The Disappointing Rose

Like many of you, Rose was my first and my favorite companion for the longest time. Quiet literally, Rose Tyler was the longest running companion since the reboot of the show in 2005, appearing as main character in over 30 episodes. She was smart but kind, brave but not reckless, she had a bright mind and smile, she was perfect. Until I look back on the her years later.

Rose Tyler started as an unimportant little girl who worked at a shop. Her family wasn’t rich, her boyfriend wasn’t special, she had the most normal life possible. She was waiting for excitement to happen. Which is exactly what the Doctor brought to her. Within hours of meeting him, they’re running through London, saving the city, and traveling in a magic box. Needless to say, Rose was dazzled by the Doctor. So much so that she abandoned her boyfriend, her family, her past and ran away with him.

Then this became an reoccurring theme. Leaving her responsibilities and past behind, Rose traveled with the Doctor through all of time and space, she became important, she became a support of the Doctor, and eventually a love interest. But there’s always inherent selfishness lingering in her choices and behaviors. Her explicit choice of the Doctor over her single mother, her boyfriend, her father whom she so desperately wanted to meet, despite the Doctor’s direct warning that they will not be traveling forever.

After they’re goodbye on the beach of Bad Wolf Bay, the doctor moved on to find other companions and adventures. Maybe it’s out of continuity, or maybe it’s the show writer wanting to give Rose a happy ending, Rose Tyler came back, even though risking the chance of ripping the universe apart. It had seem the smart and independent Rose disappeared on Doomsday, and was replaced by a shallow character who had one purpose in life: to find the Doctor.

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Diversity over Pizza and OJ

Being an international student, I had the honor to be a part of a group of people of different nationality, culture, family upbringing, major, religion, and personal interest. The fact Wartburg College has a small campus makes it even easier. Lunch and dinner conversations are always my favorite: everybody brings their own attributes to the table and because we have such different backgrounds.

One of my favorite conversations happened in Mensa was about wether an Indian friend of mine should be considered Asian. We went into great length to discuss what does it mean to be a part of that continent, is it just a place in which you’re born in? Is it the culture you grew up with? Is it the genetic traits you carry? Or is it even a combination of all of the above?

Which led me thinking, do I still count as a Chinese? I’ve been way from home since I was 15 years old. In the past 6 years, I’ve done my best to immerse myself in American culture: I’ve attempted Mac N Cheese multiple times(despite the fact I’m lactose intolerant); I’ve fell in love with Grey’s anatomy; I’ve witnessed two rounds of election; I’ve went on both hunting trip and youth religion camp; I’ve adapted to the use of OMG and LOL; I’ve been Americanized. I’ve grown into an adult in the American society and accepted it’s values. At this very moment, I might even be more fluent in English than I am Chinese. I’ve always prided myself as Chinese and I always will, but exactly how Chinese am I?

Who am I?

 

 

 

An alternative RICE day

During this year of RICE day, unlike the previous years, I got the chance to present my biology senior research project: Capsaicinoid Concentration in the Carolina Reaper Peaks at 40 Days From Fruit Set and Declines thereafter. Don’t worry, this blog won’t be scienecy whimey since most of my audience is not going to be biology major. Which brings me to my point: diversity in audiences.

Although I’ve already presented my poster to the peers in my class, presenting during RICE day was a whole different experience.  To sum it up the best, I’m going to use Dr. Bousquet as an example. Unlike other professors, before he listened to our speech, he gave us a parameter: time and target audience. We needed to be able to explain our research to a “high school history teacher”, “under 5 minutes”. Not only did we need to condense our information, we also need to explain it in simpler language to avoid science jargons.

Most of us speakers have a very comprehensive understanding of our research, but most of our audience have different level of understanding. Just like we each have different background in terms of culture and knowledge in diversity. Sometimes it takes a little extra attention and effort to accommodate the difference.

Gridlock review

With a more critical mind, I watched the third episode “Gridlock” of season 3, Doctor Who for the second time, this pass weekend. Although enjoying it the first time around, rewatching it made me question the basics set ups of this tv series.

