Thursday, March 30, 2017

Journal 9 by Kai

     My favorite profile so far has to be about the Bradley's growing up on a sharecropper farm. I have a great uncle that is nearly identical to the father in the story. It was all about hard work, working to eat, and never giving up. He always had a way to get things done and made you earn everything you got. He also had a few sayings that were funny, but true. In Callings they use a saying "If a man knocks you down and you can't get up, bite him on the leg". My uncle would always tell me when I got up in the morning "good afternoon". It was his way of telling me that he had already got, as he would say, a half day's worth of work in while I was still snoozing.

     Despite the farm work, I want to repair things. Anything. If it is broken, I can fix it. If I could get a job like that I could work until I drop. I consider it a risky prospect as there aren't many opportunities outside of opening your own repair shop for such a service. I don't imagine someone could make a living in this economy. Instead, I am choosing the safer option of computer software. There is a high demand for coders, app developers, and network administrators. Software breaks, too, and I am just as good at fixing it as I am the computer running it.

There are 3 computers, a toaster, and a matchbox car in this picture. 2 Toasters if you got the guts.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Writing Exercise-Callings by Hunter

For this research exercise I chose the Firefighter career the story so far in Callings is of dad and son firefighter team Dekalb Walcott Jr and Dekalb Walcott III. I decided to research this because my dad is a firefighter.
The skills you need to be a firefighter are: Integrity, physical fitness, communication, dedication, have to be a team player, tolerance, and self sacrifice. One can not simply become a firefighter, it's hard work. Did you know you can be a volunteer firefighter? All training of a firefighter but you chose the hours!

Tools needed for firefighting are: fire axe, Haligan tool which is a crowbar with a forked prybar on the end. It helps opens doors quickly and break locks. They also need protective clothing, a helmet, powerful flashlight, oxygen tank and mask. Gear can weigh up to 70 pounds! The tools and gear have improved a lot over the years to help protect firefighters.

Halligan tool 

Training needed is: Step 1- volunteer for the trade. Step 2- Find CPR training, Step 3- Get a fire science degree, Step 4- Take exams and apply for work. Step 5- Advance. It involves a lot of hands on training!

Some famous firefighting companies are: From 9/11 attacks- Ladder Company 3. Had the highest capitulates, loosing most of its men in the attacks. The ladder company was founded on September 11th in the 1840's. Also, English 7/Ladder 1/ Battalion 1 who can ve seen in documentary "9/11" made by french brothers in NYC that day filming probationary firefighter Tony Benetatos, it won an emmy award!


My Dad

Callings Writing Research Essay by Alec

   Forensic art is a law enforcement artistic technique used in the identification, apprehension, or conviction of wanted persons. Forensic art encompasses several disciplines including composite art, image modification, age progression, post-mortem reconstruction and However, composite art is traditionally the most commonly known discipline of forensic art. The art of composite drawing has been used by police agencies throughout history. When one recalls the Old West, the classic wanted poster with a drawing of a "Bad Guy" comes to mind. These drawings were composites.

  Composite Art is an unusual marriage of two unlikely disciplines, police investigative work and art. The cop-artist, almost an oxymoron, possesses both skills. The police sketch artist can create a quality facial drawing with assured confidence. Though drawing skills are important parts of composite art, the real challenge is in the ability to interview and relate to a victim or witness. The purpose is to successfully gather, interpret and illustrate the information obtained from the victim's memory.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics categorizes forensic artists under "Sketch Artists" within the craft and fine artists industry. Craft and fine artists earned$54,000 per year, according to the BLS. But in 2013, the job website Indeed reported average salaries of $44,000 per year specifically for forensic artists.

 In the past twenty years, the discipline of composite art has evolved into forensic art.The forensic artist possesses knowledge of victim psychology, post-mortem reconstruction and human aging. These artists currently use new computer technologies and digital imagery to create more successful investigative images.

Callings Research Writing Exercise from Dallas

I have chosen Ronald McNair’s occupation of an astronaut for my research. NASA, introduced the first astronauts on April 9, 1959. NASA had a set goal to beat the USSR in manned space flight. The selection process to choose the first astronauts was very demanding. They were given many tests, that include medical and psychological screenings, and even at one point tortured for six days and three nights, to test their tolerance of physical and psychological stress. At the end of these tests, seven men prevailed out of the 508 military pilots that were screened, and were forever labeled as astronauts. These men were known as the “Mercury Seven.”
The "Mercury Seven" 

