“This I Believe” Draft

My grandfather, a tailor, always used to say that the quality of the material, even if it was more expensive, was always worth more than a large quantity of a cheaper material. Throughout the course of my life, I have learned that this same idea applies to friendship. It is not about the quantity of friends that you have, but the quality of the few that stick around no matter what. This idea was not always one that I had believed. For a long time, I believed that the more friends that I had, the happier I would be. I learned the hard way that this belief would not hold firm.
Throughout my life, I have always been a floater. I would always talk to everyone, but not belong to a particular group. I would just float back and forth between groups hoping to one day find somewhere that I belonged. I thought that not committing myself to one group in particular would broaden my chances of finding the right place. I grew up thinking that close, quality friends simply didn’t exist for me and that they only way to find happiness was to surround myself with as many friends as possible, even if they didn’t know anything about me.
When I began high school, I attended a week-long retreat called International Student Leadership Institute (ISLI). It was here that I began to realize there were people out there who were willing to be true, quality friends. We participated in small group activities that brought us together and helped us to form a stronger connection in only a week than I had ever built with my friends over a number of years. I began to learn about the value not only of myself, but also of others. The welcoming, accepting, and positive atmosphere allowed me to be myself around everyone and realize what it is like to be truly happy among a small group of close knit friends. Unfortunately, this lesson didn’t sink in until 2 years later.
For the first two years of high school I did find a large group of people with whom to be friends and I thought that I was happy. Everyone knew my name. I had even just been elected Junior Class President. However, I still felt alone. I still felt like a floater, someone who didn’t belong. It took a while, but I began to remember the lesson of my time with ISLI.
The group was constantly changing. Most of the people who I thought were my friends didn’t stay with me for very long. I began to realize that I didn’t have a connection with most of them. I changed my focus to the few people who had been with me all along. I found my happiness in a small group of people who knew everything about me, and continued to be there for me through it all. It was a tough transition for me. I had grown up surrounded by people and now I only had a few by my side, yet I didn’t feel lonely anymore. In fact, it was the first time that I felt as though I had someone to talk to. It was this time that the lesson I had learned finally sunk in. I didn’t need a big group of friends in order to be happy, I simply needed one or two close friends who cared about me and who I cared about, too.
As I continue to grow my circle of quality friends and meaningful activities, I know that my greatest happiness and success will come from focusing my time, commitment and support on quality vs. quantity- and I will be more fulfilled than ever as I find my place in life that suits me as well as the quality material my grandfather used to make the perfect suit for his customers.

Ideas for “This I Believe”, Passion Blog, and Civic Issues Blog

For my first idea for the “This I Believe” podcast, I was thinking that I would talk about how quality versus quantity in friendship is an ideal that is now a big part in my life.

My grandfather, a tailor, always used to say that the quality of the material, even if it was more expensive, was always worth more than a large quantity of a cheaper material. Throughout the course of my life, I have learned that this same idea applies to friendship. It is not about the quantity of friends that you have, but the quality of the few that stick around no matter what. This idea was not always one that I had believed. For a long time, I believed that the more friends that I had, the happier I would be. I learned the hard way that this belief would not hold firm. I would go into detail then about my experiences in my life that helped me to create this view.

The other idea that I had for the “This I Believe” podcast was about how challenging myself to go out of my comfort zone has let me to gain confidence and experience in areas I would have never discovered had I not put myself out there. In this sense, challenging myself to do things that I’m not comfortable with has also become and ideal that I live by.
Ever since I was young I loved to sing, but was always too embarrassed to sing in front of other people because I didn’t think my voice was good enough. When my music teacher asked me to be a cantor at my church I was terrified, but I said yes because I knew it would take me out of my comfort zone. I would then talk about how I was able to gain confidence in my voice and being in front of people by going out of my comfort zone and singing in front of an entire parish.

For my passion blog, I was thinking of doing a slight continuation of my last blog of traveling, but this time rather than talk about the places I traveled before, I would make a bucket list of all the places that I would like to travel to someday and possibly interview people who have been to these places and write about their experiences first hand. As a goal, I would like to get people curious about studying abroad and encourage them to pursue their curiosity and take the action of studying abroad in college.
I also thought about writing about my experiences of taking up music again since I am planning on taking a music course in Campus Chorus after having not sung or played the piano in awhile.

