Building Bridges

Building Bridges

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Final Words - introduction by Diana

Introduction to presentations by Diana:

Denise Bacchus, English 103 professor at Santa Barbara City College, had a goal for her students. Her goal for the spring course was to motivate her students to read and write. Ms. Bacchus came up with a brilliant idea. She thought since the majority of the college population was engaged in social networks she would get more participation and motivation. It would give the students the feeling as if they were on Facebook, Twitter, Myspace etc. She said getting the blogs started was a bit challenging but she’d definitely do it again next semester.

In the beginning of the class we started with the novel Breath, Eyes, Memory by Danticat. Since the book was about voiceless women we eventually worked on a project named Why Women. This project gave the students the opportunity to see the struggles women go through and the stereotypes they are given. The class also watched the movie Rabbit Proof Fence, a movie based on a true story of three girls who held a deep bond. We watched this movie because it had a similar message as Breath, Eyes, Memory.

After Spring break we moved on to the book Monkey Hunting by Cristina Garcia. This book had several stories of a family's different generations. We watched a military movie since it was related to some parts of the book. We got to see what soldiers go through behind closed doors and how they truly feel.

Nancy Ramos
Oscar Corona

Why it All Began

The idea for this blog was created to bring awareness and give voice to the voiceless. The idea to blog about the death and hard of hearing community comes from us (Nancy, Oscar) but the one behind this creative idea of bringing awareness to our classroom and campus is Dr. Denise Bacchus.

We interviewed Dr. Bacchus and asked her why she decided to use blogging as a teaching tool for her students. Dr. Bacchus said, “I wanted to see if students would be willing to do research outside of the classroom and I want students to build on their writing skills and help students be more attentive in their work.” The most interesting thing Dr. Bacchus had to say about the blogging assignments is that her students did more work than she expected. Since this assignment was the first of its kind for our instructor, she was surprised with the way her students incorporated technology into their blogs. The technology that is incorporated into the blogs came from pictures and video recordings from personal phones and links posted in the blogs that could take viewers from our blog to various sites.

The blog project was a rollercoaster ride. The feelings we got from working on this blog were sometimes high and sometimes low but the over all experience of this project was a rewarding and fulfilling one. The high point of the blog project was seeing everything come together from images, writings, and links we posted in our blog. The lowest or uncomfortable point in this assignment came from the deaf and hard of hearing community when they motioned for us to be quiet just seconds after we entered the door to attend their meeting.

We (Nancy, Oscar) left this project with a better understanding of the deaf and hard of hearing community; and we learned that they are as much a part of this campus and community as we all are. This experience was a good one for us and our fellow classmates especially since this was the first of its kind for Dr. Bacchus. She introduced most of us to blogging for the first time. We hope Dr. Bacchus incorporates this activity for her future students and take their learning experience to a whole new level.
Janet Medrano
Lupita Galaviz
Jhoana Perez

Our group consists of: Janet, Lupita, and Jhoana. At the time of the assignment, we were reading the novel: Breath, Eyes, Memory. In the novel the main character Sophie, is a voiceless child in Haiti. We stopped and thought about whom in Santa Barbara is voiceless. In doing so, we came to the conclusion that the homeless people are the largest group of individuals who are voiceless.

We recognized, as a part of society, we push them away. We treat them like they are lower than us; they are human beings too and have feelings just like other people. We think of the homeless as inferior individuals, when they are not. We tend not to give them a chance at equal opportunities, and when opportunity strikes they are often limited.

The blog has information on shelters, life span, and death rates. We have information on a homeless individual who faces money issues, family problems and job difficulties. We created this blog to the best of our abilities. It was an interesting and difficult experience, for neither of us had ever created a blog before. Now that we know about blogs we are capable of creating blogs in the future.
Dickson, Steve, Louis

The English Ballers 103 consists of Louis, Dickson and Steve. In the interview with our instructor, Denise Bacchus, we asked her how she came up with the blog idea for class, and if she thought it was successful. Denise said that she likes to experiment with her teaching. She also explained how the blogging groups brought students together which was successful and over her expectation.

