Tag Archives: RCL Brown

The Ugly Duckling: Chipmunk Edition

Once upon a time, in a land far, far away, the sun shined warmly upon four newborn baby squirrels and their mother, who sat in a tree devouring an acorn. In a land a little bit farther away, dark clouds blanketed the skies as Johnny the chipmunk was born. Unfortunately, Johnny was an only child and with the somber skies and eternal gloom of his land, Johnny often became lonely. Wanting to live a brighter and happier life, Johnny decided to leave his land in favor of a more joyful surrounding. So after a couple of restful days, Johnny decided to explore a whole new world.

Johnny began his trek the next morning and ran and ran until he saw sunlight. He reached another land and upon entering, became overwhelmed with delight at the sight of clear skies and a glowing sun.

Happy Chipmunk

Johnny being delighted by his sights.
Courtesy of http://onlypositive.net/?tag=/chipmunk

He ventured a little further when he saw another litter of animals that looked similar to him and tried to befriend them. Johnny unknowingly entered the land of squirrels and was subsequently introduced to Tom, Tim, Ted, and Tod, four of the young newborn squirrels. Over the next few days, Johnny and the squirrels became best friends as they chased each other around the trees, jumped into piles of leaves, and ate as many acorns as their stomachs would let them. In due time, however, the distinctions between Johnny and his squirrel friends became wider and more pronounced. Johnny’s friends had long bushy tails, long bodies, and beady, devilish eyes. Johnny, in contrast, developed dark and light brown stripes along his back, had a smaller and narrower body, and a skinny dark brown tail. With their physical differences, the friendship between Johnny and his friends slowly deteriorated.

“Hey Johnny! What’s that on your back?” berated Ted.

“Yeah, it looks so stupid,” said Tom, gnawing on yet another acorn.

The days passed and the insults towards Johnny became progressively worse. Since he ran away from home at an early age, Johnny never knew he was a chipmunk; upon entering the land of the squirrels, Johnny too believed that he was a squirrel. Nonetheless, Johnny could never explain his physical differences, and he knew something was wrong. Johnny had shorter legs and could never run as far or as fast as his friends. He could never climb trees as fast or as high as his friends. His stripes made him very distinct and different from his friends, earning him the title “ugly squirrel.”

“Hey! Ugly squirrel, come here and catch this acorn!” yelled Tod.

But Johnny’s arms were too short and he missed.

“You’re such a loser. You can’t do anything right,” criticized Tom, who shook his head in shame and dismay at his friend’s failed efforts.

After days of criticism, Johnny became very unhappy and resolved to run away to another land. So the next morning, Johnny packed some acorns and ran for as long as he could, when, all of a sudden, he reached College Avenue. Johnny was in awe of all the sights—the people, the stores, the restaurants, and most importantly, the chipmunks. Johnny finally recognized his own kind and reunited with the tribe. While the weather was very erratic in this new land, Johnny was nevertheless thrilled to be among his species and explore his new surroundings. Every morning, Johnny and his chipmunk friends crawled into trashcans, eating all the French fries and scrap food available, and then proceeding to jump out on nearly all the people nearby, terrifying them much so. Johnny was no longer called the “ugly squirrel” (which meant a lot to a chipmunk with an identity crisis). He, along with his fellow chipmunks, lived happily ever after.

RCL: Kairos

Chastising the academic infrastructure of public schools, Sir Ken Robinson attributes the trend of unidimensional thinking and lack of creativity in modern youth to deficits in the public education system and as a result, distorted perceptions of “education.” Robinson’s plea for reforming and modernizing the traditional education paradigm arises in an age where education no longer guarantees a job and students nationwide have an ingrained, albeit misinformed, belief that if they do not pursue science or mathematics, they will never be successful. As Robinson informs, the current system of public education still holds is foundations in the past, when Industrialization created an initial burst in education and in consequence, schools were, and still are, organized on factory lines. Robinson reinforces the lack of advancement in schools to show that education is not progressing and may in fact be regressing towards a strictly regimented institution void of creativity or critical thinking. In light of an outdated infrastructure and declining academic performance, Robinson takes the opportunity (kairos) to share his vision for reformed education in a TedTalk, a platform conducive to sharing ideas and new ways of thinking.

