GCD Community Engagement – Van der Poel

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I have been part of several service activities during my career in Yokohama International School. I have been part of the Van der Poel service group since 9th grade, meaning this is my third year to contribute. Van der Poel is a service group where we visit two orphanage houses/centers and do actives together such as potato digging, skating, strawberry picking, even having a small picnic with time to play afterwards. Every year in December our Van der Poel group hosts a Christmas Party in the cafeteria, inviting both houses/centers, handing out presents and enjoying meals together. I believe this is a major event for this group as the houses would not have enough money to pay for Christmas presents for all orphans, therefore we support those two houses with donations and hosting the party. It has always been a great success. Through this experience, I intentionally thought I would be able to understand different situations people are experiencing, that I have not.

Setting up for the Christmas party

First, I joined this group because I preferred to have opportunities to interact with children below my age. As I got involved in outings, that was not only the case, there were orphans who were older as well. This resulted to experiencing some and parts of the learning outcomes.

First of all, joining this group would have been my new challenge. Before that, I only had the slightest idea of what orphans are like in Japan, plus did not have enough connection to be able to understand that beforehand. Because I was unfamiliar about their life or situation, I was very unsure how to interact with the children, whether I had to comply to the orphans as much as I can in order to not offend them, or not. Especially on the first outing, I felt nervous of the possibility to harm them mentally with my careless words (if I made those).

For planning activities, generally our supervisor has contact with the head of the orphanage houses so our job as a member is to entertain the children as much as we can. But for the Christmas parties, it is up to the members of Van der Poel members to set up the entertainment section and decorate the cafeteria. Rather than having one person lead everything, I feel each person participating in those processes take some sort of leadership. For example, when decorating the cafeteria with paper chains, we give our opinions about spacing and what would be more physically impressive and appealing when the children come in. In that sense, I feel I have taken leadership during those processes, by giving advice to make the loops be equal as possible.

Christmas Tree

In this service group, collaboration between group members are essential. Especially for the Christmas Party, we students are able to have leadership in different areas. Every year, we collect donations for this big event in order to buy presents and candies to stuff in their stockings. Although, we do not only collaborate with the Van der Poel members, but also with the children. Of course, the potato digging we went recently would be part of this since we pulled out potatoes as a group. However, one of the most outstanding play-time personally was a few years ago, when we competed with dodge ball, forming teams with the orphans. In every outings, we have time to play after lunch, but this was the first time we played and competed in an actual game (of course being very enjoyable). In addition, for perseverance and commitment, my most difficult experience had resulted from my shy personality, having resistance to talk to the orphans. As I participated in the events, I gradually managed to overcome that personality, resulting to spending a fascinating few hours.

Potato Digging

Overall as I interact with them, I feel I am engaging with global issues. This experience, although seems as having fun with children, may relate to what is happening in other parts of the world. For example, their situation of being in a supported community may be similar to other orphans. By the second year joining this group, I started to understand the existence of various global issues which I may never experience in my life. In fact, orphans in different countries may be experiencing a harder life than these orphans. Considering this, I thought the cause of this global issue (becoming orphans) would possibly not be common nor similar to every person. In the future and on, I hope get more involved with these global connections by continuing these outings with the orphans; I will probably continue my activities in Van der Poel. Later (especially after graduation), I wish to be part of an organization with a similar purpose of interacting and supporting people who live differently as me.

If I were to repeat this activity, I would probably put more effort in collecting donations. I am not sure when the supervisors buy the orphan’s desired presents, and whether they are able to get every from the money we collected. If we could get more Middle and High Schoolers to donate more money (considering they would have more money in their wallets than Elementary students), that may lead to a change in our group’s awareness as well. Although having experienced many things, I might not know enough of the orphan’s hard experiences. They seem to be living happily currently, but had went through difficulties before that. In other words, the consequences in becoming an orphan. However, I do not plan to ask them directly as those may hurt their feelings. I may ask some of the ladies running the houses, or research on the internet myself. Now, I am more curious on their school life and the extent of them being typical students at school, for example eating at a cafe with their friends after school.


