Thursday, December 12, 2013

Final Blog Reflection

          This semester has been quite an interesting and trying experience; it's my final semester at this school and my final semester of student teaching. Would I do things the same way again? Probably not. Having to take college courses while going through student teaching (four periods) at a middle school is not something I would recommend to anyone. Honestly, if I had to do it again, I would finish my courses before taking student teaching. If I had that luxury that is....Ha ha. I really enjoyed this course, which solidified the importance of including varying modalities in the teaching process, in particular the use of technology in instruction. I enjoyed exploring the projects we did, including the two essays, the two presentations, and the poetry writing assignment. At the beginning of the semester, I was a little nervous about the poetry writing assignment, because it was a creative writing project. I honestly do not remember the last time I ever wrote anything creatively. The last few years, as an English literature major and student teacher candidate, I only wrote response to literature and synthesis essays. Honestly, I went into the process with apprehension, but I came out stronger for it.
          The collaborative group presentations, the mythology and the media literacy projects, were fun, interactive projects. I felt comfortable with the project because I was so used to making lesson plans all year long. The most challenging aspect of any collaborative project, in my opinion, is the collaboration aspect of it. The reason being that it is really hard to gather a group of people together to work on anything. Communication and easy schedules are key! The teaching aspect of the presentations was a little challenging too because you really had to think about understanding and mastering the material in order to teach it to anyone. I think I enjoyed the World Myth project a little more than the Media Literacy presentation, because, as I have mentioned before, I am a huge fan of Greek and Norse mythology. The moment I realized we were doing a Myth project, I immediately zeroed in on Tricksters and my favorite, Loki. I have to admit that I did enjoy reading the Native American myths of Coyote and all his mischievous deeds.
          The world text analysis paper was the most challenging assignment of this semester. Connecting Lost in Translation to the provided sources was not a simple task, because of two reasons. One, I'm not sure I even enjoyed Lost in Translation. This was my second time watching the film, but I never fully grasped the reason why it was so critically acclaimed. I didn't find any of the characters likeable or relateable. The whole time I was watching the film, I couldn't help thinking “OH MY GOD FIRST WORLD PROBLEMS.” In other words, I felt the characters Bob and Charlotte to be self-absorbed and miserable for no significant reason. Second, the film didn't lend itself to be easily connected to my favorite of the sources, Martin's Risk Management Theories. It did, however, lend itself to the theories on Cultural and Urban Space, which I did find extremely interesting. I'm always fascinated by the American/Asian cultural divide that I see on screen as well as experience in my own life. As a Korean-American, I do find myself expected to fill a different role depending on the company I keeps. With other Koreans, especially older generation Koreans, I am expected to act a certain way due to my gender and age. The first questions I'm usually asked is when I am expected to marry. I think there's definitely a different expectation in America. It's much more accepted if I decide to put career first. Actually, rather than the actual decision, my own decision making process is accepted.
          I also really enjoyed keeping a personal blog. I think having a blog to publish my own essays and reflections really helped focus me during the semester. I also enjoyed finding cute pictures to post with those reflections or essays. I would definitely consider introducing the same thing to my own group of future students. I think the blog is a great choice because it keeps all assignments in one place and has a low chance of getting lost. (One of the things that I was surprised about during my semester at middle school was how easily students lose their papers!) The blog could also create a place for students to collaborate easily and give feedback. Individual blogs could also give students opportunity to be creative and express themselves through web design and blog content.
          Overall, English 495 ESM was a fun and interactive course. I genuinely enjoyed Dr. Wexler's taste in texts and presentations, and found them all relevant; I would utilize many of what I have learned in my own classes, such as the individual blogs and media in education. I wish everyone good luck on their finals and a Happy Holidays !

