Geneva Varga

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

Khaos Fernwell – Digital Art of Original Character

Khaos Fernwell (fen-well) is the protagonist of my book that that I have been wanting to write for years. His design has changed slightly since this drawing, but nothing drastic. 

English Composition — WR 121 – Essay III

Assignment: This is the final essay and should include: your experience at college, changes in your writing, and what grade you should earn in WR 121. Make sure to use persuasive, compare and contrast, narrative, and evaluative writing techniques.

Geneva Varga

WR 121 Final Essay

9 March 2017

Green Tea Chocolates

Jane Goodall has been a role model to me since I was a young girl when I had the opportunity to meet her at a Roots & Shoots conference. Her words and life experience inspired me to work hard to make a difference for others in the community, animals, and the environment. For many years when I was a child I wrote to Santa requesting a better environment. On family walks I would always pickup litter and we took part in community invasive weed pulls regularly. I illustrated posters to communicate the danger of releasing unwanted pets like the red-eared slider turtle into the wild. As I grew older I realized I could have a greater impact by pursuing a career in environmental engineering. College and the lessons I have learned thus far, specifically in regards to writing, will play an important part in my chosen career and protecting the environment in the future.

“Every individual matters.

Every individual has a role to play.

Every individual makes a difference.”

– Jane Goodall 

My first college experience was in the fall of 2016 when I enrolled in Algebra I. The logical nature of mathematics has consistently appealed to me. Unlike traditional artists who use paint or authors who express themselves with words, engineers use mathematics as their medium. Consequently, I was intrinsically motivated to also complete Algebra II in the same term, receiving an A in each course. As my second term now comes to a close, I am confidant I will receive an A in my third college level math course, Intermediate Algebra II. However, not investing equivalent time and effort to also develop good communication skills —both written and verbal— can be a self-limiting decision. Mathematical skill is only a part of what an engineer needs to succeed. Therefore, I am currently enrolled in English Composition I, the only other course I am currently taking at Southwestern as a part-time, dual enrolled student.

Throughout this term, I have developed a deeper understanding for the writing process than ever before. I have discovered the three rhetorical devices of persuasion used to convince audiences, Ethos, Pathos, and Logos – each coined by Aristotle. I have learned strategies and techniques for choosing an intriguing title. I now also recognize the struggle I previously experienced with writing introductions and conclusions and the many clichés I infused into my work. Furthermore, I had previously found constructing a thesis statement near impossible and I would often wander from my topic. While criticism has been difficult to receive, green tea chocolates and a box of tissue have become my constant companion these past couple weeks, I have grown tremendously over the course of the term. I developed a better understanding of where I went astray in my writing. Often I failed to understand the original assignment. I am continuing to grow as a writer having completed just one college level writing class thus far. I look forward to all the challenges to come and applying the skills I develop in the future.

My Mandarin professor has said I am the best student he has ever had the pleasure of teaching because I am highly studious and always put my schoolwork above leisure time. I have approached all my college courses with the same methodology. This is demonstrated in English Composition by my near perfect attendance; I missed only one class due to family circumstances but scrupulously notified the professor in advance. Another factor to consider is that I have turned in all assignments on time and have fully participated in class activities, willingly reading aloud the work my partner and I composed. Additionally, I have read all assigned reading material, annotating the text while doing so. While I may have misunderstood the specifics of the two writing assignments, I was diligent and made every effort to apply the feedback once it was received to subsequent writings. Lastly, I have sought out assistance from other skilled writers rather than relying solely on my own perception of the assigned task. . I have clearly met or exceeded the criteria outlined in the course syllabus for which an A is deserved.

The lessons I have learned in writing are already helping me better communicate with others. For example, I was able to clearly share my vision for a student conservation project to the staff at South Slough which will commence next term.  As an aspiring environmental engineer I know skills in mathematics and sciences are critical, but writing is equally important. Engineers have a reputation for being weak writers. However, a broad array of skills are required to be effective in today’s multidisciplinary teams. Developing my writing skills will help me correspond effectively with my colleagues and the public. As a strong writer and mathematician, I can make a difference.

“What you do makes a difference. 

You have to decide what kind of difference you want to make.” 

– Jane Goodall

English Composition — WR 121 – Essay II

I had to revise this essay twice because the instructor believed that I did not provide a solid thesis statement and did not have a genre for the movie stated.

Assignment: Write an evaluative essay on a movie and movie criteria of your choice, make sure to use scenes from the movie to support your thesis statement.

