Blog Entry #9 – “SE Asia Unit Reflections”

Through the several discussions in the class, I find the topic of poverty as the most intriguing social issue to me.

Poverty-1-938x450.jpgI believe this is a topic that relates to both novels: No Way Out and The Nectar in a Sieve. As reading the Nectar in a Sieve, there were several scenes depicting how Rukmani and her family members go through a period of starvation as the owner of the land. Although I did not read No Way Out, there were some scenes that portray the characters under poverty that even caused tragedy at the end (hinted from the presentation). Both novels convey how complex the poverty is in the society, especially among the low social class. Not only the novels, but also the discussion about the poverty well-demonstrated the complexity of poverty. Poverty is like a cycle that passes down from generations to generations. One of the discussion questions asked “Is it really the poor’s mistake to die poor?” After pondering about the question, I believe the answer to be NO. It may be possible for the poor people to escape from the poverty by working hard; however, without receiving the opportunities, they won’t be able to reach standard of living regardless of their efforts. In order to lessen the gap between the rich and the poor as well as the poverty, it is important provide more opportunities for those in low social class to have proper education that can lead them to better workplaces.

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Blog Entry #8 – “DEEP QUESTIONS from our Novels”

Throughout the novel, The Nectar in a Sieve, Kamala Markandaya explores the existence of both fear and hope within the human nature, specifically in Rukmani’s life. Instead of denying, Rukmani accepts the difficulties such as starvation and death of her children and continues to hope for a better future for her sons and daughter as well as the land.

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Hope is a feeling of expectation and desire for a certain thing to happen. Personally, having hope is significant in our lives. Although we are not sure about the future, we always hope for a better future and such hope drives a person to set a goal in order to meet their own expectations. Through the process of hoping, we earn positive forces to work hard and make a meaningful actions. Such positiveness allows humans to develop themselves even in the period of suffering. Although hoping too much can be dangerous, I believe hope is the feeling that allows us to make future much more solid despite its uncertainty.

Christmas Reading

Inspired by Markus Zusak’s historical novel, The Book Thief, I researched some books related to the Holocaust and World War II. Pondering which book to read, one of my friends recommended a memoir, Night, written by Elie Wiesel. Throughout the memoir, Eliezer, a fifteen-year-old boy, introduces his own experiences in Auschwitz concentration camp during the period of extreme suffering under the Nazis.

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The memoir itself does not tell much about the historical background; however, Wiesel narrating his own memories during the Holocaust as a young boy is powerful enough to vividly deliver the brutal reality of the Holocaust to readers. The part that stuck in my head is the scene where a boy brought to the gallows for stealing soups. After witnessing the tragedy with his eyes, Eliezer answers within himself that “[God] is hanging here on this gallows.” It was shocking to see how the Holocaust took away innocence of youths and even one’s strong faith in God. Yet at the same time, I was able to empathize with Eliezer doubting the existence of God. Although suffering is a necessary step to develop myself and to learn about God, I believe the Holocaust and WWII were too cruel and heartbreaking pain for the humanity to endure.

Both The Book Thief and Night allowed me to remember one of the most significant historical event, World War II, and remind me how a war only brings destruction, sorrow, and suffering in the humanity regardless of gender, race, and nationality.

“A Event that Shocked Everyone”

22219903-ビンテージ虫眼鏡、コンパス、望遠鏡と懐中時計、古い地図の上に横たわる。One of the most shocking event in the history of the humankind is the Holocaust occurred during the World War II. Although I’ve already learned about the Holocaust and the World War II that only brought tragedies at the end, I was able to learn more about the event and to focus on the situation that the Jews and the non-Jewish people were put in during that period. Usually in the social studies class, students learn the facts about the history and the achievements made in the past rather than the stories. However, through reading The Book Thief written by Markus Zusak, I was able to witness and to understand the lives of the people during that period regardless of their race and religion. The Book Thief not only revealed the lives of the Jews such as the life of Max, but also the lives of the non-Jewish people and their struggles in that period. Rather than learning the fact and the background of the historic event, I was able to empathize and to relate myself better to the situation that caused all the lives in the suffering. Such heartbreaking events, not only the Holocaust, but also other historic events, should not be forgotten and should be continued to remember in order not to repeat the same mistakes in the future. Therefore, learning the historic event through The Book Thief was meaningful not only because of its value as a literature, but also for its historical value. 

