Global Studies 2A:Comparative Political and Religious Systems
Friday, December 05, 2003
 
tim:

please enlighten me as to how your mother's cousin is in a cave, i simply do not understand your reasoning, and while your at it define what being in a cave actually is. For me, the cave in plato's alegory represents what society wants people to think, and value. And that the cave is a barrier from truth in itself. For doesn't one have to literally escape the cave to see thruth and light. I can't see how saving people from a disease which many suffer from can be something that the "cave known as society" has conjured up, it appears that it's simply what he knows he must try to do with his life. Having a death in the family simply means taht he understands the effects of knowing a human who suffered, and from this knowledge trying to make sure that others don't have to experience that pain. In many cases, it takes a catastrophe such as this one to spur change. As awful as the death was, the fact that your cousin is even researching cancer gives meaning to it. It seems that throughout the paper, including the title "world saver person" that you have a negative tone concerning this individual. I am dismayed and shocked that you portray this man in such a pejorative light
-aaron
Thursday, December 04, 2003
 
SS 5a
Erica
12/3/03
Reflection

Someone who is making the world a more just place.

Over the summer I was lucky enough to meet the woman who is the US representative of the Animals Asia Foundation, (AAF) a foundation based in China that is working closely with the Chinese government to help improve the life of animals in China, specifically cats and dogs and the moon bears. This foundation has made tremendous strides in helping these animals, and changing the way they are looked at in China, and the foundation hasn’t even been around for very long.
Five years ago Jill Robinson started Animals Asia. Born in England she and her husband had moved to Hong Kong where her love of animals caused her to be appalled by what she saw there. Seeing her first moon bear farm really motivated her start AAF. What is a moon bear? You might be asking. I certainly did, I have done research on animals in China and only come across moon bears once or twice in passing. I didn’t even know what was happening and neither has anyone else I have talked to. Moon bears are Asian black bears that have “bile” in their gall bladders that has many medicinal properties. Tradiotional doctors in China have used it on a small scale for thousands of years. For a while now, however, people have started farming these bears in an effort to make a profit. The bears are caught in traps that often cause the need for whole limbs to be amputated, and then stuck into cages so small that more often than not it actually stunts that bears growth, causing them to grow to be much smaller than they would be in the wild. Than a hole is cut into there side and a catheter is shoved up into their gall bladder to get the bile. Most farms do not have a veterinarian that looks over the animals and many of the bears die of infection right off the bat. The bears that survive look forward to a life where they are underfed, ill-treated and never even let out of their cage. Many bears rub the fur right off their bodies banging up against the bars, trying to get out. This is what Jill saw the first time she went to a bear farm and what she has worked tirelessly for years to stop.
Hope is on the way for the moon bears. AAF has started a campaign to rescue moon bears and then shut down these farms all together. They have a site where they have set up facilities to care for the bears, most of whom are too abused to be able to be rehabilitated back into the wild. She will also be allowed to rescue moon bears to fill this sanctuary because she, and the others at AAF have a treaty with the Chinese government. The government has signed an agreement that gives AAF the right to rescue 500 moon bears in the next few years, and the government is actively working to shut down as many farms as possible. The thing is is that researchers all agree that it is entirely possible to make herbal synthetic forms of this bile that has the same medicinal properties. So really there is no need for the moon bear farms. So why are they still there? They still exist because it is probably cheaper to keep the bears instead, and also because very few people are aware that this synthetic alternative exists. Actually many people, even in China, aren’t aware that such inhumane bear farms exist. Jill has already made a huge difference just by helping to increase awareness of the problem. More people are seeing the whole picture, and more people want to do something about it. In this AAF has already made a big advance. “A thousand miles starts with one step and, for the Animals Asia team, we have enormous pride in being a part of the first steps for animal welfare in China” (1). In addition, thanks to the treaty with the Chinese government, over 100 bears have already been rescued, “who have seen their lives change beyond all recognition.” (1) With all this progress and success story after success story, with more bears being rescued all the time, it is probable that bear farming will soon come to an end. Bears in the wild will get to live in peace, while bears already in captivity will be given the best possible treatment, all from one women who saw what needed to be changed and went out and did it. This is not her only program either, others like “Dr. Dog” and “Friends…or Food” work to help the situation of dogs and cats, which are often eaten as food. Here in America we use dogs for police work, to help the blind, and as companions. These programs work to create the same kind of thing in China. AAF is bettering the lives of animals one step at a time.
Jill and AAF is helping to make the world more just because humans are going to learn to live in harmony with other animals and plants or we are going to end up destroying them and eventually ourselves. Each time we work to save animals from the terrible fate with often put them in we are realizing that these animals are not something that should be controlled by humans. They are not a resource that was put on this earth just to help benefit humans; they are other life forms that have just as much right to be here as we do. Humans have grown accustomed to thinking of ourselves as separate from nature, sure we can go into nature, or we can be in touch with nature, but we are not nature like other animals are. We are above that; nature is something below us that we can control. What Jill has done with AAF is not only to save animals, but also helps to reverse that idea, people are not better than animals; they are not here for our disposal. They are as important to the earth as we are and vice versa. That is why AAF is so important. They are changing the way the world is going to look one mind at a time.
 