Today, to be even considered in the selection process you must hold at least a bachelor’s degree in the following fields: Engineering, Biological Science, Physical Science, Computer Science, or Mathematics. Flying experience is not a requirement but if you do want to be a commander and pilot you must log 1,000 hours of pilot-in-command time in jet aircraft. Also, you must be between 58.5 and 76 inches tall and must be able to pass a basic physical that is very much like a military physical. Having military experience is not a requirement.
It can take up to two years to be trained to be considered a fully qualified astronaut. They must learn the basics of the International Space Station (ISS) and the Space Shuttle. If they are going to be a crew member on the ISS, then they must take language classes to speak to the Russian Mission Control Center. To prepare for microgravity, the training astronauts are put into a C-9 (a Navy transport plane), where they are weightless for 25-30 seconds in flight. The plane was dubbed the “Vomit Comet” because even experienced astronauts would get sick. These are just the basic training programs. Though many astronauts are very intellectual, the learning never stops.
A US astronaut in space overlooking the earth. Was this the first "selfie" in space?
            To get back to Ronald McNairs story. What I found out about him that interested me the most was that he was an accomplished saxophonist. He was supposed to be the first person to record an original piece music in space when he was aboard the Challenger. Various schools, buildings, programs, and even a moon crater have all been named after Ronald. This small glimpse we get of Ronald’s life from his brother in Callings, is only the tip of the iceberg on what the impact he made on this world.

Notable Astronauts include: Neil Armstrong (Apollo 11), Buzz Aldrin (Apollo 11), Sally Ride (Challenger) , Sen. John Glenn (Mercury Seven), and many more

Writing Exercise by Tony Watson

       I chose the occupation of bricklayer. In Callings, Barbara Moore, was a bricklayer and I found this occupation very interesting. I chose to write about this job because my grandfather had his own concrete company, so this is something that's very close to what I have helped my grandpa do. Bricklayers are known as physically tough people who have endured years of painstakingly hard work to do a job that most people wouldn't even consider doing. 
      To start out as a bricklayer you have to have either a diploma in construction or you can go through an apprenticeship to get the skills that you need to become a successful bricklayer. To get the diploma of construction, you can go through a series of college level courses called, City & Guilds qualifications, Construction Skills awards, or BTEC level 2 certifications. Becoming certified is considered a thing of the future since past bricklayers were almost all taught through apprenticeships.  After you have completed being certified, your training is almost all on site training. This means that you learn while you work. This is the case for most construction jobs that you use your hands to work. The tools that are needed for bricklaying are trowels, measuring tapes, and brick carriers. There are many different tools that are included but the list would have went on for days. The tools have been basically the same for as long as they've been around. Trowels are used for smoothing the mortar, and everything else is self explanatory. There wasn't much on famous bricklayers, so I chose to use Barbara Moore from Callings. I chose her because she was the only woman bricklayer that I could find. I think Moore stands out as important because she crossed a barrier that many woman struggle to cross. She went out and gained the respect of men who had been doing the job their whole lives.

Snapshot 5 Tony

Snapshot Five: Music Flashback

The meaning of music to me, depends on the genre. Rap music and hip hop to me, is the music to workout to, or to listen to while playing video games. Classical music and piano music, is music for relaxing, calming, or to help me sleep. Most importantly, I see music as an escape from the moods or situations that I'm in. The genre of music that means the most to me? Well, I don't think I can say that I have one particular genre that I can honestly say means the most to me. Ever since I was a little boy, my mother stressed the importance of enjoying all types of music. My mom can play the piano, so I've always loved listening to her play. If I had to pick one current musician that I could say I like the most, it would be Kanye West. Yes, I may be the only one in the class that likes his music, but I'd like to tell you why I like his music before you jump to judge. It started around this time last year during my senior year of track. Our team was practicing and since our track is around our football field, there is a sound system in the press box. So one day I decided that I could hook my phone up to the speakers and play music during practice, and that's exactly what I did. It was the greatest idea since sliced bread. The album that I decided to play was Kanye West's new album, The Life of Pablo. We listened to the album on repeat until state that season, and I hold it very close to my heart because whenever I hear a song off that album, I remember everything that happened during that season, good times and bad. 
The album cover of The Life of Pablo, Kanye West's 8th album. I can admit that last track season, our team listened to one song at least 30 times on repeat. This was one of many songs that we listened to during our championship winning season.

Monday, March 27, 2017

Calling Writing Research Exercise by Richard

      I really wanted to find out more about Barbara Abelhauser the bridge tender. The reason this career stood out to me was because I've never heard about it, and secondly the way she describes the job makes it seem like its to good to be true.

       Being a bridge tender may seem like an easy job, but theirs more to it then you think . They have to operate bridges and canal locks in order for ships and boats to enter and exit safely. They also have many other responsibilities. For example they have to run all the machinery as well as activating all the traffic signals and alarms. They must also communicate with the captain and record the name, type, destination of the ship. Lastly they need to always clean and maintain the equipment and always inspect the bridge equipment for any defects.
(Barbara wasn't lying when she said she couldn't even straighten her arms out)

        This career has an above average pay of $37,000 per year. But it is not very common to find a job. Also the main requirements for this job is a high school diploma and being over 18. I would consider Barbara lucky for landing a job like that. Many people would consider this job boring but to Barbara it isn't. She loves her job and I think its because she always tries to enjoy the little things in life.

