Idea for Issue Brief


Idea: Better Management of Resources and Implementation of Policy to Help Fight Poverty in Africa


    • Thesis: This will be our statement of what we want to be changed and how to better deal with poverty. Our formal thesis will be constructed after all of our research about this topic is complete and we are able to combine our thoughts on what action we want to be taken into one meaningful sentence that will guide our issue brief.
    • Target: All people, from individuals to UN representatives who have the desire for any reason to contribute to the building of Africa’s poor poorest countries and helping their people.
    • Importance: In the past fifty years, a standard has been set by the civilized population of the world as to what the lowest condition that a human being should have to endure. This is pretty much the poverty level but it’s a little more blurry than that because the efforts that have been enacted in Africa have been to help people living much below the standard of poverty in the United States and other first world nations. So, over the past fifty years, many initiatives by both civilians and humanitarian organizations have worked to give raw materials (clothes, shoes, non-perishable food) to “poor” communities around the continent. The immediate effect of this humanitarian aid was helpful, but has only allowed poverty to become THE standard for life, being continuously handed what was necessary to live while not advancing any farther to build the infrastructure and overall stability of these communities. The main idea is that if the truth about the result of these humanitarian efforts is revealed, then proper contributions can be given to communities in need.         

Partners: Sophia and Patrick

What we’re doing with the policy – which direction the assignment is going:


    • Our bias is towards the argument of combatting poverty in hopes of eliminating it in countries like Africa.
    • So far, the policy that we would like to support to help change the direction of poverty increase in Africa includes the redirection of funds by both individuals and humanitarian aid groups around the world toward projects that would encourage the development of infrastructure and political structure to support impoverished communities in the long run.     

What medium are we doing for advocacy part:


    • We will most likely be doing a formal presentation to the class, along with a powerpoint/prezi type display with pictures, statistics, etc. Although, this may change slightly once we become more familiar on the topic and decide what medium best represents the way in which we want to display this topic.

(Very) rough draft of This I Believe

The Importance of Individualization

I’m not sure when in my 18 years, but sometime as a child or teenager I remember learning the saying, “Be yourself, because everyone else is already taken.” Certainly now, as an independent, responsible, mature 18-year-old, I can say I have discovered my unique, authentic self. I do what I want, because I want to – not because others want me to.

But I wasn’t always like this. Growing up with a twin sister, we have been like two peas in a pod, inseparable at the hip – making the same friends, playing the same sports, practically growing up as the same person.

I can still remember it vividly. My first group tennis clinic with my twin sister by my side. We walk onto the court and being the shy 6-year-olds we were, quietly joined the group of other kids. Shortly after, the instructor joined us and asked, “everyone here is right handed, right?” It was in this moment that I began to panic, seeing as I was left handed, but why did he assume everyone was right handed? I froze, and not wanting to be different from the group, my sister and I didn’t speak up – and started our tennis career as right handed players.

Obviously, in this moment, I didn’t understand the importance of individualizing myself. I didn’t want to stand out, I wanted to do what the group did.

But then came high school where I was allowed to pick different classes – college prep, honors, or advanced placement – different electives – anything from cooking foreign foods to creating ceramic vases – different extracurriculars – student council to service leagues. I realized that if I did things only because my friends and peers around me did them, I would spend the next four years being unhappy.

It was from here on out that I knew I had to always be true to myself. I can’t live my life to the fullest if I’m trying to fit in with what everybody else is doing. When it came time to apply to colleges, I didn’t apply to places just because my friends were – I thought about what I really cared about and let my thoughts and passions lead the way.

Throughout my experiences, I have learned that it is important to listen to what others say and their advice, but to ultimately make decisions for myself – to be myself.

Ideas for second semester blog posts

This I believe:

One of my ideas for my this i believe podcast essay is to write about the importance of individualizing yourself throughout your life, especially your teen years. I strongly believe that you can only be true to yourself if you act like yourself instead of trying to fit in with everybody else. This has been a constant idea in my life – I have an identical twin sister who is extremely similar to me, but nonetheless, we are each individuals with different values, interests, etc. I am passionate about this idea because I always try to be myself – whether in school, out of school, during sports, etc.

