Theater Changing Lives

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The set of “Painted.”

The biggest change for me between the school year to summer is that I go from being in the theater 15 hours a week to practically none at all. It’s a hard transition, and now that there are only a few weeks until school starts, I can’t wait to start my last season as an MVPAllStar.

I love going to NYC, because I always get to see at least one show, often more, and lucky for me, I’m in NYC now!!! I already have plans to see several shows this week. Tomorrow I think I’m seeing “Something Rotten” and “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime.” Plus this trip to NYC is extra special because I’m getting to be the assistant stage manager for a show called “Painted” that my aunt co-wrote, directed, and is performing in off Broadway.

It’s a one act short play that speaks about gender roles and how people should be able to express themselves however they want to. Her play is a part of a big event she helped create where lots of young adults will be exhibiting art work they did on the topic. The project started when my aunt and her friend spoke at her old performing arts school after a the Westboro Baptist Church came and protested outside the school.  After speaking at the school, she and her friend ended up creating an after school program and it’s now evolved into this big show Friday night!

I was at rehearsal all day today and am super excited for Friday because the show is really saying something important. I was running lights and sound after working on finishing the set today, which will never feel the same as actually being on stage myself, but I’m happy to be a part of the show and back in the theater in any way I can. I love the theater; it changes lives each and every day.

Times Are Changing


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(Disclaimer: this is a 20/20 and the first one in a while, where Kat and I read an article over the weekend then discuss for 20 minutes and write for the next 20 minutes.)

Kat and I read an article entitled “What Happens When Millennials Run the Workplace?” It talked about a lot of stereotypes about millennial’s and how they are “lazy, narcissistic, entitled, addicted to social media, and frank.” There was also a lot of talk about how the environment in the work force has changed into a more playful environment and how old traditions of how to properly act have changed. Over all I felt like the article reported a very negative view on Millennials; however, whether anyone likes it or not, the next generation is taking over and Millennials currently make up over 50% of the workforce.

Society is changing- that is irrefutable- but I don’t think it is a negative change unlike how it is presented in this article. Times are changing and therefore rules are changing too. Seniority no longer determines “rankings,” in fact companies  are now starting to do away with rankings and look at everyone on a team as an equal contributor of ideas; you are given more responsibility based on your demonstration of work, not just the amount of time you’ve spent with a company. This is a relatively new notion that Generation X seems to not be as comfortable with.

Generation X also seems mystified by the amount of time Millennials spend on social media sites. The article seems to make this seem negative, but I challenge that social media can and is used as a good thing. It is a way to make connections with people across the world, and a way to gain support for work your company is doing. Furthermore, social media can be used as a tool to help keep work together and go back and reflect upon how much has changed over time. Sure social media has a time and a place and shouldn’t be used all of the time, but again, the world is changing and if social media is the tool of the future then companies better get on board or the next generation will move on without them.

I also feel a tad disgruntled with the fact that Millennials are always seen as lazy, entitled, and narcissistic because I think this is a gross generalization. There are a lot of millennials changing the world in huge ways right now and doing things completely different from years passed. Lazy people don’t travel across the world to help solve problems like trying to decrease the number of deaths of babies around the world. And entitled, narcissistic people aren’t helpful on design teams making these incredible feats happen. Team and empathy work  need people that are dedicated to working with others and understanding how different people live in order to design for a changing world.

Millennials are the generation blurring boundaries and changing the status quo. We live in a changing world, and when the boundaries change then we change the game and the rules along with it. I don’t even know if I actually am a Millennial because every site seems to have a different age rang, but I do know that I’m living in a time of change and am often associated with a generation that has similar habits to those described above. Our generation isn’t perfect, but neither is any generation, and every generation always believes the next generation is doing radical things that shouldn’t be accepted in society. I just feel that Millennials are often bad mouthed in the way of the workforce, and yet there is a lot of good to come from this generation that often gets overlooked. Times are changing, people are changing, and change isn’t always bad.