Snapshot 5 by Richard

Snapshot 5
            Music has always played an important role in my life. I’m always surrounded by it whether I’m in the car, at home, or hanging out. The music genres I listen to are never the same. It always varies on what I’m doing or what the mood is. It could range anywhere from country, rap, dub-step, trap, pop, rock, and sometimes even classical. If I had to pick a genre that I listen to the most it would probably be country. I find it very relaxing and most of the people I hang out with listen to it as well.


             Of all the country songs out there are very few that stand out to me. Out of all of them my favorite is Toes by Zac Brown. Every time I go on vacation this song always makes it to the top of my playlist. So when I hear this song it brings back the memories of being on the beach. It reminds me of the scorching hot summer sun searing my pale skin, and the cool ocean breeze covering me like a chilly blanket on a hot summer night. The ocean sand grinding between my toes as I try to bury my feet in the sand. While droplets of water run off my cold drink almost instantly evaporating when contacting the hot sand. The best part is observing the waves; I could hear them crashing and watch them tumble and turn. As well as watching kids run away from the waves that roll up onto the beach as if the ocean water was lava. All of that and not a single worry on my mind.
(This was a picture I took in Costa Rica)

Callings Research Writing Exercise from Kai

     I stuck with my original guy Alton Yates, Aeromedical Field Tester. According to Webster, aeromedical pertains to the science and practice of aeromedicine. Aeromedicine is a branch of medicine that deals with the diseases and disturbances arising from flying and the associated physiological and psychological problems. This includes space travel.

     Before NASA was created, the US air force used its own men to test first hand the effects space travel would have on the body. The best way to do this was to strap a guy into a rocket sled to see how well the human body could stand up to 20~40gs. That is 20~40 times the natural force of gravity. The results were as promising as they were hilarious.

Yeah, science!

     Instead of just firing people into space hoping for the best, scientists instead strapped willing subjects into a rocket powered sled called the "Bopper". Today there are high fitness and training standards to work in the field, but in the 50's all it took was a little insanity. This was new charted territory and no one had any idea what would happen to the human guinea pigs. If it were not for these tests mankind would never have reached space. Alton Yates, who worked under famous Colonel John Paul Stapp, proved that even in high tech fields all you really need are guts.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Snapshot 5 From Kai

     Music is life. Everything I do is to a beat of some sort. I can't stop hearing music. I know that sounds odd, but I literally cannot. I have a part, a voice inside my head that is like a non-stop radio station. I don't get to choose, either. I grew up on Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd. Anything metal or psychedelic rock. Today, I listen to everything except Nickelback. They know what they did. I carry an MP3 player on me at all times. The songs on them are varied and change every day. You might find Weird Al, t.A.T.u, or ponies singing about cupcakes.

     To give anything my full attention I have to be listening to music to free up my brain power. As I type this up I got Ekkosagen playing. It stops the part of my brain that keeps myself in time so I can keep on task. To say music is merely an important part of my life is an understatement. I can't properly function without it. I've missed a day of class because of it. It helps me deal with everything. I can't very well tell my professors I can come to class and do 100%, but I have to be wearing earbuds. If the internal radio is broken, it ain't happening.

     There are a lot of songs that, as soon as they start playing, will send me to a mood or memory. They are not always good ones. It can happen so suddenly that it makes it hard to be out and about. I honestly didn't know what to write in this blog as flashbacks, music, memories are all triggering factors of dissociation. I see all these happy memories in the blog, but I get flashbacks from various triggers involuntarily. DID, dissociative identity disorder, used to be called Multiple Personality Disorder. I don't think I can pick a flashback or at least not one based on how the assignment wants me to. I think I'm done here.

One image that sums up my entire life. From the music I enjoyed, the visual representation of dissociation, to the music lyrics of Brain Damage explaining it. "You lock the door. And throw away the key. There's someone in my head, but it's not me."

Snapshot by Alec

   I don't really have a favorite genre of music, but if I had to choose it would be Rap music. People look down on this genre because they don’t take the time to look beyond the music, or to look beyond the inappropriate content to see the message in the song. Rap isn’t always negative; rap can also contain personal experiences about the rapper's life and everything they have been through. Rap contains a lot of emotion and feeling in every song made.

    Rap is the mouthpiece of the people. Rap can be a very positive thing to listen to. There are happy songs that can brighten up someone’s day and with all the feeling within the music. If someone relates to what the rapper is saying it can make a depressed kid or person see he/she is not the only one with the troubles they are facing, and there is a way to deal with his/her problems. Rap isn’t just entertainment it can be used as a therapy for some people, and can state opinions the rapper has and how they view life. Rapper’s don’t make music to cause controversy; some think that with their music they can change the world.” 'I'm not saying I'm gonna change the world, but I guarantee that I will spark the brain that will change the world.” - Tupac. For some, rap music is an escape and a positive genre of music.

    Tupac may not be alive today, but he has never been forgotten. Pac's legacy lives on to this day, and he is known world-wide. Rappers today always make references to him. He has been named him the most influential rapper. The Legacy of Tupac Amaru Shakur lives on today, through his fans worldwide.

