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  1. GCD Communications- The Bilingual Race

    June 13, 2014 by 15robidouxk

    I am a Canadian born in England. My first word was “lait” (French for milk). My mother speaks to me in English and my father in French. My friends speak to me in Jenglish (Japanese/English mix) and my sister and I often communicate in a strange version of Franglais (French/English) interlaced with fading bits of Turkish and elements of Japanese. During both my primary and secondary school years, I have flip flopped between francophone and anglophone school systems, as we moved to Canada,Turkey and Japan for my father’s job.

    When I was younger, bilingualism to me was normal. Living in a very bilingual city in Canada, it was something most of my friends and family were equipped with and something I never considered to be special or different. It was second nature to switch between a strictly French environment at school and an English one at home- until another language and a half were added to the mix. When my family and I were expatriated to Turkey, I quickly started picking up the basics of Turkish. I knew when to use nasılsıniz as opposed to naber iimısın (how are you), understood the pronunciation of ü,ı,ç,ö and ş, and knew how to communicate with the pushy street vendors of the grand bazaar, yet I was confused about the languages I was fluent in. While other kids took part in a non-native French class, the native students from France and I were told to work on our own, which for me meant reading books and chatting with the French kids. At first, this was very troubling. Why could the others not understand a word I was saying? Why did they all think my Canadian accent was so strange? I was embarrassed and confused so I faked a French accent during these classes, to avoid the situation. When I moved back to Canada, however, I gradually lost my Turkish abilities. Losing a language comes from neglect, lack of practice and exposure. It is a subtle process that you don’t realise is happening until unfortunately it is too late and you can never find the words again.  After experiencing that I knew that I never wanted to lose another language, especially not my mother tongues and started paying more attention to keeping up with my French while school was taught in English and vice versa. I was able to attend a French school in Canada and stopped using a French accent. Going to school with many Haitian, Djiboutian, Somalian and Arabic  students also made me realise that different accents are normal, and something to be proud of, to be recognised as unique emblems of diverse cultures. In my opinion, if people don’t accept and respect a certain accent, they do not really speak the language. For instance, you can’t be fluent in English if you can only ‘deal with’ British accents. Of course there will be vocabulary gaps and subtle differences but foreign accents should never be put down as inferior. Strands of languages are a way of bridging between different cultures and can bring people with the most different of backgrounds together.

    After moving to Japan, I was finally realising the value of (bi/multi)lingualism and after starting Japanese classes, I wanted to learn as much of the new language as I could.  Hopefully by continuing Japanese and keeping in touch with my Japanese friends when I move back to Canada, I’ll be able to maintain my Japanese and improve it too.

    And that’s how I consider myself part of the bilingual race. Moving around schools, cities and countries has allowed me to embrace  and learn about so many different cultures and languages, leading me to become more in touch with my own mother tongues, as well as acquiring functional fluency in Japanese. :)


  2. GCD Communications- Speaking for Cambodia

    June 13, 2014 by 15robidouxk

    GCD Reflection: Communications: Cambodia Service Project Campaign

    In Grade 11, I traveled to Pursat, Cambodia to help build a school building in an impoverished community. As part of the preparations for the trip, each student had to raise a minimum 50,000 yen as a donation towards purchasing the building materials.
    As part of my fundraising campaign, I was involved in organising a series of movie nights for elementary school students as well as raising awareness about our cause throughout the school. This involved speaking to individual primary classes, at an elementary assembly and at the movie night itself about the Cambodia project. Speaking about the issues currently plaguing Cambodia and strategies to combat these in all three different settings allowed me to learn about communications and effective public speaking skills.

