In high school, there’s one major paper or project that you have to write every year. These are referred to as the “Sophomore Theme” or “Junior Theme” or “Senior Theme” depending on what grade you are currently attending. I am a sophomore this year, in other words, a 10th grade. Instead of worrying about my SLC, I have to worry about my AP Tests, SAT, ACT, and something looming right in front of me although it’s years into my future: my MCAT. For our sophomore theme, we did an ancestral project for English II. It was multigenre with a broad range of options to add, such as visual and creative design, (wedding card, birth certificate, etc.) a poem, and a few longer pieces, such as newspaper articles or a screenplay. The prompt was to base our project on our family and our beginnings.
I panicked. Everywhere I listened, all I could hear was, “My grandfather was in the Vietnam War!” or “My great-great-great-great uncle, three times removed, signed the Declaration of Independence!”. You can imagine my panick. What could I write about a tiny country which people think is in Alaska?
Our first step in the project was to interview two people in the family: a parent and a grandparent (or more, if possible). I sat down with my papa, realizing that perhaps I could get in a few lines on each of the questions, or atleast even just a word. My journey to myself started right then and there. By the end of the interview with both my father and his mother, two printer papers (both front and back) looked as if I had scorched it with black ink. My family had a story. I had a story.
Through this project, I found out about my great-great-great grandfather’s involvement in the Gurkha War, which eventually helped to unify our great country of Nepal. I found out about the sacrifices of leaving home and family, and fighting with the best of them all, the Gurkhas. I learned about the art of such a simple yet profound thing: gathering firewood. Spending time with family through camping and hiking was reminded to by both members of my family who I interviewed. I learned about my grandmother, whose independence and strength I can only hope rides on in me. I learned of her beginnings in the farm, the simple games and the simple life that she has lived through since her birth. By my papa, I was reminded yet again that when the world turns sour and gray, there’s a always a ray of sunshine deep behind the clouds.
I forget how I take things for granted sometimes. Even in current world affairs, such as the Middle East crisis or the Japanese earthquake and tsunami, things were lost. The death toll may be a number to us watching CNN, but it is real people and real lives that were lost. Spending life hidden inside a cave certainly did nobody any good. But most of all, the best thing that my sophomore theme taught me was the importance of loving your roots, because after all, you need them the most to be down to earth and have your feet guarded firmly on the ground.
Book of the Week
Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse
Amazon.com Review: In the shade of a banyan tree, a grizzled ferryman sits listening to the river. Some say he’s a sage. He was once a wandering shramana and, briefly, like thousands of others, he followed Gotama the Buddha, enraptured by his sermons. But this man, Siddhartha, was not a follower of any but his own soul. Born the son of a Brahmin, Siddhartha was blessed in appearance, intelligence, and charisma. In order to find meaning in life, he discarded his promising future for the life of a wandering ascetic. Still, true happiness evaded him. Then a life of pleasure and titillation merely eroded away his spiritual gains until he was just like all the other “child people,” dragged around by his desires. Like Hermann Hesse’s other creations of struggling young men, Siddhartha has a good dose of European angst and stubborn individualism. His final epiphany challenges both the Buddhist and the Hindu ideals of enlightenment. Neither a practitioner nor a devotee, neither meditating nor reciting, Siddhartha comes to blend in with the world, resonating with the rhythms of nature, bending the reader’s ear down to hear answers from the river.
App of the Week: Cube Runner
Song of the Week: Phoolon Ka Taroon Ka