It’s Over! (But not really)

I’m always sad when I approach the end of a semester. I never seem to truly appreciate the classes that I’m in until they’re over, and I always find myself wishing I could go back. Despite these wishes, Sophomore year is done, and it’s something I have to come to terms with. This officially marks the end of my first half of college, and I only have two more years to go until I graduate. As I progress further in my college career, I try and find time to slow down and reflect on my experiences, not wanting to forget what I have gone through.

I never kept a diary when I was a child, and I always regretted that. There are moments that I wish I had documented better, so I could return to them and relive them again and again. In a way, this blog is like my first journal. It has documented my experiences throughout the semester, and kept a log of my life throughout this year. I probably won’t maintain it throughout my college career, but it’s something I wouldn’t mind returning to in order to relive some of my experiences this semester. I’ve learned a lot by posting in my blog, and I feel that I’ve progressed a lot from my first few posts. I’ve talked about a variety of topics that interest me, and I look forward seeing how my opinions on my posts will change as the years progress.

This class has also taught me some valuable skills that I will need for the future. I had zero experience with writing resumes and cover letters before taking this class, and those skills are essential when applying for jobs. The panels were also incredibly interesting, and some of my favorite parts of this semester. We got to hear from a variety of employers about their experiences, and they told us how they incorporated their passion for the humanities into their daily lives. Overall, this class was a very rewarding experience, and has given me skills that will benefit me for the rest of my life.

Although it’s been rewarding, this semester has been stressful as well, and I’m looking forward to the break. Summer will give me time to reflect on everything that I’ve learned, and time to decide on what career path I want to follow. Even though I’ll be spending most of the summer working, I’ll still make time to hang with friends, catch up on the latest Netflix shows, and try out some new local coffee shops. College life is going fast, but it just means that I’m that much closer to adulthood, and I can’t wait to see what the future has in hold for me.

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Department Event: Laurus

My second department event that I attended was the Laurus launch party. Laurus is the undergraduate student literary magazine. Students can submit their original art, poetry, or prose to be published within the magazine. The board of editors then select works from the pool of entries to be included within the magazine. This year, there were 31 contributors to Laurus, ranging from prose that extends for more than ten pages, to poetry that is no more than a few lines.

I was nervous going to the event because I thought it was going to be a small group of people where everyone knew everyone. But as I was walking up the steps to Bailey Library, I could hear the conversations spilling out of the room, which was obviously packed. By the time I got there, the pizza was gone (of course), and someone was headed out to buy more. Contributors to the magazine get a free copy, so I went to the front of the room to grab it, gently pushing through people to get there, trying to be polite. One of the editors handed me a copy with a hot pink sticky note pasted on the front which had “Dani Bischoff” written in neat handwriting. I smiled and took a seat, waiting for the actual event to begin.

laurus pic

Although the event officially started at 6:30, there was no formal announcements until about seven. At that point, the faculty advisor for the magazine, Dr. Michael Page, went to the front to begin handing out the awards for best prose, best poem, and best art. He handed out the awards, shaking each winner’s hand, clearly proud of everyone that got published. After the awards were handed out, they opened the floor for people to read their own works. Only about five people ended up reading their works, but those that did were clearly talented speakers. It was incredibly moving to hear poets read their own work, emotion flowing out of every syllable that leaves their mouth. Once everyone that had wanted to read their work finished, the event ended, and everyone left.
I really enjoyed going to this event. I wasn’t expecting to like it so much, because in my mind it was going to just be a little get together for a tiny university magazine. But hearing those talented writers and poets read, and listening to the cadence of their voice as it flowed over the work, was truly inspiring. It made me want to go home, sit down, and just start writing, letting the words flow out of me. Before submitting, I hadn’t heard much about Laurus or what they were. But now, Laurus is going to be something that I seek out every year, whether that means trying to get published, or just purchasing a copy and reading other student’s work.