To bring awareness and urgency to a nonfunctional system, Robinson discusses a study that showed the deleterious effects of the current public school system on student creativity. In the study, a group of children were monitored for creative capacity from the time they were in kindergarten to the time they were fifteen. A higher aptitude of creativity, which corresponded to a higher level of genius, was observed in kindergarten children (who received a genius score of 98%). As these children were retested at ten and fifteen years of age, their aptitude of creativity declined by more than half (to a genius score of 40%). As Robinson explains, society can no longer afford to believe that twelve years of grasping theoretical information constitutes an “education.” Rather, the influx of theoretical knowledge and the concept of “There’s only one answer. And it’s in the back,” has essentially purged modern youth of its creativity. The publication of the study substantiates Robinson’s claim that students are losing creativity and provides an appropriate context for Robinson to bring up the issue and spread it to wider audiences. In reference to kairos, Robinson utilizes the recent findings of the study to create a window of opportunity in which people across the nation are unanimous in their belief that the public education system needs to be reshuffled and remodeled.

Link to speech: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zDZFcDGpL4U

Hansel and Gretel: A Modern Adaptation

Once upon a time, in a land far, far away, there lived Hansel and Gretel, two adults in their-mid twenties who had overstayed their welcome at their parents’ house.

“They’re eating all of our food and never clean up after themselves!” ranted the mother. “We must do something.”

“Is this what we paid all that college tuition for? To have them come right back to us and eat all of our food and make our lives miserable? We have to get rid of them,” the father muttered.

“Here’s what we’ll do: we’ll walk them to the end of the college campus, where there’s a wooded area, and ask them to collect some wood for the upcoming winter. While they’re busy, we’ll run back and knowing their lack of direction, they’ll never be able to find their way back home. We will be free from them forever,” the mother said, pleased with her sinister plan.

The father agreed and both parents fell asleep. Little did they know that Hansel and Gretel had been awake and overheard their entire conversation.

“Don’t worry Gretel. I got this all figured out,” Hansel reassured, while devouring his favorite meal, a whole piece of toast slathered with nutella.

The next morning, the mother stormed into Hansel and Gretel’s room to wake them up, telling them that they need to collect wood for the upcoming winter. Before they left, Hansel stuffed a big bag of M&M’s into his pocket. As they walked toward the woods, Hansel, every now and then, covertly pulled out an M&M and dropped it along the path.

After a few hours of walking, they finally reached the woods where Hansel and Gretel received instructions to collect wood. While Hansel and Gretel ventured through the trees to gather a few twigs, the mother and father hurriedly ran off. Unfazed, Hansel and Gretel reconvened to fathom a way to journey home.

“Gretel! I marked our path home with M&M’s. All we gotta do is follow them!” Hansel exclaimed, in awe of his seemingly brilliant plan.

Hansel and Gretel began to walk, searching for an M&M to guide them. Alas, their effort was futile because the devilish campus squirrels had eaten their guide home. Hansel and Gretel sat upon a rock in a state of dismay. As they were about to fall asleep, they saw the light of a lamppost flicker through the trees.

Hansel and Gretel stood up and followed the light, which led to a tiny, seemingly deserted, cottage. Assuming the cottage was vacant, Hansel and Gretel opened the door and walked in. But facing them was a large, burly, sinister man who glared at them with sly eyes.

“What are you doing in my house?”

“Oh, well, you-you know. We got l-lost an-and just needed a pl-place to stay,” Gretel stammered, terrified of his size.

“Well, what can you do for me?”

“Anything, we’ll do anything,” replied Hansel.

“All right, you man stay for the time being, granted you fulfill my one request. I am a professor and I have a heap of papers to grade as my TA’s are nowhere to be found. You must be harsh and extremely critical about these papers. No student must receive an A.”

With no other option, Hansel and Gretel acquiesced and sat upon the professor’s desk to start grading. Both Hansel and Gretel did what they were told and left unpleasant grades on the papers. A little while later, Gretel came upon a paper like no other—a paper that was written so spectacularly that she could not bear to give it anything less than an A.

“This paper is brilliant. I can’t give it a bad grade. What should I do?” she whispered to Hansel.

“Just do what the professor said. Do you want us to get into trouble?” Hansel replied.

Gretel gave the paper a miserable score and continued grading the rest. After a few hours, Hansel and Gretel finished grading all the papers.

“What should we do now, professor?”

“Ah, you’ve finished. Good! You see that computer over there? Put all the grades into the grade book on that computer. Those things are too complicated and I can never figure them out, so put those grades into that. I don’t know how to do it. I never use that thing anyway, but I’m sure you’re generation can figure it out,” the professor directed, in a tone of both awe and dismay.