Grade 10 Media Fair

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On Wednesday June 7th, us grade 10 students had a media fair in our English class. Our task was to research and analyze 5 media sources about one topic we were interested in, and present a poster. For the day of the Media Fair, Mr. Kew and Mr. Barbour’s class had a combined session where the students were able to walk around and observe the topics of other students.

For example, the topic I chose was Frozen Food, looking for media sources that talked about the positive effects of freezing food and the disadvantages to the human diet. For my 5 sources I found an advert, TV commercial, Package, Social Media and Article. Interestingly I found that frozen most sources that had positive things written about frozen food mentions how freezing fresh vegetables and fruits capture the vitamins and have a longer expiration date for it to be fresh. However the source that had a negative perspective looked at frozen meals, in this article a lunchbox.

Frozen Food


 

Fuuko – Napping

Fuuko’s topic was Napping, and her 5 sources were an article, Product Advertisement, Social Media, Old poster and a Cartoon. It was interesting to see different sources viewing napping from a positive and negative perspective, for example the Old Poster has Take A Nap written in outstanding red letters while the cartoon compares the expectation to the reality that you would be feeing more tired after taking a nap. According to her, she felt that most sources had a very clear message, which made it easier to get persuaded in both ways. In addition she noticed that most of these advertisements were mostly pointed towards young people or children who tend to stay up late in the evening watching TV or doing their homework, or who often take naps during break time. Especially the Facebook page had cute drawings with quotes and shared articles with a picture of students clearly identifying their main target audience.

Fuuko (Napping)


 

Sukran – Gender Stereotypes

Sukran had talked about Gender Stereotypes and looked at the various media of men and women in movies or advertisements. Her 5 sources were TV advertisement, Print Advert, Disney movie, twitter and a song. I thought having a song as a source was very interesting, and I loved how the poster was colored in pink and blue which are also stereotypes for men and women. She has mentioned that through her research, the main stereotype for men were being manly and strong, especially looking at Mr.Clean and films such as Disney movies. The male character would most of the time look muscular and powerful. For women, looking at the Little Mermaid are being portrayed that they could give up anything to get close to their love. These were

Sukran (Gender Stereotypes)


 

Lia – Positive Body Image

Lia’s topic was on Positive Body Image, which she found were basically pointed towards women. She has chosen a Magazine, Social Media (Twitter), Video (YouTube), an advertisement poster and an article. I found it interesting about the fact that body image almost mostly refers to women which was one main thing that came up in our discussion. She also mentioned how the language used in the media were positive as well, like the twitter page, and she only found one negative media for this poster.

Lia (Positive Body Image)


 

Mimi – Caitlyn Jenner

Mimi’s had researched about Caitlyn Jenner and how media has portrayed her. Her poster was neatly laid out with a range of media: an Article, Editorials, a Meme, video and a twitter page. During our discussion she has said how social media, as the news article, meme and twitter page has been interpreting the events quickly and interestingly, especially the meme presents Caitlyn Jenner in a positive and entertaining way.

Mimi (Caitlyn Jenner)


 


Kinuta Performance Reflection

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On March 11th, we performed Kinuta, the koto piece we have been working on since the beginning of the year. I believe I was able to perform fairly well, however was not the best performance.
I had prepared well by memorizing the music beforehand so I was ready for the cuts that were made later, and just focusing on the parts that were discussed as an improvement during class such as presses and fingerings. I also practiced the day before, to check if I was able to overcome the places I was playing wrong and the places I usually miss presses. This last day reviewing practice worked best for me as it helped me revise the music individually, so that during the performance there might be unexpected rushing as a group but at least I would not make as much note mistakes. From these preparations, despite the fact that I got nervous playing in the first row for the first time, I was able to play the music with confidence. Although I could have practiced using the metronome, setting the tempo to our usual speed and counting the beats precisely as well. We would obviously not have the metronome counting our beats during the performance but that could have prevented rushing, especially towards the end. Next time I will look closely on my timing and listen.
Overall my impression to the performance as a group was not the best performance, because by listening to the video, the presses were not very clean and as I just mentioned we rushed too much towards the end that the first and second kotos were not in synchronization. But we all seemed to have memorized the music quite well and there were not as much note mistakes heard. Individually, I think I was able to play fairly well, as I was at least to play the focused parts that were gone over during class. Next time I will work on playing accurate presses and practicing more until I can be satisfied with my overall performance at the concert.

