Wednesday, July 25, 2012

What Year Are We In?

For both the morning and afternoon class we went on a field trip! The first trip was to Chinatown, where the topic was Chinese immigration. We were told to walk at a slower pace than usual, and really take in everything we around us. It was a bit hard to read some of the signs, but there were a few people in our class who read Mandarin so they helped us out. Once in a while we would gather up in a corner for a small lecture and discussion. We talked about what we saw, and why we thought it was there. We were then led to a public high school. What was so special about this school was that it is the first of its kind. It is only available to Asian Americans, and it helps with the oppressing issues they face in today's society.

We went  back to campus for lunch, then at 2 met for the second trip of the day. This time we took the trolley to a museum. This museum is pretty tiny, and they usually have one display. The display they had available for us to see was about what happened in South Philadelphia High School on December 3, 2009. Throughout that whole 26 students were attacked and beaten by their peers, while nobody did anything to help. Out of those 26, 13 ended up in the hospital with serious injuries. Asians had been facing racism for a long time in that school, and on December 3 the hate due to their race had gone to all new extremes. Nobody helped them and they realized nobody ever would help them. They had to stand up for themselves, and they did. They organized an eight day boycott where they refused to go to the school where they did not feel safe. During the boycott, the students asked to meet with Philadelphia School District Superintendent Arlene Ackerman about their safety concerns, but Dr. Ackerman refused, saying she would only meet with them on school grounds “where they belong.” It wasn't until December 15, 2010 that the Philadelphia school district addressed the anti-Asian violence issues. It took them one year and twelve days to admit that there was a problem, that it was a racist hate crime. As I was reading all of the different testimonies from some of the 26 students, I was speechless. All I could think about was, "What year are we in?". That happened three years ago, that is really recent! I thought we were past all of the racist stages, but no I guess not, and that is so sad. Our country's name is the 'UNITED' States of America, but we aren't united, we've never been and we may never be. Even now all I can think about is what a victim from that day said, "I thought 'Oh my god, maybe I'm gonna die today.'" I don't think I'll ever forget those words, and I hope I never go through a situation that will cause me to think that.

Our short debate session.

After visiting the museum, we walked over to a nearby park. At the park we divided into four groups. We were debating on whether the U.S. should remain as it is now with closed borders, or change to open borders. My group was open borders, and it wasn't hard at all to come up with a strong argument for that side. Sadly, we hardly got any time to actually debate on it with a closed border group, because we ran out of time.
The best Mac & Cheese ever!

Mr. Lawrence reading the card we gave him.

Today, as you all know is the 25th, which means it has been exactly one month since we embarked on our journey together. I really cannot believe it has been a month already, it feels as though we just left El Cerrito High School. To celebrate, Mr. Lawrence took the Penn team out for dinner. We went to White Dog Cafe which is just a block from campus. We spent the whole night laughing, talking about the wonderful moments we've spent together, and enjoying the amazing food. We also bought our chaperone a couple of things as a way of saying 'Thank you'. The night ended all too soon, and so will this trip!


This morning I woke up  and decided to get breakfast for a change. I usually do not get breakfast , because I value sleep way more then a piece of a sausage . I was what I needed because , class was not going to be held inside, we were actually going on tours. When I got to class, we all headed towards the  SEPTA were we headed to China town.

When we arrived the professor told us to notice the signs and the different kinds of work in that area. Of course it was difficult to read the signs , considering the fact that I don't speak Mandarin at all. I ended up asking many of my foreign classmates for help. I learned a lot about there culture but I still don't understand how the letter system works. We stopped about half through China town  and discussed the different things we saw and how life as a Chinese immigrant can be , and why they might possibly come to the U.S. 

The next stop was a small public school in what was an area that had never had a public school before. There we also spoke on the topic of immigration of Chinese Americans. After about an hour It was time for lunch so we made our way back to the SEPTA . 

After lunch we all met at the button. From there we caught another trolly and headed back into the heart of Philly. We walked around untill we finally arrived at Clark park. Here we had a debate/discussion on the issue of immigration. Should the doors be closed or open . Many of the points brought up by both teams were good but you could clearly see how there could be serious conflict. After an interesting session class was over for the day.

The next big event of the day was the cohorts "monthaversary" dinner. We went to a place called The White Dog. This was an all organic restaurant. Although the food was amazing, the gang was reunited and thought back to that very EARLY morning when we all boarded the shuttle to go to SF international airport. We all plan on having our 2nd "monthaversery" if school doesn't conflict. 


