“She’s trying to make the library more fun”

Today my innovation group and I finished our project! It’s called the Mind Lab. You might be wondering why we would call something a Mind Lab, and what the project is even about. My English teacher had an idea about a 30-day innovation project, where we were allowed to choose what we wanted to create, whether it be change or t-shirt logos. There would be no teacher involvement (unless we were struggling with something), which allowed us to dig deep into our creativity without having to stop production.

With the help of my English teacher I was able to decide what I wanted to do, which was to create a relaxation area in my school. Everyone knows how stressful it is to be a high school student, and I needed to “feed a need” so this was the perfect idea. Kids would be able to relax with squeeze toys, or play a calming brain game. I had trouble finding people who wanted to join my one party group, but eventually I found Angela and Vivian , turning this one party group into three.

Our first step was to figure out how we were going to make this happen, so we scheduled what we were going to be done with by a certain date. We called our project the “Mind Zoo”, which our teacher suggested for the time being.

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We were planning to build put a bookcase in the school library and fill it with different types of puzzles and stress balls. We were going to raise the money by selling baked goods and that’s where things really kicked off.

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We wanted to sell cake pops, chocolate covered strawberries , and cookies so I shared Angela’s poster onto my facebook. While Angela created the poster, I started a kickstarter on gofundme.com. I thought the kickstarter would bring the majority of the money in, but unfortunately we didn’t get any donations. I could see why, being that I only knew a couple of teenagers that carried a debit card, so after realizing the money wasn’t coming in, we focused our main attention on selling baked goods.

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Week after week we started cutting down the prices, eventually four dollar cake pops turned to two dollar cake pops, and we added a couple more varieties of sweets like m&m cookies, and mint and plain brownies.Angela made the cake pops, I made the cookies and brownies, and Vivian made chocolate covered strawberries.

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Since Angela was mostly selling treats the first week, I decided to head over to the strawberry festival. Bad marketing strategy. When you go to a local place where teenagers hang out, to sell brownies, people get the wrong idea, but I did sell some brownies. I headed over to different neighborhoods around me with the remaining brownies, and luckily they sold out. I also started and was in charge of our instagram page at missionmindlab and updated our progression of getting this project finished. Eventually we made enough money and realized we needed less than what we estimated. We bought a shelf and I bought the puzzles and knick knacks. You’d think you could find puzzles in one place, but that’s not true. I had to go to Barnes and Nobles, Target, World Market, Michaels, and Daiso Japan.

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So I bought the puzzles, all we had left was the shelf. The shelf we bought was coming in later than we expected, and this was the most stressful part of this project. Finals was coming up, and we had this problem where none of us had a car big enough to bring the bookcase in. At this point, I felt like I was alone in this project, I was constantly making calls and trying to get a hold of my teammates if they could do the same, but I didn’t have much luck. Luckily I found this guy who was willing to bring in the bookcase by Monday morning. I faced another problem where the person who was supposed to pick up the bookcase ,slept through his alarm and was told that he could bring it by the afternoon(which was fine). But then my family members got involved, and to spare you the ugliness—it got stressful. The lack of communication in our group, led me to figuring out how to get out of this mess, alone. I didn’t have the resources at all to bring the bookcase in, and nobody was responding to me, everything was just too much. We should have organized who was responsible for what, to avoid something like this. But hey, this was a good lesson to learn.

Another thing that that our group needed to improve on, was trying to equalize the amount of work we had to do. There were a lot of days where each of us were busy, which delayed our schedule. I’ve learned that before creating anything, make sure to have reliable sources and to understand the sacrifices you need to make. If you plan something, plan it thoroughly to understand what you will be dealing with.Our project would have been less stressful if we weren’t so busy, but overall it challenged us to work harder.