    First of all, when advertising for the movie night, I went around to the elementary classrooms to speak a little bit about the cause as well as about the event. I was really passionate about the cause and really wanted to communicate to the students how much a little bit of help can catapult communities into much brighter horizons. However, getting this across to elementary kids is not an day task. You must adjust your tone, register and vocabulary to ensure the understanding. This especially hit me when presenting to the kindergarten class, when after speaking about our cause, one of the students innocently asked “what does ‘materials’ mean?”.  After this question, I realised that although there were many different points I would have liked to make and even though it was tempting to go into details about poverty in Cambodia, well and school building projects, etc. that my message could only have the desired impact if the students completely understand it. Thus, over the next presentations to the other elementary classes, I adjusted my speech and simplified it a little, focussing on the points: “We are building schools for Cambodian kids who are too poor to learn”, “Think of all the books you get to read during library time. The kids we are going to help don’t get that. We want to give them the chances you have”, etc. I also tried to speak slower and more clearly to make sure the kids really understood.
    At the elementary assembly, I also presented about the issues we were trying to lmd a hand in combatting in Cambodia. Speaking for about 5 minutes in front of the whole elementary student body was very nerve-racking because as you surely remember from your own childhood, children are easily distracted and are the harshest of critics.  The setting of the assembly was also challenging to face because there were kindergarten students, who did not know what materials mean and 5th Grade students who surely don’t need extremely simplified language to grasp concepts. In order to tackle this issue, I started my main points with simplified summary phrases and then went into a bit of detail. To make sure the younger students didn’t lose interest as I got into more details, I kept it slightly short and tried to keep the speech dynamic and inclusive, by involving the audience through asking questions and speaking loudly and clearly with varying register to keep the speech varied. I also started and ended with the same point (about offering disadvantaged children the chance at a better education and a community a brighter future) in order to reinforce it.
    In conclusion, the series of presentations I gave to the elementary about the Cambodia project was a very valuable experience that allowed me to learn a lot about public speaking and strategies to maintain the attention of younger audiences when speaking about more complicated issues.
    If I were to repeat the learning experience of speaking about a cause I am passionate about to elementary students, I would use more visual aids as it would have made some concepts much easier to understand in the early advertising stages and at the assembly. After all, a picture speaks a thousand words. At the second movie night event (for the younger elementary grades), we used a running slideshow of pictures in the background when briefly explaining the purpose of the movie night in order to broadcast our message more clearly to exited and distracted children.

    Although this is not the assembly I am referring to, feel free to take a look at this.


  3. TOK Blog Post- The Act of Killing Reflection

    May 5, 2014 by 15robidouxk

    Joshua Oppenheimer’s film, The Act of Killing, reveals the 1965 communist genocide in Indonesia, through the perspective of the perpetrators of the killings. The killers talk openly and even proudly about their extermination of an estimated 2.5 million communists (Scott). Revealing this little known dark part of history not from the victims’ point of view, but from that of the victors and instigators makes the message of the film ambiguous: Does Oppenheimer wish to provoke moral outrage in the audience or does the director hope to make viewers realise that killers are just as human as the victims? This in turn raises the knowledge question; To what extent is it possible to pass moral judgements on the past?

    In the case of The Act of Killing, a film arguably targeted towards a Western audience, it may be inappropriate for viewers to pass judgements on the event. Firstly, we may be unaware of the subtle cultural and contextual details motivating the events of 1965 and possibly justifying the killings. Secondly, according to the BBC; “our values today can’t be compared with the values from another era. What was right for them was right for them. What is right for us is right for us”(BBC). The events dealt with in the film are arguably set in a completely different era and thus it may not be possible to objectively judge the killings and killers without falling back on the benefit of hindsight. Furthermore, a quotation by Ben Dower is also quite applicable in the case of The Act of Killing: “If judged by today’s standards, even the greatest of historical heroes become monsters” (Dower). Social norms and accepted moral codes are in a constant state of change and thus, as these norms evolve and are altered, it becomes very easy to jump to the conclusion that those acting in the past were acting immorally. Therefore, condemning atrocities in hindsight may not always be effective nor objective. Thus, the use of situational ethics to judge history may be highly subjective to the current societal state and cultural norms.

    Could consequentialist theory be used to judge historical events? If the context is vastly different from the current one (this applies to Indonesia in 1965 since few people have a complete grasp of the whole situation at the time), it is impossible to know the exact options and the route which would definitely have had the least harmful consequence. Alternatively, it may be easy to pass moral judgement afterwards, however, it may not have been clear to those in the situation the actions which would lead to the least consequences, meaning the killers would still have been acting ethically if unaware of alternatives. For instance, the killers portrayed in The Act of Killing may have been thinking in terms of the “kill or be killed” when exterminating. However, even if necessary, was the act of killing itself justified and ethical?

    While it may be possible to make ethical judgements of the past using ethical theories which rely on a set moral code, it is impossible using consequential or situational ethics.  Personally, I believe ethical rules cannot transcend cultures, time and historical context and although it may be useful  or necessary to pass ethical judgement, I do not think judgement can be reached with certainty, regarding historical events/people.

    Sources cited:
    BBC. “Should We Judge People of past Eras for Moral Failings?” BBC News Magazine. BBC News, 20 Aug. 2013. Web. 05 May 2014.
    Dower, Ben. “History of Heroes.” Social Commentary. University of Texas at Dallas, n.d. Web. 4 May 2014.
    Scott, A. O. “Mass Murder? Gee, That Was Fun.” New York Times. New York Times, 18 July 2013. Web. 4 May 2014.