As expected, the episode started with a messed up world in need of the Doctor’s saving. Except this time, Russell T. Davies takes on the challenge to combine the following elements: “a women giving birth to a basket of kittens”, “mood(drug) merchant with no moral baseline”, “an environment so polluted yet the people are too keen on carpooling that it involves kidnapping strangers”, and lastly, “a decade long traffic jam”. Looking at this set up logically, there is no logic whatsoever. The entire episode plays out in an absurd way, with the Doctor jumping from carriage to carriage in deadly fumes, Martha driving through giant killer crabs, and the Face of Boe explain his ingenious plan at the end to clean up the mess and end the 45 minutes madness.

The amount of obvious flaws and plot holes made me think maybe that was the intent of the show runner. No human would ever wait for decade long traffic, a police that never reply, and a monster underground without question the reality. We would never be fooled by such ridiculous set up. But the very fact that human did accept all of the above as a society norm should rings us like an alarm. With the right setting and context, we can accept something as bleak as a never ending traffic jam.

Maybe the story Russell T Davies laid out for us in this episode were supposed to be understood on the metaphorical grounds. We as human are so adaptive to abnormality, we can always find strength in other people who’s also sharing the same harsh condition, build community, and establish an illusion of comfort zone in order to maintain our sanity. When in reality, we are all stuck in our separate tin pod, on a long road of poisonous fume, waiting for the future that might never be here.

When we live in a society where poverty, hunger, war, inequality and so many others are accepted as inevitable parts of our society. When our leaders find reasons to justify racism, sexism, inequality. When we have normalized these madness, who are we to question the eternal traffic jam?

Vagina Monologue

Hi fellow classmates. Did my title catch your eyes? Did it make you uncomfortable?

Have you walked pass the Luther hall in the last few days? Have you ever wondered what’s happening with the women in black and white photos? Yep, it’s the annual Wartburg College V-Day campaign.

First, a little background information. The V-Day campaign is part of a global activist movement to stop violence against women and girls. At Wartburg College this year, two performances of Even Ensler’s Vagina Monologue will be presented to raise awareness. Along with the fund raised from the silent auction will be donated to the Cedar Valley Friends and Family.

Last year this week, I got a chance to go to the performances presented by students and faculty. As a floor event, my RA invited all the girls to go and listen to the stories collected from women all over the world. It was funny, it was inspiring, it was outrageously mad and sad at the same time, and yes, it made me uncomfortable. Coming from a very conservative family in a conservative culture, even feminism is considered unconventional. I will never forget the conversation I had with my mom last Christmas break. She told me that there are three types of people in the world: Men, Women, and Women with a PhD degree. Women with strong opinions and very high educational background will seem intimidating and will probably live in between books, successful, but alone. I need to tone myself down.  So you see, talking about vaginas would make me uncomfortable.

But perhaps it’s that little bit of un-comfortableness that makes the show seemed so attractive for me. Most of the topics that needs to be addressed often brings some level of uneasiness. From polar differences in political ideologies, to the diversity in religion and culture. So is talking about vagina. Just like dancing on the edge with the trill of falling off, I joined the crew this year, delivering a piece called “My vagina was my village”. I’ve attached the piece of monologue here, to give you a sneak peak of the show:

Bosnian women refugees were interviewed during the war in Yugoslavia, in refugee camps and centers.
Between 1992 and 1995, fifty to sixty-thousand women were raped in the middle of Europe as a systematic tactic of war.  Around the world we see this atrocious violence repeated in violent conflict: at the height of the war over minerals in the Democratic Republic of Congo 1,152 women were raped every day – that’s 48 per hour – totaling over 420,000 women in one year (2006-2007), many of whom were raped multiple times, in Colombia nearly 500,000 women were raped between 2001-2009, in a nine month period over 200,000 women were raped in Bangladesh in the 1970’s, and numbers are yet to be determined for the women who are currently suffering though systematic sexual violence in Afghanistan, Syria, Iraq and South Sudan.
 It is shocking to see how little people do to stop it or even acknowledge it.  But, then again, in the United States, each year, about two hundred thousand women are raped, which is another kind of war.
This monologue is based on one woman’s story.  We do it tonight for that woman and the extraordinary women of Bosnia and Kosovo.

MY VAGINA WAS MY VILLAGE

WOMAN 1 (Lily Zheng)

My vagina was green, water soft pink fields, cow mooing sun resting sweet boyfriend touching lightly with soft piece of blonde straw.

