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Geneva Varga

∆ The documentation of my life work as an artist & naturalist ∆

Month

May 2017

WR 122 — Essay II

Geneva Varga

WR 122 Essay 2

3 May 2017

Homeschoolers Are Not Abnormal

I have never been to public school. When I tell people this fact they are always surprised. I have grown to expect an exclamation of disbelief, even from people my own age. Despite the growing popularity and rising numbers of homeschoolers, there is still a strong aversion to it. People frequently ask me: “What about prom? Do you have any friends? How do you make friends?” I make and have friends just like anyone else, except age is not a restriction. I connect with people based on shared interests and experiences thus I have strong friendships with those younger than me, as well as with adults. Homeschooling has also enabled me to explore my passions without having to encounter obstacles in my path. I discovered who I want to be and what I want to accomplish in my lifetime far earlier than others because I am homeschooled.

Homeschooling, in concept, incorporates a diverse spectrum of approaches to education. Some of the popular methods include but are not limited to Classical, Charlotte Mason, Montessori, “School at Home”, Unit Studies, and Unschooling. My family considers us an eclectic blend, particularly Charlotte Mason and Unschooling. The Charlotte Mason philosophy believes a child is a person and we must educate the whole person, not just her mind. In Mason’s words, “Education is an Atmosphere, a Discipline, a Life”, which my mom repeated to me throughout childhood. It is a gentle approach that incorporates living books, narration, time outdoors, and modern languages. The Unschooling approach is more relaxed whereupon we have the freedom to explore whatever peaks our interest at any given time.  We also take part in a variety of extracurricular activities (e.g Boy Scouts, swim team, service learning projects, and volunteer experiences) which provide opportunities to connect with others and build community. In my mother’s words, “We follow the ebb and flow of life, allowing life to lead the way.”

A handful of stereotypes have emerged because of ignorance in regards to what homeschooling is and how it is achieved. The public school system, from my perspective, pushes the idea that homeschoolers are weird, uneducated, and abnormal. There is an automatic assumption that homeschoolers are unable to perform properly in society. In contrast, this could not be further from the truth. Albeit, many families choose this lifestyle because of religious reasons, disagreements with the vaccine requirements, or are concerned that their children will not thrive in a “traditional classroom” due to learning disabilities or physical handicaps. In reality, homeschoolers act more mature at a young age, are generally more willing to help around the house (either with chores or helping with younger siblings), and are more enthusiastic about their schoolwork. They realize the value of tasks, such as folding the laundry, in building their skills for the future. Monotonous busywork like comprehension worksheets and vocabulary crossword puzzles are unnecessary. The student is thus afforded the time to pursue long-term passion projects that meet both academic and future goals.

My mom decided to homeschool my brother and me for multiple reasons. When I was five years old, I told her that I wanted to learn to speak Chinese. Immediately she knew that no traditional school would be able to provide me this opportunity, at least where we lived. Foreign languages were not even taught until high school in most school districts at this time. Eventually, she found a private instructor and I began my journey towards Mandarin fluency. If she had made the decision to send me to the local elementary school, I never would have had this unique experience. Additionally, I likely would not have discovered how intriguing and unique different cultures are until much later.

Furthermore, my brother and I make friends in a natural way without feeling required to have friends of the same age. When my family went to the Galápagos a few years ago with a travel group we connected with two retired couples and another family with grown children. My brother connected with a grandfatherly figure who looks remarkably like Charles Darwin. Every morning, they were the first to wake and would be found on deck sipping cocoa and telling tall tales of their adventures. Similarly, I became friends with fellow a Harry Potter fan, Karen, and was “adopted” by another family when my parents wanted to go for a panga ride and I desired to go for a hike with the other group. Karen and I would often reminisce about our favorite books and discuss the art that we each loved. After we had all spent a week in the Galápagos, our family along with the two couples we became particularly familiar with joined another travel group to go to Machu Picchu. Our friendship and camaraderie with these two couples was so familiar that the people from this new group quickly made the assumption that we were traveling with both sets of our grandparents, even though this was not the case.

People who were taught at home often become successful entrepreneurs as living on the “outskirts of society” has allowed them to think outside the box and discover solutions to problems with ease. From an early age I have had the goal of pursuing a college degree. Since the age of eleven, I have focused on pursuing my academic goals with more fervency and have developed a plan for how to pay for college without incurring debt or student loans. Upon realizing that there was an absence of bubble tea vendors in our local area, I had considered opening a food cart style business. After completing a market research survey and writing a business plan, I discovered just how much money I would need up front and how much time I would be obligated to work. As I am a full time student, aiming to complete my Associates degree while I also complete high school, I realized this was not the best option for me. I have thereby opted to pursue other means of financing for college and now rely on art commissions and a variety of odd jobs. When I am older, I will most assuredly take on a part time job and have already made promising inquiries.