Hansel and Gretel sat at the computer where they began recording the grades.

“Wait!” Hansel whispered. “The professor said he doesn’t use the computer, so why don’t we record the grades that the students deserve?”

Gretel agreed, and immediately pulled out the brilliant paper and gave it an A. Hansel followed, giving students grades worthy of their hard work. At last, Hansel and Gretel finished recording the grades, which were much fairer than before. Before shutting down the computer, Hansel thought of an idea to get back home. He went on the Internet and went to Google and mapped his direction home.

The next morning, Hansel and Gretel bade goodbye to the professor and walked back home, where they lived happily ever after with their parents.

Ideas for Rhetorical Analysis Paper

As I go through potential topics for the rhetorical analysis paper, I’m still a bit unsure as to what I would like to write about. When the assignment was first brought up in class, I immediately thought about the 2006 ASPCA commercial with Sarah McLachlan that flooded television channels everywhere and brought most of its audience to tears. If you haven’t seen it, take a look: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9gspElv1yvc (keep some tissues with you, just in case).

Even after watching the advertisement multiple times, I never fail to be overly sentimental afterwards, and I think it’s because the video uses rhetorical strategies very well. The video has powerful appeals emotion, especially through the photos of the animals being the helpless subject of animal cruelty (pathos). Sarah McLachlan is a strong and long-time supporter of the ASPCA, which establishes her credibility (ethos). And lastly, the video utilizes very strong statistics on animal cruelty to establish its cause (logos). The rhetorical strategies used in this commercial are fairly clear and forthright, so I feel that this video would be a good topic for the paper.

Another topic that I am interested is a 2012 TEDTalk that discusses, “Do Schools Kill Creativity?” If you haven’t seen it, here it is (I highly recommend it): http://www.huffingtonpost.com/sir-ken-robinson/do-schools-kill-creativity_b_2252942.html. The talk is given by Sir Ken Robinson, a well-respected author, speaker, and advisor on education. The presentation is really quite powerful, and makes us truly reconsider the infrastructure of our education system. The presentation does use many rhetorical strategies (through the use of personal stories and statistics), but they are certainly not as apparent as the strategies used in the ASPCA video. I am leaning a bit more towards writing about the TEDTalk because I feel like it will lead to a more interesting discussion that we can all relate to, but I am still continuing to go through different ideas.

Please let me know what you think!

Snow White: A Modern Adaptation

Once upon a time, in a land far, far away, there lived a young lady whose beauty surpassed that of all the land. Her hair was as black as ebony and fell gracefully down her shoulders in utter perfection; her deep blue eyes sparkled against the redness of her lips and rosy cheeks. As she walked daintily on College Avenue in a lacy blue and yellow dress, everyone became humbled by her beauty and elegance.

Everyday for many years, a wicked woman asked her magic eight ball, “Who is the loveliest lady of them all?” and the reply was always “You are.” But one day, the magic eight ball answered, “Snow White is the loveliest in the land.” The wicked woman was furious and, wild with jealously, began plotting the downfall of her rival. Calling upon one of her trusted friends, the wicked woman bribed her with a substantial reward to take Snow White far away from campus and bring her downfall. The next day, the wicked woman’s friend led Snow White to the corner of campus but before she was to complete her task, her courage failed her and she ran away, leaving Snow White all alone.

Night came and frightened and cold, Snow White began to cry bitterly. She thought that she heard strange sounds and rustling noises around her, but alas, overcome by fatigue, she fell asleep under a tree.

Morning arrived and Snow White woke to the song of the birds, which were perched upon a large, beautiful house. Snow White realized how irrational her fears had been and pushed the door of the house open. “I wonder who lives here?” she thought to herself, peering around the empty room.

Snow White walked to the kitchen and decided to make some coffee and toast for the house’s residents. After setting the food on the table, Snow White walked to the sofa and fell asleep. A few hours later, a throng of girls walked into the house only to find a stranger sleeping on their couch. One of the girls gently touched Snow White to wake her up, explaining to her that she was in a sorority house and asking who she was.

Snow White sat up and told them her unfortunate story, and tears fell down the cheeks of every girl.

“Stay here with us!” one of the girls exclaimed. With nowhere to go, Snow White accepted the invitation and over the next few days, became very close friends with all of the girls in the house.

