Just wanted to post a small one here ( which is very strange for me!!!! ) Its been a year since I started writing on this blog and I wanted to thank all the people who have read, reviewed and commented on my posts. I love writing here about my thoughts, and the response to them has been awesome!!! To all my fellow bloggers, students, prospective students and non-students who read this blog,
This past Friday I planned to leave my last class, take the bus to my car, drive to our apartment building, park along the street while I finished packing, load the car, and drive home. I found a few kinks in my plan. I left class about 15 minutes after it ended (normally @ 12:05) because I was talking to my prof about Marie Antoinette and the necklace affair. (it's a class on the French Revolution and Napoleon) Anyway, I finally left and walked down to the closest Blue Loop bus stop. I watched a squirrel run around in the snow on top of a bush while I waited for the bus, the third one to arrive was a Blue Loop. I hoped on and settled in for the ride around campus. It dropped me off near the long term parking and I walked the rest of the way up the hill towards the lot. As I walked along the parked cars on my way to Shamrock(my car), I noticed other students clearing off their cars. Luckily I kept an ice scraper in my passengers door and had remembered to bring along snow-playing gloves and was wearing boots. I clicked the key fob to unlock the doors but nothing happened, she does that sometimes so I manually opened the passengers' side door and dropped off my bookbag and picked up the ice scraper. Luckily, much of the snow had melted and only the trunk and windshield really had piles. I cleaned most of it off but because there was so much snow along the drivers side and the front I couldn't really reach the middle of the hood (I'm short btw). I decided to back her up and then finish cleaning the hood so I tried to unlock the driver's door but it wouldn't work. I climbed through from the passengers' door and pulled on the handle to unlock it, then went back around and hopped in. I kicked off the snow from my boots, took off the mittens, stuck the key in the ignition and turned. Nothing happened. Period. Nothing. Not even a failing attempt at starting. Absolutely nothing. Drat. Now what do I do? It's about 1pm, I was hoping to leave by then, I still had to get back to York and meet my mother at Sam's so we could get supplies for the apartment. Well, let's think about this. The doors wouldn't open, the car won't start. I think the battery is probably dead. What do you do for a dead battery? Jump start the car! I have oil, phone books, an emergency bag of chips, napkins, plastic fork and spoon, spare tire... all sorts of things in my trunk. No jumper-cables. I had seen a guy cleaning off his car and pushing away his snow with his sneakers, I think I'll walk back up and see if he's still there. I did and he was. I asked him if he had jumper cables and nearly gave him a huge hug. He had just put them in his trunk the weekend before! :) I helped him finish cleaning his windshield, hopped in, and directed him towards Shamrock who was patiently waiting to be brought back to life. We opened our hoods and got out the cables. He double checked online with his phone to make sure we did it right. We hooked up his car with engine running and then attached the other ends to my battery, waited a few minutes and I tried the ignition. It worked!!!!! Shamrock was alive!!! I drove back to the apartment, i would rather not have stopped but I had to get my bags and I'm not about to leave my car running unattended with the keys in the ignition, I love her too much. I parked and called Daddy, he said that I should be ok since I had driven for about 15 minutes, I had to hurry and get back out to start the car. I turned off the car, plugged the meter (this was difficult because I had mostly Canadian coins in my jeans pocket and hadn't realized it)and ran inside. I started packing like crazy, trying not to forget anything. I took the first load out, my laundry hamper (laundry at home is free and I don't have to wait for a machine) and my bookbag. Next I brought out my hanging dress bag (I was going to a Yacht Club Ball in MD) and my little rolling suitcase. I hurried back upstairs, signed on to check some last minute email, had some leftover mac and cheese (it'd be a while till I could have dinner and I knew I couldn't stop on the road). I took the last load down, my computer bag and purse. Loaded the car, hopped in, turned the ignition. She tried, it didn't work. Now I'm somewhat pissed, my car is loaded, the meter is running out, I need a jumpstart. There's a gas station beside my building so I ran across the road to the two cars who were filling up. The first, a girl, didn't have any jumper cables but she did have a card for a company that would come do it (I didn't have much time to wait so I told her I'd ask the other guy first but thanks). The guy with the Jeep had jumper cables! :) He drove over and parked hood to hood with Shamrock. Same process, hook up his car while running, hook up Shamrock. He revved the engine a few times, wiggled the clamps a little to get a good contact and Shamrock came to life again. I called Daddy, Mommy and Paul, texted my roommate, best friend, and my brother. I was on my way. Luckily I had filled up the gas tank the last time I had driven into State College so I had a full tank, I drove directly to Sam's in York where both parental units met me, Daddy had already bought a battery and put my name in the queue. I handed the guys my keys and went shopping for soda, granola bars, and beef jerky with Mommy while Daddy watched them install the battery in an effort to 'learn something'. We checked out, picked up the keys, loaded Mommy's van and I walked towards Shamrock. She started!!! She had come back to life and been saved :) Thank you to the two Penn State students who helped a fellow student in need without ever even exchanging names or asking questions and to Sam's for having car batteries and installing them on the spot.