  4. GCD Adventure- Cambodia Trip 2014

    March 23, 2014 by 15robidouxk

    In February 2014, I had the chance to participate in the Cambodia trip, which around 30 grade 11 students at YIS embark on every year.

    On the trip, we did a variety of activities, one of which was building a new school building for a school in the rural poverty-stricken area of Pursat.
    When I joined the trip, I wasn’t really sure what to expect. I knew that building the school would involve manual labour in the heat but I had no idea the extent of physical strain it would demand. Thus, before the trip, I set myself a simple goal of trying my best to preserver through and complete the manual labour that was asked of me during the construction activities.  We also had a meeting with the school nurse about ways to keep safe in the heat and sun while doing strenuous activities. I learnt that is important to take frequent water breaks before you feel too tired and even remotely thirsty to prevented dehydration and heat stroke. I also learnt that 60SPF sunscreen does not necessarily protect you against sun for 60 minutes, thus it is best to reapply sunscreen at least every 30 minutes, especially when sweating.

    When we first arrived in Pursat, and started the construction work, I was stricken by the heat and the weight of the rocks and sand we were transporting to lay down as the school building’s foundation. It took me a while to get used to the strain in the intense heat and sun, however, I tried to bend my knees and use my legs to lift instead of relying solely on my back and arms for strength. I also decided to work together with my classmates and the locals, as collaboration made the tasks seem more manageable and the peer encouragement helped us all keep working.

    Throughout the week, I gained physical skills by laying the foundation of the school building and also learnt practical skills. For example, one day I was helping the local women brace metal bars together in straight lines, using metal wires to weave the posts with the square braces. At first, it was very hard for me to master the skill as the weaving technique required practice and too many twists could mean breaking the wire, while not enough twists could leave the post attached too loosely. In the end, I was able to effectively weave the wire and repeat it many times at a more rapid pace.

    Making posts to be used a s support beams after being coated with cement

    Making posts to be used a s support beams after being coated with cement

    Thus, the school construction proportion of the Cambodia trip was an adventure for me, as it allowed me to gain many physical skills and construction skills. It was also an adventure for me since I never partook in construction before and I had challenged myself to use muscles that I am not used to straining.
    If I were to repeat the experience again, I wouldn’t have changed a thing! However, in the future, I hope to take part in similar projects and be able to develop even more manual skills, while helping others, as we did in Cambodia this year.

    For more on the trip visit this post. 


  5. Cambodia Trip 2014

    March 4, 2014 by 15robidouxk

    This year, I decided to participate in the Cambodia Service Activity, which involved periodical planning meetings as well as sustained commitment to fundraising in order for each participant to raise a minimum of 50000yen for the cause. It also entailed a trip to Cambodia in February to contribute to service alongside the development agency Hope International.
    Through this activity, I hoped to gain an increased global awareness concerning issues such as poverty, water access, sanitation and education. I also hoped to be able to contribute positively to the Cambodian community in Pursat, by helping out at the orphanage, and with the various building projects. Next, I wanted to develop my communication skills and challenge myself to learn about Cambodian culture, by effectively overcoming the language barrier in some way and get the most out of the experience.
    During the fundraising period, I hoped to develop collaboration with my peers who are going on the trip and remain fully committed to the fundraising even after having attained the minimum goal. Furthermore, I hoped not only to raise money, but also awareness of the issues we are working towards solving with the Cambodia project within the YIS community.
    I hoped this project will increase my motivation, organisation, global awareness and most of all willingness to help others, as it will be a chance for me to experience what I only have read about or learnt about in class, to see poverty and poor sanitation and low development through my own eyes in areas most deeply affected by the issues.

    On February 2nd, 31 students from the Grade 11 set out on a journey to Cambodia for the well-awaited service project. Spending most of our time in rural areas of Pursat province, we participated in activities such as school construction, orphanage visits, English lessons and other community service project initiatives.

    Increased awareness of your strengths and areas for growth: While partaking in the service project part of the trip (our time in Pursat), I became more aware of my strengths and limitations. First of all, I realized that I could work on my strength more because I had some difficulty with the heavy lifting while constructing the school building. I was also struck by how advantaged of a life I live, without realizing the predicament of the disadvantaged worldwide. I learnt that I shouldn’t take what I imagined to be simple commodities such as a functioning and readily available sanitation facilities, clean clothes, varied meals and thorough education, for granted. I was also affected when we visited a family who had recently obtained a well, and saw the wooden shack that used to be their living quarters. It housed 10 people and was barely the size of my own room. Through this experience, I gained first-hand understanding of my luckiness through direct comparison with others’ lifestyles. I hope to also try to not take any luxuries for granted in the future and work even harder towards offering others these luxuries I enjoy everyday.

