Category Archives: Outlook

Teaching Men To Fish (Metaphorically): Pondering the Educational System

By Autumn Palen

A few days ago, standing across the kitchen island from my roommate, we discussed what our TED Talks would be, were we given the chance to have one. I talked about potentially studying the correlation between old parents and nerdy kids. Hers was much better. She had one in mind right off the bat, apparently having already pondered over it for quite a while.

My roommate works as a volunteer teacher throughout the week, helping 2nd and 3rd graders learn the fundamentals of science and math. Her TED Talk, as she had intricately sketched out in her mind, would focus on the inadequacies of the educational system. She had particularly noticed that many teachers of scientific subjects — Chemistry, Physics, Biology — teach facts, figures, and solutions, but not how to arrive at these conclusions. This method of teaching is all fine and good for passing quizzes and tests, but is detrimental to the future individual development of knowledge in these fields. Students know what the answers are because they’ve memorized them, but many may be incapable of finding the answer on their own, or knowing why the answer is found in a particular way.

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Chinese New Year Away From Home

By Colette Au

Chinese New Year, arguably the most important event in the Chinese calendar, is a momentous occasion in Chinese culture. As an American-born Chinese (ABC), I have celebrated this tradition for as long as I can remember. We feasted on steamed fish garnished with green onions and ginger slices, and New Year’s cake: a steamed, chewy sweet made from glutinous rice flour, slab sugar, and water. At night, my parents would leave the lights in our house on. Perhaps a long time ago, superstitions dictated that the house should be lit to guide the gods of good luck and prosperity, but now the tradition persists as the lore has faded away. For me, celebrating Chinese New Year has always been about eating together with my family. Receiving red packets with crisp dollar bills inside is an added perk, but after leaving home and moving to USC, I miss the familiar foods we used to celebrate the new year.

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What a little girl in Cambodia showed me about the harsh reality of volunteer trips

By Megan Wong

Heavy torrential rain poured down on us as the children ran around their school playground, which consisted of three mangled tires placed sparingly across the uneven field. As they skidded down what had become a mud slide, they hauled us along, all the while screaming with glee. All of a sudden, a tiny girl came leaping towards me, enveloping me in a hug; Sam and I had become fast friends on our first day at the school. Gesturing for me to follow, she grabbed my hand, laughing as we ran into the gathering room to dry off. Around me, I saw my classmates engaged in the same process, playing with the children they had formed connections with, while cleaning themselves up. Laughter and friendship were in the muggy air. I had never laughed, or smiled as much in a place than I had during that trip, especially fitting seeing as we were in the ‘land of smiles’. Looking around, I was in disbelief that we were already halfway through our trip.

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