Sources:

http://www.unl.edu/english/laurus

http://www.unl.edu/english/michael-page

A Little Life

A Little Life, by Hanya Yanagihara, is one of the most depressing books you’ll ever read. It centers around four men, and it follows them as they chase their dreams in New York. JB wants to be a famous painter, Malcolm wants to own his own architecture firm, Willem dreams of being a famous actor. The final member of the quartet, Jude, is the central character of the story and a lawyer. His initial depictions are mysterious, with both his friends within the novel, and us, as readers, not knowing why he has a limp, or much of anything about his past.492352612-author-hanya-yanagihara-poses-for-a-photograph-at-a-crop-promo-xlarge2

Eventually, we get more information about Jude. We learn that he was severely abused as a child, both physically and sexually, and forced into prostitution. Jude is unable to escape the trauma of his past, and uses self harm as a way to cope. As the novel progresses, so does Jude’s mutilation of his own body, with the cuts becoming worse and worse. At one point, Yanagihara states that Jude “long ago ran out of blank skin on his forearms, and he now recuts over old cuts” (Yanagihara). Her descriptions of his body, both of what Jude does to himself, and what others have done to him, are horrifying

Trauma is a central theme to this story, which is part of the reason why it was so difficult to read. Much like the reviewer from the Atlantic, I couldn’t read large portions of the book in one sitting because it was so upsetting. There was gruesome event after gruesome event, and every respite into something nice was quickly followed by another horrible retelling of a tragedy. Even at the end, when all the members of the group have seemingly been successful in their respective careers, we don’t get to bask in the glory of the moment for long.

22822858The ending of the novel should have been expected, but I was still shocked. Some little part of me was holding out hope that maybe everything would be okay, and that they could all live happily together, even after all the things they’ve been through. But of course, I was wrong. Most of the characters die, and those that don’t are haunted by the memories of those that did.

Yanagihara leaves the readers reeling at the end. It’s over 700 pages of sorrow, and there’s nothing at the end to make it all worth it. Would I read it again? Not a chance. Do I think that there’s something to be learned from this novel? Absolutely. It told the story that is seldom told, bringing attention to struggles that many people go through in our world, but are often ignored. Jude could’ve been anyone; he was a victim of circumstance, with trauma after trauma piled onto him by outside sources. A Little Life is many things, but I think most of all, it’s a book about humanity. It’s tragic, it’s heartbreaking, it’s life.

(Format was based on the review by the Atlantic)

Sources:

https://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2015/09/a-little-life-hanya-yanagihara-man-booker-2015-shortlist/405385/

https://www.google.com/url?sa=i&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=images&cd=&ved=0ahUKEwiP0bmlxbHTAhUqxYMKHdcfDnAQjRwIBw&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.goodreads.com%2Fbook%2Fshow%2F22822858-a-little-life&psig=AFQjCNEFVHVlEKILRYcOaxcoUh4KbtugVw&ust=1492726388412608

https://www.google.com/url?sa=i&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=images&cd=&ved=0ahUKEwiFyLbbxbHTAhUK64MKHYHwBngQjRwIBw&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.slate.com%2Farticles%2Fpodcasts%2Flive_at_politics%2F2016%2F02%2Fhanya_yanagihara_discusses_her_acclaimed_novel_a_little_life.html&psig=AFQjCNFbZGeXXS-TTuE0d85yRNdPHJ87Rg&ust=1492726328631769

Mission Statement

“Nothing great in the world has ever been accomplished without passion”

– Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel

As with many college students, my goals in life are hard to pin down, and my desires for my future change with every few changes of the season. Although I’m not sure what exact career path I want to follow, or what specific goals I want to achieve, the core values that make me who I am will not change. When it comes to school, and just life in general, a passion for learning is what motivates me. I value hard work and dedication in everything, not just the things that are graded. Some people just want to coast through life and classes, but living like that seems superficial and unsatisfying, and I’ve been trying to find ways to incorporate passion in everything that I do, and in every class that I take.