Eventually we got the bookcase in and started building. Things got a lot better once we started building, assembling the shelf was actually kind of fun. We all spent our morning,lunch, and afternoon building, and we finished right in time. I’m grateful that Angela and Vivian were able to sacrifice their own morning,lunch, and afternoon to help finish this project. There were also other people that helped us in the construction of our bookcase, whose names are :Sandy Tran, Natalie Pham, and Anthony in Angela’s french class. This is a special shout out for the people who volunteered to help(along with Angela and Vivian of course), including the librarian who let us put the bookshelf in(Ms.Sharon): YOU GUYS ROCK! 😀

Day 1, assemble

Day 2, connect the pieces together

I forgot to mention the change from calling our project “Mind Zoo” to “Mind Lab”. We decided on calling our project the Mind Lab because ideas can come from anywhere and providing a de-stress station could help develop it. Mind Zoo has a connotation of chaos, and the puzzles were about critical thinking and the stress toys a refresher, so in that sense, the Mind Lab was a more appropriate choice. It was also because in stereotypical labs, we picture scientists creating things, and by trying to figure out a puzzle—you create different strategies and pathways.

Now that our project is finished, anyone can come by the manga section in the library(located in front of the computer lab) to relax by playing brain games and squeeze toys. We invite everyone to stop by, with the exception to take decent care of the knick knacks as you would with a library book.

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This was a great way to end the year, I’m glad we were able to succeed in our innovation project. I’ve never come across a project where I was able to create something on my own. I had hands-on learning where I learned about getting a business known through social media and figuring out how to make an idea come to reality. This is definitely an experience that’ll stick.

Fighting from Within a B.R.A.W.L.

B.R.A.W.L. is a book debate, where groups of students are given a question to answer which can be supported by evidence. My English class was using “All Quiet on the Western Front” as the chosen book to debate about.

I liked the concept of how we were able to look at the different aspects of certain questions by looking through the pros and cons, and trying to weigh out what was MORE right. Everything was happening so fast, it was hard to keep up with what was going on. Often times, the answers would have less and less of a connection to the question. Each time someone buzzed an interruption button, the topic would get farther from what was being debated. I was so upset, but only to the point where I was simmering.

I understand the importance of bringing a new topic into something that justifies it as more right, only with the exception that it ties to the question itself. Starting a new topic can provide you another path to understanding something further and to connect it with other topics that support the thesis. But it wasn’t like that, or at least for the most part. When people started buzzing in, the official groups to debate against each other, were silent. What are you supposed to say in a debate if the thing you’re debating about isn’t what’s being debated at the moment? Just debate against each other even if it wasn’t what was supposed to be argued/compromised about? The whole debate is useless, if it doesn’t tie in to the question. There were some great arguments, but they were arguments that were completely off from what was being asked.

Aside from how things got out of topic at times, I enjoyed creating and thinking up of questions and answers to prepare for the B.R.A.W.L.

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The first few days of discussing the questions for the B.R.A.W.L. were a little hectic. We spent too much time discussing the counterarguments of hypothetical answers students might choose, but people are unpredictable so we used a different method. We cut to the chase and decided to list down our opinions and thoughts on a google document, and this made it so much easier and we were more productive. My main part of this group was to write the answers I’ve come up with to add on to the group document. I elaborated some of the questions my teammates have made by providing an example to how it’s related to life and furthering the discussion if something was too vague. One example about the extent of control we have over making decisions for others was Leelah Alcorn. She was a transgender teenager who committed suicide, due to the pressure of conforming to a gender by her parents. Making decisions for others should only be necessary if they’re mentally or physically disabled. Pushing someone to do something that they don’t like, will harm the person more than it benefiting them, like Leelah Alcorn’s struggle with transphobia.

My favorite question to answer, hands down, was whether the press should focus more on the hospital or battlefield. This is something that we deal with, but it doesn’t get much attention because sometimes nobody wants to know the horrors of war, including me. Either way, there is a need of discussion for it. The press tends to focus on warfare more than the effects of warfare, and I think they censor it to keep people from knowing how awful things end up to be. War is romanticized, especially the killing part, that soldiers are dehumanized and seen as targets rather than humans. There is something so wrong about that statement. Soldiers deserve the respect to be seen as how they felt while fighting. We should emphasize the gruesome, depressing parts about war. second

During B.R.A.W.L. I felt like most of the debates were unfinished, like there was something more to add to, the only thing we could do was to prepare well and thoroughly. The less prepared you were, the worse you did. You can’t decide on something based off on one reason, you need other reasons to back it up. You’ll look like an idiot if you bluntly choose something for one reason. As a stubborn race, we humans do that constantly. Sometimes we’ll even choose something because it’s easier to deal with, or it takes less work to think about it. Everything we do has a rippling effect to those around us, whether it be emotions, actions, words, etc.