 

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Individuality

images-1.jpgBeing a leader is hard. I’m the founder of Kemps Khaos Club at MVPS last year, though we were an un-offical club 2 years ago as well, and each year we’ve tried to improve our student-faculty card game tournament.

This year we set up the “Kemps Kouncil”  to help deal and organize all game times. However, trying to organize the Kouncil to make sure they organize the games is a whole other challenge. It’s been challenging mainly because usually I’m that kind of leader who, when something isn’t being done, I just do it myself to make sure it’s done. However, with Kemps, I’ve really been trying to let my team mates take that responsibility and just give them reminders to make sure it gets done. The hard part is when I get questions from teachers about when they are going to play their next game and all I can say is, “I don’t know, your dealer should be sending you an email soon…”

A lot of times when I’m on a team I end up in a leadership role. It’s just my personality and nature I guess, even in a letter I have from my preschool teachers it says, “When playing in a group setting, Anya prefers to be the leader but will allow other children to take over that role as well.”

In fact a lot of that letter is a surprisingly accurate description of how I still am today, which seems so weird considering I was 3 at the time this was written. I wonder how old we are when our fundamental personality traits start showing. How much do we really change over time? What traits start showing themselves earlier than others? What personality traits are more likely to change over time versus staying consistent through out a person’s life? What shapes our personality?

I feel like in high school one of the most common faced problems is someone feeling the need to be like someone else, rather than feeling comfortable with embracing who they are.  Everyone is an individual person with different personality traits. Some that are praised, and others which show our weaknesses, but they all make us, us. Our differences are what make us unique, special, noticed amongst the crowd.  At a wedding the bride is the one in a different dress. When trying to get someone’s attention you stand up to be spotted in the sitting crowd. In a sea of yellow flowers, it’s easy to spot the one that’s a radiant, ruby red.

For the amount of stress teenagers go through with trying to figure out “who am I?” I wonder what it would be like if schools placed more time and energy into helping students embrace their individuality. It’s a skill that will truly last a life time and be invaluable to success.

Individuality is important to me, and it’s something I see people struggle with all the time which makes me sad, frustrated, and oddly ignited. HMW help people feel comfortable being themselves? It’s a question that’s been asked by people for centuries, so why does it seem that not much has changed- I mean if the question is still being asked, clearly the problem hasn’t been solved. Why not? Are we asking the right question? Are we tackling the problem the right way? Are we communicating and working with the right people?

I feel the designer inside of me burning with questions and a sense of agency to take action in some way or form yet I simply don’t know where to start, so I’m starting with these questions. Hopefully something will come from them.

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The Mysterious Men

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(PS. There are a few spoilers in this post about The Great Gatsby and .)

While reading The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald, I’ve been constantly changing my mind about liking or disliking various characters. I think that’s part of the goal of the book though; Fitzgerald wants you to see these people as real people who have their good and bad moments.

The hard part of making opinions on these characters is that I can’t personally relate to most of them, and I know this book only captures some crumbs of their life story.

The character I found most interesting was Mr. Gatsby himself. I think I found him interesting for the exact reason that Fitzgerald wants you to find him interesting: he’s full of mystery. His life story practically changes every time it gets talked about.

When first meeting Gatsby, Nick doesn’t even realize that he is talking to Gatsby. Then when Gatsby walks off Nick tries to ask Jordan about who he is, but Jordan’s response is simply, “He’s just a mad named Gatsby,” because she doesn’t believe the story she was told (Fitzgerald 48). No one knows the true story of Gatsby. It isn’t until chapter 6 that Nick finally discusses the true story of Gatsby, who’s real name is actually James Gatz, and he doesn’t even actually learn that story until close to the end of Gatsby’s life. (Not going to lie, but I didn’t fully understand that they were the same person until a good few pages later.)

What I realized is that the mysterious character of Gatsby it common in many books. Most notably it reminded me of Boo Radley from To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. Both characters are very closed off with a  constantly debated and gossiped past. In fact many people suspect them of murder or some other horrible crime.