Meanwhile, the wicked woman became more and more infuriated as the eight ball showed, “Snow White is the loveliest in the land.” The wicked woman had heard about Snow White’s whereabouts and planned her revenge.

With the bitter cold weather coming upon the land, Snow White, among many others, developed a fever. The wicked woman saw her opportunity, placed a box of NyQuil in her pocket and walked quickly to frat row to perform her task.

Snow White was in the kitchen making tea when she heard knowing at the door.

“Who’s there?” she called suspiciously.

“I come to you as a friend. I heard you were very ill and I have brought you some medicine.”

“I don’t need any medicine, but thank you,” she replied.

“But this medicine is the best in the land.”

Overcome by her malady, Snow White opened the door slightly, took the box of medicine, waved the wicked woman goodbye, and swallowed the medicine.

An hour later, Snow White collapsed to the floor.

Meanwhile, Snow White’s friends were returning to the house only to hear loud thunder echoing through the valley. Worried about Snow White, they ran as quickly as they could to the house, where they found Snow White lying still and lifeless, with an empty box of NyQuil by her side.

“Oh no, she has taken too much NyQuil!” one friend observed, noticing the empty box of medicine that she deduced Snow White had finished.

“She should have taken DayQuil. Now she’ll never wake up!” screamed another friend.

Her friends wept by her side, but after a while, laid her on a bed of rose petals and carried her into the woods. That evening, the friends discovered a strange young man admiring Snow White through the woods. He approached them and suggested that Snow White ought to be taken to the Health Services Center where she may be revived. He then bent down, and kissed Snow White on the cheek. And then, by magic, Snow White opened her eyes in a hazy gaze, staring at the face of her savior, who told her the story of her revival. While hearing the story, Snow White blushed and thanked her friends and her savior for their doings. And from that day on, Snow White lived happily ever after.

RCL: A Review of the Speeches

I’ll be honest: public speaking is not my forte. I can walk into a speech, confidant, having my words prepared and my gestures practiced, but as soon as I face my audience, my mind blanks. I forget my speech (and how to string words to make a sentence, for that matter) and my hands begin to flail, my feet cross, and I begin a long slew of “ums” as I try to slowly piece together a forgotten speech. Given my prior history of poorly-delivered speeches, I was content with the speech I gave on Tuesday discussing how the ad for the National Guard connected to civic engagement. I will admit, I was nervous, but I think I was able to convey my message clearly and that my hand gestures stayed gentle and did not flail like years past. I certainly think my speech could have been improved if I spoke a little slower. When speaking in front of a group of people, I have a tendency to talk as fast as possible and have mastered the art of blurting out as many words of my speech in the shortest amount of time. I also think my transitions between points could have been much better and smoother, I did not think it was too terrible. Something I would like to improve for the future would be to reduce my use of “ums” and in general, develop more confidence in giving speeches and hopefully achieve a point where public speaking becomes a comfortable routine.

As I listened to many other speeches, I was impressed by everyone’s poise and enjoyed the content of their discussion. I thought some of the qualities of the well-delivered speeches were that the speaker had a very comfortable and deliberate pace. Oftentimes, many people have the tendency to talk as fast as they can without ever noticing it, and I believe that the speeches spoken at a normal pace not only made the audience comfortable, but also allowed them to better understand the material. I also enjoyed the speeches that had elements of humor, because that put the audience at ease and helped draw the audience’s attention. Some aspects that could be improved include developing an impromptu style of speech. I, along with a few others, have the habit of directly reading off a paper during a speech, which limits the contact a speaker can make with his or her own audience and also contributes to the audience’s unease. Another potential improvement may be to avoid saying “um” (which I have a bad habit of doing, as well). Hopefully, over the course of the class, we will all be able to develop some valuable public speaking skills which will churn out some great speeches in the future.

RCL: Ideologies and Commonplaces

Over the past few years at Penn State, a mere three letters have come to define our community, celebrate our triumphs, and most importantly, unite communities of all backgrounds toward a common cause.  Three letters can seldom generate such harmony and unconditional support amongst a body of forty thousand students, but FTK does.