Geneva Varga

WR 121 Evaluation Essay

12 March 2017

Hands of Sewing Needles

Numerous well-meaning parents forget that animated movies do not always mean kid-friendly. Coraline is one such motion picture that slides by the careful checking of parents for any disturbing content. While Coraline can be frightening at times, the visual graphics are breathtaking and all but distract from the storyline. The 2009 stop-motion animation film adapted from Neil Gaiman’s 2002 novel of the same name is a breath of mountain air to an audience accustomed to superhero or science fiction on the big screen. Thus, Coraline belongs to a noticeably specific genre of film called Animated Fabulism, which invokes elements of magic, artistic style, and smooth exciting visuals.

In the opening scene of Coraline, a pair of hands made of sewing needles are creating a doll that has an uncanny resemblance to the eleven-year-old protagonist, Coraline. This scene is important because the doll is the first connection that the audience sees between the real world and the fictitious world, connected flawlessly via a small door as a portal. During the day, this door opens to a brick wall, but when both the sun and Coraline have gone to sleep the door leads to the sinister world. Fabulism places no remarkability in magic. Instead, magic is presented in an otherwise real-world or everyday setting.

The artistic style of an animated movie plays an important role, the shapes and colors help to create a certain emotion. Tim Burton’s films would not be reputed as nearly as creepy if he had chosen to go in the style of Disney Pixar. The use of bright, cheerful colors in the ominous alternate world are in stark contrast to the dull colors of Coraline’s real world. This allows the viewer to separate both worlds from one another and magnifies the differences between them.

Additionally, the characters were created with puppets; there were 28 individual puppets of varying sizes to portray Coraline alone.  At one point, our protagonist shows sixteen different expressions in a span of just 35 seconds. Together with the myriad of voices provided by actors, viewers are spellbound by the emotions reflected in the lifelike dolls. Furthermore, the way a character is dressed and acts helps the viewer construct opinions and emotionally connect with the characters. Coraline appears to the audience as an energetic young girl that is confident in herself, evidenced by her yellow raincoat and blue hair. We are captivated by her resourcefulness and determination and cheer for her success. In contrast to the Other Mother who the audience immediately becomes suspicious of when they see she has buttons for eyes.

Ultimately, the most visually exciting scene in the entire movie takes place during the finale. After Coraline has beaten the Other Mother at her game she becomes furious and begins to change. Finally, the audience comes face to face with the truly despicable villain.  At the start of the film, she appears to be an over-caring mother to Coraline. In the end, when Coraline continues to evade her attempts to trap the protagonist in the Other World, she grows in height, her outfit becomes dark, she gains hands made of sewing needles, and her body shape transforms into that of a spider as the climax approaches.

The use of puppets, talented voice actors and stunning visuals enhance a story that is already captivating. While many parents are often shocked by the content Coraline contains, the movie teaches a valuable lesson to not only the children but also to the adults. Coraline is about overcoming the temptations of desire and realizing the sacrifices parents make for their children.

English Composition — WR 121 – Essay I

I was required to revise this essay twice, as the instructor believed I did not fulfill the assignment and instead wrote a report.

Assignment: Write a narrative essay on your writing experiences, please use MLA format

Geneva Varga

WR 121 Narrative

4 March 2017

The Spell of Writing

我爱写故事。Oh! Pardon my poor manners, sometimes I unconsciously switch into my second language as I am accustomed to frequently writing in Mandarin. A lot of people ask me how I know Mandarin, my reply is because I am homeschooled. My mother made the decision to teach me at home during the Beijing Summer Olympics. Additionally, because China was in the news often at this time, I begged to learn Chinese. When my mom finally followed through on my request, I knew it would be an adventure of life-long learning. One of the many things she has taught me was to use my imagination and trust my instincts.  This not only allowed my passion for story-telling to grow but also how to enchant people with my words.

One of the first writing experiences I can ever remember was a creative assignment, I chose a panda as the protagonist who lived behind a waterfall in a bamboo forest. She had a band of various animal friends and they went on adventures to save various artifacts, similar to Indiana Jones and his life-threatening quests. I had this wild prospect that I would become a world famous author at only 5 and a half years. Obviously, this didn’t happen, at least not yet.