I remember the first time I heard Tupac I was sitting in my room and my older brother was listening to his song "Hail Mary". I remember that I wasn't listening to the music at first but as the song went on I started to understand what the song meant to him and to most of the listeners. My brother let me have his old ipod when i was about 13 and now I still listen to the songs that he made so many years ago.

Snapshot Five rom Dallas

I have a very wide variety of music that I like. That’s why it is so difficult to get it down to one specific genre that means the most to me. If you look at my music playlists, you’d figure many people from various generations constructed this selection of music. But that assumption is so wrong. I have a different taste in music than the average person at my age. I absolutely love music. I was involved in the choir in high school and even was a member of our school’s pop acapella group that went to competitions. So, I’ve been taught to appreciate all types of music (except nickelback). I see music as a way to express what I am feeling at that moment. Today, I mostly use music to entertain my son and as a way to get out of boredom on my commute to and from school. I’d describe myself as being the king of car karaoke.
To get a little personal here. My mother is the one who raised me. I remember specifically one time as a child helping her clean out our garage. I stumbled upon an old box of her things from her childhood. As I opened this box it was like a time capsule from the 80’s. My mom being the woman that she is, let me go explore through the box instead of helping her. From the box, I pulled out many cassettes from Def Leppard, Poison, Mötley Crüe and Bon Jovi. The one that caught my eye the most was a Bon Jovi cassette tape. I asked my mom if we could play and of course she said yes. She put it in our tape/CD player that was so big that it was almost as if we had a New York skyscraper in our living room with two equally huge speakers on each side. That was the first time I had ever heard anything like that and I was hooked. I remember asking for a Bon Jovi CD for my birthday instead of the typical LEGO’S. I like to think that my mom thought it was cool that we liked the same music when I grew up. Today, every time we’re in the car together I’ll throw on my “hair bands” playlist just to get a little laugh out of her before we start rocking out. Thanks mom!

Shown above is Bon Jovi. The song that I was most drawn to was "Dead or Alive" I would play that song all the time.
It's a must sing whenever I hear it on the radio.

This photo was probably taken at Christmas. My mom is the background and of course me with my brand new red guitar. I was ready to rock out!

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Snapshot 5 by Hunter

Going along with this snapshot, one famous quote is "When words fail, music speaks". I relate heavy to this quote when I listen to some of my favorite music. I can string out thousands of words but none will ever fit perfectly how much music means in my life. From a young age, I was always involved in some type of music activity: dance, choir, and orchestra. Life is like a piano, the white keys represent happiness and the black show sadness, but as you go through life, remember the black keys also make music. With the right music, you either forget everything or you remember everything.

I enjoy numerous bands that all don't fit into the same spectrum but my favorite would have to be Pop music. While it does get annoying when it plays over and over on the radio, I enjoy it because you can always find a song that fits your mood right then and there plus I enjoy the upbeat feel it gives.
A song I enjoy, all though I don't hear it too often is, Time Of My Life by David Cook. This song brings me back to my senior year basketball cheer season. It was senior night, the night we all worked for. Possibly the longest four year wait that you never wanted to end for any senior athlete. We had a throwback game in the gym of the city's middle school and all was going well, our boys were beating the other team by a land slide but the last 5ish minutes of the game the coach put in the water boy, Zach, who had never played a game of high school ball in his life but worked so hard for the sport he loved. Zach ended up scoring 2 baskets. one at the beginning of the time he was in the game and another, the buzzer beater. Student section stormed the court, and it was a few seconds of pure happiness despite the things happening in our community. Zach ended up being on sports center, and it was a pretty cool experience to watch. I think about that moment when I hear this song because senior year basketball was a fantastic season, it was truly indeed "the time to be more than a name or a face in the crowd". The time of all of our lives.

Senior Night 2016 (top and bottom photos).
Top photo is after Zach made the buzzer beat
Bottom is me being recongnized center court
for Varsity Cheer

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Journal 7 by Richard

The Kono district is one of the most well known diamond mines in Sierra Leone. Anyone with access to a shovel could work there. Before the war the Kono district was controlled by the government. Instead of the government officials putting the profits to good use they all pocketed the money for themselves by smuggling the diamonds out of the country. Fed up with the corrupt government the RUF, a groups of 100 men from Sierra Leone and Liberia, captured and gained control of the diamond mines and most of eastern Sierra Leone. Which created an 9 year civil war. Having control over the mines helped them finance the rebellion, by buying weapons ammunition and even soldiers. In the end leaving 50,000 people dead.

 Foday Sankoh an ex-army Sargent led the rebellion and promised the mine workers a better share of the country's resources. He had brutal tactics like mutilation and amputation that he performed on civilians in order to expose the governments inability to protect its citizens. After years of fighting the president of Sierra Leone and Sankoh signed a peace treaty. The RUF agreed to surrender its forces for a share of Sierra Leone's government. 6 months later the RUF attacked Freetown and the Sierra Leoneian government in order to gain control. As a result the UN issued a ban on nongovernmental diamonds for Sierra Leone.