By homeschooling, I have been allowed to explore who I am without being pressured to like the same things as everyone else. My taste in art, literature, and music are different than my peers because I have not been expected to follow the crowd. I have been independent from an early age and my travel experiences, foreign language studies, and extracurricular pursuits have molded me into the person I am today. I stand proud knowing I can defend my opinions without worry of how I am perceived.

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WR 122 — Extra Credit

In order to earn the optional extra credit, the professor required us to read a book and then write a review of it. Focusing on what we thought of it, what we understood, and so on. Then she asked us to meet with her to discuss the book. This was easily my favorite assignment to do for writing this past term.


Geneva Varga

WR 122 Extra Credit

3 May 2017

Eucalyptus & Monarch Butterflies

Senses are vital as they are how everyone experiences the world. Humans like to imagine that they are the only ones who use their senses, yet that is a misconception. Animals and plants also use senses to navigate their surroundings. For example, carnivorous plants rely entirely on touch to capture their prey. Another misconception is that other creatures do not have as many senses as us, this idea could not be more wrong. Animals experience hundreds of other senses that humans can not comprehend. Diane Ackerman’s book, A Natural History of the Senses is the perfect guide to discovering depths of our senses that we do not fully appreciate, including nostalgia and sexual attraction.

The most brilliant aspect about the book is Ackerman’s ability to vividly describe each sense and what the human body learns from it. She uses her personal experiences to connect with the readers on a nostalgic level; painting eloquent pictures of moonlit beaches, oranges, and eucalyptus with resting monarch butterflies. Ackerman begins her book with the sense of smell and reminisces of how she spent one Christmas season:

I traveled along the coast of California with the Los Angeles Museum’s Monarch Project, locating and tagging great numbers of overwintering monarch butterflies. They prefer to winter in eucalyptus groves, which are deeply fragrant. The first time I stepped into one, and every time thereafter, they filled me with sudden tender memories of mentholated rub and childhood colds…. Everywhere I looked, there seemed to be proclamations left by some ancient scribe. Yet, to my nose, it was Illinois in the 1950s. (Ackerman, p. 18)

By allowing the reader to visualize a memory of hers, Ackerman cleverly draws her audience into a story of noses, ears, eyes, and tongues, which otherwise would have been dull and lifeless.

At the beginning of the section on taste, Ackerman states that taste is a social sense. “Humans rarely choose to dine in solitude, and food has a powerful social component.” (Ackerman, p. 127) Upon reading this statement, I quickly recall all my past gatherings with family members during which we have shared a meal, especially during the holidays. I envision couples leaning in towards one another at a table in a romantic restaurant; friends sipping a cup of chai tea as they catch up on the latest news. Even going out to eat alone is a more social occasion then eating in the solitude at home. Food is central to many social moments and our sense of taste is intimately involved.

When young writers are taught the nuances of writing and techniques to make their writing stand out from the rest, they are encouraged to use details and often to consider all of the senses. Ackerman’s book gives proof to why this is such a vital technique to learn and apply. To describe an apple, a writer should not only use words based around the color and shape of the fruit such as red, firm, and round. He should also consider the crisp sound an apple makes after biting into one, the tickle of the tart juice as it trickles down your chin, and the sweet floral fragrance that calls a perfect summer day to mind.

While A Natural History of Senses is written in an engaging style, rife with rich detail, I admit had to set the book down several times and return to it at a later time. Ackerman discussed in length each of our senses in the context of attraction to others (pheromones), kissing (taste), and sex (touch), which is something I am not fully comfortable with. Thankfully, the book was written in a scientific context.

Ackerman’s portrayal of our bodily senses from a natural history perspective is both informative and intriguing. Her colorful descriptions of each sense provide readers with a unique exploration of the depths of our senses. By using her memories, Ackerman easily communicates with the reader on a conversational tone. Our senses are how we comprehend and explore our surroundings, Ackerman’s book provides a useful in-depth analysis of them. Be keenly aware when our noses affect our sense of taste and remember the childhood memories of summer days, flower picking, and rushing waves.

第三十五课 — Required Vocabulary Paragraph

Required Words: 有空,好不好,剧情,节奏,新出的,紧张,没意思,要不,变成,最近,谈论

上个星期我的好朋友很紧张,因为星星参加完了考试。她获得了很好的成绩,所以我想邀请她去看电影和做晚饭。我知道星星讨厌文艺和喜剧片,因为她觉得文艺和喜剧片非常没意思。我的妈爸都经常去看电影,所以我给他们打电话。最近他们去看了新出的《功夫猫》,因为很多人都在谈论这部电影。他们说:“剧情很不错,我们觉得星星会喜欢《功夫猫》。”

明天是星期五,我和星星都有空。今天我给星星打电话:“喂,星星,星期五晚上我们去看《功夫猫》,好不好?电影以前,要不我做晚饭?我想祝贺你获得了非常好成绩。” 星星说:“好,但是我们一起去“好披萨”的意大利餐厅吧!我听说星期五有人拉小提琴,他的节奏非常好。”

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