Passion thinking:

I do not think I am changing the topic of my blog and will stick to the traveling style theme. I liked how I had a broad topic so I had a wide range of ideas to talk about. My goals for my blog this semester is to make them more interesting to read – re-reading some of them, I can understand how some readers might not be as interested in reading about a country or place they don’t want to visit or have already visited. My goal is to make people really want to travel to the places I describe, because I think it is something that everyone should experience.

Civic issues ideas:

Between politics, identities/rights, environment, education, and race, I am interested in the environment topic. For each blog, I intend to have an over-arching question to guide that specific blog, but it would still be environment themed. Within the environment, I would want to talk about climate change, because it is something that I feel is extremely relevant today. However, I am also interested in writing about education. I know what a privilege it is to have an education at penn state, given that other students in other countries don’t have the opportunity to go to college and get the education that I am currently receiving.

Ted Talk Outline

Throughout this ted-style talk, I am addressing women’s gender roles from as early as the 1900s to now (because this is such a large time frame, I have picked a few key time periods within these years); but specifically the change in women’s roles and what caused this shift. Some of these factors include the need for labor in factories when men went to war, demographic changes in the attitude of society, and feminist activism. Because most people are familiar with what happened during WWI and WWII in terms of filling the spaces in jobs left by men, I will mention that, but focus more on the feminist activism side. 

There are so many examples of women with high-ranked, professional jobs. To name an example: Hillary Clinton, first woman to be nominated president of one of two major political parties. An example more specific to our lives: Dean Bieschke, the dean of the Schreyer Honors College.

Women in the 1900s would never have had these jobs. Men went to work everyday and women stayed home to clean. Most women had many children (due to lack of contraceptives, something I will touch on later in the ted talk) which was the reason for their lack of schooling and ability to work other jobs outside of the home. The first spark was WWI – when men left to go to war and women filled their positions – which most everyone is familiar about, so I will not spend much time talking about.

The second spark in the change of women’s jobs was when women began speaking out against these norms and publically broadcasting their opinions – some published articles, or tried to start movements. Margaret Sanger was a key role in the creation of “the pill” which enabled women to control their pregnancies and get an education/job before having kids.

I will close by talking about women’s jobs today and how I think certain percentages regarding jobs will change in the future (for ex: preschool and kindergarten teachers are dominated 98% by females, will this be consistent in the future?)

Circle post #5

The circle encompasses the epitome of the social media obsession. By requiring its employees to share everything about themselves and their lives online through different forms of online media and communication, they strive to create what they feel will be the most efficient society. Thus, a theme develops throughout the book: the need to be known through social media.  The circle continuously makes it known that more is always better (more participation, more followers, more pictures). The reason for this ‘neediness’ presented both in the text and in reality is caused by the need for validation which is fulfilled through different forms of technology.

The Circle, like in reality, presents numerous examples of how society has become obsessed with what other people think about them, especially behind a screen. In both situations, the number of likes, comments, or followers someone has on social media either positively or negatively impacts their self-esteem. People feel the need to be seen as popular and perfect when in reality they could appear completely different than how they present themselves. 97% of voters saw Mae as awesome, and while this is nearly perfect, Mae obsesses over the lost 3% and begins to hate the mere 400 people who didn’t give her a smiley face. (Eggars 408). Similarly, in this generation, teenagers obsess over which of their followers like their instagram post – and get upset over the people who follow them, yet didn’t like it. It is perfectly likely that Mae has never met the people in the 3%, yet strives to appeal to them through the circle’s social media. Each person needs the validation of a high number and thus the neediness of social media is constantly increasing.