Journal 7-Hunter

Nobel Peach prize winner Leymah Gbowee 
Leymah Gbowee is a 2011 Nobel Peach prize winner, peace activist, social worker and woman's right activist. She's also the founder of the Gbowee Peace Foundation Africa, which provided educational and leadership opportunities for girls in West Africa! But before this, when Leyman was seventeen years old, the Liberian civil war started and turned her, in her own words, "from a child into an adult in a matter of hours". She soon became a young mother, turned social worker working with ex-child soldiers. Leymah Gbowee became a founding member and Liberia coordinator of the Women In A Peace Building Network (aka the WIPNET) of the West Africa Network for Peacebuilding. Inspired by her dreams and her faith, she encouraged her christian female friends to mobilize for peace. Leymah also collaborated with a Muslim counterpart to form a coalition with Muslim Women. She definitely wanted no women left behind in her dream. She soon became the spokesperson and lead thousands of woman through protest around the country. One memorable protest was when Leymah and 200 other women formed a human barricade around a hall where peace talks had been stalled to prevent the men from leaving until they came to an agreement. Leymah emerged as a global leader and co-founded the Women Peace and Security Network Africa and served as Executive Direction for six years! In light of Leyman Gbowee's actions, many young girls lives have been transformed.
A few fun facts I found, she was the second African women to win the Nobel Prize and she was honored as a flag-bearer for the opening ceremony of the  Olympic Games in London.

Journal 7 from Dallas

Weapons of the Sierra Leone Civil War

            Through our readings of A Long Way Gone: Memoirs Of A Boy Soldier we have heard a list full of weapons that were used by the RUF and the Army soldiers. In my research, I have highlighted specifically three weapons, the AK-47, The G3, and the RPG.

The First weapon I am going to start with is a Russian made weapon, known as the AK-47. The AK-47 was designed by Mikhail Kalashnikov, who served as a tank driver in World War II and began designing weapons when he was wounded in the Battle of Bryansk. He wanted to design a more suitable weapon for his men who complained of being overrun by Germans with superior weapons. Kalashnikov, had entered and won a weapons design contest in 1947 for his design of the AK. In 1949 The AK-47 became standard issue among the Soviet Union. Avtomat Kalashnikov is what the “AK” mean which translate to Kalashnikov’s Automatic Rifle. The 47 refers when the rifle was adopted and standardized, 1947. Kalashnikov himself is credited to the designs of an estimate of 150 models of small arms weapons.

The AK-47 is a gas operated, semi-automatic and automatic rifle (with the selector switch). That take a 7.62x39mm round. The weapon its self is not particularly the best for accuracy but it’s as reliable as the sun rising at dawn. There are stories of the United States soldiers in Vietnam ditching their standard issued M16’s and replacing them with the Vietcong used AK-47 because of the reliability of it in the rugged terrain and excessive abuse in the jungles of Vietnam. The weapon is currently issued to over 106 countries and is used by militias all over the world.
The AK-47

Secondly, the next weapon on my list is the G3. The G3 (Gewehr 3) was designed in 1956, by German manufacturer, Heckler & Koch and Spanish state-owned design and development agency CETME, who was known for small arms research and development. By 1959 the G3 was adopted by the Bundeswehr, the unified armed forces of Germany.

The G3 is a battle rifle that chambers the 7.62x51mm NATO round. The weapon itself has many variations and models, each to carry out a specific purpose. The G3 has a very clean design and very accurate for a battle rifle. So, accurate that it’s used as a marksman rifle out to 800 meters. The weapon is still strongly used in countries and militias around the world. The G3 was one of the main weapons used during the civil war in Sierra Leone.

The HK G3

Lastly, The Rocket-propelled grenade which is often abbreviated as RPG. I will be specifically focusing my research on the commonly used RPG-7. The RPG-7 is a further development of the RPG-2. It came into production in 1961. The RPG is an anti-tank weapon system that fires rockets equipped with explosive war heads. In Sierra Leone, the RPG was used to destroy buildings, cars and was used against people. The RPG-7 has many different types of ammunition including, HEAT (High-Explosive, Anti-Tank), HE (High-Explosive), and - FRAG (FRAGmentation) rounds. The RPG-7 is still used in around 40 different countries.
The RPG-7

As we have already learned the Civil War in Sierra Leone was brutal. Not just for Ishmael Beah but for everyone in this West African Country. Unfortunately, war is part of all of our worlds. I hope this research sheds light on weapons that are still used to fight these wars today.