Monday, December 9, 2013

World Text Essay - Lost in Translation and Cultural/Urban Space

Eun Hae Lee
Dr. Wexler
English 495 ESM
09 December 2013

Lost in Spaces
          Lost in Translation, a dramatic film by Sophia Copolla, follows an aging actor, Bob, who is dissatisfied about his current nonexistent career and situation in life. He is an American living in Japan, shooting a commercial for Japanese whiskey. Bob is closed off to the new cultural experiences Japan has to offer, becoming frustrated by the lack of communication in his professional and personal life due to cultural and language boundaries. He spends the first half of the film "lost," as per the tittle of the film; Bob is literally lost in the middle of this big Japanese city (Tokyo) and he is essentially lost in himself because he is unsure of how he should live the rest of his life and what path he should take. His tone soon changes when he meets Charlotte, a young American wife who followed her husband's work to Japan who is as equally displaced as he is. The film depicts the theories in "Cultural Space and Urban Space: The New World Disorder" which defines space as a “construction and material manifestation of social relations which reveals cultural assumptions and practices.” The film explores the cultural space in regards to Bob and Charlotte's gender roles in Japanese society in contrast with American society. The film also explores the urban space in Japan's metropolitan city of Tokyo which closely resembles New York City. Lost in Translation also depicts the city as a source of Western contamination as explored in Randy Martin's “Where Did The Future Go?”

          The theory of the cultural space categorizes the different spaces, or spheres, into roles that men and women take in society. Women are delegated to the domestic sphere, of the "private" sector, whereas men are of the "public " sector. Essentially, women are expected to stay home and tend to family needs while men work outside the home, usually in the political world. The modern world, especially in America where women received the right to vote in 1920, is always struggling with the balance and occupants of these spaces. American women work in the public sector while some men also stay in the private space. There still is no complete gender equality in America, but there is a significant advantage for women rights in America over Japan, where tradition rules. This struggle/problem can be seen with Charlotte, the young American wife with a Harvard degree, in Japan due to her husband's work, a celebrity photographer who is oblivious to his wife's growing boredom and loneliness.
          Bob and Charlotte's encounters and loneliness is set in the backdrop of Tokyo, Japan, a city that has as much character and life as the human characters that dwell in it. Ernest Burgess in “Cultural Space and Urban Space: The New World Disorder” defines Urbanism as “a way of life, social existence.” Wirth defines Urbanism as a “large number of people in close proximity without knowing each other.” Indeed, a key image from the movie is when Bob wanders the city of Tokyo, utterly alone, while random faces and figures walk past and around him. As such, a key figure and character of this character named the “city” appears to be loneliness, something both Bob and Charlotte and the many faceless inhabitants suffer from. Urbanism is also depicted as something of a Western infection or contamination as explore in Martin's “Where Did The Future Go?” in which Martin's obvious Marxist influences and ideals of the city as an American institution. The film juxtaposes traditional Japan with its Western influences. However, the film seems to show the darker side of Western influence by showing us scenes that are displaced in traditional Japanese society. For example, when Charlotte finds Bob in a strip club was somewhat shocking, especially in comparison to the scene of a traditional Japanese wedding just a few minutes before. The film explores this idea of Urbanism, but casts a negative light on it, depicting Urbanism as a lonely and seedy existence.

          Lost in Translation features a middle aged man and a young woman who are similar in their isolation and loneliness. Bob and Charlotte, the man and woman, are portrayed as being something akin to “soul mates,” where they have a connection of the heart and soul rather than a physical attraction. The film depicts their meeting as being fated, as the only real and warm thing found in the lonely artificial construct of the city. In the Urban space that creates loneliness and the cultural space that leaves them confused and lost in translation, Bob and Charlotte find a true space where they could belong in each other. However, the end of the film sends a mixed message regarding this connection, because Bob has to return to his life and family while Charlotte has her husband. The film ends with them separating to go back to the life they have found unbearable. Perhaps life is simply existing in the space that we find ourselves in, finding meaning in the brief encounters we may have.

Works Cited

Harvey et al. Cultural Space and Urban Place. California State University Northridge. Web. 9 Dec. 2013.

Lost in Translation. Dir. Sofia Coppola. Perf. Bill Murray, Scarlett Johansson. Focus Features, 2003. Film.