However, these mysterious characters somehow always manage to be a huge part of the main character’s lives by the end of the story. Gatsby dies and Nick seems to be his only friend to plan the funeral, and Boo saves Scott’s life. We learn that the characters that once seemed dangerous and unknown are, in reality, just complex people that you have to get to know well in order to understand them.

I think humans have a certain fondness towards mystery and particularly towards mysterious people. It’s our natural instinct to be curious that makes us enjoy the mysteries of life.

Starting a Story

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I had completely forgotten that I would not have Wifi for the week of Christmas while I was up at my family’s cottage in Pennsylvania. Therefore, I was sadly not able to blog, but I was writing down ideas through out the week so now it’s time to catch up!

It was weird not having wifi because so much of what I would typically work on, when I finally have time, requires the internet: blogging, twitter, reading articles, researching things, etc. However, it was kind of nice to not have the internet because it forced me to just relax with family since there was no way for me to do that kind of stuff. Plus I got to spend a while reading, which I haven’t really gotten to do in a while!

I love the feeling of finishing a book, especially when you have another already waiting to be read. With it finally being winter break I’ve actually been able to read just for fun for the first time in forever!!!

Back in the summer, which feels like so long ago now, I had started a rather easy book called “Kingdom Keepers” which is about Disney World after hours and these 5 kids that have to battle evil Disney villains. I started the book because it looked interesting since I love Disney so much, and over the summer I had been reading a lot of “thinky” books as I call them because they were those kinds of books that you can only read for so long before needing to stop and digest, so I wanted to read something fun and easy that didn’t make me think so much.

However, I started the book so late into summer that I didn’t get a chance to finish before school started, and then I didn’t have time to read my fun easy book. But once winter break started, I decided I would read nothing else until first finishing that book.

 And I did.

 In 1 day.

(I did say it was an easy book… Those last 150 pages I had left felt like nothing.)

After finishing that book (which is actually the first in a series, so I really want to start the next one…), I decided to start The Great Gatsby since I need to read that before school starts again. Reading this book is actually the only “assignment” I have for the winter break. The funny part is that I self assigned it along with Kat for our AP Lang course. We both wanted to read the book because everyone is always talking about it being a great book, so naturally we got curious as to what the big fuss it. Plus many English teachers often end up assigning it, so we thought it was a book that we definitely needed to read.

When I started reading the book I actually thought the main narrator was a girl. I don’t know what lead me to this belief, but it wasn’t until about 3 pages in that I finally went, “Wait a minute. This guy is a guy. This changes everything!”

My instinctual conclusion made me wonder if we naturally assume a narrator is like ourselves; therefore, in my case that would make this narrator a girl at first. I mean the role of the narrator is to help move the story forward and converse with the audience. They are the one character that always is breaking the 4th wall and typically they can be played by any type of person. This is because who the narrator is, is often less important than what the narrator is saying. So it makes sense that we would naturally want to relate with the narrator as much as possible.

However this isn’t always the case. Some stories have the narrator being a person who is actually in the story, making every narration like a mini soliloquy where the character tells you about how they were feeling on the inside, during or after a particular situation occurs.

The type of narration can really change a story because it changes the perspective in which you hear a story from. When you change the perspective you get an entirely different story. That’s why stories like Malificent and Wicked are so popular, because they tell you an old story from a new perspective, which changes the story in ways that make you question what is the “truth”.

The beginnings of stories fascinate me because in those first pages you can discover what type of book you are about to read based on the perspective it is told from. In The Great Gatsby, the narrator is also the main character, Nick. Right from the beginning you are able to tell that this story will be a reflective piece about a time in Nick’s life where exciting and life changing events took place.

However, not everything about the beginnings of a story is so great. In fact, they are often long and sometimes drag on without much excitement for a while because the backstory has to be set before the story can really get interesting.

The Great Gatsby has been one of those books that hasn’t gotten too terribly interesting yet. I haven’t reached that point where I can’t put it down until I finish it quit yet. So I am still on the hunt to figure out “What’s the big deal about The Great Gatsby; why has it become such a staple in high school literature?”