At one point in time, my family listened to an audio book by Scott O’Dell, The Road to Damietta. The book struck a chord in me which quickly inspiring a frenzy of writing poetry. We had learned about poems only a few months before and it was exciting to know that there was this entirely different path of telling a story. In this arc of prolific poem writing, I wrote one titled Wishes of Thy a Daughters. To this day it ranks as one of my best-written works, mainly because of all the meanings I had hidden in the words.

Eventually, I came to a stand still in writing and I became reluctant to write anything. I questioned how could I write anything better than the poem with hidden meaning? In an effort to breathe new life into my writing, along with experiencing peer works, my mom organized a Writer’s Workshop for homeschool kids. It helped me discover that everyone has a different approach to writing, a different voice. Writer’s Workshop helped me realize how words, sentence structure, and the way we read something aloud, could change the feeling of a story.

Furthermore, it was around this time that I first discovered fan-fiction. Fan-fiction is written works created by fans of popular books, movies, or plays that add a new dimension to the published story, sometimes creating something completely new. While fan-fiction authors are not making a profit from what they create, some are able to build a fan base who hunger to read their original works. Fan-fiction is a really interesting concept. For instance, there could be two pieces of work that are identical in storyline, but one is more enjoyable to read than the other. Fan-fiction provided me a way to continually engage with the characters that I loved, but also to recognize the difference between good, bad, and subpar writing.

While I did not attend public school, this did not mean I was exempt from disliking an assignment. This was especially clear when I had to write a biographical essay about a historical person. It eventually became a yearly assignment and I have since grown to enjoy them, but at the time, the idea of writing about someone else’s life seemed wearisome and lifeless. I knew that I had to choose someone, though I did not want to write the cliché report on George Washington or Sacagawea. Instead of half-heartedly choosing someone, I went to my teacher (Mom) for suggestions. In the process of finding someone whose life intrigued me, Mom expanded the assignment slightly to where I would dress up as the person and give a presentation on their life in first person. This simple change was able to spark my muse, and I hurried to the library to learn everything I could about Marie Curie; I wanted to have the best report. Even though I was able to find joy in my school assignments, it was not the same as writing creatively.

One of my favorite writing assignments took place over the course of a year, the long term goal was to write a magazine based on a topic of interest. At the time, I was in the height of my obsession with Anime (Japanese Animation) and thereby pursued it vehemently. My chosen topic became problematic, however, when I was expected to interview someone who had experience in the field. Here I was, living in a small town on the southern Oregon coast. How was I to write an interview that related to Anime?

As I procrastinated, my mothers tempers began to rise, she was the calm before a storm. My saving grace came a few weeks later when my violin teacher happened to mention that her husband had worked on the animation team at Disney. I had struck gold! He had animated many of the movies my mother had grown up with and shared with me anecdotes of his experiences. His story became the centerpiece of my magazine, tying everything together – even the color scheme. To this day, the collection of writing I created for The Otaku Habit is what I am most proud.

Several years ago during a weekend trip to San Fransisco, I lead my family into a bookstore. My family dawdled along behind me already predicting the amount of time I would spend here, in perfect contrast to my frantic eyes scanning every shelf of the store. It was here that I discovered a book that expressed everything I wanted to achieve in my writing. Buried beneath dusty tomes at the back of the store, I had stumbled upon Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe when my arms were enveloped in a mountain of intriguing books. I instinctively knew now why I had felt the undeniable urge to enter this bookstore in particular.

It was exhilarating to read the thoughts of a character with whom I so identified. While I had previously enjoyed numerous other books and liked the characters, this was a completely new experience. I immediately connected with Ari. Suddenly all of my previous writing appeared to be in a forest dipped in the sweet fog of a hazy morning.  I had always aspired to write a book, but now I had a vision and clarity in what I wanted to say. My writing became flush and vivid.

Homeschooling has not only shaped me as a being, but how I approach writing. To me, writing is the expression of experiences and feelings. Writing holds a universe of opportunity, it contains hopes, failures, nightmares, and dreams. I have always imagined myself as a traveling bard who would tell stories around the crackle of a campfire and capture the listener’s hearts with my fables of adventure and incredulity. 我希望你喜欢我的故事。

52 Book Challenge — 2016

I love to read, though lately, I have been finding myself procrastinating online, more often than not still reading, only it is fan fiction. To overcome this, I decided to take upon a challenge to read 52 books in the calendar year. I counted everything, some books were required for school, others by choice.

The Guidelines

The rules that I set for myself were really flexible, though I knew I wanted to have a basic system; it was a challenge after all. One of the main reasons for these guidelines was because I couldn’t count all the hours I spent reading fan fiction.