Koto Kinuta Practice

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For the Koto piece we have been working on since the beginning of the year, Kinta, I have focused on three areas which I was least comfortable with. Because I have now memorized the music, it was easier to find the sections I cannot play without missing or forgetting the note.

The sections I worked on for this video is:

  1. Page 3 Line 3 Measure 3 ~ Line 4 Measure 2
  2. Page 5 Line 4 Measure 3 ~ Page 6 Line 1 Measure 2
  3. Page 6 Line 3 Measure 3 ~ Line 4 Measure 3

My goal was to be able to play the music (sections) fluently from memory and make sure the presses are as accurate as possible. I have basically worked on these by memorizing the sound of the notes during class and then practice until the sound and what I am playing matches (I look at the music just in case). In other words, as usual I just practiced over and over again until I was able to play and know the notes from heart, and for the presses use the tuner until I feel how strong to press for the particular note and koto I am using. To identify the places I personally need more practice on, I color coded the notes with presses with a highlighter so I do not forget to press beforehand. I chose the section from      because I have once practiced with Miyama sensei during class, especially the changes between full presses and half presses. I wanted to test if I was able to take her advice by only taking off my first finger to make a half press. The reason I chose the section for the third section is because I was a little unsure of the notes as it skips one note (for example from 四 to 六 and 七 to 五). I think I have improved very well through these practices as I am now feeling very confident playing Kinuta as I know all the notes by heart, despite the fact I sometimes miss notes and the presses are usually either too strong or too weak. When I had my music out before me, I was often practicing very slowly that I was not able to keep up with the original tempo. But once I memorized it, I was able to make even more accurate presses compared to the beginning.

 


GDC Personal Goal – Personal Project

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Introduction

For the personal project, we were required to research about anything that is in our interest. The topic is completely up to the student as long as they have a clear goal and global context to focus on. The topic I chose to do my personal project on was patchwork and quilting. As I originally enjoyed crafting, drawing and hand sewing, I have decided to make a large blanket so I can do all of these. My project focuses on Personal and Cultural Expression since my product would be completely original and handmade by myself.

The project has 4 stages, Investigation, Planning, Creation and Reflection. For the research I have mainly looked for procedures to make patchwork and brainstormed ideas for my quilt design. For planning, I planned my working schedule over the summer break and the quilt design.  In the creation, I basically sewed my quilt and finally I have reflected on my whole process throughout the personal project. At the same time we were able to develop personal skills such as self-management, research and communication skills.

 

Investigation

The goal of my project is to create a patchwork quilt of old clothes, to be creative in showing the Japanese culture and sew, and to recycle clothes rather than throwing away or donating. Using cloth by cutting clothing I wore out of shows and connecting them together is like keeping your memories together especially because most of the clothing I used were ones I wore very often during my childhood. I could have donated them as well but they were too dirty to let somebody else wear. This topic is also very eco-friendly as there would be less clothing being dumped and burned.  

My project mainly focuses on Personal and Cultural Expression as I focused on being creative in designing my final product which is a handsewn quilt. The design also shows the Japanese culture which would be part of cultural expression. This product will help achieve my goal because it will give me the opportunity to design, sew and recycle wasteful clothes. For the research I focused on the procedure of making the patchwork quilt. I collected both primary sources and secondary sources over the summer. Appendix A and B show the process of my secondary source research very well by combining all the information and tips, as well as examples of people actually reusing clothing to create patchwork quilts. For the primary source, I chose to ask my grandmother who is used to sewing as she has spent a lot of time sewing kimonos, and also my own pictures of quilts that I took in New York which I looked at as examples for the quilt design. Appendix C is my strongest primary source as she would know more tips to make the sewing part more time efficient. From her long experience of sewing she showed me how to hold or pin the cloth together and when to change the stitches. However I was not able to complete this project only with one source for sewing. I went on the internet and looked for more sources of how to do patchwork or make a quilt in general. I tried to find as many sources that I thought were legitimate, and for this topic would be more blogs and tutorial videos that guide through the steps. For the second part of the research which is looking for features that represent Japan, I have mainly used primary sources regarding my knowledge and some pictures I took of flowers and designs also known as wagara (Japanese patterns). This part is just for brainstorming so I decided to put many examples of Japanese flowers and wagara especially from origami (Appendix H).