Aaron Voldman
12/04/03
Rabbi Max Wall: A Paragon of Justice

The global studies IIA class recently completed study of The Republic, by Plato, and George Orwell’s 1984. The way in which the two books were read produced a sense of deep negativity within the reader concerning the modern world and the incredible amount of work that must be done to get within an acceptable level of justice. As a response to this level of negativity, I was asked to find a just man and learn about the qualities that make him just.
Rabbi Max Wall holds a high level of respect amongst my family. When my mother and father first decided to join a Jewish congregation, he amiably welcomed them. When I was born, he not only was the first to visit my mother, father, and I, but he also presided over my briss. Rabbi Wall also knew some of my ancestors, as well as some of my living relatives including my grandfather Duncan Brown.
Yet he does not simply receive this respect from partaking in important events in my family’s lives, and maintaining friendships with members of my family, but for the simple fact that he is just.
To live a just life, one must first have a rather sharp idea of what justice is, even if the he cannot give synonyms to define it. For if I was in a race, would I not want to know where the finish line would be? When I asked Rabbi Wall to speak about justice, he replied using a quote from The Bible (he uses this term to refer to the Torah): “Tzedik, tzedik teer dov- Justice, and only justice will you pursue. Justice is not something that is attainable; nevertheless The Bible says that we must pursue it. I believe the emphasis is in the pursuit, not attain. It’s impossible to balance the scales of justice completely, only God can do that.” When asked if there can ever be a just society, he responded: “No, I think there can always be a society in growing, it’s a constant dynamic. For example: one can’t say ‘I have got it, I have got a free society, you can’t have this. You can reach for it, and in the reaching you can demonstate the power of the human being.” Rabbi Wall reiterates a familiar theme taken from our studies of The Republic when discussing the just individual as well as the just society. After the conclusion of the book, it is apparent to the Plato reader that although we shall never succeed in making a perfect form of justice, it is the effort of making a less unjust society that shall create more justice.
Yet, Rabbi Wall had not responded to my question of what justice really was, so I asked my query again, and he responded that although he was unable to define justice, one could nonetheless understand it. When asked “how?” he commented: “The Bible says ‘I shall love my neighbor as I love myself. Yet, what if you don’t love yourself? Do you not have to love your neighbor? No. Hillel said: “What is hateful to yourself don’t do to your neighbor.” He continues that one must treat the other such as they are special or have a spark of the divine, meaning that they were created in the form of God. Although merely words, these two commands combined circulate justice close enough that one can dive into close comprehension of justice without having to define it. According to Rabbi Wall, this comprehension is further accentuated by the 10 commandments which help one understand just relationships to a greater extent.
“Judaism says ‘you believe, so what? Pursue it! Demonstrate in the way you live.” I then proceeded to ask how one goes about doing this, and he replied that: “The way you live must be a life in which you: trust, see worth in every human being, and treat others as if you indeed felt there was something special about them.” Throughout the discussion, he also commented that to live a just life, one must: “Have the ability to listen to more than to talk, show kindness and concern for others, help wherever possible, avoid gossip, and see properly.
After asked to describe how one can actually see such things such as love or justice without being able to define them, Rabbi Wall responded that: “You see them in translation, you listen, you see them in terms of relationships between people, the person who listens to others, a person who takes time to pay attention to the uniqueness of the other.” Rabbi Wall comments that although you cannot define certain concepts, one has a sense what they are when one observes a relationship between two individuals. When I asked Rabbi Wall to speak about his life and goals, he responded: “[I] Never tried to define God, love, or freedom, but I think I have spent my life trying to live so other people can see these things as I see them.” Although Rabbi Wall never out rightly comments that he is “just” or lives in a “just fashion,” his previous remark displays that he has tried to live in a just fashion as well as show people how to do this through his relations with others.