    Undertaking new challenges: While in Pursat, we were working to build a new school building at a rural school, since the previous one had been destroyed by termites. I had never partaken in construction, especially manual construction, before so it was a physical challenge for me to haul the rocks and sand for the foundation as well as to use the “elephant’s feet” apparatus (a tree stump between two sticks used to pound rocks and flatten them) to even out the foundation. I overcame the challenge by using my strength in the most effective way possible, taking frequent breaks and collaborating with the school children or other YIS students. Another challenge I faced was language barriers. Seeing as none of us on the trip spoke Khmer and the students at the school and the orphans had in general very limited English skills. I tried to overcome this by learning simple phrases and words in Khmer, such as hello, what’s your name, my name is, the numbers, thank you, etc. as well as not becoming flustered if there was a misunderstanding or something we were unable to express with sign language.

    Working collaboratively with others: Throughout the trip, there were many instances of collaboration. For example, when laying the rocks for the foundation of the school wing, I worked with the local children to carry heavier rocks as a team and with the group as a whole to create a production line, passing rocks and sand along. Collaboration was also evident when we played with the children and struck a balance between learning their games and introducing some of our own. There were also less obvious instances of collaboration, such as sharing supplies such as sunscreen, water and insect repellant between the YIS group. Raising money to pay for the building supplies also constituted collaboration with the YIS community as well as with Hope International, the NGO we were working alongside.

    Show perseverance and commitment: I think I showed perseverance to this activity through trying to be the most open-minded possible and attempts to acquire a deeper understanding of local culture (through interaction with the Cambodian locals as well as through making the most of our visits to cultural and historical sites). I felt increasingly committed to the cause as the project and the trip progressed, especially when I got the chance to visit the home of one of our new school friends as well as partaking in two overnight village stays. I also was glad to see our fundraising perseverance and commitment pay off, by viewing first hand exactly where our donation had gone.

    Engaged with issues of global importance: I think the project speaks for itself, showing the group’s contact with global issues such as poverty reduction, access to water and sanitation, improvements in education, etc. Interacting first hand with people living in contrasting situations to my own helped me gain a real and genuine understanding of these issues, which are often treated superficially and on a general scale when dealt with in classes or from a secondary view, abroad. Before the trip, we separated into sub-groups and presented to the whole group about social, political and economical situation in Cambodia, which furthered our knowledge of the causes and effects of issues such as poverty and water scarcity, which continue to plague the region. During the trip, we also discussed about the situations of the people living in the communities we were visiting and working with as well as the positive consequences of our project. I also found the trip enriching to my academic subject, geography because I was able to draw many connections to theories and concepts we had touched upon in class such as global disparities, water scarcity, poverty levels and reduction strategies, population demographics, development, etc by viewing some issues discussed with my own eyes.

    Consider ethical implications: There were instances on the trip when we had to consider ethical implications of our actions. For example, I considered ethics when playing with the children at both the school and the orphanage, by trying to include everyone in the games so no one was left out. To be honest, this was a challenge because I had grown closer to some children so it was tempting to interact more with them more… When reflecting on the trip, I asked myself whether it was really beneficial for us to help construct the school, given the locals are more experienced and may be able to complete the project faster and more efficiently. I also wondered whether we disrupted the classes by playing with the children or acted unethically by staying in such nice lodgings while helping such impoverished communities. The ethical issue that made me ponder the most once we got back was going to the markets to buy souvenirs, etc. with money that could have been poured into the cause instead of my own unnecessary consumerism. Thinking of this now, I feel a bit guilty and in the future, when participating in similar activities, I hope I will consider ethical implications such as these more carefully.

    Develop new skills: Through interacting with locals in both the community we were providing aid to as well as the communities hosting us, I developed new found communication skills, by increasing my understanding of methods for overcoming language barriers as well as remaining open-minded and eager to learn a bit of the local language and to further understand the culture and society. I will be able to apply these social skills in a myriad of situations in the future. Furthermore, I developed physical skills through manual work that I am unaccustomed to doing, everyday we were in Pursat.

    In conclusion, the trip was an amazing, enriching experience and exceeded my expectations. It’s hard to put into words how much I feel attached to the cause after participating in it. The amazing people we met are no longer just “people we help from the comforts of our homes and pocketbooks” but are now our true friends and peers. I hope to see the progress of the school once the building has been completed and hope to remain committed to the cause we worked for in whatever ways I can. I also hope to continue to expose myself to new cultures and service activities in the future and be able to help people who are disadvantaged, both at the local and international level.