Another evident cause for this “neediness” is the belief that participation in social media defines a person’s likability and popularity. After being taught about her “PartiRank” and told how hers was significantly low, Mae became obsessed with participating in surveys, events, emails, etc. to raise her PartiRank above other employees. In the same sense, it has become the norm that as we gain more followers on apps like Instagram or Twitter, we must post more and more to appeal to our followers – and those who don’t post ‘disappear’ behind the people who are most present. By participating in these forms of social media, people begin to get validation from their followers, which again causes them to need to use media continuously. Mae “wants to be seen” and believes that “most people do, and would trade everything they know to be seen and acknowledged” (490). In a world of billions of people or a company of thousands, social media is everyone’s way of voicing themselves; giving them “hope of being seen, or heard, even for a moment” (490). Being heard or seen is everyone’s validation that they actually exist, but they need social media to do so.

The ‘neediness’ of social media often has negative consequences such as when Mae tries tracking Mercer (leading to his suicide) or loses the relationships she has with her family because of her obsession with being the face of the circle. Social media provides an outlet for society to create a fake self in which they can try to get a ‘high rating,’ seeking validation from followers.

Paradigm Shift Outline

As of now, I have two ideas for my paradigm shift but I am undecided as to which one I will use for my paper. I am going to research more about each one to decide which I think I would have more information on and be more passionate about to talk about.

My first idea is to talk about fashion shifts (but specifically women’s fashion). In my introduction, I will talk about both “sides” of the shift (then and now). Because fashion shifts so quickly (new trends every few months: chokers, jean skirts, white converse, etc.), I will have to carefully plan which shifts I want to focus on. I will state my thesis. In my body paragraphs, I will talk about why fashion shifts and how it has changed so drastically since the 18 and 1900s. I will have to do research to find the factors that cause the most significant fashion shifts. My conclusion will state a summary of my thesis statement and main points and I will talk about what I think the next fashion trends will be – perhaps even as soon as January or February.

My second idea is to talk about the shift in societal norms regarding male and female gender roles. In my introduction, I will discuss the societal norm both before and after the shift. As many of us know, women used to be child caretakers who cooked and cleaned the house and the men went to work. This is certainly not the case anymore; as men and women both work, and women can often have more “powerful” positions than men (despite how there is still a difference in wage for men and women having the same job position). Then I will state my thesis.

Because this paper can be lengthy, I may choose to have a body paragraph after the introductory paragraph explaining the organization of my paper. The next body paragraphs will discuss the (3) factors that led to the shift(s) in gender roles. The first factor I have is World Wars (wars temporarily opened up jobs for women but when men returned, their jobs were again replaced by men). Like I said before, I would still have to do a little bit of research to find two other concrete factors. My conclusion will be a summary of my main points, and I will insert my opinion as to any shifts that I think will happen in the future.

Circle Blog #4

Mae, the protagonist of The Circle who quickly becomes an integral member of the company, undoubtedly experiences the most visible growth throughout her time working as an employee at the circle: she loses her true identity with the outside world and instead becomes a transparent, superficial woman and the new face of this horrible, degrading company.

After being introduced by Annie, a close friend she met during college, Mae Holland began as a newbie at the circle. Being (supposedly) “the most influential company in the world” (Eggars 1), this company was surely a highly-desired company to be employed for, so for Mae to have her position practically handed to her was quite an ‘accomplishment.’ However, despite its fame, this company brain-washes Mae into a machine-like, impersonal robot who can no longer have private and personal conversations, causing her to neglect the relationships in her outside world.

One of the first instances of Mae’s transparency is when she begins to lose contact with her close friends and family. After her incident with the kayaks and the police, Mae wears a camera at all times to ensure that all meetings, conversations, and interactions are recorded and “completely scannable by anyone watching” (310). While seemingly connecting Mae to everything physically around her, this camera disconnects her from the ability to have any type of privacy, and consequently, lose her ability to prolong her deep relationships. In doing so, Mae begins to act superficial (as to not reveal anything she wouldn’t want revealed, ie: her intimate behaviors with Francis) in a way that is completely different to her pre-popularity in the circle. Shortly after finding out that “where a grid of sixteen images should have been visible, twelve were blank” (361) (her parents had covered up the ‘SeeChange’ cameras) instead of empathizing with their emotions (that the Circle has gone too far and is incessantly invading their privacy) she promises Dr. Villalobos that she will fix the situation. By saying she will ‘fix’ this situation, she is most likely implying that she will convince them to keep the cameras public rather than reevaluating how her job has changed her for the worse.