For the Civic Issues blog, I was thinking that I could write about the Current Issues in Veterinary Medicine. My major is Veterinary and Biomedical Sciences, so it would help me to become more informed on the material that I will need to know as I enter into Vet School and also broaden everyone’s knowledge on these issues. I will also touch upon the cost of a graduate school and the issues on that.

Another ideas I had for the blog was to talk about the effects of fashion industry and sweatshop labor on the environment, health, and the standard of living of individuals. As a society we buy so many clothes so often of times that we have an abundance of clothing left over & where does it all go? My blog would answer this question and talk about how it effects more aspects of life them we may think.

TED Talk Outline

The subject of my TED Talk will be the shift from the idea of marriage as a way to gain wealth and status to it being based on the emotion of love.

As my first point, I will bring up how in the old days, people did not believe in love and viewed is as being a frivolous emotion that should not be the basis of any decision. I will talk about how important marriage was viewed to parents of young kids, as dowries were made in preparation. The end goals of women were essential just to get married to a rich man and raise children. Happiness was an after thought for them.
As found on theweek.com,
“The first recorded evidence of marriage contracts and ceremonies dates to 4,000 years ago, in Mesopotamia. In the ancient world, marriage served primarily as a means of preserving power, with kings and other members of the ruling class marrying off daughters to forge alliances, acquire land, and produce legitimate heirs. Even in the lower classes, women had little say over whom they married. The purpose of marriage was the production of heirs, as implied by the Latin word matrimony, which is derived from mater (mother).”

I will also tell a personal story of my grandparent’s arranged marriage and how they learned how to live together because divorce was simply out of the question. They come from a small town in Italy and divorce was not allowed to even be considered. This forced couples to find a way to make it work, because that was all they could do to get by.

As the next point, I will talk about the need for why people thought love was just a waste of time, and why is was not accounted for at all in relationships. “In fact, love and marriage were once widely regarded as incompatible with one another.”
I will use this to transition into when it did become the central part of relationships and the reasoning behind this. This will be the main theme of the paradigm shift.

The idea of love in marriage came about during the 17th and 18th century. This was because it was the era of Enlightenment and people were concerned with “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” People began to take more control over their lives and what made them happy. Divorce began to be viewed as a common event that was done to preserve the happiness of an individual.

I will end the talk, relying it back to the present day on how the argument on the “pursuit of happiness” has allowed society to become more accepting of same sex marriages and how divorce is more common then ever. According to statistics, 50% of marriages now end in divorce.

As marriage had once began as a sacred gesture, perfectly planned, and done for a reason, it is now viewed as disposable. If this relationship doesn’t work out, there’s always other fish in the sea right? Because relationships are largely based on emotion over function, do you think it makes it harder or easier to get through the tough times?

Paradigm Shift Outline

For the subject of my paradigm shift paper I have picked the topic of marriage and how it has changed roles throughout the years.

I will look at how marriage used to function as a way to gain wealth and status and how love was not taken into account at all. Marriages used to be arranged by families, and the husband and wife would not even meet each other until the day of the wedding. Divorce was not an option, so couples had to learn to live with each other.

My grandparents, who grew up in Italy, had an arranged marriage. They learned how to work together through all of the rough times as a family.

In some countries, arranged marriage is still going on. I will study these countries and show the reason why they still think it’s necessary in their culture.

Presently, marriages are largely based on love alone. There are even dating sites that allow people to find “true love” and shows that are based off of finding love, like the Bachelor. The idea behind marriage has changing greatly over the years and through my paper I will examine that.

Marriage used to be something that was a one and done thing. Now a days, divorce rates are higher then ever. 50% of marriages end in divorce. People can get remarried as many times as they wish, as long as they get the papers for it.

I can also touch upon the LGBTQ movement and how that has changed the idea of marriage and caused so much controversy. Where marriage used to be looked upon as only being shared between a man and a women, now since it’s based on love, it can be between a women and a women or a man and a man. Society has become more accepting of this change as we accept that we sometimes can’t control who we love.


