Tuesday, December 7, 2010

UC World Politics Reflection

Wow! What a semester!!! I can honestly say by the end of it that the UC is my favorite part of American University. In my few short months here, I have met some of the funniest, kindest, and craziest people that I know will be great friends for my following years at AU. I made the decision to sign up for UC the same day I decided I would attend. I actually submitted my essay for UCWP the first day we were allowed to. Looking back, I don't know what I would've done had I not gotten my first choice! It's crazy to even fathom what my first semester would've been like without the floor-mates I have grown to love. The social side of UC is only one facet however, because I loved the class just as much as the floor! If someone told me that I could, as a freshman, take a discussion style classe with exciting projects, simulations, speakers, trips, and Risk games I would have NEVER believed it. I had really high expectations for the class and PTJ and I was still blown away. Thank you soooo much to the wonderful PA's, Headmaster PTJ, and all of my floor-mates!

Ah, it seems that once again, just like my UCWP class, my blog isn't long enough :)


The semester has finally come to a close and how do I feel? Is there is a sense of accomplishment? Or perhaps dissatisfaction? I feel neither. For my final blog, I want to explore my thoughts in my first language.

Uno entra en este mundo con el deseo de encender la llama de su alma y encontrar el susurro de sus deseos. Algunos encuentran su motivación el en mundo y se dedican a encontrar su paz en los cuentos de otros mientras algunos buscan entre paginas para calmar su sed. Entender estos modos de pensar es difícil ya que estas personas nunca van a estar en el mismo lugar al mismo tiempo – excepto en un lugar académico. Cada quien quiere compartir su pensar, es lo mas natural del ser humano. La evolución nos ha dado el poder de cambiar el motivo de nuestro tiempo en la tierra. Ya no solo es dejar nuestra genes, pero sino nuestros pensamientos.

Mi clase de política se distingue de cualquier otra clase que yo he tenido la fortuna de participar en. Donde uno va encontrar un ambiente donde puede soltar su fuente de pensamientos? Claro, la idea al inició fue un poco raro ya que esto no se encuentra fuera de la aula. Aunque mis temores me hayan detenido en compartir, siento que aprendí tanto de mis compañeros. Uno se va enamorando de la manera de pensar del otro. Así fue. Siempre tuve el deseo de que alguien me sorprendiera y causara que yo dude mis creencias.

Eran mi Unamuno << mi fuente de duda >>. A veces, sentía me estaba en la casa de Bernarda Alba y Borges me daba la mano. Pero Rulfo, << una combinación de el profesor y el tiempo >> me quito sus manos y pude escuchar sin preocupaciones.

Les agradezco desde lo mas profundo de mi ser. Se que varios no van a poder entender este blog, pero mi cariño para todos permanecerá.

Un semestre terminado, pero una vida de amistades y experiencias. 

English Translation 
Note: It probably won't sound as great as it does in Spanish.

One enters this world with the desire to light the fire in their soul and find the whisper of our wishes. Some find their motivation in the world and find peace in the history of others, while some satisfy their thirst in pages (meaning books). Being able to understand these ways of thinking is at times very difficult since these persons are never in the same place at the same tim - except in an academic place. Everyone wants to share their thoughts, it is only human nature. Evolution has given us the ability to change out motive for being on earth. Its not just about leaving our genes, but our thoughts as well. 

My politics distinguishes itself from other courses that I have taken. Where can you find a place to let go of your stream of thoughts? Of course, it was fairly strange having a discussion based class, where other courses are strictly lecture. Although my fears prevented me from sharing much, I learned so much from my classmates. One starts to find beauty in others' way of thinking. Thats what happened. I always hoped that someone could surprise me and make me doubt my beliefs.

[I then start to reference my favorite Latin American authors]

They were my Unamuno (1). At times I felt as if I was in the house of Bernarda Alba (2) while Borges (3) gave me his hand. But Rulfo (4) moved his hands off my ears and let me listen and I wasn't worried. 

I thank you all. I know many can't understand this blog, but just know that I care about you all.

The semester is over, but we remain with a lifetime of friendships and experiences. 

(1) Unamuno wrote Saint Emmanuel the Good, Martyr, where a priest doubts the existence of God. I am referring to the beginning of the semester where all the different ideas people shared went against my own, and I started to doubt whether or not what I believed was even valid. 

(2) La Casa De Bernarda Alba is a play that exposes a family of young women who are being forced to marry into higher classes by their mother, despite their interest in marrying their true love. This reference pertains to moments where I wasn't sure if I was supposed to accept these new ideas and ways of thinking, or if I should stick to my original beliefs.

(3) Borges is a Argentine writer who is best known for his work, El Sur (The South). The protagonist in the story undergoes a voyage where he starts to recognize his true identity. In World Politics, I have learned that I don't I have to accept everything, but I can grow from others' ideas. I have a better understanding of who I am and what I represent.

(4) Rulfo wrote No Oyes Ladrar Los Perros which is a story of a father who is carrying his son on his shoulders and tells his son to guide him towards the sound of the dogs, which would lead them to a near by town. Throughout the story, the son has his hands on his fathers years and the father guides himself based on what his son points towards. At the end of the story, the father pushes off the hands of his son and realizes that the dogs had been barking the whole time, yet his son never told him. | My upbringing in a different country has always dictated what I believe in and what I find important. Nevertheless, I realized that at times my culture did restrain me from respecting different ideas and it added to my ignorance. Through World Politics, I have been able to let go and feel comfortable with my beliefs and those of others. 

Monday, December 6, 2010


I disagree with the statement: "The only way to keep them [the space-residing humans, who are phenotypically different even though they are genetically the same] safe is to be separate. A nation with the power to protect its own."