Debates provide us the opportunity to look and analyze things from different angles, and it’s something I need to work on. I know this experience will further my decision making skills forcing myself to think about all the aspects of what I should/can do. I’ve learned there’s a second meaning behind everything, and to not jump to the obvious conclusions that everyone thinks of as their first draft thought. I would be glad B.R.A.W.L. for any book or topic. I came out of B.R.A.W.L. learning that everything is in relation to everything else.

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The Struggle Between Aesthetics and Instagram

I’m one of those people that take instagram pictures of their food. I honestly just do it to match the aesthetic of my account or to show that I know at least two other coffee shops besides Starbucks. After looking through old photos in my phone, I realized how many unnecessary pictures I’ve taken. And by unnecessary, I mean ordinary. I take pictures of things I don’t really care about, I take pictures just for the sake of pictures. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with taking pictures of things without a reason behind it, but I want to collect memories and so far I haven’t been doing……any of that.

It’s hard trying to maintain a constant aesthetic in your instagram, you have to limit yourself from taking certain pictures or it will just mess up the flow of your archive. You can’t include all aspects of what you take pictures of. But then there are also the instagram accounts that have no layout. If you see the archive as a whole, it isn’t that great, but you’re left with so much freedom to take pictures of anything! This idea of trying to keep your feed looking as if everything corresponds with each other, is nuts. No one’s life is like that. There are few that take pictures that match their aesthetic inadvertently, but there aren’t many people like that. Social media is all about how people perceive you, and the pictures we take reflect who we are. For the most part it seems like everyone is trying to impress everyone else, but don’t be fooled as Phaedrus said,”the first appearance deceives many.”

Instagram is about telling stories, and by taking photos of random trees(that I don’t even like) and food that almost every fifteen year old has eaten, doesn’t tell you much. My main goal for instagram is about the significance pictures have to my life and not to my aesthetic.  I want to be able to look back through photos that might seem ordinary and come back to the memories that will carry on with me as I age. I want to remember the important and interesting moments of my life, but also have some insignificant moments as well.

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The Constant in a Good Friendship

When I used to live in garden grove I had a best friend named Min. The height of our friendship was during middle school, we would hang out as much as we could during the weekends,after school, in the summer.

I never really liked hanging out and so min had to forcibly convince me to go outside. Most times I would turn down the offer , seeing that missing a  pretty little liars episode was worth giving up a social life. But then there were times where I agreed and eventually we started hanging out a lot more often, and I have never regretted it once. We would go over to a close friend’s house, Alexis and the trio was united. We were really close to each other and sometimes we’d sneak out to our midnight swimming sessions in our apartment pool.

Min tied our friendship together so when she moved, we started to drift apart. I missed taking walks around the neighborhood or going to hmart, and buying a bunch of snacks just for the heck of it. All of It went away along with min, we would visit each other but that didn’t happen often.

It’s hard to find a friendship where you’re able to connect with someone easily and comfortably. Making new friendships is difficult when you’ve been friends with the same people for years. You forget how to play the game. How I met your mother is a show about a guy trying to find “the one”, the significant other that was meant to be, the couple that agreed with the universe. I think there’s a version for friends, and to me , it’s when two people are comfortable with each other right from the beginning. But there is another type of friendship where you have to work to make it flow.

I once got in a fight with a friend about what a true friend meant, and what you had to be to be best friends with someone. I argued that real friends are friends that are “meant to be”, she countered my argument saying that it was about the commitment two people made, and how hard they tried to make their friendship work and support each other. Coming back to it, I’d agree with it because it’s about who is suporting you and loves you.  If you’re the only one in the relationship trying to make things work, it’s better to break off the friendship. No matter how hard you try to make things click, it wont change.You can’t force people to like things they don’t.

The defining moment of when two people get closer together is they are truly honest with each other. Being honest to your friends can seem like a burden when it comes down to the gritty stuff. I don’t vent a lot and there are several factors as to why I don’t “open up” .