From Victim to Villain

By the end of the novel, Mae is the ambassador of the Circle and people look to her as one of the leaders of the company. With this responsibility comes great power, as it does with everything. Mae could use her power for good or for evil, but she decides to avoid Ty’s warnings and use her power to close the circle. On page 486, Ty warns Mae that, “You’re the face of it. The benign, friendly face of it all. And the closing of the Circle-it’s what you and your friend Francis made possible…Everyone will be tracked, cradle to grave, with no possibility of escape.”

Mae has the ability to change the course of the company, but she is so engulfed in the ideology of the Circle that she doesn’t even realize the evil that she is doing. She believes that what she is doing is truly right, which changes her position from victim to villain.

At the end of the novel, the reader expects her to break out of the spell and listen to Ty. I was certain that she would come to her senses. Egger’s surprises us all by having Mae reveal Ty’s identity and make the whole company realize that he was trying to stop the madness that he created before it is too late.

Mae is even insensitive to Annie who had to be rushed to the hospital because she couldn’t take all the stress and standards of the Circle. Not even her ex-boyfriend’s death was able to get through to her how out of hand this whole thing was becoming.

I think the fact that she did not even think about how this was affecting Mercer and how the founder of the company was coming to her to warn her makes it evident that she is now conscious of her own decisions.

In order to fully commit a sin, we need to be fully conscious of the decision and fully know that it is wrong. I think that Mae is aware of what she is doing and in this sense she is committing a sin against humanity by completing the Circle.

Because of Mae and Francis, every child will now be tracked and controlled. Every government worker will have to be transparent. The entire country will be responsible to the Circle. All this because of Mae’s actions, which makes her the greatest villain of all.


Transparency Transforms

Throughout the entire book, we can see a steady progression of how Mae becomes more and more engulfed by the ideas at the Circle and less in tune with reality; however, I think that the turning point for Mae becoming completely controlled by the Circle’s ideas and mantras is when she is forced to go transparent after her talk about her mistake of not sharing her experience in front of the entire Circle. This also severs her relationship with the people that she was once close to.  There are three examples that support this.

The first example is the changing relationship between Mae and her parents. While she always wanted the best for them and cared about their well-being, after she goes transparent, she has no regard for their private lives anymore. Mae believes that everything should be shared at all times and with everyone. Mae’s parents on the other hand do not think it is necessary to have the SeeChange cameras in every room and had Mercer cover them up. Mae is angered by this and proceeds to uncover all of them without asking her parents. This results in an even more severed relationship between and Mae and her parents which ultimately leads to her parents not talking to her anymore.

The second example is how she no longer listens to Kalden, who is actually Ty, one of the three Wise Men who is trying to stop the Circle from closing. At first, she sneaks around with him and turns her camera off so she can talk to him privately. As she becomes more controlled by the Circle ideas, she begins to disregard his warnings, and stops listening to him entirely. She goes against what he says which leads to not only a loss of trust in the relationship, but also the Circle’s Completion.

The third example is Mae’s relationship with Annie. When Mae first came to the Circle, she was Annie’s subordinate. Once Mae became transparent, she becomes Annie’s superior, becoming the most important person to the Circle. This creates tension between the two as Annie becomes angry and jealous as she watches the girl who she gave a job opportunity to become more important. Mae in no way thinks that she is in the wrong, and since she is transparent, she has no way of talking to Annie in a way that would fix things between them. Mae tries to talk to Annie but Annie must act like a robot reciting information because everything she says is being broadcast through Mae’s camera. Mae doesn’t have any regard for Annie’s privacy and again is numb to Annie’s emotions and cries for help. This results in Annie and Mae not talking to each other and Annie being driven over the edge by the Circle’s new ancestry experiment.

Mae’s transparency serves as a catalyst for her transformation to becoming a full Circle member devoid of all human emotion. The severed relationships that result with her friends and family further prove how bad this epidemic is and how easy it is to get caught up in it and forget those who helped her along the way.

Real Life vs. Simulated Life

As the Circle continues, Mae becomes more and more involved in the way of life at the Circle and less involved with the outside world. I agree with Mercer when he says the Mae is boring now. Mae no longer has a personality and has become a robot following the instructions of everyone at the Circle with no opinion of her own. She is losing touch with reality and real human tendencies and emotions. She only cares about the virtual world where there are seemingly no flaws.

