Starting Somewhere (new)

Day 1:

16th of October 2016 – 2:15 am

Made it to the hotel alive, but tired. Almost ready to go to sleep.

 

“Wouldn’t it be weird,” Kepa remarked, “to live with a other family.” He glanced up from his dinosaur toys, his gaze finding its way around the clothes and mess I had made in my room. I stopped briefly to understand what he had just said.

 

“First of all,” I commented, “it’s an-other family.” I paused a minute or two so that he could respond. He didn’t. So I decided to continue. “Yeh, I guess.”

 

Kepa looked back down at these plastic toys that brought him joy. He continued with his sound effects and blocked me out of his world, yet again. I didn’t want him to just look away. Why wasn’t he asking me what I really felt? I kept looking at him, waiting for him to look back up at me. To rewind what he just said, and do it all again, but this time in the way I was expecting.

 

He didn’t. That was the last conversation we had since the day I left. That and a goodbye.

 

I thought of it as I waved goodbye to my family. I thought of it as I passed through security. I thought of it as I talked to my friends on the plane. I thought of it at 2 am in the morning as I was getting ready to sleep.

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Goodbye…

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I was afraid. Too afraid, in fact. I couldn’t take it in. No one told me it was going to be this hard. This hard just to get two simple words out of my mouth, off my lips and into the ears of my friends. My friends. These strangers huddled around me, trying to soothe me. But those words meant nothing to me. Just a collection of letters, knotted together, without true meaning. The strangers got close. But who were they? Did I even know them?

A friend: “A person with whom one has a mutual affection.” Affection: ” A gentle feeling of fondness or liking.” To like: “To find agreeable, enjoyable or satisfactory.” Yeah, that’s what the dictionary classifies them as. These strangers were friends. Friends that had stayed with me this entire time. Friends who shared too many memories to recall and friends who knew all my deepest secrets. They were my friends.

We just stood there. We could see the tears in our eyes, the misery on our faces. We cuddled closer, not allowing a single breath to escape the bubble. We held on. Tight. We were all afraid to let go, but we all knew we had to.

I was crushed by that thought. I didn’t and wouldn’t say “goodbye”. It was a “see you later,” but I couldn’t lie. Not to my friends, not to myself. And that was when the shower of pain and sorrow cascaded onto us. We cried, and sobbed and wept until our lungs were dry and our eyes had no more tears to shed. We felt each other’s love spill out on us. They weren’t only friends, they were family. And family never gets left behind, as the saying goes.

Nothing seemed to matter at that moment. That’s when I promised I would see them again. We would have a reunion. We’d meet up one day when we were older and go backpacking together through Europe. Something we dreamed of together, something almost impossible that didn’t convince us.

Minutes, almost hours flew by, and little by little our friendship circle was torn apart. Waves of shocking thoughts washed over me. This was the last time I would see him. This was the last time I would say goodbye to her. No, I told myself, I’m not giving up, but the next thing I knew, I was walking away myself. The leftover tears stung my eyes like needles covered in lemonade, blinding me, making that afternoon nothing but a vast memory.

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The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian Book Review

Novel by Sherman Alexie

Review by Amaia van Dommelen

 

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The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian is a young adult novel written by Sherman Alexie. This novel is one of his more recent books that he has published, yet it’s known worldwide, as well as the books: Flight, Thunder Boy Jr., and Blasphemy. Most of his writing is drawn from his personal experiences from his childhood when he lived on the Spokane Indian Reservation. This book is a coming of age novel, with a genre of bildungsroman, and a humorous tone. Targeted for teenagers and young adults, this book talks about issues that many of them face daily, including the relationship to, and separation from, parents and family, love and sexuality/gender norms, cultural and racial background, expectations, and much more.