Blog Entry #7 – “Holocaust Survivors’ Stories”

Ibi Ginsburg was born in Hungary. Despite her strict, religious family, she lived in a comfortable home until the German invasion on 19 March 1944.  The invasion caused the Jewish population to live in ghettos with the yellow stars then to move to Auschwitz Birkenau. In the concentration camp, Ibi’s family was separated. Her father was taken from the family first, then Ibi and her sister Judith, and lastly her mother and her two younger sisters. She later realized her mother and two younger sisters were directly taken to the gas chambers. Ibi and Judith barely had food and everyday they had to stand for hours while the guards counted the prisoners, Jews, in the camp. After three months in Auschwitz, Ibi and Judith were taken to a slave labour camp in Germany. Although they were constantly hungry and humiliated, they continued to work as they knew that the end to this suffering was coming. However, even after the liberation from Nazi Germans, Ibi and her husband Val could not go back to their home countries because they knew that so many of their friends and family had not survived. They instead moved to England and committed to Holocaust education.

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Ibi Ginsburg’s story vividly reveals how a war can totally destroy one’s ordinary life into suffering and sorrow. Not only Ibi, but also other Jewish people had to survive in the concentration camp where they were not treated as human beings. People had to be killed just because of their religion. Also, the part where her family was separated from each other was heart-breaking, especially where Ibi later realize her mother and younger sisters’ death in the gas chamber. After the reading, the fact that the war ended up with nothing positive but only with the death of one’s valuable friends and family members caused me to feel angry and miserable at the same time. By reading the survivor from the Holocaust, I was able to empathize with all the sufferings of the people during the World War II. Moreover, her vivid and detailed depiction of her life during the Holocaust helped me to learn better about how the war is negatively influential.

World War II Poetry Analysis

 

In the Shadow of Great Times

We are like people at a wayside station,

waiting between trains, or between planes.

We attend the cinema, consult our watches.

We sit down and stretch our legs, stare at the skylight.

We buy a paper and read it without comprehending.

Noticing the whistles blowing, the crowds coming and going,

We listen for the porter to call sonorously the panel of destinations.

Decorously the clock ticks; we await the roar of the transport.

Halen Goldbaum

In the poem, In the Shadow of Great Times, Helen Goldbaum utilizes various literary devices in order to depict a scene during World War II.

tree-992254_960_720As I read the poem, I felt that Goldbaum is trying to deliver the message of lack of power during the war. People depicted in the poem are submissive to the situation. What they can only do is concerning their life. For instance, people are waiting for the trains and the planes and staring at the skylight. Specifically, I felt that the “trains” and “planes” represent transportations that can bring those people back to their normal life and be freed from the pressured life. Similarly, I interpreted skylight as the light of hope, end of the war, in the absolute darkness called the war. People staring at the skylight can mean be staring at the hope of the end of tragedy.

Goldbaum begins each line with inclusive noun, we. Such usage implies lack of independence during the war. Everyone is doing the same thing which is just waiting for the trains, attending cinema, and staring at the skylight. This tells how the war affected not only a single person, but great number of people. In addition, instead of using other pronouns such as I, she, or he, the poet’s use of ‘we’ creates a sense of togetherness in the reader’s mind. Although I am living in 2018, I could still make connection with the poet’s message implied in the poem: how war makes people to lose their freedom and power.

Furthermore, I found interesting how the poet focused on the daily life of people in the wartime rather than the war itself. Such focused depiction directly delivered the life during such tragic time period more vividly and enabled the readers to empathize with the situation.

 

Blog Entry #6 – â€œNationalism”

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Nationalism is an ideology that the individual’s loyalty and devotion to the nation surpass other individual interests.

Nationalistic thinking can be both good and evil. When the ideology is taken in an extreme mean, it can be used as a justifiable weapon. The history exemplified how nationalism has been misused by leaders who try to overtake the power. For instance, during World War II, Adolf Hitler seized power over the German public by urging the citizens’ need to being united to overcome the economic depression.

However, nationalism can be also beneficial. This ideology can help the individuals living in a nation to feel included which promote social cohesion within the group. Also, this sense of inclusion can help the individuals to be united if needed. As a Korean, I learned how our ancestors suffered during World War II under the Japanese imperialism. The Korean government was taken over by Japanese, meaning the loss of nation. Including that point, the people were brutalized and treated as slaves as well. Despite such hardship, almost all the ancestors united together to raise voice and to make a movement against the foul power. They were able to do this because they had a nationalistic thinking, or strong need to protect and to recover the nation.

Reconsidering the power of nationalism, it does not have much compelling impact on the public compared to its power in the past. One reason behind this change is the world globalization. As people seek for peace between individuals, societies, and nations, the globalization and the unity of the world allowed people to be interconnected in spite of differing nationality.