I think the real difference between real and simulated life is that real life is much more unpredictable, but it also comes with deeper rewards. For example, Mercer has a small business where he knows all his costumers individually and he likes it that way. When Mae tries to get him to expand to the internet, he gets angry because he doesn’t like to be controlled by anyone and doesn’t want business from people that he doesn’t know. He finds satisfaction in knowing exactly what his costumers like by simply asking them and not being praised on the internet by people he doesn’t know(258-262). In real life, human emotions, flaws, and passion often drive people to act in certain ways. You cannot control them to act a certain way like you can in simulated life.

My parents own a small business and are always telling me the importance of getting to know their customers. People are more likely to come to a business where “everyone knows their name” like in the theme song of Cheers. There is always a line for Starbucks because they try to make it personal by writing your name on your cup. Even in the dining hall when you ring up your food, the person working using says “Have a good day, Alexia.” It makes you feel more appreciated. You don’t get that same feeling from ordering online. No one is there to smile at you and say thank you.

In today’s social media culture, I think the same phenomenon is happening. As more technology is introduced and new ways of connecting are being discovered, people are becoming more and more anti-social. As Sophia mentioned in her speech, most of the time when you are walking down the street, everyone you see is on their phones. We are all surrounded by people, yet we choose to focus more on the virtual world then the real world.

While there are many great things about technology, there are also many downfalls. Teens are being cyberbullied more than ever because people can hid behind a screen and say what they want. Everything is easier to do in a simulated world. You aren’t able to see the direct effects of what you are doing, so you become more numb to emotion. This is what happens to Mae as well when Mercer tells her to stop talking about the internet comments his picture got. She doesn’t know how to recognize human emotions anymore since she’s been hiding behind a screen so much (262). Society must be cautious of all the new technology, otherwise we will all become emotionless and insensitive to people as Mae is becoming.




Outline for Rhetorical Essay

For my first cultural artifact, I chose Columbus Day and focused on how Kairos played a part in the creation of its existence. I talked about how Italian Americans used this holiday as a commonplace to try and bridge the gap and help them to be more respected among Americans. As my second artifact, and the subject of my rhetorical analysis essay, I chose the 1955 film Marty.

Best Picture. Best Director. Best Actor. Best Screenplay. These four Oscar awards went to the Italian American film Marty. How did Italian Americans go from being feared and hated to having an award winning film based off their lifestyle? The commonplace of war has the power to bring many people together and allow groups to become more respected. The 1955 film Marty is the perfect example of the whitening of Italian American culture and how a commonplace like war can serve as a vehicle for a group to rise in status.

Marty is about a middle aged Italian American man who works as a butcher in the Bronx of New York. Oldest of the family, he is still single and living in his mother’s house, while all of his younger siblings are already married and have moved away. His mother, along with everyone else that comes to his shop, tell him how he should be ashamed of himself for not being married already. The film takes you through the life of this character who represents the average American man living in the 1950s.

In the 1950s, America was just coming out of the World War II. The nation was becoming a dominant power among other European countries because of their victory and influences over them. During WWII, America was able to unite as they fought against one common enemy, and Italian Americans were a part of leading the war cause. Because many of them enlisted, American opinion began to change towards them. They began to think of them as fellow Americans instead of the enemy. Italians were willing to lay down their life for America, and this was the true testament of the dedication to their new country. Americans were able to put their trust in them knowing that they were all for the same cause of defending the place they all called home.

The 1950s was also a time that was largely based on status. Now that Italian Americans had risen to the same level as other Americans, they had to learn how to act more American, and their old culture traditions became ignored as they had more and more opportunities to Americanize themselves.

Marty shows the transformation from the migrant to the post migrant generation. The film itself pulls on the emotions of all its viewers. Marty is a kind hearted gentlemen who is lonely and constantly ridiculed by everyone around him. Viewers feel pity for Marty and are hoping that he succeeds. Americans in an earlier century would have never been routing for the Italian American or have pity on them, but this movie goes to show the change made in culture.