 

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian is about a fourteen-year-old boy named Arnold Spirit Junior, who was born hydrocephalic, or as he describes it “I was born with too much cerebral spinal fluid inside my skull. But cerebral spinal fluid is just the doctors’ fancy way of saying brain grease.” (1). He had trouble making friends and fitting in with his Indian society in the reservation, but that wasn’t enough to stop him from speaking to the world. In his free time, he draws cartoons of everything: his sister, his school, and even his best friend, Rowdy. So he drew, and drew, and drew until the day he decided to take another path that wasn’t yet paved for him. Arnold changed schools, abandoning his family, friends and even his childhood. As he starts spending more and more time away from home, more problems seem to arise.

 

Emotionally, his life becomes exhausted to carry around with ongoing bricks piling on top. Everyone seems to turn on him, for the people in the rez start considering him a “part-time Indian”, but life at his new school isn’t pleasant either. There, he gets picked on by the other guys for being the odd one out of the bunch. Just when Arnold starts feeling helpless, his life changes when he punches the meanest bully of them all. That’s when he realizes his inner strengths he never knew he had. Only then he gets accepted into the all-white school society.

 

In the book, the protagonist, Arnold, grows up to learn the truth behind his reservation and life as a Native American. In his school, at the Spokane Indian Reservation, his teacher, Mr. P, unfolds a secret before Arnold’s eyes: “We were supposed to make you give up being Indian. Your songs and stories and language and dancing. Everything. We weren’t trying to kill Indian people. We were trying to kill Indian culture” (35). But before Arnold can respond, Mr. P becomes a positive role model and suggests he leaves the rez for education, because he sees Arnold’s inner potential of fulfilling his life as an Indian. “But not you,” Mr. P said. “You can’t give up. You won’t give up. You threw that book in my face because somewhere inside you refuse to give up. If you stay on this rez, they’re going to kill you. I’m going to kill you. We’re all going to kill you. You can’t fight us forever” (43).

 

As his teacher suggests, he takes the risk and finds a way out of the reservation. Arnold doesn’t have anyone to talk about his worries or problems, so he finds an alternative way. The only way he can cope with all this pressure is by drawing. “I draw because words are too unpredictable. I draw because words are too limited.”(5) he writes, explaining how his form of expression is through cartoons.

 

This book was woven together with a sense of humor, but with a deep message that runs through the entire novel. It is a great example of a coming of age novel, because of all the realistic themes introduced in the book that are recognized in the daily lives of teenagers. When reading it, you live along with the main characters, taking their place in the story. The book keeps you engaged, and once you pick it up, the story’s words take you off your feet and you don’t put it down until you finish. I would strongly recommend this book to teenagers who are having a hard time growing up and deciding who they want to be. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian is a captivating book you’ll never forget.

The Pack I belong to

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At home, there is a way things flow. When someone asks me what my family is like, I simply respond: connected. At home I feel comfortable talking about many things with my dad, brothers and mom. We work as a web, bouncing ideas and thoughts off each other. We talk and talk and talk and talk for what feels like forever, until we know each other’s stories like the back of our hands. If there’s a problem, we all face it. When one of us is sad, we all shed tears together and feel each other’s pain. When one of us is happy, we all share the pleasant feeling of warmth and laughter as we sing and dance to the songs my parents used to sing when we were little. The songs my dad used, to learn the hispanic language. Those rhythmic songs with words that sound like woven silk in a language we learned as babies.

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My mom is like the sun, shining bright, lighting the dark paths for others. She’s always active and laughing at the smallest jokes others make. She’ll try to make you smile when you’re feeling blue, but it’s not her joke that will crack you up, it’s the effort she puts into it. She’s the kind of person who will crank her favourite song up on the radio and sing the memorised lyrics at the top of her lungs.

 

My dad is like the moon. He’s gentle, but very practical in ways. He sees the world through lenses of knowledge and tells the best stories in the family. He’s up at dawn and doesn’t stop ’till dusk. He’ll have your back, but encourage you to stray from the path and explore the world beyond our sight. he’s the kind of person who isn’t afraid to loosen his reins a little more.