Although a great mind is necessary to be able to articulate the true substance of justice, one is not truly just until he demonstrates in the way he lives. After our discussion, driving back to my house, I pondered this. I analyzed my personal relationship with Rabbi Wall and the three main things a man must do to establish a just relationship: create trust, see worth in the other being, and treat him as if he felt there was something special about him.
Although it is impossible to quantify trust, or to describe its place in a relationship, due to numerous events Rabbi Wall has effectively built a strong amount of trust in our relationship. My ability to sense that Rabbi Wall sees worth in me is due to Rabbi Wall’s proper execution of making another individual feel as if they are truly special. Throughout my life, Rabbi Wall has told me that: “He loves me,” and that “That he has always known there was something special about me.” When my mother told me that Rabbi Wall always says the same thing to her, I asked myself whether this in any took away from the validity and value of his flattering description of myself. Quickly, I realized that it did not in anyway whatsoever take away from his description of my soul. Rabbi Wall commented in our interview, that the biological creation of man is so incredible he must be created in the divine spirit, or in the image of God. Therefore, each individual must be treated as God-like or special. Like many other individuals, Rabbi Wall treats me as being special, for like all other humans I deserve this treatment for I was created in the image of God. When each individual on Earth is treated in this fashion, or like a god, one shall truly love his neighbor as he does himself, and not do what is hateful to one’s self on to others.
To produce this relationship of treating the other with a respectful equality, which consequentially produces justice, one must listen. When asked what the correlation between listening and equality was, Rabbi Wall responded: “You don’t know what a person feels, wants, or needs until you listen to him. You can tell him what he needs all along, but unless you hear his plaint, or cry, you haven’t done him justice.” One cannot be just to another until he allows the other to fully explain his position, ideals, or desires. This reasoning leads to how passionately Rabbi Wall despises gossip. For when one tells a story where the subject is another individual, the story is continuously altered through a chain of gossipers. The story is altered to such an extent that the truth becomes buried in a grave underneath sixth feet of embellishment. The truth buried, the subject struggles to release it. But people do not care to listen to him, for they already have a preconceived notion, and he remains unheard. Therefore, this subject is truly dealt an injustice. Rabbi Wall’s desires to not partake in gossip are displayed often when I view him partaking in a discussion and the subject turns to the current rabbinical situation at the synagogue. Rabbi Wall, now retired, attempts to quickly change the subject and not get engulfed in a discussion of gossip.
Another key component according to Rabbi Wall in living a just life is the ability to properly see: “If you lead a life where people can easily trick or fool you, you aren’t obviously doing what you can to improve the mood of justice in the society.” This ability to see was blatantly clear in our interview when he pointed out that laws are not synonymous with justice: “Those people who confuse laws with justice make a mistake. Because there are many laws that are unjust even though they are legal. All of the nazi laws that were perpetrated by Hitler and his minions were legal according to the understanding of law but none of them were just.”
Towards the end of our discussion, Rabbi Wall asked me if a man could be just if he lives all by himself on a deserted island. Mystified, I did not answer, and he proceeded to answer his own question: “You need to have someone to love other than yourself. I am not saying someone who is separated from society is a sinner, by the contrary yet he will not have the opportunity to fulfill all of his human opportunity.” Rabbi Wall finished the discussion by concluding that it is only in the fulfillment of that ultimate relationship of loving thy neighbor as thy self that one truly fulfills his human opportunity. A direct correlation can be drawn between Rabbi Wall’s perspective of the need for a just man to help others and that of Plato. For both men argue that once someone thoroughly comprehends justice, and leads a just life, they must help others comprehend it as well. Plato writes that philosophers, once out of the cave of ignorance and other constraints produced by society must enter again and teach others how to exit. Rabbi Wall goes a step further by actually displaying how to properly teach justice; by his creation of relationships with other beings which are based upon the principals of justice.