I’ve always been a reader, and it influences the way I behave as a student. Since I was a child, I would devour novels, and stories, and articles. I was enamored with the idea of worlds different from my own, and the people that lived there. I felt for the fictional characters, wanted to know about their desires, what drives them, the struggles that they go through, their relationships with other characters. This obsession with literature and books has influenced the way I view the world. Everyone has their own story to tell, and it’s important to listen to voices that may have been silenced in the past. This has made me more open to listening to other people’s struggles, and has led me to seek out these stories in the real world.

imagination

This passion for hearing stories and my desire for a sense of purpose has led me to major in the humanities. Jobs like scientists and engineers are important, but they don’t typically inspire deep thought about the world. When studying the humanities, empathy is a large part of the learning process. The humanities, English included, value input from multiple sources, and seek out stories of marginalized or minority groups, with the intention of sharing these experiences and learning from them. By learning about these diverse people, who have lives and stories just like us, we are able to look for solutions to the different problems that humanity faces.

UNL’s English mission statement ends with “we are committed to educating our students in this art of imaginative reasoning so that they can become well-informed and caring actors in an increasingly diverse environment”. This really speaks to my views on the role of education, and the reason I chose to major in the humanities. Our world is diverse, and in order to understand how it works, we must be able to think critically and imaginatively about the world and its inhabitants. My goal is to be continually seeking out new stories and experiences, and learn from them. By doing this, I can work towards creating a better future not just for myself, but for everyone.

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Even long after I graduate, learning will be part of my life. No matter what I do, new experiences and events will arise, and they will require me to adapt my actions to fit the situation and create new ways of thinking. My goal is to be open to these new experiences, and actively seek them out; I don’t want to be stuck doing the same thing day in and day out. But because I have such a passion for learning, and a drive to experience new things, I know that even if I end up in a cubicle in an office, I can create my own meaning in life. The fire that lives within me will not be extinguished, and I will do everything in my power to stoke the flames.

Sources:

https://www.google.com/url?sa=i&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=images&cd=&ved=0ahUKEwjy-orSwK_TAhVKzIMKHf8HBd8QjRwIBw&url=https%3A%2F%2Fgropingforthoughts.wordpress.com%2F2013%2F12%2F30%2Fthe-importance-of-developing-a-rich-imagination-when-reading-the-bible%2F&psig=AFQjCNFcF-lAs4YnaFDqUwhF9gPM-94K0g&ust=1492656366004276&cad=rja

https://www.google.com/url?sa=i&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=images&cd=&ved=0ahUKEwjzi_2owa_TAhWBz4MKHVDcCVAQjRwIBw&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.pqmonthly.com%2Fsecret-life-summer-seasons-celebrating-holidays-way%2F23948&psig=AFQjCNGxbnVi6iZry57roDRsz7MitVaoeg&ust=1492656584768157

https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/g/georgwilhe101479.html

http://www.unl.edu/english/mission-statement

Department Event: Amanda Gailey

Recently I went to a Brown Bag Luncheon put on by UNL. The talk was was about gun reform and its intersection with social justice movements, hosted by Amanda Gailey. Before listening to her speak, I had very little knowledge about gun laws and controls. When I was growing up, my dad was a hunter. I never really questioned the American idealization of guns, I hardly even noticed. It was just a fact of life. We have over a dozen rifles, shotguns, and pistols in a safe in the gun room in our basement, and all the permits required to travel and hunt with them.

Amanda’s talk really opened my eyes about the gun industry. Obviously, guns can be  dangerous. No one on either side of the gun control debate is arguing that fact. But Amanda gave statistics stating that guns are responsible for 360,000 suicides and 1.5 million injuries a year, and said that someone made money off of every single one of those bullets that entered someone’s body. That really struck a chord with me. She then began speaking about how the gun industry, or “big gun”, appeals to the masses.