Ethos is shown because Marty is such a relatable character. He is typical of a man in the 1950s who is worried about his status as a butcher. He wants the American dream of getting married and becoming successful. Everyone in a sense can relate to this dream, especially in the 1950s. Marty stumbles on his words but is genuine in all that he says, which makes him seem like a regular guy more than an actor. The movie is also filmed on a street in the Bronx rather than just on a set which builds the creditability of the film and makes it more believable.

The movie brings in to play many logical themes that were prevalent in the 1950s. Marty talks about how he had been in the war, and how when he came back he didn’t know what to do with himself. This is an indication that he has strayed away from Italian American culture and become a protector of America. This also brings up the issue of PTSD, which is something that many people suffer from, but is not something that was commonly talked about in the 1950s. He talks about how he thought about committing suicide as well, which is another subject that was not commonly talked about in the 1950s. It shows how superficial society was, and how status and appearance was everything.



Experience and Privacy in The Circle

Throughout The Circle, the concepts of data, privacy, intimacy, and experience are all very prevalent in the novel. With a company as transparent as the Circle, it is hard to avoid thinking about these topics and how they are taken to the extreme.

For me, the two most prevalent themes are privacy and experience. In the novel, these two themes go hand in hand. In The Circle, privacy is seen as something negative, and experiences are only valued if they are shared. If you keep your experiences private, other people won’t be able to learn and benefit from them, so what is the point of having experiences if you don’t tell other people? According to the Circle’s ideas, there is none.

An example of how The Circle believes experiences should be shared rather than kept private is the creation of ChildTrack. This is viewed as benefitting society instead of invading privacy. Francis uses his experiences as a child to create a tracking device chip that is installed in the child’s bone so that they can be tracked at all times. To us, this seems like an invasion of privacy, but because of Francis’ bad childhood experience, he sees no issue with this program. He says “You want a living kid with a chip in his ankle, a kid who you know will grow up safe….or do you want a dead kid?”(pg.90) Because Francis was able to share his negative experience, he was able to create something “positive” from it. Everyone will be able to track the children and parents will finally be able to know the whereabouts of their kids at all times. (pg. 88)

On the other hand, Mae, who wasn’t as open to sharing her experiences at the time, drives home to see her father after finding out he had a heart attack. She ends up spending the weekend there and gets reprimanded upon her return for not sharing what had happened. Josiah mentions to her that if she had opened up about her father’s MS, she would’ve been able to find two other groups on campus that are specifically for children of MS sufferers(pg.183). Because she had kept her family life private and not shared her experiences as the child of a MS sufferer, she “missed out” on the benefit of sharing information about this disease. If she had reached out to those groups, they could have helped her by giving her information on how to react to her situation. If she had shared her experience, she could have provided people with information in case they had a similar experience.

The Circle does not believe in any kind of privacy because if you are holding back your experiences, other people cannot learn from them and know what you are going through so they could help you. Privacy and experience may not be words that you can relate to each other at first glance, but I hope that this was able to help you see how interchangeable they truly are in the Circle.

Artifact Speech Outline

Columbus sailed the ocean blue in fourteen hundred eighty two. I’m sure we have all heard the little jingle at least one point in our social studies class. Columbus Day is a holiday that is celebrated all over the world, but is viewed differently in each culture, and I begun to wonder why that is.

Even on a more local level, each state views the importance of Columbus day differently. Is some states is it celebrated as a federal holiday, but in others its only a local observance. How it is celebrated effects of us in some way. Some states close all the post offices and schools are off. Others barely acknowledge it as a holiday. I will observe why Americans are in favor or not in favor of Columbus Day and why. It is a very controversial holiday. Some people do not believe that Columbus was the first to discover America because Vikings and indigious people were here first.

Although Columbus day effects us each in some way, it especially effects people of Italian American origin. Italian Americans are actually the ones who started this holiday. I will give some historical background on how ir was formed.

Italian Americans often hold Columbus to a high esteem, but some Americans believe that he brought slavery to America. I will explain why Americans have a reason to think this versus why Italian Americans view him as their hero.

I will research how Columbus Day is celebrated in Italian American cultures and other cultures of the world to show how it can be used to mean different things to different people rhetorically. How different cultures view a holiday shapes your view of that holiday and you are brought up celebrating it a different way. It shows how cultural traditions can shape a society and effect each person’s view individually.