 

My brothers are like the stars. They’re the same, yet polar opposites in so many ways. They’re always asking questions and looking forward, gathering the most they can. They can become arch-enemies and three seconds later, best friends. They protect each other like no others. They’ll listen to every word you say and support you if they believe its right. They’ll roll down hills of grass barefooted, and come back smelling like dogs.

 

And then there’s me. Quiet, yet full of wisdom and curiosity. Constantly examining the beauty of the natural world through adventure. I’m up for the craziest things, as long as my family is by my side. We’re a pack. And I’m happy, grateful to have such a great family near me. They’re literally everything I could’ve wished for, but I hope nothing changes. I hope, because I’m worried. No, I’m scared. I don’t want them to change. I want to make us last forever.

Chocolate Thief

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Maybe I did eat that last piece of chocolate on the top shelf of the fridge. Maybe I did it deliberately. Maybe it was a mistake. We all have habits and do things that bother our siblings, right? Ok. So, I did eat that Milk Oreo Chocolate that we all had such a fond of, and, in fact, it was the best piece of creamy sweetness I had ever had in my entire life.

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At first no one noticed I was in the kitchen, not even my parents, because I was as stealthy as a fox. I crept into the room, carefully placing my feet in a well-thought out path that avoided all objects. I was lucky everyone was busy doing work and listening to music. As I walked passed the sitting room, I scanned the empty kitchen eagerly. I looked on the shelves, in the cupboards, and on the table. Nope, nothing worth eating.

If you know me well enough, you’ll know that I will eat certain foods when I’m in a certain mood. Kind of like a matching game, you know? When I come home from doing sports, I always feel like eating fruit. When I come home tired I’ll eat something simple and quick. When I’m starving I tend to eat a bowl of cereal, and when I’m too stuffed to even think of food, I just drink a glass of fresh milk. Occasionally, though, I will be in a very cheerful and hyper mood, and that’s when I eat toast with butter and chocolate sprinkles. Yes, that’s a thing, and you should seriously try it sometime.

That day when I came home it felt like an exception, you know? Like one of those days that you feel on top of the world. Like one of those scenes in the movies where everyone is happy and nothing can go wrong. Like when you sit down to do your homework, but you realise you already finished it. That’s exactly what I felt like: as if nothing or no one could ruin my day. I almost felt like rewarding myself for being such a great person (don’t ask me why).

Anyway, I snuck into the kitchen and my next instinct told me to go look in the fridge to see what tasty snacks the cold closet would offer me. As I outlined the objects that lay before me, my mind pointed out a piece of chocolate wrapped in a plastic wrapping with five clear letters on it: MILKA. Now, if you’re asking yourself what in the world MILKA is, you got to be joking right? Tie a ribbon around your finger and read this: MILKA is the best chocolate you’ll ever try in your life. It’s almost to die for.

So basically, I snuck the very last piece of MILKA chocolate into my room and ate it myself. Go ahead and call me selfish, but I’ve only done it once and I feel bad for what I did. Luckily they never found out, but when they do… who knows how they’ll react.

The restrictions of Uniforms

Amaia van Dommelen

Mrs. Karper

Language and Literature

May 25, 2016

The Restrictions of Uniforms

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     “Why uniforms?”, tons of students wonder as they open their closet doors to see a pile of white shirts and dull-brown pants neatly folded, ready to be used. Every morning they think the same thought, questioning why students have to show up at school with the same boring clothes, making them look like clones of one another. Uniforms limit many things, including the ability to be creative and have self confidence. Uniforms are commonly not weather appropriate, either. Most importantly, though, a staggering amount of schools have sexist uniforms. Due to these reasons, I believe that schools shouldn’t require students to wear uniforms.

 

     When growing up, students learn to be unique and how to express themselves in numerous ways. As they become older, they start to like showing their inner-selves through what they wear. Children should be able to have the freedom of self-expression. By limiting them from wearing their own clothes at school, students are less confident and are more likely to feel uncomfortable and shy. By not allowing them to wear their own clothes, students are also less likely to think creatively in their class work. Many people agree that uniforms highlight conformity, not individuality.