Not only is she losing the relationship with her parents, but also with Mercer as she disregards his advice to “cease contact… unless privately” (374) because she is so engrossed keeping her popularity in the company. Even after Mercer tries distancing himself, she uses The Circle’s power to track him down – exemplifying how she values the Circle more than her close relationships with friends. Mae’s obsession with this company later causes the downfall in her relationship with Annie – she no longer pays attention to Annie’s emotions as she continues “cursing Annie, cursing every blond inch of her” (368) solely due to their tensions regarding the competition between the two to have a higher rank and superiority in the company.

Evidently, Mae went from being a timid, newbie employee to the superior face of the company who embodies all the horrid mantras. The transparency of the Circle is primarily responsible for Mae’s change in personality; she doesn’t realize how superficial she is around both herself and her family. Instead, she is consumed in being the face of the Circle Ambassador and hurts herself and her loved ones.

Circle Post #3

The circle is a company that tries to be innovative in whatever they do – trying to show both their employees and outsiders that their company can be summed up in three ‘catchy’ phrases: secrets are lies, sharing is caring, privacy is theft. These are the circle’s philosophies, and they abide by these statements in everything they do.  

        Eamon Bailey, one of the wise men at the circle, believes that all information should be shared with the entirety of the company and beyond, and sums up his beliefs in these three saying. Primarily, the phrase “secrets are lies” is completely a denunciatory statement – in the sense that he basically accuses everyone of lying if they decide to keep anything private. While the employees at the circle understand the fact that they are supposed to share their lives each and every day, there are a few things nobody would want to share. When Mae and Francis (almost) have sex, they both tell each other intimate details. Certainly, Mae said things “she would never [have said] if she thought anyone would ever know she’d said it” (Eggars 204), and Francis had been recording it the whole time. While this isn’t necessarily a secret, it is something she just wouldn’t want to share with the circle. Because of Bailey’s mottos, this video would be put into the cloud for anyone to see – an extreme invasion of privacy and destruction of self worth (despite the fact that it was extremely possible that no one would see this video because of the numerical amount of photos and videos in the cloud.)

This example (presented above) lends itself nicely to the phrase “sharing is caring.” This is a phrase we have all been taught as children and grown to understand, however, Eamon Bailey has turned this silly rhetoric into a dark, twisted motto that essentially turns everybody’s personal life (even outside the circle) into an open book. Mae is someone who doesn’t need to be constantly updated with the details in everyone’s life around her – she’s someone who takes advantage of personal time to herself, but in doing so, ended up committing “a crime.. [by borrowing] a kayak without the knowledge of the owner” (297) resulting in confrontation by police. Bailey uses this horrible phrase to change Mae into someone who believes that constant surveillance is a necessity – the face of the Circle.

Mae thought she was simply getting a personal, private experience by kayaking, but instead got reprimanded for it – a perfect example of how the circle is always preaching the mantra – “privacy is theft.” In the environment in The Circle, thieves get caught; privacy is essentially illegal: the reasons Mae was considered to have committed a crime.

        I believe strongly that some of these mantras apply to society today, but in a different regard. If I were to ask someone what the phrase ‘sharing is caring’ means, he or she would most likely give an example of a little kid sharing his toy or a wealthy person giving money to a homeless man or woman. In this regard, sharing is caring. I can almost guarantee nobody would say sharing a video of two people being intimate is very caring. When I ask someone what the word ‘theft’ means to them, a common answer would probably be robbing a bank or stealing candy from a convenience store. If I asked them the same about privacy, they would respond along the lines of keeping information personal like social security number or their home address. These two have no correlation to each other, and in no way is having privacy a form of theft.

Rhetorical Analysis Essay Outline


For my civic artifact speech, I am speaking about an iPhone, and my main points are its metaphorical meaning and how it represents an idea of exclusivity. For my rhetorical analysis, I didn’t want to pick an object similar to the iPhone – or another piece of technology. Instead, I wanted to pick something that has the same deeper meaning. Seemingly, the iPhone and the Barbie doll, on the surface, have no correlation. However, in my rhetorical analysis essay, I want to analyze the idea of exclusivity that comes along with the Barbie Doll.