 

Planning

From the information I went on and started to plan my quilt design. To do this I have basically planned out my schedule for work and the design of my product. The success criteria for this product is to be able to achieve the goal which is to hand sew a quilt out of old clothing and using Japanese designs. I also added a criteria for communication as it was my first time to do patchwork although I have sewed many times before. I started this project without knowing anything about patchwork and quilting, meaning I had to do extra research and do communication with my supervisor and my grandmother. I also asked my mother for any old clothing of mine and hers, so I had more color options. For the action plan I made a table before summer identifying what I would be doing during the summer break to keep myself organized and make sure I work on it during the summer (Appendix D). I have planned to complete all my research and planning during the summer break, and if possible start the sewing by August. It was ideal to collect all clothing material to use for this project, which completed very quickly as my grandmother not only taught me how to sew, and gave me a large pile of leftover kimono fabric she found. The most important part of the planning was designing the product. I drew in my process journal the designs and Appendix G, representing the Japanese four seasons is what I chose in the end. I have followed this schedule very well over the summer, actually earlier than first planned except for the sewing which I was not able to start until the end of summer vacation. After school started I kept myself organized through managebac which showed the due dates and was an easy source to look at my drafts to prepare for the report.

Looking at my self management skills, I was able to manage time well as my research, designing and collection of old cloth were all completed during the summer break. Even before and after the break I have contacted my supervisor many times to have meetings and ask questions about what I was unsure of for written assignments. However I may have not been able to organize my creation time as well as I had to work very hard towards the deadline.

 

Creation

I believe my product links to my global context very well which I am very proud of. As mentioned before, my global context is Personal and Cultural Expression, and I have expressed both. For example because the product is an original creation I would be expressing myself through creation and designing. For cultural expression the product design has Japanese flowers representing the four seasons. In addition the cloth received from my grandmother all had Japanese patterns, which is most obvious in the spring area at the very left (Appendix F). When I looked at the TSC (Appendix I) I created I would probably be able to score a high grade in “Cultural”.  

The communication skills are shown clearly in my research notes, especially for the one where my grandmother (Appendix C). As mentioned earlier, I have asked her many questions on the tips of hand sewing a large piece since she is used to hand sewing kimonos. I communicated a lot with her and got many support from the detailed research notes I took. But I think I could have researched a professional of sewing and quilting as well, if possible contact and ask questions to have a total of three reliable sources to help me on the creation. Although in the creation process I communicated more with my supervisor as she frequently asked me how I was going with my final product at the same time as supporting the writing tasks.

Some of the issues I came across during this process was doing my homework and assessments in school at the same time. As soon as school started I did not have as much time to work on my personal project. To this I worked slowly, for example cutting pieces for one seasons a day when I had time. Overall I feel like I did not have as many issues except for time management in creation.

 

Reflection

Overall, I have learned a lot throughout this project about sewing and it gave me a new interest of patchwork and quilting in this small topic. I have extended my knowledge and understanding of this topic and global context by evaluating sources to see if they are good to get ideas from as well as getting direct support from close people. Since patchwork and quilting was a challenge for me I had to keep myself open-minded and look back at my basic sewing skills and see how I can use or improve that in my project. In addition the fact that I have been reusing clothing made me think about how much fabric people are wasting when just throwing one piece of T-shirt away. The t-shirt or skirt or anything can be remade into anything by cutting into cute shapes and stitching them together.

