plastic tires of your big wheel

clattering on the pavement,

shop windows, groceries,

bus stops and benches,

through fence slats 
houses click by.

At the playground

we climb the slide,

the earth below

peeking up through holes

in the metal stairs

and the clouds swinging back and forth
in the big sky.
On top we look out 
over the whole park,
the lawns bright and green,

the picnic tables laid out in rows of three,

the bandstand, a smooth curved shell

with empty seats waiting
for an audience.

You slide down first
and I hear your voice,
thin, high,

calling back to me.

I'm next
by the time I reach bottom,

you're gone.

The poem embodies the nostalgia that almost everyone my age feels when going to the park. To impact the environment in a positive way, these feelings of sentiment need to be present. Like in “Genuis Loci? that we read for class, the old man feels a connection with the particular place he grew up. In order for future generations to fully appreciate our environment and take care of it (better than we have been), they first need to establish a relationship with it. That is why if I had the time, and the money, I would create a play area for kids. By being outside more, and familiarizing themselves with the environment, kids will a greater need to take care of it. Parks and jungle gyms are also important for all kids to have an opportunity to play and build the social skills necessary for life.


Parks can also be beneficial to adults as well. Going to the park and interacting with your child helps build a stronger relationship. This in turn, will help create a happier, healthier family.


February 20, 2008

three is a magic number...

"Sustainable development is...development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of further generations to meet their own needs."
- World Commission on Environment and Development, Our Common Future, 1987

These words give a brief summary of sustainability and its relevance to our everyday lives. We must realize the importance of our environment and how our actions affect all aspects of it. A good way for everyone to be involved with the sustainability of the environment is to think about our consumption. Think about your activities throughout the day. Lets take a look at a typical day for Joe:
This morning, Joe drove 3 blocks to Starbucks/Caribou/Dunn Bro’s etc. (whichever one was serving a dark roast) and bought his usual cup of coffee and scone. Upon leaving, Joe threw away his empty cup and half eaten scone, still residing in its bag. Joe got back into his car, and drove 3 miles into the city to go to work. Along the way, Joe passed several public transit buses.
Throughout the day at his boring office job, Joe tried out his basketball skills by tossing paper ball after paper ball into the garbage. After realizing he wasn’t anywhere near Kobe’s skill, Joe gave up and just dumped his unneeded documents in the garbage can.
For lunch, Joe drives from work to a nearby restaurant. He eats his usual Big Mac with fries and a coke from MickeyD’s. He throws all of his wrappers, containers and soda can into the garbage. Joe gets back into his car, and drives the 4 blocks back to work.
After work, Joe drives to the supermarket. He picks out several non-recyclable containers (because they are not as expensive). At the checkout, Joe opts for his usual plastic bag, because he just doesn’t want to pay the 50 cents for a reusable cloth one.
Before bed, Joe takes a luxurious shower. He’s careful to shampoo his hair twice, because that’s what the bottle says. Joe then shaves his beard stubble and brushes his teeth; all the while the water is running. Joe lies down on his bed and turns the television on. Then Joe falls asleep (with the T.V. on).
Although this may not be a typical schedule for everyone, the main point is still there. Everyday, we are given choices. These decisions can either help or harm our environment. As a general rule: consumption produces trash. On average, a person throws away roughly 4.5 pounds of garbage everyday (1).

"Do not wait for extraordinary circumstances to do good action; try to use ordinary situations."
— Jean Paul Richter

Thinking about the unnecessary things we consume and throw-away everyday can help us understand and value our environment. Like this quote says, we do not need to wait for something extraordinary in order to help out our environment. What we do in our everyday routines is much more important. By remembering the 3R’s we can make our environment much more sustainable and secure its well-being for future generations. Reducing, reusing, and recycling are easy ways for everyone to become involved.
In 2005, Jack Johnson released “Sing-a-Long Songs and Lullabies for the Film Curious George?. On this CD was the track “The 3R’s?. Jack uses music with a message to teach kids to be aware of their everyday actions and how that can affect the environment.

Well, if you're going to the market to buy some juice
You've got to bring your own bags and you learn to reduce your waste
And if your brother or your sister's got some cool clothes
You could try them on before you buy some more of those
Reuse, we've got to learn to reuse
And if the first two R's don't work out
And if you've got to make some trash
Don't throw it out
Recycle, we've got to learn to recycle (3)

Even though this song is directed at kids, its message applies to adults as well.

Pictures A and B are good examples of our lack of concern for the environment. In picture A, young children are playing around bags of trash out in the streets. Obviously this is not a suitable environment for any child. In picture B, there are heaps of trash and garbage that have washed up on the shores. Often times, animals get caught on these particles and die (as shown in Picture C).
Until we are aware of the impact we have on our environment, we are going to continue to consume our resources and trash our earth.


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February 19, 2008

Feb 13: Volunteering at Augsburg Fairview Academy

I started my volunteering on February 13th at the Augsburg Fairview Academy as an academic tutor. Although I was a tutor in high school, this has been a different sort of experience for me. There is a different atmosphere in the classrooms than at my high school. At this session, I spent the first 30 minutes of my time getting to know the people around me. I talked with the teachers and students in a more casual setting. Then for a majority of my time, I helped a young girl with math. It was kind of difficult to find a method for doing each problem that made it easier for her to understand. Afterwards, I left the class feeling like I had maybe confused her more (but I hope not!). I'm sure I will get used to this, and maybe figure out an easier way to help the students that is easy for them to understand. The last 30 minutes of my volunteering was spent in the science classroom, helping the students with a Chemistry problem the teacher had given them. I found this sort of thing easier to help the students with because I took Chemistry last semester.
I really enjoyed going to Augsburg Fairview Academy. I know this will be a great experience for me and that I will learn a lot from it. Although the first session was a little hectic, (I didn't really know where to go, or what to expect) I am sure that the next few will go a little smoother!