    Lastly, I would like to thank all the organisers of the trip, all my peers and friends who I got to work with on the project as well as all those of you who contributed monetarily, by donating stationary, etc. and supported the initiative. I would also like to express the deepest gratitude to the HOPE staff in Cambodia (in particular Li for having organised and made our service possible) as well as all the amazing people we met in Pursat. Finally, to my all my new friends Chian, Sly Noo, Sly Li, Pi Sai, Pi Nan, Yut, Eva, Tukkulisaa, Sokhran, Fong, Mao, Sly Mai, Chiiitaa, Goon, and all of you who I didn’t catch your names: I hope happiness continues to find you well and thank you for being so kind, welcoming, friendly and funny; you are truly what made my trip exceptionally special.

    Please take a look at the pictures below, as they can tell you a lot more about my experience than I can express in words!

    cambodiacollage

     

    collage2


  6. TOK-Human Sciences

    February 26, 2014 by 15robidouxk

    “How can we judge whether one theory is better than another in the human sciences?”

    To decide whether one theory is better than another in human sciences, one must examine the theories in question through appropriate methodology. For example, theories could be tested through experiments and quantitative statistical analysis. Since experiments in the Human Sciences are often influenced by bias and individual perspectives, experimentation can lead to high uncertainty in results. Measures to increase accuracy of the results could include double-blind experiments(to avoid question(er) bias) and using large sample size of demographically diverse subjects (to allow generalisation of the results). When theories are tested using methods similar to those listed previously, the credibility of theories may increase. Knowers can also use ways of knowing such as logic and reason, to conclude whether the theory is feasible, realistic and accurate or not.
    Knowers can also judge a theory based on their personal knowledge and past experiences. For example, when examining theories in the human sciences through the lens of religion, one may judge one theory as better due to the fact that it fits better with the beliefs encompassed by the knower’s religion. On the other hand, one may judge another theory as better, if examining it through the lens of memory, if that person has past experiences which might confirm its accuracy in the knower’s mind.

    Due to the fact that Human Sciences is an Area of Knowledge heavily influenced by bias and personal knowledge and perspectives, it is never possible to deem a theory better than another with absolute certainty, however analysis using various methodology and WOK allows some level of evaluation of theories. This has implications influencing our understanding of the concepts presented through Human Sciences as well as other areas of knowledge.


  7. Guest Speaker- Emi Tamaru

    December 10, 2013 by 15robidouxk

    Today in TOK, we had a guest speaker (alumni and artist Emi Tamaru) talk to us about art and how it applies to knowledge. I found it very interesting to be able to hear from an expert in the field of art as well as to learn more about Emi’s work, etc.
    Three things I got out of the visit were:

    •  Art is not only about the process, it is about the perception of the viewer. As Emi mentioned, it is important to create art that your audience will understand and appreciate in order to effectively communicate your message.
    • Contrary to the popular belief, art is not simply the emotions of the artist. For example, Emi’s piece Red Light Phone Box incorporates the emotions and stories of sex workers in order to portray an aspect of their lives which may be different to common stereotypes.
    • Through Emi’s explanation of her work, I found out how art does not only fit into the arts knowledge framework, but also extends into other areas of knowledge such as Natural Sciences, Ethics and Human Sciences. Artists must consider ethical implications when selecting clients and artists to collaborate with. Linking to the methodology of ethics, artists must “extract morally significant aspects using reason from the perception of the current situation”. In Emi’s case, if she does not agree with a client’s ethics, values or management system, she will not work with them. Another example of the overlap between art and other areas of knowledge would be the Human Sciences; One of Emi’s works, Kawaii Klinik explores how art can be used a therapy for trauma patients.

    Check out Emi’s website to learn more about her and  her work.


  8. News-Knowledge, Language and Perception

    October 19, 2013 by 15robidouxk

    I recently read an article on BBC news entitled “India’s abandoned women struggle to survive“, which talks about a growing population of widows in India with no access to adequate pension programs nor familial care. The article begins by outlining the situation in Vrindavan, Northern India, where thousands of widows seek help from charities after having been abandoned by their family members and unable to support themselves through meagre government pensions. The author then goes on to describe the dire situation of the widows, forced to take part in religious chants or begging to gain end’s meet. The women often live on a single meal a day, and have little access to services, proper housing and sanitation. Finally, the article is concluded by highlighting the issues presented by India’s growing aged population and the costs required if social security systems were to be implemented.