Wednesday, December 03, 2003
 
Tim Aikey
World Saver Person
12/03/03

Someone that is making a difference both nationally and globally, that I personally know would be my mom’s cousin, Mark Socinski. He is trying to find a cure for Breast cancer. He has saved many people from dieing from this type of cancer and a couple of other types but only in their early stages of the cancer. He hasn’t actually found a cure that will work every time, but is searching for one. His brother died from some kind of cancer, so this motivated him to become a doctor, and find a cure for this particular disease. As he got closer to becoming a doctor in the field he wanted to, he changed his mind a little, and tried doctoring in a couple of different cancers. As of now he is only making a small difference to individual lives. Solving one patient’s problem at a time. If he ever achieves his ultimate goal of finding a cure for one type of cancer, then he would make the whole better “world”.

There are many ideas of how to better the world, and what bettering is. Many people think that bettering the world would involve creating a utopia, which in Greek means, “not place.” Some people think that killing millions and even billions of people would be one way to better the world. This would solve over population, and allow a utopia to be more feasible, if that is why you would want to kill all of these people. My second cousin, Mark Socinski, believes that bettering the world involves, making people happy, and saving as many lives as possible.

I believe Mark’s idea of bettering the world is slightly biased, subjective and emotional. I believe that Mark is in a cave due to his brother’s death. I believe mark is in an emotional cave though. This “emotional cave” has allowed him to accomplish many things. Mark wrote a book called Slide Atlas of Endocrine Tumours and Malignancies (Slide Atlas of Diagnostic Oncology) (http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/1563750376/design60b-20/104-3245451-7161519), and helped write a book called Diagnosis and Treatment of Lung Cancer: An Evidence-Based Guide for the Practicing Clinician (http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0721691927/design60b-20/104-3245451-7161519). The other option is that people who believe the opposite of Mark are the ones in the cave, and it takes something emotional to get out of the cave, but I doubt it. I believe that mark is bettering the world according to how most of society believes bettering to be. Cave (cough, cough).

 
Will Meyer
12/3/03
SS5

William Smith was the inventor of modern geology. He discovered that lines that were imbedded in the earth actually ran on forever in all of the continents. And now because of his work we can map the underground hidden layer of the earth that was once a mere mystery to us. Obviously Smith had a great impact on the world for his discovery of modern geology. Today his practices are used all over the world. However he did not immediately receive all of the attention that he deserved.

The year was 1793. William Smith a canal digger discovered one of the most influential discoveries in modern history. “He found that by tracing the placement of fossils, which he uncovered in his excavations, one could follow layers of rocks as they dipped and rose and fell-clear across England and, indeed, clear across the world.” (Simon Winchester, The Map that Changed The World back cover). Clearly as you can see William Smith stumbled across the greatest find, and indeed the most influential find to geology ever. “The document is exquisitely beautiful-a beauty set off by its great size, more than eight feet by six-and by the fact that it towers-looms, indeed-above those who stand on the staircase to see it. The care and attention to its detail is clear; this is the work of a craftsman, lovingly done, the culmination of years of study, months of careful labor.” (Winchester XVI) this proves that Smith was a perfectionist at heart and completely devoted to his work.

“William Smith was born into a world of dogma, faith, and certainty, into a conservative English society that his own discoveries and theories would one day help shake to its very foundations. And yet already- however conservative the mood of the early eighteenth century may have seemed-there are signs that, viewed from today’s perspective, suggest that even at the time of his birth it was imperceptibly readying itself for all that discoveries like Smith would find and do.” (Winchester pg: 11). As you can see from the above quote William Smith would have a great impact on the world along with some other great minds of the time. Such as Charles Darwin himself.

“This is the first true geological map of anywhere in the world. It is a map that heraled the beginnings of a whole new science. It is a document that laid the groundwork for the making of great fortunes-in oil, in iron, in coal, and in other countries in diamonds, tin, platinum, and silver-that were won by explorers who used such maps. It is a map that laid the foundations of a field of study that culminated in the work of Charles Darwin.” (Winchester XVI). Imagine it. There you are going about your business and suddenly you come across an entire new science. An entire new science that was practiced up till now, and will be practiced for years to come.

Imagine to be the creator of an entire new field of study that would be used by in my opinion the greatest naturalist ever. The world was ready and waiting for Smith to come out of the woodwork and create something revolutionary. A revolutionary idea that sparked the fires of the scientific changeover searching out the ultimate truth. Smith was the starter of the movement by modern scientists to come out and say that maybe just maybe the bible was incorrect in the way things were. Maybe there was a greater ultimate truth to the way things were created that the bible was in fact blocking from view.
 