Martin, Randy. “Where Did the Future Go?” Logos 5.1, 2006. Web. 9 Dec. 2013.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Weekly Reflection 12/2/13

          This week everyone will participate in another peer review; this time on our World Text Essays relating Lost in Translation to one of the related readings. I am honestly having a hard time with the essay because I never really enjoyed Lost in Translation. This is the second time I'm watching this movie and I think the reason is because I just didn't want to see Bob and Charlotte be miserable when they had so much. Honestly, first world problems anyone? <_<;; Oh boohoo, I went to a great college but now I'm bored in Japan...oh boohoo I'm an actor that still books commercials! Okay I might be too harsh, but really?! Anyways, I think the movie didn't do as good of a job depicting the dark urban space that Tokyo, Japan has. I didn't really come away from the film having really learned anything about Japan. I only learned about how it was to be a foreigner in a different country.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Weekly Reflection 11/25/13

          I have this whole week off from student teaching due to Thanksgiving week. Hallelujah! I really need the week off because I'm pretty much at the end of the rope with my stamina regarding this semester. In regards to the texts we had to read regarding the World Text essay, I really enjoyed Martin's theories on risk management. I never really thought of myself as being "at risk" because I'm a university student. If you really think about it though, it makes sense. I also never really thought about how TAs are now teaching more lower division course because they cost less to maintain. These classes were originally taught by professionals with degrees, and it really brings up the questions of the quality of education we are receiving for our buck. It also brings up the question of college itself; is it a risk worth taking? Many students come out of school in debt and many of them don't manage to get out of debt years later. Many remain in debt. In fact, our nation is a country of debt!

Monday, November 18, 2013

Weekly Reflection 11/18/13

          Today everyone presented their Media Literacy projects. I really enjoyed everyone's contribution to the class; I took away many new ideas to fill my own teaching toolbox with. I really thought teaching history through video games was a great concept. If I ever taught history, I would definitely teach it through strategy games that use the same statistics from the Civil War. I also enjoyed my own group member contributions. I thought Yasmine's website,, was really cute. The website did a great job incorporating real world issues, such as hunger and poverty, by allowing students to contribute without having to pay any money. Just by playing games and doing educational exercises online, they can give away free rice to people in need. I thought that was a wonderful idea. Jason's contribution,, where students can exercise ALL parts of the brain was illuminating in that  I never thought about working out the entire brain to increase abilities in one subject area. Amanda's website that helps students with basic grammar skills was also very useful in that a future teacher could allow students to gain strength in basic skills they would not have time to catch up on in class.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Weekly Reflection 11/4/13

          Today we picked brand new groups to work on our Media Presentations. I ended up working with Yasmine again which is wonderful because she is a delight to work with. Our group quickly decided to each find educational games we would use in our classroom (an imaginary 10th grade class). I remember playing something called nationstates a while back, and I remember it being really fun and educational. It really taught me that my decisions can have extreme consequences! LOL. I remember that when I decided to halt production to this shopping mall to help save my national animal, the bushy squirrels, my economy imploded. Not only that, but the population of the busy squirrel exploded and people were running into them everywhere! WHAT?! I only wanted to save a cute animal! Who knew that a simple decision could have so many consequences. I really think a text-based game such as nationstates could benefit the students in my class. They would learn about responsibility and cause/effect. They would also learn about how governments work.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Weekly Reflection 10/28/13

          We presented our project on tricksters today (with a heavy emphasis on Loki <3 ). I pushed our group to explore the story about Loki, and we all voted yes on it. Turns out, we were all secret Loki fan girls. Ha ha. I thought it was kind of great coincidence that the group ahead of ours also concentrated on a Norse myth, which correlated very well with our own. There was some overlap in terms of characters, especially since Loki was such a prominent figure in Norse mythology.... honestly, he had his finger in every pudding! It was a nice segway into our own presentation which really concentrated on the character of Loki and tricksters in general. One of the most interesting thing about tricksters is that they are agents of chaos and change. They often learn nothing at the end of their stories, even if they are punished for their misdeeds. Many tricksters, like Curious George, are mostly mischeiveous and harmless in their adventures, but tricksters such as Loki and perhaps Batman's Joker seem to harbor more malice in their mischief. I guess they would be "dark" tricksters.