• I don’t want anyone to feel bad

• It’s hard to know whether someone wants to listen to you or not

• Trust can be questionable

• People get annoyed easily

But when I do vent it’s because…

• People can relate

• It feels good to let everything spill

• It clears up confusions

Honesty isn’t something that’s given to you immediately, it’s like working towards a promotion. It’s what separates a friend, from a best friend.  Which is also why I can still call Min my best friend to this day (along with other reasons).

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We are the Main Characters and Extras in a Play

I haven’t paid much attention to my surroundings as I used to. When I would walk through the hallways of my school, I would look at everything and everyone around me. Nowadays I kind of just blur everything out. Have you ever played hide and seek and thought that if you didn’t see anything you assumed that no one could see you? Your perspective controlled the game, but you ended up losing. Child logic -0 reality -1.

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After making unpleasant eye contact with other kids in middle school, I learned that people don’t look at other people as they walk by. It was this unspoken rule that I’ve only heard of by the eighth grade. Maybe I was just a weird kid, the stereotypical homeschooled kid that had a prom in their basement. Well whatever it was, I started doing what the normal thing was, it wasn’t much of a change. It’s kind of useful now, when I see someone I don’t want to talk to, I can just walk past them without feeling awkward. I use that same logic, as long as I don’t see them, they don’t see me. It’s kind of selfish to think that way, especially since people might think you’re looking at them when you’re just wandering off on your own business.

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I came upon an instance where I met someone who was so focused on what they were doing, they didn’t even realize what was happening in the classroom. People would be talking amongst the tables in our classroom, and there’d be this girl who did her work and when you asked her something she was completely oblivious to the conversations heard so clearly amongst us. It was like she was in her own world, no one existed but her ,until eventually someone would break the barrier between the two worlds to ask for homework help.

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Occasionally I’ll get into a binge of questioning everything, and a topic that comes up a lot is being in a society. I figured my public persona is the only thing that’s keeping me from becoming Equality 7-2521 from Anthem. I feel like I lose a connection to people when I just blur everyone out of the picture. It’s the same feeling you have when you lose connection to the internet, you’re left with the question of what do I do now. I’d probably be living in a cabin in the forest somewhere if it weren’t for the internet. Sometimes I get caught up by own thoughts I forget about the importance of the things around me.  Living in your own world, is like ignoring the world itself, but maybe I’m wrong.

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Humor Is Tricky

I love sharing things that I think are funny with others because I want to make others smile, and when they do ,it feels like we accomplished something together. Delivering great jokes is the equivalent of winning a debate with people cheering you on by the sides. You’ve got that smug smile almost breaking through, but you play it cool acting like it happens all the time. But when things don’t go as planned, it’s like singing in the shower and having a stranger knock on your door telling you to shutup. It’s that fist clenching moment that makes you feel like the man whose cry sounds like a dying duck.Everyone has a different idea of what funny is, what you think they might find funny, might be the opposite. Another person’s humor is something you can never be certain about unless you’re related to them, then you might have a clearer idea of what they find funny because families usually share the same sense of humor(but honestly, who really wants to share jokes with their thirty-five uncle who eats cheesy potatos every friday night). I get really worked up about telling funny jokes or stories and when someone doesn’t laugh, my heart sinks. I think about those breathing practices and hand motions I learned from doing yoga with my mom and watching Sharpay get ready to sing on stage. By then I’m in the phase where I fight off the fact that I am butthurt, when really that’s all I can think about. The last step, so universally known among un-funny people is regret. Oh GOSH! WHY DID I JUST SAY THAT. JUST LOOK LIKE YOU’RE UNAFFECTED BY THEIR CONFUSED FACES. DON’T TRY TO EXPLAIN IT, IT’LL MAKE THINGS WORSE. But then you go ahead and try to explain how that thing is funny by shoving it down their throat….but it never goes well. Most times I’ll be stuck in a situation where I can’t recover quickly so I’ll bob my head and avoid as much eye contact to shield myself from my audience’s laser eyes of judgement. Sometimes you just have to embrace the fact that people have different likes and dislikes or accept that humor isn’t your strong area. If you enjoy what you do, keep doing it, embarrassment is temporary anyways.

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