Tobi Drori
your my hope uncle natie

We always read books about societies that try to create a utopia, this no place. In the end the societies that are trying to reach this theory about absolute perfection, inevitably fall. They are destroyed, for it is impossible to make everything and everyone faultless, because there will always be problematic issues to deal with. We only see the fantasies of these places, but never the reality. More importantly, perfection is impossible, but not many people can see that. In our minds we create this “cave” about society, and we have to have perfection in order for life to be just. Yet, that’s not the point to life. It’s not about creating the perfect place, or the perfect person. It’s about making that place or person less imperfect. Taking each issue one at a time and improving it. This is the guide, the outline, to what makes things more just and less flawed. Unfortunately, not many can see this about life because we are frustrated and yet saddened by the fact that it is impossible to make perfection real.
We read, learn, and hear people talk and express how to make the perfect place, but then we realize that it would be impossible to create such a world. In other cases, we read about places that make the situation better for only the government, and the individual or the environment suffer and loose. George Orwell’s 1984 describes a place exactly like this. The individual, such as Winston Smith, has no freedom due to the fact that in order for the government to have full control, they must take away the individuals rights. Even in reality and not just in stories, society tends to only focus on the inevitable downfall of societies, groups, and individuals. No one looks for the good because we are completely focused on trying to make things flawless in the fist shot. It is the truth that things always have an end, even the good things, which make people not search out for that minuscule example of hope. Hope that will make the individual believe that society can become more just and less imperfect. That sense of optimism that guides us to make our society less imperfect is lost. No one looks around, and finds that one example of hope, that example that is never mentioned. However, that example is what could bring the hope. It can show and prove to people that not everything gets destroyed, or that there is no point to live because we can’t reach perfection. That example of hope can bring a new light which would direct people out of that cave.
I myself after reading The Republic of Plato and George Orwell’s 1984 was becoming frustrated with society, and yet saddened by that fact that there was always going to be this endless cycle of destruction. How come society couldn’t be completely just and moral? Why couldn’t the individual hold the 4 cardinal virtues as Plato described through out his discussion of his utopia. I couldn’t see the individuals or groups that try to become less imperfect because I was fixated on why we couldn’t make society ideal. The problem was that I wasn’t searching out. I wanted the answer. Then I remembered a time when I witnessed an ordinary man of 80 have a huge impact on so many people.
It was two years ago when I went with my family to Montreal, Quebec to celebrate my great uncle’s 80th birthday with family and friends. At the time I didn’t think much of the event. It was just like any normal family gathering that we went to. There would be my cousins and people that claimed to be my relatives, but I had no clue as to who they were. There were so many of us who came to see this man on his very special birthday of 80 years. People that I had never seen before in my life. Even a distant cousin of mine rode down on his motorcycle from Toronto for just that night to see our uncle. This cousin in particular was someone that the family had not seen in many years. He was someone that I had never even seen before. Yet, they all were there to be with him.
He was, and still is today, a person who affected every single soul in that room. I remembered looking around and wondering what he had done in his life to have all these people come from far and near to sit and talk with him, and just be in his presence. That night made me start to think about my uncle more, about his past and present. Who was this man? I knew that he was always a kind and loving person. He always smiled and welcomed my family into his home with open arms. Yet, I never thought anything of him. He was just uncle Natie, an ordinary kind person. On the other hand he is that minute example of hope that I need to prove to myself that society and the individual can be just, can become less imperfect, and can bring hope for the rest of society.
Nathan Kalichman, or uncle Natie as everyone calls him, is a just and moral man. He is someone that does not focus on himself, or as Plato stated it, focusing only on the individual, which would lead to greed. He is always lending out a helping hand, and making sure that everyone he knows, whether or not he is of blood relation to that person, is in good health. I have never seen him, or heard of him ever doing a greedy deed that would only benefit himself. However, that is only coming from my word, and it is human nature, and sometimes error, to do things for their own advantage. Yet even so, Nathan Kalichman has always had an open door. I remember once hearing an incident were one of my relatives was in desperate need of help, financially. He turned to my uncle in hope for aid, and he found it without any questions asked. I do not know what Natie’s thoughts or opinions were of this particular relative, but I know he felt it was just to guide this person through his troubles in hope that he would be able to start over. Even before he had made his money he felt the responsibility to support his family. He financially helped to support his parents when they were in need. Nathan is an intelligent individual who has read great philosophers such as Plato. He has traveled all over, and has taught people important and meaningful skills.
Nathan is a mentor to all. He guides people through the path of life, and helps them along the way. He always showed his family the importance of having a strong connection, and the value of giving to others. His children follow in his footsteps. He is a teacher; a person who illustrates to all he touches, that life is a gift that needs to be tended to. In other terms, he is an example of someone who takes a problem and solves it, trying to improve the faults. Nathan Kalichman is the individual who does not do things for himself. He is not greedy or selfish. He acts for the society. His society is his family. He has fashioned his family in a way that makes them just as individuals in the outside society, and just in their own group, the family unit.
He is my hope that I have found for myself. Nathan has proven to me that the world can be improved to be made less imperfect. More significantly, he has shown me how I can become a more just individual.