Looking at the success criteria I created for my product, I think I was able to achieve most of the criteria at the higher band. The criteria were created based on my goal, which is to create a patchwork quilt, to be creative in showing the Japanese culture and sew, and to recycle clothes rather than throwing them away or donating to others. The four criterias were Research, Cultural, Environmental and Communication.  For the research, I might be able to achieve a substantial grade as I was able to collect all the information I listed in the plan, and pasted in annotated pictures and diagrams for additional explanation. The product shows relevance to the information about Japanese features, with pictures of Sakuras and Hydrangeas both used in the final design. I could have added pictures of the autumn leaves as well, to show how they represent Japan’s autumn and perhaps a picture of the real ume flower rather than pasting in a piece of origami. For the Cultural aspects, I would probably achieve the top bands. For example some the fabric used had Japanese patterns printed and the Sakuras, Hydrangeas, Autumn leaves and Ume flowers represent Japan. Autumn leaves may not be considered a flower, but they do represent Autumn in Japan. For Environmental, I have achieved for sure. There is evidence in my process journal (Appendix E) showing which cloth I used and received from my grandmother, and what clothing of mine were used. Even though the fabrics from my grandmother are not clothing, they were once used by her and her mother to sew blanket covers considered as “old cloth”.  Some of the T shirts have been used for the Ume blossoms, the autumn leaves and the background of the hydrangeas. Finally for Communication, I had used a wide range of secondary sources from the internet, including blogs, tutorial videos, websites with detailed procedures and pictures I actually took. However I might not be scoring high as the only interviewed primary source was the direct sewing lesson from my grandmother. As mentioned earlier, it might have been better if I could have interviewed a professional quilt teacher. I could also have interpreted some of the quilt designs in New York  and for example adapt some of those ideas for the background instead of four plain strips of patched cloth (Appendix H and Appendix I).

As an independent learner, I felt very proud of myself presenting my product to the students and parents at the Personal Project Exhibition. I received many questions especially from parents, about why I chose this topic, patchwork and quilting. I answered that I was originally interested in sewing so I wanted to try something new and large rather than making a small pouch with regular sewing. I also explained how the design represents the Japanese culture and the four seasons which most parents were able to understand instantly. But most of the questions were related to my goal, and especially ones related to the fabric I used and the purpose. I explained how I did not purchase any cloth for this project and only my old t-shirts, old bed covers and kimono fabric I received from my grandmother. I also said the purpose for this whole project was to identify the importance of reusing not only paper, but fabric as well and all the possible things you can make by cutting and stitching pieces of old fabric together. After the exhibition I felt I was able to accomplish a completely personal project which I started and managed by myself. Using this experience I will try to manage my time better as an individual, even during regular assessments like working little by little so I do not rush at the last minute. This would benefit my school life especially during the IBDP courses.

Appendices

Appendix A

Appendix B

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Appendix C - 1Appendix C - 2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Appendix D

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Appendix E - 1Appendix E - 2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Appendix FAppendix G

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Appendix H

 

 

 

 

 

 

Appendix I

 

 


Koto Kinuta Practice (2)

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Since the last post, I have been working on practicing these three sections in Kinuta as well as playing through the whole piece.

Again, the three parts I focused on were:

– page 2 line 4 2nd measure ~ page 2 line 4 last measure
– page 3 line 3 3rd measure ~ page 4 line 1 2nd measure
– page 4 line 2 3rd measure ~ line 3 2nd measure

The goal I set last time was “to be able to play these parts smoothly, and at least understand what to play especially the second section (page 3 line 3 3rd measure ~ page 4 line 1 2nd measure) where I have to flip the page while playing”. Compared to the last blog post where we just started playing Kinuta I think I have improved as I have not remembered most of the patterns and strings so I do not have to stare at the music for the whole time. By this I think my presses became a little bit earlier so the notes are being played at the right time, and I started thinking about whether I need to press more or less. In addition for page 3 line 3 3rd measure ~ page 4 line 1 2nd measure where I stated as most difficult as there is a page flip. Though through the practicing I started to memorize the notes until I did not have to look at the music. I believe my practice strategy, first playing slowly then increasing the pace until normal, worked well to support my goal as it not only helped me get used to getting the presses ready but also memorizing the notes faster as well. The more confident I was in playing the next note of the section, the smoother I was able to play.