201601-gun-bible-abbott-360x360Gailey believes that the gun industry successfully appeals to the public through idealizing a white, male, Christian image. Although “big gun” has been reaching out to women more in the past few years, the general theme has been to appeal to a white male’s masculinity, and make him feel powerful and patriotic by having a gun. We’re constantly surrounded by Christian or patriotic imagery that just happens to have a gun in it, and we’re conditioned to think that’s normal. There’s an estimated 300 million guns in America; that’s about one gun for every man, woman, and child. Compare that to Canada, who is believed to have about 9.95 million guns in their country. There’s no reason for the US to have almost thirty times more guns than Canada, and yet we’re conditioned to believe that guns are an integral part of our society.

Guns are so normalized in our society today that we hardly even bat an eye when we hear about another gun related death or injury. Every single night, there’s a new breaking story about another person injured in a drive-by shooting, or a robbery gone wrong. Not to mention the injuries due to gun negligence, which largely go unreported. Despite all of this, many people are still hesitant to propose banning guns outright. According to Gailey, most anti-gun movements still refuse to get rid of the Second Amendment, because they know they would lose a lot of potential supporters with that radical of a statement.

right-to-bear-arms-student-editorial

Regardless of where people may fall on the political spectrum, it’s time for Americans to acknowledge the power that the gun industry has over our heads. They have most of us brainwashed into believing that it’s normal for everyone to have guns, and that gun deaths or mass killings are just a fact of life. We need to work towards improving this country’s gun laws and improving gun safety so more people don’t suffer at the hands of a gun, whether it’s by accident or by use of force.

Sources

http://www.npr.org/2016/01/05/462017461/guns-in-america-by-the-numbers

http://globalnews.ca/news/1354803/fact-checking-michael-moore-does-canada-have-more-guns-per-capita-than-the-us/

https://newrepublic.com/article/121632/why-are-states-so-reluctant-prosecute-gun-negligence-crime

https://www.google.com/url?sa=i&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=images&cd=&ved=0ahUKEwjdsdL-kvPSAhWm44MKHZCYA0UQjRwIBw&url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.texasobserver.org%2Fpistol-packin-christians%2F&psig=AFQjCNEfo486g5wEl0l_f4j3Bb68KJxULg&ust=1490581638913645

https://encrypted-tbn0.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcRX_OvD4Bkd3ckCCbugAVtzTMOV4AF8I6LuJue-Fb550tmrqtk8yw

The Best American Essay(s)

By far my favorite essay I read in The Best American Essays 2016, edited by Jonathan Franzen, was the essay titled “Killing Like They Do in the Movies”. This essay, written by Justin Philip Reed, explores the similarities between the black experience in America and common horror movie tropes. It’s a clever comparison, but tragic, and the similarities he draws can be absolutely chilling. This author was taking a huge risk by making this essay because many people don’t like to acknowledge the horrors that Black Americans experience.


His essay is comprised of several connected stories, and the most shocking comparison he makes occurs in the second story, titled “We live on Elm Street”. He compares the death a-nightmare-on-elm-street_7723_7of Rod in Wes Craven’s
A Nightmare on Elm Street to the death of Sandra Bland. Sandra Bland was reported dead in a jail cell by suicide, and the circumstances surrounding her death are incredibly suspicious. Many people suspect police involvement or other factors in her death, but despite this, a grand jury didn’t indict anyone, and the true cause of her death remains a mystery and a source of debate. In Nightmare on Elm Street, the character Rod is killed by Freddy Kruger, who stages the death to look like a suicide. While watching this scene of the movie, Reed can’t help thinking of Sandra Bland. He writes “The story from the Waller County jail has as many holes, cuts, edits, and special effects as Craven’s slasher” (233). Just like Rod’s death in the movie, Sandra Bland’s death was suspicious, and yet no one was charged with the crime.