In case any of you aren't aware, Montreal, Canada, is absolutely frigid. If you ever find yourself venturing up North be sure to bring along a parka, snowboots, fluffy socks, gloves, hat (the Russian kind), earmuffs, scarves, sweaters, extra leggings (for under the pants) as well as anything else you may think of. This past weekend I ventured up North to Canada for the first time ever with the Penn State International Affairs and Debate Association (PSIADA) here at University Park. It was quite an adventure starting out with a 10 hour car ride taking up most of Wednesday. I drove for about 4 of those hours and maybe 1 1/2 -2 were taken up in breakfast, lunch and driver switching stops. Luckily the weather held out (I've heard that it can get very messy and take until after midnight to arrive!) and we reached the Montreal hostel around 5. McMUN is McGill University's Model United Nations Conference, its one of the largest in the world, this year there were 1,500 delegates present from various Universities. The conference is held in the Sheraton, only about 2 blocks from the hostel (which is much cheaper than the Sheraton's $250 per night). We had 10 people in two attached rooms sharing one bathroom, quite an adventure I must say (luckily only three of us were girls and since I shower at night that left two for the morning). The walk isn't far at all but once you venture out into the cold for about 30 seconds you felt it, even in boots the toes go numb, even with gloves, the fingers go numb. I highly recommend wearing layers something like this: scarf wrapped around the neck and pulled up over the nose, on top of that place earmuffs, finally the Russian hat with ear flaps down and secured under the chin (outside of the scarf). That just might keep your nose and ears from falling off (think about bringing goggles for your eyes). Back to the conference itself: Penn State was chosen to represent Yemen and Tuvalu in various international committees as well as President Obama in the G20 Summitt (that means we beat out West Point, Georgetown, York, Toronto, et cetera Go PSU!). I represented Yemen in the Organization of the Islamic Committee (OIC) among such countries as...Iran, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Russia (not a voting member), Palestine, Syria...you get the idea. We passed 6 total resolutions on two topics (Combating Islamophobia and the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict) but I'll have to tell you all about those some other time. My classes may be finished for the day but now it's time to write the Delegate Guide for the Godfather Committee for PUNC 2010 (PSIADA's Model UN Conference). Enjoy the snow!
It is a little known fact that most people in a metropolis like Mumbai in India do not have the time to look about and even at their own feet while going about their daily businesses in the local trains, buses, and even while walking from the nearby tea vendor back to their offices. The maximum effort that the normal working person will make here is to look down at his/her watch to check the time. Its normal one might suppose, to not focus on anything else and to mind one’s business. But yet, there is always time to curse why there are so many problems in life- why does India have so much political corruption? Why does the average Indian have to be so behind in the standard of living as compared to the ‘developed’ world? Why, must there be so much poverty, so much chaos, so much terrorism? The answer to all these questions, which of course are not found by pondering over them on the way to work, may be found by simply taking the time to just tilt the head a bit towards the ground, not look at the wristwatch, and instead look into the eyes of the little girl who has been standing for ten minutes tugging at one’s trousers in the hope of getting some coins to buy lunch.
Today, India is recognized as a nation about to make the huge step of becoming a true superpower. But what kind of superpower are we talking about here? If it is in terms of population, yes, India is certainly up there! But what happens to all these kids? Very few of the nation’s youth actually is lucky enough to obtain that golden chance to at least be able to read ‘The Jungle Book’ by Kipling, let alone be able to obtain a degree in Information Sciences and Technology at Penn State. Different education ministers come and go in the government, each establishing their own systems with their own personal political agendas mixed in, dividing educational privileges on lines of caste, religion and states, ultimately making the little child about to enter the big, bad world of schooling feel as if committing suicide is a better option than this slow torturous death. Greed on behalf of educational institutions for tuition, and stingy practices of hiring substandard professors to teach outdated syllabi, unrealistic and unrelenting pressure from parents…. The little girl tugging at one’s jeans has a far easier and stress free life doing what she does. And well justified from her viewpoint now isn’t it?