Koto Kinuta Practice

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Now that we have finished some of our performances, we now moved on to practicing a piece called Kinuta in our Koto class.

I have been working especially hard on three sections which I have difficulty in playing:

– page 2 line 4 2nd measure ~ page 2 line 4 last measure
– page 3 line 3 3rd measure ~ page 4 line 1 2nd measure
– page 4 line 2 3rd measure ~ line 3 2nd measure

Before deciding on my 3 sections I need to work on, I played through the music once (at least the first movement) and chose three places that I especially was not able to play smoothly. Then I would take about 2~3 highlighters to identify areas of improvement,  highlight the patterns and changes I see or find there. My goal would be to be able to play these parts smoothly, and at least understand what to play especially the second section (page 3 line 3 3rd measure ~ page 4 line 1 2nd measure) where I have to flip the page while playing. In addition there are many presses in all of these sections which I need know so I do not miss the notes. The main ways I practice sections are first playing the sections note by note slowly, and gradually speeding up the tempo until it is at the normal tempo. Even if I was able to play the section without missing any notes once, I then try to play it without missing 3 times, then start playing from a measure before the section and see if I play it smoothly. If I could not, I will keep practicing, starting from the measure before. When I feel confident, I again try to play through the piece and test if I am really able to play.


World Tonality Music Composition

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While we were practicing many Koto pieces for performances, we looked at different music from countries other than Japan and their note scales; Arabic, Spanish, Malaysian, American (blues) and Egyptian. Our task was to compose a music on the koto using the note scales for these countries. I chose the Spanish scale also known as the Phrygian scale, focusing on the note D. First I looked for motifs on the internet, by searching for examples of Spanish music. After finding at least 3 motifs that are possible to use in my composition I started to compose the music. I decided to add a lot of repetition in the beats but changing the notes after repeating 2 ~ 3 times, since most of the Spanish music I listened to were using that pattern. In fact, my music sounded more spanish when I applied it. In addition, I added trills, with  crescendos and decrescendos (dynamics). I thought I was able to play some of the sounds (from the music) on the Koto by trill, and the dynamics made the sounds flow. But I have not focused much on the speed of the tempo which could be something I should improve on. I was first planning my music to start out slow and gradually get faster although I was unsure where to change speed. In the end I did not change the speed much, perhaps too slow to be heard as Spanish music.

 

 


Design PSA

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For the past few months we have been working on creating a PSA (Public Service Announcement) on some of the issues we find now. I have chose a topic that inform students are texting and chatting each other very often, and for long hours.

At the beginning of this unit, I decided to create a powerful Public Service Announcement (PSA) that talks about how people are talking on chat too often and for many hours. This is important since these days many youngsters especially are too focused on texting applications on their phones, and now days texting is becoming a very common and major way to communicate with each other. From the results of a survey I sent out to my grade, 20 people out of 29 people (who replied) use text more than video/voice calling and talking directly. Also the majority of students are on their phones texting for 1~2 hours every day. But there are many people who talks in person as much as chatting on text. From my personal research and from analysing other PSAs, I found that the important elements to create a powerful PSA are including visuals and audio effects such as speaking and background music if possible. Visuals such as text and videos are good to keep the audience focused on your PSA. For my actual PSA I am planning to create a story relating to situations for example at school where students use texting too because their friend is not in the same class as them. Also I see many students looking down at their phones after school too and texting to their friend for a long time. I think the audience will be more attracted to a story rather than just speaking in front of the camera especially for my topic since the audience needs to understand how much youngsters are texting on their phones as much as talking directly. Also the audience would hopefully have a strong image of my PSA if I create a very unique and interesting story that clearly explains the situation of my topic.

This is my video PSA.