  • The book must be published (no fan created works)
  • Any manga that I read only counts as one. In other words, volumes within a series could not be counted as separate titles.
  • I need to comprehend the complete storyline and understand the material. Books I do not complete can not be counted.
  • Audio books are accepted. *

  1. Red Glove — Holly Black
  2. Shaman King — Hiroyuki Takei
  3. Still Waters — Ask Parsons
  4. The Lighthouse Land *— Adrian McKinty
  5. Peak — Roland Smith
  6. Black Heart — Holly Black
  7. How to Eat Fried Worms — Thomas Rockwell
  8. Lizard Radio — Pat Schmatz
  9. The Raven Boys — Maggie Stiefvater
  10. Fans of the Impossible Life — Kate Scelsa
  11. Survive The Night — Daniella Vega
  12. The Sorcerer’s Companion: A Guide to the Magical World of Harry Potter — Allan Zola Kronzek
  13. The Witch of Blackbird Pond* — Elizabeth George Speare
  14. A Legend of Wolf Song — George Stone
  15. Humans of New York — Brandon Stanton
  16. Pop Painting — Camilla d’Errico
  17. The Marvels — Brian Selznick
  18. The Dreamer — Pam Muñoz Ryan & illustrated by Peter Sís
  19. Trials of Apollo: The Hidden Oracle — Rick Riordan
  20. Nimona — Noella Stevenson
  21. I Am Malala* — Malala Yousafzai (link to my reflection)
  22. Harry Potter and The Cursed Child — J.K. Rowling, Jack Thorne, and John Tiffany
  23. Smithsonian Intimate Guide to the Cosmos — Dana Berry
  24. The One and Only Ivan — Katherine Applegate
  25. Hipster Animals: A Field Guide — Dyna Moe (see more on their Tumblr page)
  26. Animals Real and Imagined: The Fantasy of What Is and What Might Be  — Terryl Whitlatch
  27. Robinson Crusoe* — Daniel Defoe
  28. Moby-Dick In Pictures: One Drawing for Every Page — Matt Kish
  29. Astronomy: 365 Days — Jerry T. Connell and Robert J. Nemiroff
  30. Walden — Henry David Thoreau

East Coast Trip Journal

This last September, we traveled to the East Coast as a family vacation. Despite it being a vacation, we were still learning as we visited a lot of historical sites and buildings, along with monuments or memorials of important events and people. My Mandarin teacher assigned me the project to create a paragraph on 3 different cities that we visited. I choose the 3 cities that we spent the longest time in, those being Boston, New York City, and Washington, DC. We also briefly spent time in Philadelphia and Gettysburg.

The requirements for the homework was to have at least 150 characters for each entry. I went over this threshold as I wanted to include a lot of what we did and some of my thoughts. The editing process with 老师 lasted 3 classes, or hours depending on how you desire to look at it.

今年9月我家人一起过了假期,9月13日-27日。我的生日也在假期中。在我们出发以前, 我们一起做了计划.因为我们有不同的爱好,所以我们想看不同的东西. 我想去很多图书馆, 和艺术博物馆. 爸爸和杰杰都想去看相似的东西. 妈妈想看博物馆和古迹. 所以, 我们的计划里有一些博物馆, 图书馆和古迹. 每次我看到可爱的东西,我画画。转眼我们的假期到了。


Boston, MA
Buildings @ Boston

我们早上6点到了Boston的旅馆。天气很暖和,70度。我们都想在床上睡觉,但是我们想要参观很多受欢迎的古迹。开始我们散步看见了几栋漂亮的房子,然后我们去比萨餐馆吃可口的晚饭。我们散步后,我见到了一个中国人。我们一起练习了说中文,但是她问了我很多问题,比如说:我怎么学习外语我和这个中国人说了再见以后, 我们去了一些艺术博物馆,我最喜欢的是做纸张。
Making paper上个周六我们一起坐火车去了New York City,在火车上, 我一边读书,一边听音乐。我和妈妈都觉得“The One and Only Ivan”是很好的书, 书里面的动物们非常的可爱。



New York City, NY

9月16日, 我们在一个小中餐厅吃了晚饭,大家说:“非常好吃,我希望我们会有机会再吃西安名饭”。

img_0196上个生日, 我生病了,所以我不高兴。下午我们去了“Metropolitan Museum of Art”,在艺术博馆我们玩了游戏。去年我去了很给力的美术博物馆叫“Peggy Guggenheim Museum”,所以我希望“Solomon R.
Guggenheim Museum” 也给力,可惜”Solomon”博物馆没有很多艺术作品。