The reason we chose the voicelessness in China is because one of our group members read about the Tiananmen Square incident. We brought the topic up to Dickson because he knows lots of information on the history of China due to living in Hong Kong for 18 years. After a few days of researching the topic, it really gained interest to every individual in our group.

In the beginning of the class, Denise brought out the theme of voicelessness. For example, the book we read like Breath, Eyes and Memory where we read a lot about women and children who faced voicelessness, discrimination and oppression in the society. Therefore, we used those words to talk about how Chinese government treated the Chinese students in Tiananmen Square. We also researched how the Chinese were voiceless in the past and compared it to present day China.

We read information about the incident and wrote a summary about the Tiananmen Square using the information from the Internet. We wrote about how Chinese government oppressed the Chinese students. We also compared the statistics about China from Now and Then. We used the videos and pictures as good evidence that really gave a good image while reading our summary.

Rachel and Sandra

This blog is based on a project that we were assigned in Ms. Bacchus’s class at Santa Barbara City College. We decided to write about an issue that many do not wish to touch, because they may have find themselves to be part of the problem also.

In addition, we as a generation are growing up with new technology that seems to be grabbing us by the throat. With all these new gadgets available to us, we do not really take into account how we communicate while on the Internet. The way this generation uses technology has led to a topic that not many people are aware about. The reasons why we chose this topic was to hopefully educate people about cyber-bullying.

In our opinion, we feel that our peers, teachers, and parents were never ready to explain to the youth about the dangers of the Internet. However, we as two young students have seen the power of five words destroy someone’s day because of a rude comment. Many people do not understand that this issue is especially affecting the youth. The Internet started out as a new way to search for information and overall became a way for us to understanding the world around us. But, it has, in fact, also become a place to bully others.

The reality of this issue is quite sad. Yes, over the Internet everything is quick, unfiltered and almost invisible. But, these people who bully others over the Internet are in the security of their own space. They hide behind their screens and type any cruel comment that they can think of. Most of the time they do not even know the person they are bullying. This notion seems normal, since everyone nowadays most likely owns a cell phone. However, we are here to speak against this issue and give a voice to the voiceless.
Introduction; Danielle Elger, Amy Cooper, Carl Darky, Wes Oberhelman

In the beginning of our English 103 class, Ms. Bacchus introduced us to the novel, Breath, Eyes, Memory. The characters from the book, Sophie and Martine, show the relationship between a daughter and her troubled mother. Ms. Bacchus wanted us to make a blog that could represent people without a voice, and the story of Sophie and her mother represented a voiceless situation that related to one of our group members. Because of this, we chose the topic of homeless families.

We were able to compare the voicelessness Sophie had towards her mother’s problems to the voicelessness that one of our group members felt towards her mother. We interviewed her to get an idea of what worries she has for her mother. Ms. Bacchus got us through the process of setting up the blogs. We learned new ways to express ourselves through technology. In our group we have an international student. He was able to share the information and bring the awareness to his family back home. Each member of the group was also responsible to research another aspect of homelessness. In our research we came across videos of interviews with homeless families on Youtube.

One of the most shocking pieces of research we came across was the statistics of the growing population of homeless families. Not only through the world, but also here locally.

We realized how few homeless shelters were easily accessible to the growing homeless population in Santa Barbara.

Throughout the process we faced uncomfortable situations. For example, there was a bit of akwardness while we were interviewing one of our group members. We also realized how much of a problem homelessness has become. Our blog has also brought a new view of homeless families to our sights. We broke the stereotype of lazy, drug abusing, alcoholics, and told the stories of how they actually came to be homeless. Our goal isn’t to take the homeless off the streets, but to help the others to understand and respect them. We want people to know that homeless people are in fact people. They are not bums as most people would call them.
"How Generations Change Customs" was created by Jose, Heidi and Yuri. Who came up with the new style of English 103 class project? There is Ms. Bacchus, who has introduced us to an unusual but inspiring project: the blog.

Ms. Bacchus revealed her feelings toward the new blog project which she had never done in her life before. She was concerned, before we had started, that working with as a group with several members would cause “conflicts” over what to publish, or, on the other hand, the students would not be “helping each others.” In spite of her “fears” toward the blog project, it showed a positive feature as we began working.