These past few days, I have been waking up earlier in order to get bagels at Einstein Bros. Today, I continued these actions, but not for Einstein Bros. Today, class started at 8:30AM because Bill was hosting a "Bomb Breakfast," which had bagels, for the screening of the timeline of the atomic bomb. But first, the physics family had a chance to be united and relax. It is moments like this, when I have chances to reflect on how great this month has been, being surrounded with future physicist, engineers, leaders...reminds me of how much I am going to miss it all.

Before the film about atomic bombs, Bill gave a short lecture on the moral and ethic conflicts scientist endure, that we will eventually endure, when they discover or invent. Their new information will always affect the world in two ways: either peace and happiness or chaos and destruction. The film on the atomic bomb was just something out of this world, tying all of the events in the 20th century together in a way that left you thinking. I had my first conflict with Bill today, which was something I thought would have never happened. He said that Einstein was not the man that caused it all in the 20th century, but instead it was Hitler. Yet after his reasoning, he still managed to persuade me. What I got from this lecture was that it's the world that decides the path, not the person. Hitler was able to change the world, in such a way, that physicist were decided to use physics as a weapon, not for prior knowledge and understanding.

After lunch, we were given time to prepare for our presentations our exponential growth/decay labs. It was interesting learning about what everyone else did. I was surprised to find that our lab was not exponential, all I can say is that our data tricked us.  Nonetheless, we were able to present our lab.

Today was the Penn Team's one month anniversary, monthaversary. We went out to dinner to a restaurant called White Dog. The food was a mere plus, what mattered was the Penn Team being reunited as a family. We have shared one month of our lives not as an individuals, but as a system of different characteristics, different feelings, and best of all different laughs. But I can't say good-bye now, we still have three more days together (I am counting Saturday). Until then, I will try to savor each day, feel each second, build the biggest, most beautiful memories. So lets start living life beyond the fullest, break the maximum barrier, because good-bye is a phrase too hard to even think of.

Double Dinner

Today was our first day in the Fisher-Bennet Hall. Clara and I found our way to the new building without difficulty, having passed it on our way to class for three weeks. This morning’s lecture was titled “Breakfast with the Bomb.” We feasted on bagels, donuts, and coffee while Ryan gave a presentation about nuclear bombs, nuclear fission, and nuclear fusion. He and Bill also discussed the ethical responsibilities that scientists have.

Although brief, this part of the talk was one of my favorite class discussions. We watched part of The Atomic Bomb Movie, which included statements from Edward Tellar about his role in the development of the atomic bomb during WWII. Bill talked about how war changes everyone who experiences it, and while scientists are lucky enough to be a step removed from the battlefield, they still have tremendous impact through their work in developing new weapons and technologies. It’s difficult to judge the actions of the participants of the Manhattan Project because the atmosphere that they lived and worked in was so different from my own life, but it’s still important to evaluate their decisions and keep the importance of ethics in mind no matter what your field of work.

Bill also referenced Jonas Salk and the development of the polio vaccine. Apparently, the first round of the vaccine didn’t work and wound up killing a hundred children, but Salk didn’t give up and eventually came up with the proper vaccine. I think that it was incredibly brave of him to continue his research even after the failure of the first vaccine. As it says in Spiderman, with great power comes great responsibility.  The ethical side of science is fascinating, and I think it’s really interesting to explore the question of whether you should do something just because you can.  

The afternoon was taken up with our first student presentations. Each of the Hershey Park groups presented on a lab about exponential growth and decay. My group’s lab was both an experiment with dice and a lab on the radioactive decay of barium. Our presentation went well, and our conclusion was well-supported by our data. Tomorrow we’ll continue with student presentations, these featuring our interest groups.

Tonight was a night for food. At 5:30 PM I met the rest of my floor and the corresponding boys’ floor to go to our RC dinner. Bianca and Kyle, the two RC’s, took us to an Indian restaurant called New Delhi. I ordered the buffet dinner, but didn’t eat nearly as much as I usually do because I had a second dinner to attend shortly after. I left dinner number one early and walked back to the quad to meet with the Penn Team to go to our monthaversary dinner with Mr. Lawrence.