The segment “We live on Elm Street” ends with the lines “Upon discovering Rod’s body, the heroine, Nancy, shrieks the beginning of her long frustration. She knows what’s killing her friends, what’s coming after her. Knowing makes her crazy. Disrupting everyone else’s resistance to knowing makes her the problem” (233). I think these lines are incredibly powerful, and relevant to America today. When people in the Black community point out racial profiling or the inequality in the treatment of black people, there are inevitably going to be people responding to them that deny the problem as being a racial issue. Those people then blame the black community for creating problems, and refuse to acknowledge the racial issue in the first place.

huzsn32tWriting this essay could be seen a risk for Justin Philip Reed. Although the issues he tackles in the essay can be controversial, they’re still very relevant, and need to be discussed. Racism is a huge problem in America, and Reed addresses this problem in a creative and thought provoking way. I really enjoyed this essay and appreciated the brilliance of Reed’s writing, each segment of this essay was beautifully written. If you haven’t read it yet, here’s a link to read it online.

 

Sources:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Death_of_Sandra_Bland

http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/sandra-bland-was-murdered-20150724

https://www.google.com/url?sa=i&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=images&cd=&ved=0ahUKEwiK1qz13M_SAhXKTCYKHQMRA7EQjRwIBw&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.dramastyle.com%2Fmo_%2FA-Nightmare-On-Elm-Street%2F%2F&bvm=bv.149397726,d.eWE&psig=AFQjCNFEUnrS2ZZmfpNg4h1VfRs5MbJD-A&ust=1489365473589140

https://catapult.co/stories/killing-like-they-do-in-the-movies#

https://catapult.co/Justin%20Phillip%20Reed

 

Non-Profit Career Fair

Up until this class, I had never been to a career fair. Although I was pretty nervous, I’d say it was a good experience. The career fair I chose to attend was the non-profit fair, which was hosted at the Nebraska Union. There were a bunch of different organizations and companies present, so it was kind of daunting to walk into (I can’t imagine going to the one held at Pinnacle, that would’ve been crazy!). Even though I was nervous, I felt slightly better because I had done some research on some of the companies I knew would be there.

 

college_possible_logoI started out at the fair talking to the companies that I had researched ahead of time. I was more comfortable talking to them, and was able to ask more relevant questions because I knew more about them. Although none of them really appealed to me, I was glad that I had the experience talking with employers in a professional setting. One of the companies I researched wasCollege Possible. It’s a non-profit organization that has offices in Omaha. Their goal is to prepare students for college, and they work with the students to make applications for college and boost SAT scores. I thought their mission statement was powerful, and really respected them as a company, but they were only looking for people who were about to graduate. Even though they weren’t interested in bringing me on as a worker, I enjoyed the opportunity to speak with them.

My favorite company that I spoke to was True Friends. True Friends is a non-profit summer camp for the disabled, and they were there looking for summer employees or volunteers. The woman in charge of the booth, Amanda, was super friendly, and loved how many questions I asked. I attended many camps as a kid and have always wanted to be a camp counselor, so she was ecstatic to learn that I was interested in her company. She explained the different locations and what each individual camp did, allowing time for me to ask questions when I got confused. I spoke with her for about half an hour, and then ended up coming back later to speak with her even more. I’m going to try and either get a job as a counselor there this summer, or at least volunteer for a couple weeks.

IMG_4665Overall, I thought the career fair was incredibly beneficial to me. It opened up the door for different opportunities that I never would have heard about otherwise. I’m glad I prepared for the fair, and I could tell that the employers appreciated the fact that I dressed professionally. It made me feel more confident to be professionally dressed, and I feel like it gave me a leg up on the kids there that were just in T-shirts. In the future, I think I would research more than just four companies before attending another fair. This experience really changed how I look at the career search process. It helped me realize that I don’t need to find a career to spend the rest of my life at right away, I can work internships, volunteer, or find short term jobs to build experience. These businesses offered different opportunities to give back to the community while at the same time building my resume with relevant work.

Sources:

http://truefriends.org/about/

https://www.google.com/url?sa=i&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=images&cd=&ved=0ahUKEwiCvuWJys_SAhWCRCYKHZ-ZAE0QjRwIBw&url=http%3A%2F%2Froosevelt.mpls.k12.mn.us%2Fcollege_possible&psig=AFQjCNGS5UkV1EAYADYZnypUxRkQEADlTA&ust=1489360423229937

http://www.collegepossible.org/