Journal 7 By Alec

Staple Foods
 For almost all Sierra Leoneans, rice is the staple food, consumed at virtually every meal. Other things are of course eaten, such as a wide variety of fruits, seafood, potatoes and cassava. However these are often considered to be just snacks and not real food. Real food is rice, prepared numerous ways, and topped with a variety of sauces made from some combination of potato leaves, cassava leaves, hot peppers, peanuts, beans, okra, fish, beef, chicken, eggplant, onions, and tomatoes. Bones, particularly chicken bones, are a delicacy, because their brittle nature makes the sweet marrow inside easily accessible. Along the street there are snacks, such as fresh mangoes, oranges, pineapple, or papaya, fried plantains, potato or cassava chunks with pepper sauce, small bags of popcorn or peanuts, bread, roasted corn, or skewers of grilled meat or shrimp. Local bars in some towns and villages will also sell poyo the sweet, lightly fermented palm wine tapped from the high tops of palm trees.
 Sometimes villages, and some families within villages, will have specific taboos or proscriptions against eating certain foods. These are usually attributed to a law handed down from someone's ancestor, perhaps the founder of the village. The taboo can be a restriction against certain kind of meat or a certain oil, or even against food prepared a certain way. Violation is usually seen as a risky proposition, and can incur the ill feelings of would-be guardians either living or dead. Food Customs at Ceremonial Occasions, such as weddings, funerals, initiations, and memorial services demand the preparation of large platters of rice, distributed to guests until they are full. Depending on the occasion, a portion may also be offered to the ancestors, to honor their memory. Another common practice in this sense is to pour liquor on the ancestors' honor in the corners of a house. Other food traditions vary with region or religion. Kola nuts are highly valued in and of themselves, and are often associated with greetings, diplomacy, provisions of respect, religious rites, and initiation ceremonies. High in caffeine concentration, they are also used as a stimulant, a clothing dye, and even in the preparation of medicines.
Rice topped with one of the many sauces used

Go Here


Journal 7 by Tony

Mercenary Troops in Sierra Leone

 The most I found out about mercenaries in Sierra Leone was about a man who had a mercenary army named Colonel Roelf. Roelf was a South African soldier and assassin and he spent a lot of his life trying to end the black African liberation movements at the time of the apartheid-era in South African defense forces. He gained his power by stating that the nations of Africa should not rely on the help of the UN. Roelf promised peace, but in reality, he was only trying to load his bank accounts with the diamonds of Sierra Leone. According to Elizabeth Rubin, "The village chiefs didn’t care whether Roelf was a mercenary, an Afrikaner, a UN peacekeeper, or what, so long as he continued to protect the people with his soldiers and helicopter gunships." This meant that Roelf could gain access to insane amounts of money for his "protection". Eventually, international laws made it illegal for warring parties to use mercenaries in war and considered it a war crime if found out that a country had hired mercenaries. This is because mercenaries are bound to no nation and will sell their, "protection" to the highest bidder around. They also do not care who is in their crossfire because they are only their for their payments. Because mercenaries were not bound to any nation and did not respect international or national laws they were considered blood thirsty beasts who would do anything for their salaries. Long story short, because of Roelf and his mercenaries abusing the human rights of the people that were paying them to "protect" them, it led to the banning of mercenaries by warring countries and making it a war crime. 

Mercenaries in Africa 

Of the mercenaries in the other parts of Africa, the ones I am choosing to talk about are the South African mercenaries hired by Nigeria to fight a war on Boko Haram Jihadists. The leader of the mercenary group in Nigeria was named Eeben Barlow. His private army has been secretly fighting one of the most aggressive African insurgencies to date, Boko Haram Jihadists. The Boko are a group of radical Islamic terrorists who use assassinations, bombings, and abductions as a way to try and overthrow the current government of a state to create an Islamic one. Six years ago the Boko Islamic terrorists invaded Nigeria and had taken a hold of many cities. The Nigerian Army could not defeat the group so they called on Barlow's private army to help end their struggle in January of 2015. Barlow accepted the Nigerian presidents call for help and successfully helped push the terrorists out. this was accomplished with only about 100 white and black South African mercenaries from Barlow's army called, STTEP, which stands for Specialized Tasks, Training, Equipment and Protection. 

A picture of STTEP marching to fight Boko Haram Radical Islamic Terrorists.

Monday, March 6, 2017

Journal 7 by Kai

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

     PTSD is a very serious injury of the brain. It is often called the invisible injury because it affects so many soldiers that otherwise seem perfectly fine. Many people today have a mental illness and may not even realize it. Technological progress has allowed us to observe and catalog changes in the brain. While PTSD has been known for a long time we are only just starting to realize the extent of damage. There is no known cure for this disease, only treatments.

     Post Traumatic Stress Disorder occurs when a person goes through an intensely terrifying experience. The event has to be so jarring, continuous, or monumental that it literally scars the brain. People that have the condition can't seem to free themselves from it. Certain sights, sounds, senses can bring the person right back into the event at any time. Sufferers usually have vivid nightmares, anxiety, and frequent migraines. Their brain is in a state of constant alert.

Imagine never being able to rest your mind.