Ivette enjoys her mushroom soup
We went to a place called White Dog, which had typical American-style food. I ordered mushroom soup, a chicken entrĂ©e, and blueberry crisp. The food was great, but I probably didn’t pay it the attention it deserved. For most of dinner, I was consumed with absorbing the chatter and laughter of my cohort. I’ve spent practically my entire summer with these people, and it could not have been a better experience. Mr. Lawrence was a great chaperone, and to show our appreciation we got him a card and a silly little gift that we all signed. I can’t deny that I’ll be glad to see my friends and family back in the Bay, but I have loved this experience with these people and I will miss them once we’re back. We’re all going to hang out and have reunions, but it can never be quite the same. The Penn girls were discussing packing strategies, as this was a problem on the way over and we’ve only acquired more stuff, and Ivette offered up some space in her suitcase to Clara. However, Clara had better be sure to get it back before we leave the airport, because WE WON’T BE GOING TO THE SAME HOTEL TOGETHER ANYMORE.

Mr. Lawrence opening his card
I still remember that sleepy shuttle ride to SFO at 3 AM on June 25, when eight strangers tried to stay awake and make small talk. If we were to repeat that scenario now, we would be laughing, talking in a secret language, sharing music, and falling asleep on each other’s shoulders. I love these people and I’m so glad that I got to know each and every one of them, amazing as they are. Penn Team, it’s been great sharing this experience with you.

Happy Monthiversary Penn Team!

This morning was "Breakfast with the Bomb," Ryan's lesson on the atomic bomb at the earlier time of 8:30, with bagels, donuts, and coffee.  Despite the alliterative title and free food, the lesson soon became very serious.  After covering the technical aspect of nuclear weapons, we moved on to the ethical consequences.  These consequences not only relate to the bomb, but to all of science in general. Even something as revolutionary as the Polio vaccine came with serious political and personal issues.  People don't normally discuss the ethical side of science, and it's something I never really considered.  By 10, I was full of bagels and new perspectives. 

Craig then lectured about special relativity, a confusing and intriguing topic.  We broke a little early for a long lunch, giving me time to go back to the dorm and grab my computer to work on my two remaining presentations.  After lunch, each group presented on a different experiment relating to exponential models.  Each presentation was different, but they were all interesting and a good start to the next two days of presenting.  After class, I put the finishing touches on my powerpoints and then started organizing my clothes to ease the packing process.

Ian loved his picture of One Direction!
Ivette moved us all with her speech
It has been exactly a month since we left El Cerrito, so Ian picked us up around 7 for a monthiversary dinner.  We went to The White Dog, a delicious restaurant about 10 minutes away from the dorm.  It was a great dinner, and it really started to sink in that this trip is practically over.  I ate mussels, gnocchi, lobster macaroni and cheese, and chocolate chip bread pudding, a family favorite.  At the end, we surprised Ian with a thank you card and presents.  He's been a great chaperone, and this trip wouldn't have been the same without him.  Ivette made a very beautiful impromptu speech about how close we have become and how amazing this trip has been.

When we got back, we had to complete evaluations of our experience with Summer Discovery.  Of course, mine was very positive as the staff here has been kind and helpful this entire month. Tomorrow we will learn about thermodynamics and present our interest group experiments.  Although we are approaching the end, class is keeping me busy, and there's never a boring moment.  The only huge challenge facing me now is zipping my suitcase and getting it under 50 pounds.

A Month With The Penn Team

Today was a very special day for the Penn Team. It was our one month anniversary. It is so hard to believe that just one month ago, we were headed across the country with a bunch of what were then strangers to us. Now just a few weeks later, we've all grown to be great friends, we're kind of like a family. 

Today in physics we watched an overly dramatized movie about the first atomic bomb. After watching the movie, we talked a little bit about the ethics behind warfare. Today we were given a longer lunch to prepare for the presentations on exponential growth. We met back in room 231 of Fisher-Bennett hall at 1:30 and started the presentations. All of the presentations were done by 4:00 and we were free to go.

Ivette reflects back on all of the great times we've shared.
For the next couple of hours I worked on my physics presentation for tomorrow. At 7:00 we all met up with our chaperone for dinner at the White Dog Cafe which is an organic restaurant located a few blocks from campus. Dinner was great as usual, great food shared with even better people. We spent our night trying to decode Chloe and Cameron's new language the created during the day. When dessert came out, Ivette gave a very heartwarming speech about the past month we've all spent together. After sharing many more memories and laughs, we went back to campus. 

We have just three short days left and every day it becomes more apparent that our time here is almost up. I've met so many great people here and I hope to continue a lot of the friendships I've began. I love it here but it's definitely time to get back home. Tomorrow we have yet another presentation in physics then my RC is taking our floor out for dinner.