    The first knowledge claim made by the author in the article appears when Kannan claims that ‘ageing women are more vulnerable than men’.  Next, another knowledge claim is presented: ” the lack of a nationwide national social security system poses serious risks to the economy”. Finally Kannan makes yet another knowledge claim at the end of the article stating “[N]either the government nor the private sector have any simple solutions to offer. And for some, it may already be too late.”

    After reading the article, I considered the central knowledge question raised by this piece of news. One possible knowledge question that arises is “To what extent should governments be responsible for improving elderly care and pension programs?”. Based on the central knowledge question, I also came up with 4 other associated knowledge questions:

    Associated Knowledge Question 1- How effective are government programs in providing care and financial stability for those unable to work?
    Associated Knowledge Question 2- 
    To what extent are family members responsible for elderly care and obliged to fulfil that responsibility?
    Associated Knowledge Question 3-
    In what situations can governmental elderly care programs/policies be seen to increase/decrease public health and family cohesiveness?
    Associated Knowledge Question 4- 
    To what extent does integration of females in the workplace reduce the amount of elderly struggling to survive?

    BBC new is a known to be a very reputable news source. In my personal experience, I have had most teachers recommend BBC as a reliable and trust worthy news source when required to research current events or read news articles. However, there recently ahs been a lot of controversy in regards to the news source’s reliability, with many claiming that BBC has a left-wing preference and presents news with a left-wing point of view. Here is a link to an article which describes BBC’s reputation and recent debate over its sources of bias. The particular news article about Indian widows slightly reflects the left-wing bias through the language and tone used in the article and video. For example in the article, the quotation “But the number of old people is rising steadily. The UN warns it could triple, reaching 300 million within the next 40 years.[...]With families struggling to care for their elders at home, the plight of these women is likely to become increasingly common.”, shows the BBC’s slant. The news source concludes without evidence that a growth in elderly population could result in further problems, however fails to consider the possibility that an increase in elderly population may encourage or force the government to implement care programs.  In addition, the video demonstrates the aid being provided by Maitri, a local NGO in a very positive light. However, is the work by Maitri sufficient if the widows are only receiving a single meal a day? Another example of BBC’s left-wing stance in the video is the mention of how widows “come to Vrindavan to recive charity while they wait to die”. This claim is quite gruesome and is not supported by any statistics indicating the widows want to die. The sentence is also attached to negative emotional connotations, which may manipulate audiences to adopt a left-wing stance; implying that such social inequalities be abolished immediately by the Indian government.

    On the other hand, I feel as though the article is also quite informative and somewhat objective, as it presents relevant statistics and is succinct and factual, meaning there is little room for opinion in the piece. Furthermore, in the article, there is a small section of comments by a KPMG official:

    “One step could be, can you establish a subsidy mechanism for screening or providing some medication for these people? That could have a certain cost,” says Amit Mookim, head of healthcare at KPMG.”Then, is there a mechanism to take care of certain procedures, operations or surgeries which is then contracted to private players? That is another cost.”Then there is the end-of-life care for which the infrastructure doesn’t exist – so how much infrastructure can you build?”

    The inclusion of these comments, as well as quotes from people who demand improved social security demonstrates BBC’s objectiveness. They first show the side of the story which claims governmental and familial efforts are insufficient,then subsequently show the opinion that instilling elderly care policies is not currently feasible in India.

    Based on these examples, I believe the article reflects the BBC’s bias in a minor way. However, since the bias is so subtle in this particular article, I believe it does not hinder the comprehensive communication of the story.

    In determining the extent to which governments should be responsible for elderly care, the associated knowledge question of whether or not family members are responsible for elderly care would have to be considered. In order to arrive at a conclusion about the central knowledge question, various case studies from different countries would have to taken into account. The effectiveness of various governmental policies currently implemented in different parts  of the world would have to be examined. Also, the ethical implications of forcing taxation and/or familial care upon a population would have to be considered. Finally, all other associated knowledge questions as well as their implications would have to be considered before attaining a conclusion to the central question.

    In conclusion, based on my current knowledge, I believe that governments should be responsible for providing adequate healthcare, financial aid and pension programs for the elderly population as despite no longer being able to contribute productively to the workforce, the elderly still have the basic human right to access to healthcare, sanitation and nutrition, in other words the right to live. However, depending on the nation and circumstances, policies may differ in different places based on the specific issues and needs of that a particular population. In order to determine an effective program for a specific region, the current situation, culture and infrastructure as well as budget limitations would have to be considered.