     This injury most commonly happen to soldiers that experience the atrocities of war or children whose brains are in early development. I cannot even imagine what it would do to a child soldier. Unfortunately, despite Beah claiming he is rehabilitated, he will suffer from his PTSD for the rest of his days. The nightmares will continue to plague him. It will take one sudden snap or situation to bring him right back into the jungle. I found most of my information using the Mayo Clinic.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Journal Six By Alec Soule

Part One 
The biggest takeaway for Cisneros, is to never forget who you are and where you came from. Esperanza had every reason to give in to her situation but she didn’t let anyone choose for her. She could have ended up like Sally and marry young and never leave. What I will remember most about Esperanza is to never give up. To many people quit in this world.
Ishmael had no choice but to forget who he was. It was either survive or be killed. We know that war and revenge are a terrible things. When we get to the parts when he was a boy soldier. What explained the life of Ishmael best to me is a quote from his father when he was a young boy. “If you are alive, there is hope for a better day and something good to happen. If there is nothing good left in the destiny of the person, he or she will die.” (Beah, 54). I believe that Ishmeal wanted us all to learn that your past does not have to define you.
Part Two
    This documentary was interesting because I found that it made me nostalgic about my childhood and how some teachers were great and others just could not teach me anything. If my teachers had been like Mr. Rave then i could possibly have a completely different path for my life. When he told his class, "The readiness is all." it was clear to me that he believed in the program. The way that he knew his individual students really surprised me. So I am excited and happy that teachers can see the potential in their students. 

Journal 6 from Tony

Part One 

My biggest takeaway from each book is the theme of an accelerated maturation. I take this out of both books because both Beah and Esperanza had many complications in their lives that made them "grow up" faster than other kids they were around. For example, Beah became a child soldier and in turn lost several years of his childhood. This in turn forced him to mature very quickly for his age. In Cisneros, Esperanza matured very quickly because she had numerous siblings and she was forced to help tend to them and she even had a job at a very young age. One thing that I don't want to forget about each character's experiences and character of their own is that each child is still innocent and still a child in some sort of way, even though they were forced to mature very rapidly. A quote that makes me remember this from Beah is, "I have been rehabilitated now, so don't be afraid of me. I am not a soldier anymore; I am a child." I chose this quote because it shows that Beah is still a child and wishes for others to see the same, despite his tenure as a child soldier. 

Part Two 

I found the documentary to be very interesting for the most part. I found that it made me think a lot about my childhood and how some teachers had been excellent and some had been very terrible. It made me feel like if my teachers had been like the negative teachers that Mr. Rafe talked about, that I wouldn't be in the place that I am in my life today. The quote that he and his students used in the classroom, " The readiness is all." Really showed that he got his students to buy into the program. I found Mr. Rafe to bear many resemblances to my fourth grade teacher. The way that he knew his individual students really stood out to me and hit home. This is because if my fourth grade teacher wouldn't have tried as hard as she did with me, I probably would have ended up going down a completely different path than the one I'm on today. So I salute teachers that can see the potential in their students. 

Journal 6 from Dallas

Part One
For Cisneros, the biggest takeaway I see is to never forget who you are. Esperanza had all the reasons to succumb to her surrounding environment but she didn’t let anyone choose her route for her. She could have ended up like Sally, marry young and never leave. She had one goal and one goal in mind since arriving to that sad red house….to leave Mango Street. What I will remember most about Esperanza is to never give up on your dreams and settle. Too many times people get complacent and never want to take the harder route.
Ishmael on the other hand had no choice but to forget who he was, for a brief time. It was either forget who you are or be killed. We learn that war and revenge are a terrible thing but as long as humans inhabit this earth this is what we’re stuck with. That’s the reality of it. Early on, Ishmael remembers the happy times before the attack by the rebels. Alone in the forest of Sierra Leone, he remembers the teachings from his grandfather about the medicines that surround him. Then we get to the parts when he was a boy soldier. The grueling details about some of his kills make you think, “can Ishmael ever be human again?” What sums up the life of Ishmael is a quote from his father when he was a young boy. “If you are alive, there is hope for a better day and something good to happen. If there is nothing good left in the destiny of the person, he or she will die.” (Beah, 54) My takeaway from this book is to not let your past define who you are.
Part Two
The Hobart Shakespeareans was a great documentary. It made me think of a teacher I had in the 7th grade. Who was so passionate about teaching, that she got even the worst kids to break out of their shell and realize their true potential. It was great to see that the children understood what they were reading and felt the feeling behind every word. I really liked how they were able to travel across the country. To see that there is more to world than LA. In the documentary, Rafe says “Be the person you want the kids to be.” I see nothing truer than this statement. Not only in teaching but also in parenting we must try to be the person you want the kids or your kids to be.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Journal 6 by Richard

Part 1
After finishing the long narratives about Ismael and Esperanza my biggest takeaway is that life has its ups and downs. No matter what happens we need to stay strong and push through because these ups and downs make us who we are as a person. In Ishmael's case his ups and downs are more on the extreme level of survival. It got to the point where it would traumatize him for the rest of his life. Even during his rehabilitation Beah informs us "The headache became so sever that I couldn't walk. I began to cry out loud. The night nurse was called.She gave me sleeping tablets, but i still couldn't fall asleep, even after my migraine stopped. I couldn't face the nightmares I knew would come." (Beah, 160). The images of Ishmael's horrific actions would never leave him. On the contrary Esperanza's ups and downs are more related to the average low income teenager. Having problems with relationships, school, family, friends and society. but she never let those problems bring her down. Instead it made her figure out what she really wants in life. One thing I will never forget is how Ismael never let anything stop him he did everything he could to survive and try to find his family. 