She spoke “ yes, (the project was) engaging” and also opened up the students’ views, which helped the students be “connected to other materials” outside of the classroom, the society we live in. The project wasn’t only for students to gain their research and reading skills. “Freedom,” she stated, was provided to the groups during the project, and she found “students’ creativeness.”

Ms. Bacchus had a strong and challenging feeling for the project by using the contemporary technology: the Internet. “The Internet? Why blog?” the students questioned curiously. She answered, “In my personal opinion, blogs engage people…(and blogs make us) forget time,” that students shows their interest lots, and also “handling technology can be challenging.” She explained her satisfuction in the outcome of the project , “my expectation (toward the students' work) has reached and beyond it.”

We as a group, often struggled with choosing a topic and what articles to present on our blog. However, we decided to focus on the traditional wear especially the Burka, Niqab, and other head/face-covering veils women wear in some societies such as Middle Eastern countries and/or Islamic culture; because, we believe that there must be much more unknown feelings, opinions, facts and suffering which the women with their veils have.

Another reason for our choice is, that we were going through this article in class about the U.S female airforce officer who felt uncomfortable a Burwa that she was "ordered" to wear during her duty in Saudi Arabia. We thought that many different countries have different views about the Burqas, and of course, those who wear the Burqas have their own opinions.

At the time, we had only a few knowledge about the Burqa and other head-to-toe covering dresses. Then we decided to mainly write about the Burqa, its culture and also the problems that the women in their veils are facing in the modern society. By creating our blog, we hoped to share with everyone the articles and arguments about the Burqa culture given by both society where poeple wear veils and the non-Burqa society(such as France, for example). The blog project and working on our topic also educated us in some different ways: more knowledge about different cultures; writing and reading skills; and also how to work with others effectively.

We tried to devide the tasks based on our interests and skills. For example, Jose was skilled with decorating the blog, choosing appropriate pictures and also helped us to edit. Heidi was a hard working person who collected articles related to our topic and see if those would catch audience's attention. She summerized the article so that audience could briefly but clealy understand what the articles were about. She, moreover, had a great taste of sellecting images. So did Jose. For example, in our "The Sex and the City" article on our blog, she did most of the picture work! Yuri managed many writings such as completeng and editing summaries, putting the other memembers' thoughts and comments into words to publish. The blogging process took us hours first because we weren't used to working on one task as a group and we went through many different articles on news to see what to publish on our blog.

Vanessa Macayan
Mayra Esparza
Voiceless Children

Our blog is about voiceless children. In our English 103 class we were reading the novel Breath, Eyes, Memory which touched voiceless women. We started our blogs to acknowledge the voiceless. We chose children facing divorce or separation because we are children of parents who have separated or are divorced, and we thought about all the other children who are not heard during the parents' decisions.

As we designed our blog, we touched upon facts that talked about how the divorce affects the children, what children want from their parents after divorce, how to get the children to understand divorce, different ways to acknowledge the children’s and parents' mood changes; and we wanted interviews of children who we knew had personally faced their parents' divorce or separation. We chose the background to be block letters, the font color to look colorful, and the font text to look like a child’s handwriting to immediately let the viewers know this blog is about children.

In one of our blog post "Effects of Divorce on Children" we explain how children of certain ages (up to their teens) all react differently to their parents' divorce. For example, preschool children usually believe they are the cause of their parents' divorce, compared to a teenagers who go through mood changes, or may begin to express anger issues towards their parents.

In our other blog post "What Children Want from Their Parents After Divorce" we generally talk about how the children need both parents as a part of their lives to raise them, to teach them what’s important, and to help them with their problems.

In our third and fourth posts "Helping Children Understand Divorce and Healing the Broken Heart," we acknowledge different tips to be aware of, the distress signals from both the parents and children, and how to address the children about the situation. For example, parents should be aware of their child’s anger towards others, grades dropping in school, and depression. When addressing the children parents should set them aside to meet as a family, plan ahead of time what to tell children, stay calm, and plan to meet again.