 
John Donahue
12/4/03
Global
Paper
Mr. Manfred Hummel
For this paper I chose to do my old english teacher Manfred Hummel, who was an english teacher for thirty years. The last year he taught at the school I attended before Vermont Commons, he taught 2 classes. My British literature class was one of the classes. Coincidently, it was my last year at this school as well. This man was treated like trash by most students, but the students who actually paid attention is his classes left with something. Most of the teachers at my previous school I didn’t pay attention to, but there was something about this teacher. He generally wanted to see his students succeed, and always made sure that there was no one left behind. The kids that didn’t pay attention he didn’t kick out, he just came up with a ordered seating chart. You would think that he would have split all of the trouble makers up, but he didn’t. He consolidated them into the one section, and it wasn’t connected to the rest of the class. I never understood why he did, so I asked him and he said, “ Put a wolf with the sheep, and he will slaughter the flock, put a wolf with his pack, and they will slaughter themselves.” Eventually, all the kids that sat away from the class rejoined. His method worked.
I did not treat this man poorly, but I would laugh at the typical things the goofy kids in the class would do. It was the end of November, and I had laughed at some stupid remark one of the “ troublemakers,” had made and one day he asked to speak to me after class. I was expecting the typical, “ disrespectful,” speech that I had received from other teachers in the past, but not this time. It was after last period, and I didn’t have a class to go to, so he and I talked for about an hour. I won’t go into details, but he basically asked me how I felt about my education, and where I saw myself going, and that he saw something in me that he didn’t see in any of his other students, and that he thought I sold my self short most of the time. Of course, I also got the whole, “ don’t be like the trouble makers,” speech as well.
I went home that night and thought a lot about what Mr. Hummel and I talked about. Out of all the things he said, the thing that stuck out the most was, “ You must enjoy the atmosphere you are in to educate yourself. Here’s a book, if you get a chance, take a look at it.” With that he handed me an old dusty copy of A Tale of Two Cities. I sat on my bed and started to read it, got through the first page and said to myself “ screw this, I’ve got better things to do,” and tossed it into my hamper and spent the rest of the night thinking .
Two weeks later in class Mr. Hummel announced that we needed to do an analytical essay on a book that has to be cleared with him, and if you failed it you would not pass the class. I figured I would give A Tale of Two Cites another go around, considering I gave up on it fast. I read the first two chapters, and I actually thought the book was pretty cool. What wasn’t so cool was that same night I got my progress reports, and I wasn’t doing so well in my classes. I thought back to that comment Mr. Hummel made, and realized I didn’t like the school that I was at.
Soon after that I started looking at different schools, and I applied and what not and the year continued. Basically the last half of the year was dedicated to our paper. My paper dealt with symbolism in A Tale of Two Cities. After I finished the book, I sat in my chair and realized that A Tale of Two Cites was the first book that I had ever read cover to cover. I was real puzzled with myself, and went and saw Mr. Hummel the next day and told him that I had finished the book, so he helped me get started on my paper.
The time went by, and I had handed in all my drafts, and it came time to hand in my final draft. I felt pretty confident. The next day he handed mine back with a big, “ SEE ME” on it, so I did. He told me that my paper was good, but that I missed over some of the key points in the story, so he and I worked through it, and he let me turn in a new final draft the last day of regular classes before finals. Mr. Hummel’s exam was the last exam I took at my old school, and as I handed in my exam he asked if I had chosen a school to go to, and I told him the Vermont Commons School. He shook my hand, handed me my paper back, and wished me the best of luck. I got an A- on my paper, so I was pretty stoked.
Basically, if Mr. Hummel hadn’t of sat me down that say, I probably wouldn’t even be at The Vermont Commons School, and right now I would probably trying to make a living off of music, because that all I had planned on. This man just didn’t help me, my friends mom had Mr. Hummel. She said that he did anything in his power to make sure that she passed British Literature, and that was 25 years ago. Imagine the people this man has helped over the course of thirty years and he doesn’t even get credit for it.
I saw Mr. Hummel walking out of By Gone Books, the used book store downtown over the summer, and caught him just before he was about to take off on his bike. We talked for about 15 minutes. I didn’t think that he would have remembered me because his memory wasn’t so good, but he did. He said that he had heard nothing but good things about The Vermont Commons School, and was very happy to hear that I had found my environment to learn.
 