    The knowledge claims and questions that arose from reading BBC’s article made me think about a similar article I had recently read. This article talked about a 94 year old woman in China who sued her children for emotionally and physically neglecting her and refusing to take care of her in her old age, after a new rule was instated obliging children to care for and frequently visit their parents. The article draws many parallels to the situation in India and further considers whether the elderly are a responsibility of the government of of family members, and can be read here. The article about the situation in China offers an example of a country where governments require  children by law to take care of their elderly parents. This led me to consider the ethical implications of such laws and of the absence of such laws and the human rights and freedom of choice issues it raises.


  9. On Language- TOK

    October 12, 2013 by 15robidouxk

    October 8th and 9th 2013

    This week in TOK, we talked about how language affects our perception of the world as well as how it shapes the way we think. We watched many interesting videos such as this one (which compares different languages and the demands for the speakers)  and this one (where Stephen Fry discusses the impact of language manipulation in Nazi Germany) as well as reading an article by Guy Deutscher, exploring the relationship between language and perception of the world. In addition, I read through this article, which outlines a study conducted on language, which examined people’s ability to grasp the concept of counting in a language where there are no words for numbers above 2.

    In response to the week’s session, I started reflecting of ways my own language impacts my way of thinking. I also brainstormed a few thoughts I considered:

    My Brainstorm

    In Guy Deutscher’s article, Deutscher begins by outlining a paper published in 1940 by Benjamin Lee Whorf, where Whorf claims that Native Americans’ knowledge is limited by their language. Whorf supports his argument by claiming since the aboriginal language has no specific word for “fall” or “stone”, thus they cannot know of these two concepts. Whorf’s claim seems logical on the surface, however, when examined more closely, its merit is limited. Deutscher rebukes Whorf’s claims with an example of an Australian aboriginal language, Guugu Yimithirr. This language is a geographical language which indefinetely uses compass directions and has no words for left, right, front and behind.  Just because there is not a specific word for a concpet in a certain language, does not mean the speaker will be unable to grasp the concept. I this is quite an agreeable counter-argument and I think it applies to me very much. Being a native French and English speaker, I have surely come across  words which do not have a direct equivalent. For example, in French there is an adjective, frilleux or frilleuse which basically denotes someone who is sensitive to cold, who feels cold often and easily, or someone who feels cold, despite the temperature being relatively warm. Although there is no specific word that is equivalent in English, I think English speakers are quite capable of understanding the concept of someone being sensitive to the cold.

    I think this is the issue with poor translation, and the reason why some things are said to be ‘lost in translation’. If every word is translated literally and exactly, you end up with a series of words, which do not necessarily work together to form a coherent sentence, which communicates the same overall message. In short, every word in the sentence may have the same meanings however the sentence may not carry the same meaning anymore. If we look at the tool GoogleTranslate, I think this is very clear. The online translator can only translate words individually as opposed to being able to translate ideas, which is why the translation is rarely accurate. This made me consider the way in which I learn Japanese, and my habit of searching for an equivalent word to the English one I am trying to translate. Instead of searching every time for an exact word, which may or may not exist, it would be useful to consider the connotations, meanings and concepts tied to the word rather than the word itself as well as what message I am trying to convey at that particular time.

    Thus, I agree with Deutscher in that language does not restrict what we can comprehend or what we can think about, and there lacks conclusive evidence of the contrary. However, I do believe one’s language creates boundaries for the speaker in terms of their way of thinking, which impacts their perception of reality.

    As Lera Borodotsky says in her presentation, different languages demand different things from their speakers, leading to different ways of thinking. For example, in French each noun has attached to is a gender and for a sentence to be grammatically correct, the noun must be defined as masculine or feminine. In English, speakers do not need to constantly consider the gender of objects when speaking. Someone in class argued that just because a gender pronoun is attached to objects, it does not mean that they perceive the object as having specific feminine or masculine traits. His argument makes sense, however I disagree with it because I think unconsciously, speakers of languages which require gender specification always have to think of gender, leading to a somewhat divided view of the world, with objects fitting in to categories of masculinity and femininity. Personally, I think that since I speak French, a language with gender differentiation, I always pick up on the genders in situations (not always necessarily concerning objects) and remember events in that way. For instance, when recalling trips, I always seem to remember a clear image of who and what were there. I believe that having to think about attaching gender to everything makes me focus on objects/people in a given situation. Also, if I were to recount this trip to a French speaker, it would require me to utilise details (therefore, I would have to have picked up on them and remember them)  about the genders of my companions and/or of objects/places, as opposed to if I were recounting in English, where I wouldn’t have to be so specific about the people/objects/places.