In our interviews we asked the children questions like, how they felt about the divorce or separation, how it affected them, the relationship with the two adults now, and how things are different as a family now.

Karina, Steven

The Voiceless Society

At the beginning of our assignment we chose the voiceless children and young adults who have lost their mothers to breast cancer. When we attempted to interview some young adults, the subject was too emotional and painful for them to discuss; especially because to them, we were strangers. So we switched our topic to the voiceless elders of our society.

Most of the elderly were reluctant to talk until we ran across a little old man sitting by himself drinking a cup of coffee. To get our attention he yelled, “Hey you! What are you doing here?” As we turned around he waved at us to come join him and we began to interview this man named Al McQuitty; a short, white haired man with a Vietnam hat who smelled of bourbon cigars.

He is 87 years old and has a lot to talk about especially when it comes to financial issues. He explained to us that his wife of 25 years had divorced him causing him to live in a one bedroom apartment in the old dorms for UCSB known as Friendship Manor. After the separation, his two children moved in with him to take care of him. Al was heavily invested in the stalk market. Due to the major down turn in the economy, the stalk market took a huge loss as well as Al’s income. Therefore, Al had to reduce his expenses to match his current income.

In doing this assignment, we asked our instructor why she wanted us to write a blog on the voiceless people of our society and she answered by explaining how she wanted students to work together more as a team. It was very difficult for our group because of the absences of group members and even though we lost one of them, the two of us stayed strong. In the end, we have worked together and created a blog to use a voice for a voiceless elder. And in the future we hope other students can experience and learn the wisdom and advice from people who have lived life longer and who can help suggest ideas and choices for the future.

Steven's book review

April 5, 2011
English 103 8:00-10:00
Breath, Eyes, Memory by Edwidge Danticat
Book review by Steven Salazar

Not even in my wildest dreams would I think that I could see, smell, or even taste the culture filled country of Haiti. Until Edwidge Danticat took my senses on a trip I won’t soon forget. In the book Breath,Eyes,Memory, Danticat describes what it’s like to grow up as a Haitian female in a poverty stricken country where patriarchy is law. Sophie, a character who the book follows is born from a rape that her mother Martine endured when she was only fifteen. Danticat truly brings to life the struggle of a mother and daughter having to live with past and present demons that they must face in order to feel free from physical/mental anguish.

Breath, Eyes, Memory a fiction novel has violence, adventure, and a hint of romance. I really liked the texture Danticat used in her wording. The beautiful quotes and mythical tales she used seemed to pop right off the page to surround my mind’s eye. In the book Tante Atie, Sophie’s aunt who raised her until she was twelve says, “Love is like rain. It comes in a drizzle sometimes. Then it starts pouring and if you’re not careful it will drown you.” The novel is jam packed with very well descriptive words that come together just right.

While reading the novel I began to notice the pattern of how the women’s lives were all affected by men. Martine’s life changed when she was raped and had to carry an unknown man’s baby for 9 months. She tried all the tricks in the book to get rid of the child to no avail. Sophie was born in to the world with a rapist for a father whom she never knew. Later on in the book Sophie meets her husband and only has sex with him because she knows that’s what keeps men satisfied, but she does not enjoy the act all together. The only thing she loved from the first time they had sex was the beautiful baby daughter that followed 9 months later. Then there is Tante Atie, The sister of Martine that watched over Sophie when Martine was away trying to start a better life in New York. She was a bit of a drinker though kind, but at the same time demanded respect. Tante Atie was lonely because of a lost love. Grandme Ife is Sophie’s grandmother, but there was no backround information on her; that’s a whole different book. I won’t tell you how it ends, but let’s just say a male gets the best of Martine. It’s quite sad, but that’s the way of the world.

After reading Breath, Eyes, Memory I did dislike one aspect of the story. Ever since Sophie was a little girl her guardians raised her to be pure and proud just like they pretended to be. The old traditional “test” as it was called in the book was meant to keep young women pure by checking their vagina to see if it had been tampered with in any way. The funny thing is, is that all the women hated it and yet it was done to Tante Atie and Martine, then Martine did it to Sophie. That was a huge trust breaker between Sophie and her mother that seemed to be the root of Sophie’s depression. All the women put up a front that they were strong and pure, but in the end all I saw were lonely, scared individuals that broke, or just didn’t feel like they had the power within themselves to live happy. Only Sophie managed to face her fears, and in doing that she became a strong woman in my eyes.