John Donahue
12/4/03
Global
Paper
Mr. Manfred Hummel
For this paper I chose to do my old english teacher Manfred Hummel, who was an english teacher for thirty years. The last year he taught at the school I attended before Vermont Commons, he taught 2 classes. My British literature class was one of the classes. Coincidently, it was my last year at this school as well. This man was treated like trash by most students, but the students who actually paid attention is his classes left with something. Most of the teachers at my previous school I didn’t pay attention to, but there was something about this teacher. He generally wanted to see his students succeed, and always made sure that there was no one left behind. The kids that didn’t pay attention he didn’t kick out, he just came up with a ordered seating chart. You would think that he would have split all of the trouble makers up, but he didn’t. He consolidated them into the one section, and it wasn’t connected to the rest of the class. I never understood why he did, so I asked him and he said, “ Put a wolf with the sheep, and he will slaughter the flock, put a wolf with his pack, and they will slaughter themselves.” Eventually, all the kids that sat away from the class rejoined. His method worked.
I did not treat this man poorly, but I would laugh at the typical things the goofy kids in the class would do. It was the end of November, and I had laughed at some stupid remark one of the “ troublemakers,” had made and one day he asked to speak to me after class. I was expecting the typical, “ disrespectful,” speech that I had received from other teachers in the past, but not this time. It was after last period, and I didn’t have a class to go to, so he and I talked for about an hour. I won’t go into details, but he basically asked me how I felt about my education, and where I saw myself going, and that he saw something in me that he didn’t see in any of his other students, and that he thought I sold my self short most of the time. Of course, I also got the whole, “ don’t be like the trouble makers,” speech as well.
I went home that night and thought a lot about what Mr. Hummel and I talked about. Out of all the things he said, the thing that stuck out the most was, “ You must enjoy the atmosphere you are in to educate yourself. Here’s a book, if you get a chance, take a look at it.” With that he handed me an old dusty copy of A Tale of Two Cities. I sat on my bed and started to read it, got through the first page and said to myself “ screw this, I’ve got better things to do,” and tossed it into my hamper and spent the rest of the night thinking .
Two weeks later in class Mr. Hummel announced that we needed to do an analytical essay on a book that has to be cleared with him, and if you failed it you would not pass the class. I figured I would give A Tale of Two Cites another go around, considering I gave up on it fast. I read the first two chapters, and I actually thought the book was pretty cool. What wasn’t so cool was that same night I got my progress reports, and I wasn’t doing so well in my classes. I thought back to that comment Mr. Hummel made, and realized I didn’t like the school that I was at.
Soon after that I started looking at different schools, and I applied and what not and the year continued. Basically the last half of the year was dedicated to our paper. My paper dealt with symbolism in A Tale of Two Cities. After I finished the book, I sat in my chair and realized that A Tale of Two Cites was the first book that I had ever read cover to cover. I was real puzzled with myself, and went and saw Mr. Hummel the next day and told him that I had finished the book, so he helped me get started on my paper.
The time went by, and I had handed in all my drafts, and it came time to hand in my final draft. I felt pretty confident. The next day he handed mine back with a big, “ SEE ME” on it, so I did. He told me that my paper was good, but that I missed over some of the key points in the story, so he and I worked through it, and he let me turn in a new final draft the last day of regular classes before finals. Mr. Hummel’s exam was the last exam I took at my old school, and as I handed in my exam he asked if I had chosen a school to go to, and I told him the Vermont Commons School. He shook my hand, handed me my paper back, and wished me the best of luck. I got an A- on my paper, so I was pretty stoked.
Basically, if Mr. Hummel hadn’t of sat me down that say, I probably wouldn’t even be at The Vermont Commons School, and right now I would probably trying to make a living off of music, because that all I had planned on. This man just didn’t help me, my friends mom had Mr. Hummel. She said that he did anything in his power to make sure that she passed British Literature, and that was 25 years ago. Imagine the people this man has helped over the course of thirty years and he doesn’t even get credit for it.
I saw Mr. Hummel walking out of By Gone Books, the used book store downtown over the summer, and caught him just before he was about to take off on his bike. We talked for about 15 minutes. I didn’t think that he would have remembered me because his memory wasn’t so good, but he did. He said that he had heard nothing but good things about The Vermont Commons School, and was very happy to hear that I had found my environment to learn.
 