A World Demanding Creativity

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“A society’s competitive advantage will come not from how well its schools teach the multiplication and periodic tables, but from how well they stimulate imagination and creativity.” Albert Einstein said these great words over 60 years ago, and yet in todays’ 21st century, America has still been in what is commonly known as “The Creativity Crisis” as described in Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman’s article published in Newsweek in 2010. Their findings, based on the widely taken Torrance Test which tests for someone’s “Creativity Quotient” (CQ), show that the American public has had a significant decrease in it’s CQ scores since 1990. However, at the same time that this Creativity Crisis is taking place, leading businesses are craving creative and innovative people, as shown from an IBM poll taken in 2010 of 1,500 CEOs. This disconnect between what America wants in the workforce and what America’s CQ scores are leads to the question of, “How might we raise America’s CQ scores?”  That is, how might we have more Americans that are proficient at going through a process of the exploration and creation of something new? A start would be to examine our education programs to assure that we as a country are setting the conditions for people to be successful. Schools are meant to prepare students with the knowledge and skills to be successful in the world. With our world craving creative people with innovative ideas, it is imperative for schools to allot time in their school day for students to explore creative outlets and passions.

By allotting this time in the day, students can be more prepared to get jobs in the companies that they are interested in working for. One of the “big dogs” of American companies is Google, with about 1 in every 4 young professionals wanting to work there. When trying to get a job at Google, it is helpful to know that interviewers are looking for applicants that go through a creative thinking process. For example an applicant may be asked, “How many piano tuners are there in Chicago?” The interviewer is not looking for the answer to this question, because there is no exact answer, instead the interviewer is looking to see how the applicant thinks through the problem and hoping to see the applicant go through a creative, yet logical, process to arrive at an answer. If schools hope for their students to be competitive in the workforce at places like Google, then schools must prepare students to be creative thinkers while problem solving– even if the problem seems impossible to solve.

In school, students are tasked to learn and mast content which lays out the foundation for the logical side to any process, but there is  another side to this process: the creative side. To answer seemingly impossible problems like those that arise in the “real world”, you must have a basic understanding of facts along with the creative confidence to quickly discern what things you think you need to know in order to arrive at an answer.

This creative confidence isn’t something that some people are born with and others are not; it is developed over time through experience and guidance. Students need mentors to help them develop their creative confidence, and school provides an opportune time for students to receive this mentorship, and not just from teachers. Just like how chemistry classes do lab work in order to better understand how chemical equations work, what if all students were given the opportunity to enroll in a“real world” lab? Imagine if in this “real world” lab students were working alongside business leaders, entrepreneurs, and nonprofits to tackle work that matters. Work that might not be in a textbook. Through these “real world” labs, students could develop relationships with these game-changers that may lead to long lasting mentorship. Schools need to begin developing relationships with members in the local community because this real world experience will build confidence in students, so they can be empowered to be agents of change in today’s world. School currently communicates that students have to wait to make a difference. They have to wait to be told what to do. They have to wait to get their graded test back. What if we didn’t want to wait?

Some schools already have programs set in place to allow students school time to work on creative pursuits and passions, and their students are working on some mind blowing things. Some notable examples are High Tech High in California, The Independence Project at Monument Mountain Regional High School in Massachusetts, and Mount Vernon Presbyterian School’s Innovation Diploma in Atlanta, Georgia. Students from these schools have done things like making their school more environmentally sustainable, cooking a meal for over 80 people, designing a picture of a historical character using math and technology, writing a novel, partnering with organizations like the Center for Disease Control on “real world” problems, and consulting with industry leaders to tackle complex challenges.

These schools exemplify that it is possible for schools to give students time to focus on creativity and passion finding during school time. Not only is it possible, but the students that are given this time in school have been advantageous in a world craving creative people. Imagine if all American schools had this time for creativity and passion finding. Imagine how much the American creative quotient scores could raise. Imagine how many more creative solutions America could be generating to solve big problems in our world today. The world demands creative people, so to solve the Creativity Crisis the world should also demand that schools, with their mentors and resources, provide the time for students to explore creative endeavors and personal passions in order to develop their creative confidence before it’s too late.