In the new THON 2014 promo video, students explore the idea of community, commitment, and philanthropy in support of a cause that is beyond themselves. Such an ideology of compassion and selflessness—working tirelessly for the kids to fight against pediatric cancer—is the cornerstone of THON’s success and empowers students to wholeheartedly love children they have never met. Through the compassion and selfless deeds of students, THON has evoked a dogged spirit of resistance against pediatric cancer and continues to fight for the cure, simply for the kids. In the video, students can be seen interacting with the children, whether it be through a hug, a fist punch, or a high-five, with such fervor and excitement that is symbolic of their persistent efforts to fight for every child. The video also shows many interviews with the THON children and their families, who were grateful for the support and love the THON family has provided them. As the acronym, FTK, spreads on banners, t-shirts, and general media, THON has come to represent the kids, an ideology that symbolizes the larger, more tangible, meaning of THON’s purpose and unites communities in a fighting spirit against pediatric cancer.

As THON’s popularity has spread, it has become rather commonplace knowledge that THON has raised over a hundred million dollars towards the Four Diamonds Fund. But by watching the video, it is evident that the money is not the main goal of the project; it is emotional, mental, and physical support for families and children that comes from this money that is the driving influence behind the students’ efforts. As Matthew Wain, Chief Administrative Officer of the Penn State Hershey Children’s Hospital remarks, “I think that’s what’s amazing. I think it’s beyond the money. I think it’s the power of the awareness and the power of the commitment and passion of students that is really what as strong as the dollars themselves.” Shown by the unity of the student body in the video, when you are on a dance floor with eight hundred other people, their socioeconomic background, beliefs, goals, virtues, and flaws do not matter. It is that they have been disengaged from their own identity to support and work for an entirely new identity that is the children. Such devoted compassion and support for the kids is ultimately the ideology that forges a tacit relationship between every human being on campus and provides the willpower to continue fighting for a cure, for the kids.

As aptly stated in the video by Ryan Patrick, Director of THON 2014, “We always say that the greatest dance marathon will be the one we won’t have to have. Until then, till all childhood cancer is cured, we will keep dancing, keep THONing, keep fighting for the kids.”

Link to THON 2014 promo video:

The Boy Who Called Police

Once upon a time, in a land far, far away, there lived a college student who sat on the sidewalk of frat row under a flickering lamppost. Despite his dimly lit surroundings, Wyatt watched as a line of people entered one of the frat houses, where deafening voices and sounds of crashing bottles grew against the party music that pervaded the streets. With no plans for the night, Wyatt decided to approach the frat house and wait in line, interested by the activity in the house.

After a two-hour wait in the frigid cold night, Wyatt was finally allowed to enter. Empty glass bottles lay everywhere, the music was blaring through the rooms, and no one seemed to be fully conscious of their actions and movements. To amuse himself, Wyatt took a great breath and sang out, “Police! Police! The police are coming!” Suddenly, the students began running around the room, discarding all glass bottles and drinks as quickly as their intoxication would let them.

“Quick, hide the pitcher under there!” screamed Wally.

“Carry George upstairs! He’s passed out on the couch!” shrieked one of the girls.

“Oh my god, are they going to kick me out? I have a 4.0 GPA and I’m president of three clubs and I’m going to law school and oh my god, I’m going to get kicked out,” Agnes stressed, as this was the first party she had ever attended.

After a few minutes, with the room cleared, everyone started waiting for the police. Fifteen minutes later, there was still no police in sight. Wyatt simply laughed at the sight of the blank, confused faces around the room and walked back to his dorm.

The next weekend, Wyatt stood in line of another party at a different frat house. Upon entering, the atmosphere reeked of intoxication as bodies flimsily moved around the room in futile effort to coordinate themselves. Within few minutes, Wyatt became bored at the party so to amuse himself, he took a great breath and sang out, “Police! Police! The police are coming!” The students clumsily rushed across the room, attempting to hide any evidence that would compromise their futures.

“Just put everything under the sofa!” bellowed Willy, who was under limited thinking capacity.

“Let’s all hide upstairs!” hollered Wayne, who suffered a similar condition to Willy.

Within a few minutes, the room was relatively clean and the students sat in anticipation of the police. After waiting almost twenty minutes, the students became irate and flustered by the false alarm. Wyatt laughed to himself as he walked back to his dorm.

The following weekend, Wyatt stood in line for a party at yet another frat house. Drinks were scattered on the floor and table as Wyatt helped himself to one. Will.I.Am’s “Scream and Shout” hit was being played as almost unconscious bodies attempted to dance to the beat. After an fifteen minutes, Wyatt became bored and to amuse himself, he took a great breath and sang out, “Police! Police! The police are coming!” Not a single body flinched as they all continued their own activities and dalliances. The news of false police alarms had spread through frat row, making everyone immune to the potential threat. Wyatt shrugged his shoulders as he accepted another drink, hoping to enjoy the party later in the night.