Over all, the novel is a great eye opener to life outside of the United States. Life is hard no matter which way you slice it. Especially, if you are flung to New York at twelve years old only knowing Haiti; I couldn’t imagine having to start a new in a totally different world. I respect Sophia for dealing with the craziness of her life and drudging through it for the better. She would probably say she is only doing it for her daughter Brigitte, but she is a very smart girl who knows what she needs to do to be happy. For some reason I feel Sophie would have been much happier if she would have stayed in Haiti with Grandme Ife and Tante Atie. Well when you read the book for yourself, you can be the judge of that.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Sandra's & Tiffany's continuation - Breath, Eyes, Memory - the novel

Sandra Rivas
Professor Bacchus
English 103
Memory, Healing, and Love

I quickly buried my sobs into Grandme Ife’s chest. The pain felt unbearable. I would glance at the sky from time to time in hopes that the tears would stop falling down my cheeks. As more and more people noticed my uncontrollable suffering, I was able to gather myself and walk home alone. The others had gone to a small potluck the townspeople had made in respects of my mother.

As I walked past the cane fields, I thought of that night my mother’s innocence and security was taken from her. Something came over me;I felt a sudden impulse to lay down on the grass next to the maze of the cane fields. I lay for a minute, and started feeling something I couldn’t describe. All my life I had seen the effects of what had brought me into this world, but to lie like she had in the crisp grass that one horrible night dazed me. I lay under the sun protected by daylight and she lay under the moonlight trapped by darkness. The tears started to beckon themselves from my eye lids. I knew I was free and now I wanted to release my feelings out from the cage I had built for them when I was younger. I was in pain, and it seemed to lurk in our family frequently. I couldn’t follow in my mother's footsteps; I had to let go. "I will not make the same mistake, I must let go.”

As I lay in the grass thinking about my mother, I put myself in her shoes to try and understand why she had committed suicide. I lay there one more moment, and paid my last respects to my mother. She had been so brave all her life, and it was time for her to move one. She did not give up on life; life had given up on her. She was chosen to bare all this suffering for all these years, for reasons mystical beings would only know how to answer. I had made a depression in the grass in the figure of my body. I walked over to the road, picked up some stones and bombarded the spot where I had lain. I cursed my father and all the pain he had caused others. In doing this I was freeing my suppressed rage at my father and was freeing my mother’s adolescent soul. I stared at the pile of rocks, as if trying to picture my father dead under them. I took three deep breaths and walked away.

The sunset had already begun its reign over the landscape. I went into my mother’s room and fell into her bed. The sheets hugged me and said “Mwen renmen ou.( I love you)” I did not fight back, and responded in Haitian “ Mwen renmen ou pi plis( I love you more).” As I dozed off into a deep siesta, I imagined Bridgette as a teenager. She had a bronze tone to her polished skin and with penetrating dark eyes, ready to gauge a man's heart out; she swiftly walked the paths in my mind. Her hair was as thick as rope , and her height made her look superior. By now my eyes were open and I lay in bed, and thinking about Bridgette made me miss Joseph. The way he looked at me with so much love and respect made me feel a way I had never felt before. My breath became constant and I felt something pulsing in my groin. I burst into tears, again.

While caged in my sorrow, I hadn’t loved Joseph like I should have. I had been selfish all these years I was only thinking about my pain and suffering. I walked over to the stove and reheated last night’s coffee. I sat on the porch and watched the remnants of the sunset dance with the night sky. Beauty had always been around me,and I, caught in my problems, never noticed. I had gotten an education; I had a home and a family waiting for me in another country. I had been running long enough, and it was time for me to live. I knew my mother was gone but I felt her presence of protection all around me. I was ready to live my life the way I wanted too.