 

     One of the major reasons that students dislike uniforms is because they aren’t weather appropriate. A great deal of schools are located in places with tropical or warm weather. These schools prioritize the student’s formal appearance over the comfort of the students. Schools that have long trousers, as part of their uniform, restrict and discourage students to go outside during their recesses or breaks. Students with lack of movement, and time outdoors, are then less likely to focus in class and more likely to learn at a slower pace.

 

     At many schools girls and boys have distinctive uniforms. Girls might have skirts and long socks, while boys have trousers. It might seem ordinary, but not many of us recognize that this is a form of sexism. Why do girls have to wear skirts and boys pants? There is no explanation, it’s just the way things are in many places. Skirts and dresses restrict girls from running, jumping, climbing, and even sitting comfortably. Boys don’t have to worry about anything like that thanks to their uniforms. Uniforms make, especially girls, uncomfortable and restrict them from doing activities that the boys in their school do.

 

     Uniforms are boring, hot and uncomfortable clothes. Why do students have to wear them? They might look formal and orderly, but uniforms have many restrictions. There are plenty of reasons, including the ones I stated above, that support why there shouldn’t be uniforms in schools. In the end I believe that uniforms should be banned from schools. I want to wake up one morning and open my closet to see a wide variety of colorful clothes, ready to be worn to school.

 

The Lesser Bear (Ursa Minor)

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     Long ago, when the sky was still clear and the lakes were still blue, a mother bear roamed the mountainous backdrop, with her cub by her side. The grass rustled in the wind, as the cub made his way over to his patient mother. Mother had pale-chestnut fur, which kept her warm from the chilly temperatures they were used to. Her eyes, as black as graphite, reflected an undescriptible look . As the very first snowflake found its way to the ground, mother bear signaled her little bear to stay close.

     After half an hour of tiresome walking, little bear became bored. The ground was now coated in a blanket of snow, as the wet particles kept coming down. The cub lept into the snow and sniffled around in curiosity. Mother bear looked back and growled. “Don’t get distracted, stay close and follow, or the worst will take place.” Quickly, baby bear waddled to his mother. He decided to follow, but ignored what she said.

     Little bear then heard something behind him. He flung around, intrigued by the noise of a snapping twig. For what seemed like a second or two, he investigated what could’ve made that noise. After a while, he gave up. Baby bear turned around. “Mom?”, he squealed, “Mom, where are you?”. Fear struck him. The falling snow made a curtain around him, limiting him from seeing further than a few steps. Baby bear roared as hard as he could, but it was no help.

     Days later, mother bear returned in search of her son, but found him dead on the floor, coated in snow. Mother was so devastated that she lay there until the day of her own death, embracing him in her paws. The gods soon heard of Mother and Little bear, and were so sorrowful that they decided to make things better. The gods took both their souls and placed them in the sky, where they could live for eternity.

  • Amaia van Dommelen

 

Land-mine Trust Walk Reflection

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My name is Dilfuza, but my friends call me Dil. In Persian my name means “pleasing heart” or “Illuminating soul”, which makes me seem all respected and powerful. To be honest, that’s not the way I’m feeling right now. Life in Uzbekistan isn’t pleasant, in fact, nothing’s worse than how the situation is currently put together. Life here is like one of those impossible, one-colored, a thousand-piece puzzle. It seems like a slice of Napaleon Torti (a type of Uzbekistan cake), but it’s not. No piece seems to fit with another, and no matter how hard you’re trying to finish the puzzle, it just doesn’t work. That’s how I feel about life right now.