I think that a state that represents "different" people is only highlighting the problems and making them worse. For example, if I were to form a coalition of girls (v. the boys) of letts 6 war would definitely ensue. Why? Because we've highlighted our differences. Each "nation" will want to hold power over the other, so war is inevitable. (It occurs to me that this is a realist arguement).

Also, people naturally like to be with those who are similar. Conversely, people can find easy reasons to dislike the opposition. Rivalry.

It can also be inherently gathered that by deciding to make your own nation, you view the different nation as less worthy/desirable (otherwise you would be a part of it). And that is reason enough for the other side to dislike you. (This is a constructivist argument).

While I'm on a roll with the realist/constructivist arguements, a liberal would actually agree with this statement and say, "hey, maybe they can work together!Just because they're different states doesn't mean that the phenotypically different humans can't work in orbit and help the people down below!" And that is probably a correct assumption, except that there would stil be underlying hatreds of the 'different'.

The Mayan Woman

Typically, when one opens a novel or work of any sort, there is a dedicatory towards a group or individual who impacted the author and provided inspiration while writing. It demonstrates that Todorov took into great consideration the story of different groups and assessing how identity may impact the course of history. The Mayan woman represents a suppressed group that could only share her story with her people. Nevertheless, one could argue, that perhaps Mayan women were unable to pass down their history due to the tremendous amount of deaths that occurred during the Age of Exploration.
In addition, the image of a Mayan woman is fairly unique as it is not used greatly by historians. Many can easily identify a film, novel, or photograph associated with other genocides, such as the ones in Rwanda and Germany, nevertheless, the indigenous genocide during the late 15th and early 16th century has no image. This image further extends to history within the United States and in Latin America. In the U.S classroom, many become aware of the horrendous behavior of conquistadors until their later years of secondary education, while in Latin America, there is little emphasis on this time period and a greater focus during its highlights.
My point is that Todorov aims at shedding light a group that underwent such drastic changes in a short period of time without any say. It is essential to maintain this image in order to value human life no matter the point in history or group it affected.  Just as this Mayan woman may have given Todorov a way of perceiving the time period in his work, History guides many in this world and we learn from it everyday. 

Blog question 13

Well, while I see where the logic supports "The only way to keep them [the space-residing humans, who are phenotypically different even though they are genetically the same] safe is to be separate. A nation with the power to protect its own.", I firmly disagree with this statement. I feel that separation merely HIGHLIGHTS differences and exacerbates underlying tensions. Unification creates a sense of physical commonness, which in my opinion would be beneficial in protecting those who are different. As soon as they are separated based on differences, the unification is gone and it is much easier to hate all of those who are different since they are all clumped together. Also, separating "them" from us would create the image that there is something wrong with them, which would perhaps persuade even those that did not have a problem with "them" to dislike them.

Not only that, but as Elle mentioned in her blog, this kind of separation easily highlights another problem inherit with separation: Rivalry. As soon as groups are separated, differences and highlighted and people naturally turn to competitiveness. If we turn to realism, the separation of those who are different into a sovereign body will only create more conflict in an effort to hold the most power. Not only that, but the differences that first lead to this separation will probably exacerbate the conflict due to underlying hatreds. In my opinion, integration into society will protect "them". While in the short-term it will cause a lot of conflict, it is the only viable long-term solution.

Soveriegnty and Difference

How does one protect difference? As to the idea that sovereignty protects difference I believe that this is mostly correct. Throughout history groups of people, especially minorities have been weak and easily exploited if they were diffused in a country. To gain support and a voice they had to band together into groups. These groups were stronger than just a bunch of individuals trying to protect themselves.

Now I think its really difficult to label someone as "different" to begin with, but I guess if you go along the line of diversity, than all groups have their advocacy groups. Blacks have the NAACP for instance. Should all these groups be sovereign unto themselves? No, definitely not. We would have way too many separate entities and trouble governing them all. Ideally if you can integrate everyone as much as possible under a single identity, that is the best answer. We all have different backgrounds in America, but we are all Americans.

But to purely answer the question of sovereignty protecting differences, I still think that it does. A success story could be Israel. They have a very tight-knit strong country of people that have been seen as "different" for one reason or another through history. Granted, they have many troubles with those who still disagree with their way of life, land they hold, etc... but comparatively they are doing much better than ever before. We should try to avoid separating into groups based on our differences, because it will undoubtedly create animosity towards others based on material wealth, power, and other things that groups may hold over others.

Bottom Line: Integration of multiple differences under a single identity is desirable, but sovereignty does in fact protect difference which may explain why groups like the Palestinians desire a state of their own.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Final Reflection

Whoa. Well, kinda. While I always have the feeling "I've learned something" by the end of each semester (in college as well as high school), it's a different kind of "whoa". So much has changed from almost 4 months ago (August 14, anyone?): new "home", different relationship with parents, new friends, the decision of how much effort to devote to keeping old friends, new classes, new city. It's been great, though everyone hit a really bad rut right before thanksgiving break. I'm not sure how we'll handle the transitions to and from winter break. Still, it's an overall good "whoa".

On Friday, I went to talk to Erin to brainstorm for the final paper. As I was leaving with friends, we were discussing how different the expectations are in college. We would suggest basic topics like water wars, globalization, the treatment of women in the middle east, and Erin would put a theoretical spin on it. It was interesting, and my brain didn't hurt TOO much after trying to understand the example theses (pl of thesis?) she gave us. My friends and I agreed that we weren't in high school anymore. No one in high school would ever dream about having an essay THAT specific.

I can also understand snippets of conversations between Chinese people on the shuttle. Mind. Blown.