    This lead me to wonder to what extent learning a new language could change your personal view of reality and whether it has the same amount or kind of impact as mother tongue languages do. I also thought about whether the differences would be more or less significant depending on whether the language is being learnt remotely or locally. I think that a new language can in fact alter one’s view of the world, as it adds another way of thinking. I think this is especially true if one becomes fluent in a new language. Learning Japanese at has helped me to pick up more in terms of tone and subtext. Since there is no defined future tense in Japanese, as opposed to French and English, the sentence ‘hon wo yomimasu‘ ([I] read a book OR [I] will read a book) can be interpreted in different ways. Also, the subject is omitted, making the sentence less direct than it would be in English. This ambiguity forces speakers to focus on considering the context and forces listeners to interpret this based on tone and other parts of the sentence and the framework within which the sentence lies. By constantly considering context, learning Japanese has made me to look at groups of sentences as a whole to find meaning, as opposed to examining individual sentences. This has caused me to notice tone and subtext portrayed by speakers more. Although I feel as though learning a new language has added a dimension to my way of thinking, it has a lesser impact on my perception than my mother tongues, because the habits and way of thinking about events/things/concepts have not been ingrained throughout my whole life and throughout all my experiences. I also believe learning a language locally has more of an impact than remotely because learners get the opportunity to live the language. If the new language is integrated into your daily life, you will constantly hear it, see it and need to use it in both formal and informal real, unscripted situations. As you begin to grasp the language gradually, as you hear it you might start to see the world how speakers of that language do, and begin to perceive reality ever so slightly differently.

    In conclusion, although I don’t believe language limits our knowledge, I do believe it plays a key role in our way of thinking, comprehending and ultimately our behaviour as well. Although it may be argued that our personal knowledge is unaffected by subtle differences in emphasis in languages, I believe that the type of language one speaks as well as the number of languages one can speak affect the way we think and perceive reality, thus impacting our personal knowledge.


  10. TOK; “We see the world not as it is, but as we are…”

    August 31, 2013 by 15robidouxk

    “We see the world not as it is, but as we are.”- The Talmud

    Talmud’s quotation claims that humans view the world based on who their personalities and perspective as opposed to the way the world is, in a factual context. Several points counter this quotation, however several also support it.

    First of all, if the quotation is examined in a literal context, it claims that ‘we’ see ourselves in absolutely everything in the world. It could be argued that it is impossible to physically see yourself in everything that you see. For example, if one were to look a at a rock, one would not physically see themselves, but instead see the rock, which is made up of billions of basic atoms (whose presence has been scientifically proven, notably by the phenomenon of electron emission spectra). Secondly, since the ‘we’ is very vaguely employed, it could possibly mean to include individuals, groups, all of humanity,  or everything that makes up the world. If the ‘we’ is interpreted in the broader fashion, we must see this world the way it is, since ‘we’ essentially make up the sum of the world.

    On the other hand, it can be argued that our perspective of the world is entirely based on our personal experiences and identity, causing our view of the world to be unique and personal. Perspective develops as knowledge grows in an individual, thus individuals will have different associations and their view will constantly be changing. For example, when I was younger and I found out about my first expatriation to Turkey, I was reluctant to leave my home country and move overseas, due to the fact that my perspective was very close-minded as well as the fact that I had only been exposed to my country’s culture and other cultures in my family. However, after moving and having an amazing experience, my perspective completely changed and by the time of my family’s second expatriation, I was excited and willing. This is evidence that we see the world as we are, because I saw the world as scary, since I was afraid of the unknown, and then as I became open-minded and interested, I viewed the world as interesting and inviting.

    Furthermore, the Talmud’s quotation can be supported by the argument that as we grow up, we are taught to think in a certain way and believe in certain things, depending on where one lives, one’s native culture, their religion, their education, gender and language. Due to these factors, people may associate different people/things with their own experience, which changes their perception. For example, someone who loves dogs may associate these animals with happy childhood memories or positive experiences related to dogs, however another person who may have been attacked by a dog, or had a negative experience with a dog may associate dogs with viciousness or fear. In contrast, some may argue that before one has had an experience to create an association with what they may be looking at, they see it as it is. Although this raises the implication that previous experiences may influence the initial perspective and way of looking at the thing/being in question.

    With several arguments in agreement and opposed to this quotation from the Talmud, the extent of truth in the statement it is quite debatable. I believe the main implication of this debate is the question of how we can be sure whether what we are seeing is reality or a biased version of it. How can we possibly objectively evaluate this question with assurance, without (whether consciously or sub-consciously) injecting individual perspective and view? How can we judge whether our answer to the last question is true or perceived?

    Some interesting links:  This TED talk also raises a point that I found very interesting; “The miracle of your mind isn’t that you can see the world as it is. It’s that you can see the world as it isn’t”.