Anyway, I’m twelve, and I have never been to school. Instead I work hard, day after day, to earn just enough money to live off of. I live with my mother and my little brother, who both stay home. At least, what we “call” home. We basically live in this tiny shack with a metal roof, right smack in the middle of a mine-field. Literally, if you were to look at a map of the area ad place your finger on where you think is the middle, it would be there. The worst part is that I have to cross the field of bombs each day just to get to work.

It’s a miracle that I’m still alive! Crossing the field is like walking over a terrain coated in sharp glass with bare feet. As a matter of fact, it’s worse. The actual fear of stepping on a land mine is immense and unbearable. Just thinking that one misplaced, little step can cost your life is petrifying.

“But why do you risk your life everyday to go to work?” Well, let me tell you why. I gather bamboo shoots to sell at a market. This is the only thing that me and my family can rely on as a source of money. I know it seems absurd that I have to cross this mine-filled field to earn a little bit of money, but it’s the only option I’ve got. If I don’t get money, I can’t buy food, or water, or clothes or shoes, or any other thing that we need. I need the money to support my mother and younger brother. Everyday they are both sitting at home, hoping I will make it back alive with money and dinner. I can’t let them down, therefore I will just have to face my fears and hope for the best.

By now you’re probably wondering why we don’t move to another house. Trust me, my mind has been there many times. One main reason is because of my brother. He is only two and has to be taken care of. My mom wants to live under a roof until he is a little bit older. She doesn’t want to risk the chances of giving up our house, just to go fishing and not catch any bait.

Secondly, we just don’t have the money to afford another place. Many families don’t even have the shelter to sleep in. All we know is that many organizations are looking into clearing all the mines, but all we can do is cross our fingers and hope it’s soon.

 

Amaia

 

The Mysterious Potion

There were fourteen potions on the shelf. Their labels were all missing. She knew one of them was what she needed. She frantically glances back over her shoulder. There wasn’t enough time to figure out which was which. She grabbed the closest one and chugged it, hoping desperately she’d picked the right potion…

Forcing the thick substance down her throat, she knew this was her only hope. Whatever the thing inside that bottle was, it was nasty. It tasted like warm saliva. She dropped the bottle, wondering why it didn’t take affect yet. She stealthily leapt to the shadows, where she stood, peering around the room. The room was eery with only some sunlight pouring through the stained glass. There was a large carpet on the floor that seemed to be made of animal skin. Not like any animal she’d seen before, though. It was larger than a grizzly bear and had the talons of an eagle, as well as a long scaly tale.

Suddenly she heard a noise from the other end of the room. She couldn’t see clearly who or what was there. All she knew is that whatever that is, it means no good.

Then, out of nowhere, her insides seemed to be hurled to one side and then the other. It felt as if her stomach was being ripped out of her. With the killing pain in her insides she knew nothing better than to force herself to the ground to stop the terrible pain, but it was no good. She helplessly laid there, clasping her belly, screaming it out in pain. Slowly but steadily the room around her began to turn darker and darker. She forced her eyes to stay open, but there was no hope. As she took her last breath she could just barely see the silhouette of the creepy man that had been following her.

 

 

Amaia van Dommelen

Phoenix Poem

Deep in the forest, hidden in the shadows,

a bird hides stealthily, that is older than the pharos.

Many mistake him for a bird in the sky,

’cause Phoenixes are only seen by the good-eye.

 

It’s scarlet red wings simmer in the light,

but fade to grey, deep in the night.

It’s beak and claws, as dull as pebbles,

where as the fiery eyes are truly special:

The piercing emerald pupils are immense,

for the all-knowing bird’s life is endless.

A lot to take in from all the things it has seen,

the bird is considered wise and keen.

 

There’s nothing more astonishing than the feathers of the creature,

that they range from dandelion yellow to ruby red is a feature.

This stunning Phoenix is also a song bird,

from miles away its memorable melody can be heard.

It gives courage and hope to those with pure heart,

and strike fear to the evil who practice black art.

 

Not many have seen,

the beauty within,

for the bird is alone,

and a lot is unknown.

 

 

Amaia