Hours had passed by and I began to worry about Grandme Ife and Aunt Tatie. I paced back and forth in front of the house letting the soft dirt grind between my toes. “Eske W gratis? Are you free?” yelled Aunt Atie in my direction. Her face no longer had tears streaming down, but I could still notice the bags under her eyes. I could tell there was stress in her eyes as she approached me. I spread my arms around them and we all began to cry. I appreciated and loved the people around me and now it was time for me to accept what I had.

I’m a Haitian woman, a mother, and a wife. This is the life that I was meant to live, and I was ready to accept that. My mother was brave and I will be brave in her honor also.

Continuation by Tiffany McLaughlin

I walked back into the familiar smells of my house. Joseph was trying to soothe a raging Brigitte, tossing her little body about.

“Love I would have picked you up from the airport,” Joseph said as he got up to embrace me.

He saw Tante Atie closely following behind with a fair amount of baggage. We all exchanged our hugs and love and studied every one’s faces. Brigitte was placed in my hands and we all embraced in a long soothing hug. It felt like it had been an eternity since we had all been together. She instantly stopped fussing and drooped into a sleepy slumber.

“How was it,” he asked. So many things rushed through my head. I looked at Tante Atie and said, “Grandmother died the morning after mother’s funeral.” You could tell there was concern in Joseph’s face for Atie, she was considerably thin and her face was filled with sorrow.

When I woke up the sun rays kissed my cheeks the shadows danced upon my face, I smelled the familiar scent of Joseph, the warm embrace he entangled me in. I was blessed to receive this man.

“Do you want to talk about your trip?” Joseph had awakened while I was lost in thought.

“I feel fine, I’ve felt exhausted lately. How has Brigitte been?

“This was the first night that she did not awaken in the night.”

“Maybe she needed her Maman. Or knew some things were changing and her
blood thinning.”

“Perhaps she did, I would go to pick her up and she’d be covered in sweat, her
eyes red when I woke her up.”

“Why did you not tell me this earlier?”

“I wouldn’t want to add any more stress to you on your trip. And apparently you found more tragedy over there. How long is your Aunt going to be staying with us?"

“You know she is like a mother to me, she is what I know a mother to be. I do not know how long but it will but she is suppose to come visit the United States for a little bit, Grandma left her money for the trip.”

“She seems like she needs a little bit of time off. She does not look healthy, she looks fragile, any minute I could just knock her over and break her.”

“These past few months she’s never lost so much in her life. Three of the most important people just disappeared in her life.”

“At least she has you. You better show her a good time while she’s here. Take her out and have a lot of fun.”

The next day we went out and walked around the neighborhood. Just me and Tante Atie. We talked long and hard about anything that came to our minds. We hadn’t really gotten to spend quality time together since I was little. We stopped at a corner store and she got a lottery ticket. It had reminded me a little bit of my childhood in Haiti.

We took Brigitte to the zoo and tried teaching her the animals names. She had been sleeping just fine and her eyes never turned red again. Her soul was at peace again. I think all of our family was resting quietly where they belonged. Nobody was moving about, peace at last.

That night we got back home and watched the news. It had been an exhausting few days. Running around from place to place. Tante Atie heard something about a lottery and rushed to retrieve her golden ticket. We all sat about waiting for her to return. I didn’t think much of it. It was just a lottery ticket. Finally she came back with a big grin on her face. I hadn’t see her look like this in a long time. They started calling numbers and her grin only got bigger and bigger. They had finished calling numbers and she had not dropped her happy demeanor.

“What happens when you get them all right?” she asked.

Joseph and I crowded around hovering over checking every number to make
sure she had not mistaken anything.

“You win!” I gasped. I don’t think she grasped the severity of the situation. This was going to be life changing. “You can do whatever you please!”

“Maybe this is some old left over family luck,” Joseph joked.

Yet all I could do was laugh. After everything that had happened it was so serious all the time, and I hadn’t had a good laugh in a long time. To just sit and uncontrollably laugh. To enjoy all the people around me and love everyone for who they were. I looked over at Joseph and he was laughing as well, fully enjoying the loud joy spread around the house. I decided that I could be free. I could lift some sheet that had been hiding me still from being fully vulnerable.