Less than an hour later, police sirens started blaring from a few streets away. Wyatt took a great breath and sang out, “Police! Police! The police are coming!” By that time of night, most were intoxicated beyond function and the remaining few were too resistant to Wyatt’s false alarms that they simply continued their activities. And slowly, the sirens became louder and louder. But it was too late. No one had time to move, clean, or eat and simply stood in paralyzing fear of the consequence. The police entered the door and had everyone arrested for underage consumption, including Wyatt.

As the officer walked Wyatt out of the house, he said, “It’s funny. I heard somewhere that there was a boy who called police and no one came. Guess people should have listened to him now. Nobody believes a liar, even when he’s telling the truth.”

Wyatt vowed to never lie again.

The Three Little Pigs: The Modern Adaptation

Everybody loves to read classic fairytales, which in many ways, makes us feel like kids again. So, in this blog, I explore many fairytales and adapt their story lines to be more reflective of our own generation and the issues we face on a day-to-day basis. Hope you enjoy!

Once upon a time, in a land far, far away, there lived three little pigs named Xavier, Galan, and Clark.  The three little pigs were ready to begin their journey to college, but there was one problem: they couldn’t afford a dorm room. So before they began their travels, the three little pigs resolved to build their own homes.

“Don’t forget to build your homes before the weather gets bad!” shrieked Mama Pig as the three little pigs hurried out the door.


Some days passed, and the three little pigs continued to procrastinate on building their homes.

“Build your houses! You know how unpredictable the weather is out there!” scolded Mama Pig.

“But Mom,” squealed Clark, the youngest of the three, “we still have a month of summer left!”

“But still,” Mama Pig replied, “you remember your poor father? He never paid attention to the weather and before he knew it, the big bad storm was after him, huffing and puffing and blowing his house down. All that was left of him—I can hardly say it—was a pile of sausage links! You never know what big bad storms can do out there!”

“C’mon Ma, we got like a month left. Jeez, just chill,” muttered Galan, the middle child, in an air of rebellion.

“Don’t you dare use that tone against me, Galan!

“Mama’s right,” Xavier, the eldest of the brothers, remarked gruffly, “we should listen to her. I’m going to start building my house tomorrow.”

“That’s my favorite boy!” Mama Pig said beaming with pride as Galan and Clark rolled their eyes. “Get your brothers to do the same!”

The next afternoon, Xavier shut himself in the HUB and began planning the layout for his home. Of course, Galan and Clark resisted their mother’s warnings and spent their time chasing women, instagramming their experiences, and streaming Facebook.

“Look Galan, Wayne’s in a relationship with Raven! This is like his third girlfriend this week!” exclaimed Clark while going through his newsfeed.

“Lex posted his pictures from the party!” Galan said, liking the picture. “Come here, Xavier! Come see the pictures!”

“Can’t you see I’m drawing the layout for my house?” Xavier barked, troubled by his brothers’ lack of initiative. “The measurements for this house are the parameters for its success. I have to make them perfect; otherwise, it won’t stand a chance. Anyways, I don’t have the time for all your nonsense. Why don’t you stop wasting your time and start working on your houses before the erratic weather comes around?”

Gavin shrugged, “Nawh, man. We have time.”

Weeks passed and Galan and Clark were still deeply engrossed in watching YouTube videos of the VMA’s, going to parties, and tweeting. In the land far, far away, where they lived, however, the weather was known to be extremely temperamental, having the ability to defy weather forecasts and cast a grim shadow of doubt on every passerby who stares up at the sky. Legend had it that the skies on these college grounds were controlled by a celestial force named Magneto, who had the ability to change weather in a matter of seconds, from rain, to hail, to sun, to snow, to sleet, to fog. But it was still summer, so Galan and Clark rid themselves of any stress and continued with their leisure activities.

Meanwhile, Xavier diligently began building his home brick by brick. Glancing over to Galan and Clark, Xavier sighed and shook his head is dismay. “They’ll be screwed.”


The next afternoon was a quaint summer day with delightfully optimistic weather reports. As Galan and Clark embarked to go to the creamery, they felt a gust of wind blow from the east. Galan shivered and nudged Clark. “Dude, maybe we should get started on building our houses. It’s pretty cold.” Craving some Peachy Paterno ice cream, Clark replied, “You go ahead. I’m going to get my ice cream.”