The reason behind so many of India’s youth not contributing to progress is certainly not a lack of ability or intelligence. Says Sylvia Menzes, a student at Penn State York - “ It has been fascinating to get to know more about students from India ever since the Initiative program began. Certainly its obvious that they have so much natural talent and appear to handle the education system here with ease”. Thus the fault lies not with the student, but with the kind of encouragement that the student gets in India. Those who are kids of rich parents living in posh South Mumbai can certainly afford the sky-high tuition of the ‘good’ colleges, but what about those who are forced to learn at one of the pathetically resourceless government colleges? Walls covered in mould, wooden benches falling apart, a professor who is on a Rs.1000 a month ($20) salary, and one has an experience which is enough to keep education on the back burner for the rest of one’s long life ahead. Why should begging and stealing be bad options then? After all, its better than wasting time listening to a politician’s false promises of good education and jobs. Why must terrorism and hateful thoughts of killing these corrupt government officials then be condemned in our ‘civilized’ news channels? If society was truly civilized, different educational systems would be unified into one (making use of all the good things from international systems such as the American method), education would be free of politics, government colleges would have the best of infrastructure, coursework and syllabi for subjects would be up to date, and people seeking jobs in teaching and staff in educational institutions would not be made to feel like substandard garbage.
Fortunately there is hope. It has taken some time, but after several years of effort, organizations such as Teach For India, Akanksha, The Miracle Foundation and even traditional schools such as the Ambani International School have made headway into solving India’s educational crisis. Teach For India, which is a sister organization of Teach For America, focuses on bringing together a group of focused individuals from all professional fields of study, to come and make a commitment to go into lower income schools, impart the right kind of education to all students, irrespective of economic status, caste, religion, color, and state. It trains these young innovators in specialized methods of teaching, and places them directly in schools. After placing its first batch of teachers in June 2009, the second major batch will start teaching this June of 2010. (TeachforIndia 2010) It’s comforting to know that the very youth who have gone through the very rigors of the educational torture system are now willing to make the change themselves, unlike leaving the task to others as has happened in the past. It was exactly the old theory of thinking which corrupt people such as Laloo Prasad Yadav, Bal Thackeray, Raj Thackeray, Mamta Bannerjee, Narendra Modi (the list goes on and on) have exploited for their own vested interests. In a true democracy, the world’s largest in fact, there needs to be true change coming from the common man. Teach For India, and indeed Teach For America, deserves a huge pat on the back for daring to do what so many have shied away from doing. And it is not only the common man who is realizing that change is desperately needed. The personalities and figures that everyone in India recognizes and idolizes more than politicians, Bollywood actors, are also getting in the act. Aamir Khan, with his team of young and fresh actors and film-makers (Rang De Basanti, Taare Zameen Par-Like Stars on Earth, 3 Idiots) (Khan 2010) along with authors such as Chetan Bhagat( Five Point Someone, One Night at the call center) (Bhagat 2010) have made India watch and listen to the current educational crisis and how society reacts to them. These efforts have helped increase the mass awareness of the gravity of the situation. There still needs a lot of work to be done. Teach For India and Aamir Khan can only do so much in the end. But it’s a much needed start, not only for India, but to the rest of world as well, who no doubt faces the same problems. The proper education of our children is the key to the world’s survival. Maybe that would be our weapon of choice to end terrorism. Maybe that would make us bend down to that little girl and ask her about her name and where she lives. It is definitely not that hard to get an A in that easy subject of Humanity, is it?
Works Cited Bhagat, Chetan. chetanbhagat.com. 2010. http://www.chetanbhagat.com/books/ (accessed February 2/1/2010, 2010). Khan, Aamir. IMDB. 2010. http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0451148/ (accessed February 2/1/2010, 2010). TeachforIndia. 2010. http://www.teachforindia.org/media_picture_fellows.php (accessed February 2/1/2010, 2010). TeachforIndia. What we do: TeachforIndia . 2010. http://www.teachforindia.org/history.php (accessed February 2/1/2010, 2010).
Welcome to Penn State York’s Blog! In this blog, you can read about and comment on the daily lives of some Penn State York students and admissions counselors. Choosing a college is one of the most important decisions you’ll ever make, and we’re hoping to help you with that choice by giving you insider access to our staff and students. You’ll be able to find out firsthand what goes on inside a Penn State York classroom, and equally importantly, you’ll learn what happens outside the classroom! You will have the opportunity to meet and get to know some of our students and talk to them about some of your college concerns.
The views and opinions expressed in this blog are solely the views and opinions of the writer and do not represent the views and opinions of Penn State York, The Pennsylvania State University, or any of its employees.