晚上我们去了很好吃餐馆叫“Benjamin’s Steak House“。因为我不很饿,我选择汤叫”法国洋葱汤“,所以我非常满意。我最喜欢吃法国洋葱汤,我觉得法国洋葱汤非常可口。

Washington, DC

9月22日下午, 我们到了Washington,DC。我们参观了Washington6天,从9月22日—27日。我们的旅馆不太远, 叫“National Mall”, 但是“National Mall”又长又大,所以每天我们走6-7英里。星期五早上我们看了非常大的图书馆,妈妈和我都觉得“Library of Congress”既漂亮又安静。


我喜欢Washington的地铁,因为地铁站里面很冷, 很舒服。Washington地铁比New York地铁好多了。我最喜欢去Holocaust博物馆,因为我觉得“World War II”很有趣。我常常读World War II书。Peggy Guggenheim买了很多艺术作品,因为她觉得Nazi会破坏很漂亮的艺术作品。我们也去了一些“Smithsonian”博物馆,“White House”, “Senate Building”,和“Arlington National Cemetery”。星期一晚上, 我家人和很好的朋友去了非常可口的秘鲁餐厅。

A Gift for My VIP Friend

One of my friends asked myself a favor, of course I complied. She drew a sketch and what colors she wanted, then I took that photo into Medibank Paint Pro and finished it for her.

Look at her page here

The Malala Experience

We had first briefly learned about Malala Yousafzai and what she stood for when she was shot in the head by the Taliban in 2012. The news having spread throughout the world with social media and the global news stations. Other than that small information about her I didn’t know much about her, until we listened to her book in preparation for going to her talk in Portland.

She continued to fight for what she believed in, even when facing a threat of death. She prevailed past an injury that certainly would have killed her if she had not received the necessary treatment at the right time. Malala showed bravery and strength in the face of terror and continues fighting for what she believes. Malala is fighting for the right that every child has the ability to go to school for 12 years of primary and secondary education. This is what makes her one of my role models.

“We realize the importance of our voices only when we are silenced.” — Malala Yousafzai

The occasion to see Malala Yousafzai first came to us in May, we immediately purchased tickets after giving it little thought, already aware that it would provide a wonderful learning experience. I was not disappointed, for what she spoke about was truly inspiring.

She spoke about the fact that not only did women need to stand up for girls’ education, but also the men. For we need to work together for there to be change that lasts generations past our own.

Malala Yousafzai - 13008190293
Photography by Southbank Centre [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

When Malala talked about her family, she was an ordinary girl. She reminded me of myself when I think of my family, I could almost see into her soul as she remembered brief interactions between herself and her family. Malala’s eyes lit up as she described how her mother is the strict parent while her father the fun one. The realization that she, like most teenagers, hates having to get up early in the morning to go to school resonated with me.

The fact that when she auditioned to be the Head Girl at the high school that she attends she did not win, shows that everyone can still lose even after accomplishing a great deed. She is the youngest recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize, yet she did not mention this in her application, wanting to focus only on her academic achievements.  She told us that the girl that did win, “is very nice and can do everything.” Instead, Malala was awarded the Deputy Head Girl, which she gladly accepted. This made me happy to know that the people who are receiving these great awards can still be humble. She spoke about her classmate the same respect as she spoke about our president.

The one topic that struck me like a bolt of lightning was the fact that what these girls want most is the opportunity and freedom to willingly go to school and to learn. They are all aware that the only way to create a better life for themselves is to have a good education which will provide them with opportunities to find a good job, good pay, and be treated equally. They dream to have a pile of textbooks and a stack of homework to study and work through in the evening.

In contrast, every child with the privilege to go to school is stressing over whether they will get that brand new toy that they saw advertised on TV or a laptop on Christmas. To have a place to learn should be treasured, no matter what country you reside. In America and other more developed countries, going to school is always put on the back-burner and seen as a necessary evil and is regarded as burdensome.

Malala Yousafzai has inspired me to speak up for what I believe in. Immediately after the talk, I signed up for The Malala Fund. In the future, I plan on sharing what I think needs to be changed and then acting upon what I want changed.

Sunset — 22 August 2016


Sunset — 22 August 2016

Watercolor + India Ink

Based on a sunset seen in Coos Bay, Oregon

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