So Galan began the trek south when he eventually entered McLanahan’s and met Gary, the storekeeper.

“Hello, Galan! Can I help you with anything? I hear the weather’s going to be an unpredictable one this year. News is that Magneto’s going to be pretty vicious this time around!”

Galan rolled his eyes, “Oh that’s what they say every year. It’s never that bad.”

“Well, you better start preparing, son. Look what happened to your father…” Gary warned ominously.

“All right, Gary,” muttered Galan. “He sounds just like my mother,” he thought to himself. Walking down the aisle, Galan spotted a pile of wooden sticks. “Ah, just the thing to build my house with!” Grabbing a few dozen sticks, Galan went to the front to pay.

“Building your house, I see. Are you sure these sticks will be sturdy enough?” inquired the cashier. “How about using some bricks, like your brother? You should get them while they’re still in stock.”

“Nawh, bricks take too much effort. I like the sticks. Besides, I don’t get what all this fuss about the weather’s about. It’s never that bad.”

 “Okay, well I’m just letting you know,” the cashier said with a smile as Galan left the store.


“And today we’ll have a high of 90 and a low of 76. Perfect weather for any of your summer time activities!” Clark heard on the TV as he ate nutella and cookies. He stepped outside the HUB when he was struck by a heavy gust of chilly wind. Clark started to get worried. “Maybe this could be a bad one…” he thought to himself as he sprinted to McLanahan’s as fast as his stubby pig legs could carry him.

“So what’s on sale, Gary?” Clark heaved as he walked in.

“Well, we’re sold out of wood, bricks, sticks, and nutella, but we do have a pile of hay.”

With limited time and depleted options, Clark purchased the hay, reassuring himself that nothing would actually happen. Since a hay house was easy to build, it gave Clark plenty of time to watch another season of “Big Bang Theory” before starting construction. He smiled and said to himself, “This shouldn’t take more than a couple of hours…”


In the meantime, Xavier finished building his study brick house, complete with a lovely fireplace to keep him warm from the turbulent weather and blistering winds. While Xavier sat by his fireplace watching “How I Met Your Mother,” Galan worked ruthlessly to finish his home. “This is tougher than I imagined,” thought Galan as he delicately placed one stick on top of the other. “But once I’m done, this will be impenetrable” he mused. With the weather becoming extremely erratic, Galan finally finished his stick house and sat inside. Checking his twitter feed, Galan read all the tweets from the past hour, amused by how many #collegeweatherproblems #noumbrellaintherain #toohotforajackettoocoldforacardigan problems his friends were facing. Turning off his phone, Galan lay down to take a much-needed nap, thinking, “Once I wake up, this thing will blow over and we’ll have actual summer weather again.”

Little did Galan know from up above, Magneto was stealthily watching, enraged by his nonchalance. “Just wait and see. In a few days, I’ll huff and puff and blow his measly house down!”


Three days passed and Clark could certainly feel an atmosphere suggestive of Magneto’s wrath. Despite it being summer, trees swayed from side to side, the lights flickered ominously, the skies cast a dark glow, and it became unbearably cold. Feeling the rush for time, Clark hastily clumped his hay together and stacked the tied bundles on top of another. “It won’t matter…The storm should only be a small one, anyways,” Clark assured himself. As night befell, a quilt of black clouds blanketed the skies and the city felt empty.

That night, the three little pigs settled in their homes, Xavier in his house made of bricks, Galan in his house made of sticks, and Clark in his house made of hay. Clark was playing Xbox, oblivious to the roaring winds outside his home. Suddenly, the lights began to flicker. The furnace made vicious sounds, and an eerie silence engulfed the home. “This is getting kind of creepy. I should call Galan to see how he’s doing,” he thought. Before he could do anything, a large tree slammed into the wall and the lights shut off. Everything was pitch dark. Groping around for a flashlight, Clark stumbled over the wires, books, and clothes that were scattered messily all over the floor. Opening his bedside drawer, Clark pulled out his flashlight, pressed the button, only to realize that the battery was out. “Damn it! I forgot to buy more batteries!” cried Clark in the dark. The winds were getting even stronger in what was supposed to be summertime, and he was a scared. Suddenly, he heard a knock on the door.

“Little pig, little pig, let me in,” a voice said.

“Wh-who’s th-there?” stuttered Clark.

“It’s me, Magneto,” the voice replied.