Someone who has made a effort to help change the world, and help make society a better place: by Rachel
Terry Welsh was an extraordinary woman with many valuable talents. She, in her own way made the world a better place for the people that were around her. Terry Welsh was not only my neighbor and my voice/piano teacher, but she also worked for the Grand Isle Rescue Squad. She and her husband Brian were the most devoted people on that squad. There was never a time where Terry wasn’t listening to that walky-talky, waiting for a call. Even during my lessons with her, it was always by the piano. I talked to Terry a lot about her job on the rescue squad, and she always gloated about how happy and how important her job made her feel. She told me her favorite hobby was to help people. The rescue squad was a huge chunk of her life, and she never did a half ass job. When my mother hurt her foot and scrapped it up, Terry came over every night to see how she was doing and helped rewrap it in a bandage. Whenever I came for a lesson, or just to visit with my neighbor she was always upbeat and ready to talk about anything. She always had a smile on her face.
Now you may think to yourself that Terry was your typical average happy woman, who was just plain happy and willing to listen, teach, learn all the time. But what I have failed to mention so far was that Terry had severe cancer. She had been struggling with her cancer problems since she could remember and was very open to talking about it. I do not know the details of her cancer history but that is not what’s important. What’s important is how much she helped out to make this society a better place. What’s important is how she made a point to help people, even when she was suffering so much inside of her.
Terry was the type of woman that when she saw a problem, she would go after to fix it right away. Her husband Brian told stories about how he used to come home from work and find a random person from the street sitting at his table. When he called his wife in to explain, the reasons ranged from “This woman was being abused and had no where to go” to “She’s sick and has no family.” Countless times, Terry would bring strangers into her home and help him back on their feet. Abused woman, pregnant woman, ill woman...the list goes on. Terry just wanted to help them. Many people called Terry their “Second Mother.” She was easy to talk too, and was the best at giving advice. She related to people well, and am pleased to say I have proof of people whom she has turned their life around because of her kindness, and willingness to take a risk.
From a students point of view, Terry, as like any teacher, was very demanding in her lessons. She knew what and how she wanted to teach and she made you believe that you could succeed in anything. She pushed her students hard, but still had that kindness in her voice. When you came to your lesson, you weren’t just there for your lesson. She wanted to know about your day, so she could tell what kind of lesson you were about to have. She loved to hear about events going on in lives, and updates on school. Terry took sickness very seriously. If you had the slightest cough or started to sneeze, it was straight to the kitchen for some tea and medicine. She wouldn’t hear of anything else. I remember countless times where I left with handfuls of medicine in the hands.
When Terry’s cancer got worse last year, her attitude stayed bright and cheery. When I came for lessons she always joked about how much meds they had her on and how the important appointments were taking up her teaching time. Teaching was her passion. Then one night last year when I was sitting in my dorm room in CA, I got a phone call telling me that Terry was in the hospital and the doctors had told her family she was getting worse and she probably didn’t have a lot of time left. I didn’t want to believe it, however when I came home for thanksgiving break I went to see her. By then, she was back at home but all of her hair had fallen out. She told me she was still trying to teach just as much but the “stupid” doctors kept shooing her to bed. She laughed about how she thought she looked so silly, and she still had that smile on her face. I was nervous seeing her like this, I was a little scared to talk. I wanted to tell her how much I appreciated everything she had done for me and taught me, but I didn’t want to sound like she was dying right away. I didn’t want to believe it. So I said nothing about it. I wish I had known that was the last time I was ever going to see her again. I went back to school, came home for the summer and was honestly afraid to go visit her again. My senior year of school had started and I was just so busy.
Terry died about a month ago. Her funeral was very hard for me. I cursed myself so many times for being afraid to go over there. At the funeral, her students and family told stories. Stories I never knew about because I had been in CA. Her husband told everyone that when Terry was sickly ill and lying in bed unable to move this summer, she placed the walky-talky by her bed and instructed the rescue squad team on how to do certain maneuvers on their patients. She never gave up. He told us how when the minute she was feeling better she called out to Brian, “Call my best students over...I think I’m going to be able to teach a little!” Eventually, she had to cancel all lessons. She tried so hard, even though she knew it wasn’t the best for her. She refused to be useless, even when she was in enormous pain. She brought so much joy to peoples lifes and changed them for the better that at her funeral they had to have a audio device downstairs in the basement to hear what was going on upstairs because there were too many people. It was packed, and stories and stories were told by many people about how Terry helped him or her out. Terry Welsh was a strong woman with a huge heart and a lot of bravery. She strived to help society and the people around her, even when she was suffering so much inside of her.
Monday, December 01, 2003
 
Sam
November 28, 2003
Global Studies 5A
Give an example of a near perfect society

On Easter Island, there once lived a small population of settlers. There population never grew to be more than 10,000 people. “From at least AD 1000 to 1680, Rapa Nui's population increased significantly. Some estimate the population reached a high of 9,000 by 1550.” (1) Now all that remains of this ancient self sufficient culture are giant statues scattered throughout the island. They were a perfect culture. They were very religious, and this most likely was what made them stay a small culture.

“According to an Easter Island legend, some 1,500 years ago a Polynesian chief named Hotu Matu'a ("The Great Parent") sailed here in a double canoe from an unknown Polynesian island with his wife and extended family. He may have been a great navigator, looking for new lands for his people to inhabit, or he may have been fleeing a land rife with warfare.” (1) The original inhabitants most likely came over from Polynesia. It is not clear weather they were fleeing from something or they were just looking for lands to colonize. The small group of settlers remained without European influence until 1722. There culture took a sharp decline when all of there forests were cut down for agricultural use. All of there natural resources were being used up and the lands weren’t fertile anymore. They resorted to cannibalism, which led to there downfall. “Moai carving and transport were in full swing from 1400 to 1600, just 122 years before first contact with European visitors to the island. In those 122 years, Rapa Nui underwent radical change.” (1)

This society was at its peak from 1400 to 1600. They seem much like our culture today in the USA on a much smaller scale. But still a doomed culture. They, like us were most likely a group of outcasts looking for something new. But when there population became to big to sustain life on the small island, there civilization became corrupt. The Europeans weren’t the cause of this decline in population. When the Dutch arrived, there were a mere 400 people still left. “Roggeveen found only 400 inhabitants on the island, but it appears that there were as many as 10,000 of them in earlier times. The civilization of Easter Island had degenerated drastically during the centuries before the arrival of the Dutch, owing to the overpopulation, deforestation and exploitation of the extremely isolated island with its limited natural resources.” (2) This quote shows how it wasn’t the europeans who destroyed this society. It was because of a shortage in natural resourses.

In conclusion, the peoples of Easter island had an almost perfect society. They kept it up for hundreds of years. It is a perfect example of how you can have a near perfect culture, but you can’t have it for ever. Over, and out^^

1) http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/easter/civilization/first.html, Nov. 2000, by Liesl Clark
2) http://en2.wikipedia.org/wiki/Easter_Island, Nov. 23, 2003


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