Part 2
The Hobart Shakespeareans was a very interesting documentary. I was very surprised that the kids were able to read Shakespear and understand it because most high school students aren't even able to do that. It is only because their teacher got the class very involved and had high expectations for his students. Also he taught them important life skills such as doing your job, money management, teamwork, and discipline. He also shows the kids what its like living a good lifestyle by taking them on fieldtrips to D.C. and staying in nice hotels. He gives them as he says "A taste of the good life." That way they know what they are losing. He helped them set their own personal goals in life which is very important when it comes to your future. He did a very good job getting them ready for the future now we can only hope that they make the right choices and stay on track.

Journal 6 by Hunter

After finishing long narratives about Esperanza and Ishmael, my biggest takeaway from these books is to not forgot where you came from the experiences you've endured as a child because despite how far apart Esperanza's and Ishamel's lives may seem, they both have gone through a lot, mentally and physically. One thing I don't want to forget is how hard these kids fought for better lives for themselves. Esperanza never stopped dreaming of a life outside of Mango Street and Ishmael held onto the smallest edge of hope of a better life but like said in A House on Mango Street; "You can't erase what you know. You can't forget who you are". Ishmael and Esperanza will definitely never forget where they came from.

I really enjoyed The Hobart Shakespearians documentary. I loved how unique and out there the teachers teaching style was and how he treated his students. He knows they come from some vastly different backgrounds and are often thought of as kids who never will succeed but he doesn't see them that way. He generally wants them to be the best that they can be. I liked the idea of money system and paying rent on your desk, as it teaches kids the importance of money and how he gets to take his class on trips out of state, it really shows these children how far they can go, like the teacher says "I want these kids to be Americans" and he truly shows it by his actions. Also, reading Shakespeare in 5th grade is crazy considering most high school graduates couldn't even begin to understand Shakespeare when they had to read it in high school!

Journal 6 by Kai

     I feel the major takeaway from both books is never forgetting where you came from. In Cisneros, no matter how ashamed Esperanza was of her home, her name, her situation she had to realize these experiences would stay with her. This could be a positive change or negative, but only she could decide. There was no forgetting it all. Despite everything that happened those experiences would give her plenty of insight she could then put to paper. It is so important that it is even written twice in the book. Cisneros writes, "We didn't always live on Mango Street. Before that we lived on Loomis on the third floor, and before that we lived on Keeler.. Before Keeler it was Paulina, and before that I can't remember." (Cisneros, 3). Never forget where you came from.

     Ishmael Beah. He still needed to remember his experiences to help make sure it didn't happen to others. His life has been a terror ride of one bad experience to another in such a way that even memories he's had that were happy were not good in the least. The story ends abruptly without a conclusion because there is no conclusion. Life still moves on. The war still continues. There is no end. To conclude the book would be to wash his hands of it and he is nowhere near done advocating for his homeland. I'll remember both Cisneros and Beah for their experiences despite wanting to forget everything I know about Beah. It would be easy to just block out everything he has done or is about, but he did not brave what he did to have anyone do this. It would be morally wrong to just try and ignore what is happening while enjoying peace he'll never have.

Hobart Shakespeareans: The Luckiest Kids Alive

     I hated this film. I hated the message it tried to convey. I really hated the teacher featured. It isn't cynicism, but I saw right through his Mr Rogers nonsense. We'll start with the school. Sure these are "at-risk" kids, but mostly they are just put in this situation by society. These are ESL students that live in poverty and don't get many chances to excel. The teacher, Rafe Esquith, states "Who would have thought in the midst of all the chaos at school we have these unpolished jewels and when you discover one that's the beauty of teaching." (Stuart, The Hobart Shakespeareans). This does less to shine light on the few good teachers and more about the problem with teachers in general. The film discusses bad experiences kids have with other teachers and even the ongoing coldness towards the student when they succeed. Why do these teachers still have a job? Even the principal is on the film talking about these teachers.

     The film's main point about equal opportunities gets shattered by the sheer amount of money poured into this one class. It proves that any child can succeed with enough resources. I would fight those children in the hunger games to acquire a spot in a class like that. However, teachers like Esquith just never seem to exist without some ulterior motive. That is just the kind of world we live in. Through out the film we are shown how these kids are taken into his home, having sleepovers. This is already weird enough, but I could already tell this man was closer to his students than many would like to think about. A quick search of the web confirmed my fears. I really want to focus on the good he's done, the way teaching should be, the scientific paper on the correlation of resources to success. I can't. The man had his own reasons for being like this and it destroys everything we all hoped he was trying to achieve.