“I’m n-not scared,” said Clark, squeezing himself into a ball.

“Oh yeah? Well, I’m going to huff and puff and blow your house down!” A gust of wind rammed into the house, and the walls of hay came crashing down. When Clark peeped out from under his hand, he saw nothing put little pieces of hay scattered around him. He yelped, jumped, and started running as fast as his stubby pig legs could carry him up the road to Galan’s house.

Galan was just playing solitaire when he heard Clark calling outside. “Galan, Galan, help!”

Panting, Clark cried out, “It-it’s Magneto! He’s coming after me!” Burying himself in Galan’s arms, he cried, “Galan, I don’t want to end up as a pile of sausage links!”

Galan replied, “It’s okay. You’re safe here. Magneto can’t do anything to us.”

“Sure I can,” a voice called from just outside the door.

All the blood drained from Galan’s face.

“Well? Aren’t you going to let me in?” called the voice outside.

“No!” screamed Clark and Galan.

“Well, then, I’m going to huff and puff and blow your house down!” The winds picked up, slamming against the walls. The ceiling creaked and the roof flew off the house.

Galan and Clark hugged each other. Soon, the house was nothing but a pile of sticks. “Quick!” shouted Galan, “To Xavier’s!” Down the road they went, running as fast as their stubby pig legs could carry them.

Comfortable in his home, Xavier stretched out on his chair and was reading “50 Shades of Grey”. He was on the third chapter when he heard Galan and Clark calling, “Xavier, Xavier! Hurry! Get us in before Magneto gets us!”

“Oh, god. I knew this was going to happen,” Xavier muttered. Getting up, he walked over and let his brothers in.

“Magneto blew our houses down! He’s coming to get us!” cried Galan and Clark.

“Well, that’s what you get for procrastinating!” rebuked Xavier, infuriated by his brothers’ stupidity.

“Little pigs, little pigs…” Magneto called from outside the window. Galan and Clark crouched beneath Xavier’s bed, their faces pale and trembling with fear.

“Open up, pork chops! I’m going to come get you!” roared Magneto. The three little pigs lost all feeling in their squiggly tails, carefully retreating into a corner. Ignoring their wails, Magneto huffed and she puffed and the trees shook. Drawing in a lungful of air, Magneto blew with all his might. The air slammed into the walls, and yet, nothing happened. The house stood sturdy and strong. “This time it will tip, “ thought Magneto. He huffed, and He puffed, but the house did not budge.

With this, Magneto left the premises furiously, destroying everything in his path. The three little pigs jumped for joy. This time, Galan and Clark would be diligent, preparing for everything well in advance. “No more hay and sticks, guys!” smiled Xavier and the three little pigs lived happily ever after.


RCL: The Meaning of “Civic”

I was surrounded by a labyrinth of unfamiliar bodies as people hastily flooded into the room. I remember the antiquated television set being adjusted to the news channel as people around the room watched in anguish, horror, and disbelief. Almost twelve years later, I can still explicitly describe the scene that unfolded as students and teachers in my elementary school in Singapore clustered together to watch the news announcing the collapse of the Twin Towers on September 11, 2001.

Being in elementary school, I had a fairly narrow-minded outlook on world and preferred to dwell on subjects that were solely of concern to me. At the time, I could not understand why events occurring in New York City were being broadcasted in Singapore, and more significantly, why Singaporeans held so much interest in an incident that did not directly affect them. As I have learned more about civic life over the past couple of years, I have grown in my understanding of the world and now appreciate the extensive network of nations, institutions, communities, and people that attests to the globalizing body we are today. In such a way, I feel “civic” describes connection, particularly how we as individuals connect to society and our surrounding communities.

Through the years, our social, political, and economic connections have grown exponentially and it is indisputable that our actions affect others, regardless of whether we know and realize it. That is where “civic” enters the picture; it establishes these connections that provide human beings with a sense of identity, responsibility, and harmony within their community. “Civic” drives people to think beyond themselves and individual interests, encouraging them to see the world through wider lens and take actions for the betterment of society.

At the tender age of six, I failed to understand why people in Singapore gave such importance to events happening thousands of miles across the world. As I grew, I understood that it was because we are connected to each other despite the boundaries and prejudices spanning across nations, ideologies, ethnicities, and society. “Civic” is ultimately the instinctive connection—this intricate network of people, places, and things—we share with the world to inspire compassion, goodwill, and forward progress for all of humanity.