WOMAN 2 (Sneha Mahapatra)

There is something between my legs.  I do not know what it is.  I do not know where it is.  I do not touch.  Not now.  Not anymore.  Not since.

WOMAN 1

My vagina was chatty, can’t wait, so much, so much saying words talking, can’t quit trying, can’t quit saying, oh yes, oh yes.

WOMAN 2

Not since I dream there’s a dead animal sewn in down there with thick black fishing line.  And the bad dead animal smell cannot be removed.  And its throat is slit and it bleeds through all my summer dresses.

WOMAN 1

My vagina singing all girl songs, all goat bell ringing songs, all wild autumn field songs, vagina songs, vagina home songs.

WOMAN 2

Not since the soldiers put a long thick rifle inside me.  So cold, the steel rod canceling my heart.  Don’t know whether they’re going to fire it or shove it though my spinning brain.  Six of them, monstrous doctors with black masks shoving bottles up me too.  There were sticks and the end of a broom.

WOMAN 1

My vagina swimming river water, clean spilling water over sun-baked stones over stone clit, clit stones over and over.

WOMAN 2

Not since I heard the skin tear and made lemon screeching sounds, not since a piece of my vagina came off in my hand, a part of the lip, now one side of the lip is completely gone.

WOMAN 1

My vagina.  A live wet water village.  My vagina my hometown.

WOMAN 2

Not since they took turns for seven days smelling like feces and smoked meat, they left their dirty sperm inside me.  I became a river of poison and pus and all the crops died, and the fish.

WOMAN 1

My vagina a live wet water village.

WOMAN 2

They invaded it.  Butchered it and burned it down.

WOMAN 1

I do not touch now.

WOMAN 2

Do not visit.

WOMAN 1

I live someplace else now.

WOMAN 2

I don’t know where that is.

If f you’ve made it this far in to the post, the performance will be this Thursday and Friday, at 7:30 p.m. in Lyceum, tickets will be available for $5 at the door.

Sources: Vagina Monologue, Eve Ensler, 1996.

Women Under Siege Project  http://www.womenundersiegeproject.org/

The Doctor and I (also my favorite episode)

Before I start everything, can we just take a moment and laugh about how I stared at my laptop for about 20 minutes without putting a single word down? For a show that I love so much, I hardly know where to start.

Doctor Who has accompanied through most of my college years. I started watching the show about three years ago, on a cold winter night (Christmas break). I must admit, between the rough British accent and the old TV production, it was a little difficult for me to completely understand the show. But I still remember the exact moment when I fell in love :

https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/564x/30/06/80/3006805bfe758f2cefbae935bfa74f86.jpg

Mickey: “Pi-pi-pi-PIZZA! ”

Without having to view the show with a critical mind, I simply enjoyed the drama, the thrill, the freedom of traveling through time and space. One of my favorite episodes is set in 1890, France. The 11th doctor (played by Matt Smith) and his companion Amy Pond visits Vincent van Gogh during the last few months of life before committing suicide at age of thirty-seven. Through out the episode, aside from the running alongside the doctor and chasing monsters, this episode touched based many times on the mental condition of van Gogh. Van Gogh had a mental melt down and even admitted to the Doctor upon their departure, that he “might not do so well on his own”. After hearing this, the Doctor decided to bring van Gogh to Musee d’Orsay museum in Paris to show van Gogh the impact of his work. At the museum, van Gogh was shaken as the collection’s curator described van Gogh in a way where “He transformed the pain of his tormented life into ecstatic beauty… (van Gogh) is not only the world’s greatest artist, but also one of the greatest men who ever lived.” (Vincent and the Doctor, Doctor Who season 5, episode 10)

 

This episode was able to portrait the tormented artists within the limitation of essentially being a children’s program. Van Gogh’s mental anguish was displayed wonderfully by the actor Tony Curran. In my opinion, this episode is also a great representation of the essence of Doctor Who. There’s a little bit of history, a little bit of sic-fi. There’s enough emotions involved to bring people to tears and also a lot of moral stories that makes the viewers think more critically. The fact that the writer didn’t skirt around the metal illness impressed me very much.

In the end, meeting Vincent van Gogh and William Shakespeare, seeing a dinosaur in a spaceship and the end of time, these are merely a glimpse of what’s waiting in front of you, my dear classmates. Enjoy the class and the show!