The Barbie doll has been controversial in the last few years – some say it promotes the idea that a girl can do anything she wants or be anything she wants, and isn’t limited to any opportunities, because Barbie can. Others believe this toy has promoted the idea that every girl has to look like Barbie. My main focus will be the latter, because this idea – that every girl should look like what Barbie looks like – has created a world of exclusivity.


These two artifacts were created in completely different time periods. The first barbie doll was created on March 9th, 1959 by the American toy-company Mattel, Inc. but Ruth Handler was the one who had the idea of creating Barbie. The iPhone wasn’t introduced until later in the 2000s. Similar to my civic artifact speech, I will give a brief history of the Barbie in the beginning of my rhetorical analysis, but not too much as the focus is on the analysis of the object itself and how it functions rhetorically.


In my analysis, I will talk about the targeted audience – the obvious audience, young girls – but the not so obvious audience, society in general. I also want to analyze how different audiences may perceive the toy in different manners – Barbie might mean something different to the young girl dressing her up and combing her hair than it does to a 30 year old.


Throughout the essay I will constantly discuss how it functions civically and if this function has changed over time.


While this doll was originally invented as a child’s toy, its meaning has become so much more controversial and there are numerous commonplaces surrounding Barbie. While this artifact isn’t similar to the iPhone in the sense of what they do, I think it will serve as an interesting contrast with the same messages as the iPhone.

RCL #3

Each and every day society shows signs of becoming more technologically savvy. To speak to some examples – the iPhone 7 has recently emerged (following many other similar but not as advanced models); laptops are becoming lighter and lighter in combination with the ability to have more storage, TVs have developed the ability to be linked to computers – “smart TVs.” We are living in a digitally advanced world – whether you like it or not, the aspects of your life will be stored and detected for as long as technology exists. Essentially, technology has the ability to invade the privacy of your life – and certain aspects of the circle, by Dave Eggars, present strikingly similar correlations between data and privacy.

As we know, the circle is a technology based company – a company that “considers [itself] on the forefront of social media;” (186) a company that runs on the sole power of a computerized website which requires employees to input anything from where they were at 1 in the afternoon to what party they went to that night; a company that destroys the line between data and privacy. As long as the circle exists, the “data” in every employee’s life, like Mae’s, will be public forever.

Having privacy is simply unavoidable at a company like the circle. Nothing that the employees did daily could be private: Mae had personal pictures from past vacations – something she most likely wouldn’t have wanted to share with the entire company, yet as soon as the company scanned her computer, they went up into the cloud (111). Generally, health records are kept private between you and your doctor, but the circle deems it necessary to have your records public – having its employees swallow sensors so they can be provided with each employees heart rate, blood pressure, etc. – unnecessary, private information that doesn’t need to be shared with others (155). At some point, having as much data as The Circle wants just gets excessive.

In the same sense, even in the chance that Mae did feel comfortable sharing private information with a few of her closer friends at the circle – i.e., Annie, – the expectations of the circle certainly do not permit this. In asking Mae to come to her office, Dan rapidly fires questions about Mae as to where she had been the past weekend and why she hadn’t updated any of her information on the circle. Why should the act of taking personal time away from work need to be documented? In taking a visit to see her parents after her dad had been sick, it is assumable that Mae’s first thoughts hadn’t exactly been to update her “photos […], zings […], reviews […], notices […], or bumps” (175), but this is what her superiors had wanted.

The circle is one of many examples of how the line between providing data and still having privacy can often be distorted into being classified as the same thing. When you are “forced” to spare the minute details of your life – like Mae having to provide certain foods she was allergic to, how many days a week she goes kayaking, or where she was at 8:49pm on a Monday night, you become trapped in the world of technology (in this case, The Circle). By providing everything about yourself into a system, your privacy is no longer “an integral part” (188) of your life – instead, your privacy becomes part of someone else’s life.