Our first discussion group of The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao is just around the corner. We just wanted to throw out some questions to get you started thinking about how we may want to shape our conversation. And that’s what this is — a conversation, a chance to think together about the book and to get to know one another.
People have been coming up to me and to the Writing Specialists and saying how much they love the book. So, we know that at least some of you are enthusiastic. Some of you totally devoured it! For the purposes of our discussion, we’ll assume that not everyone has finished, so we will just be discussing the first half of the book or so.
*What stands out for you about the book so far? *What do you think about the style in which the book was written? There are multiple narrators and footnotes and there is a lot of slang. How did the author’s decisions about aspects things affect your experience? Why do you think the author made these choices? *Which character do you relate to most closely? Why? *The book deals with all sorts of themes, from being an alienated teenager to domestic violence, what themes stand out for you?
Post your responses here, and we can talk about all of these things and more in our discussion group!
Bronx Extension Center: Tuesday October, 22 at 4:30 pm Manhattan Campus: Wednesday October, 29th at 4:30 pm
This animation explores the various arguments for reading literature. Curious about how the simple act of reading Junot Diaz’s The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao can make you a better person? Check out this groovy animation created by The School of Life.
What if success isn’t about “doing it right” and is instead about one’s ability to tolerate failure? As this New York Times article “What if the Secret to Success Is Failure?” by Paul Tough details, at the prestigious private school Riverdale Country School, the headmaster champions characteristics such as grit, curiosity, and zest over specific academic skills as the true route to achievement.
I returned back to school because I was tired of feeding and believing my redundant excuses such as “I’ve been out of college for over 18 years”; “How would I repay my student loans?” And “how would I juggle full-time employment and being a full-time student?” But my truth was I was scared, scared to fail, scared to challenge myself. I initially allowed fear to dictate my life and halt my destiny. It left me in a debilitating place in my life because I was trying to figure out what was my purpose; I struggled for quite some time trying to understand why I was so unhappy and angry. I blamed others for my emotional and unpredictable mood swings. I did some soul searching and realized why I was unhappy and angry, I wasn’t pleased with the job I’ve been with for 9 years, my life felt so monotonous without a purpose or a reason and I didn’t feel like I was making a difference.
I knew what I was passionate about, but I needed to understand how to execute it. I truly believe I was given a gift, and that’s to give back to those in need. I want to provide support and understanding, but for me to assist someone else with support, I have to provide support to myself. I have to begin the process again of believing in myself, knowing my worth and knowing that all things are possible. I started feeling good about myself again because I realized this was my new beginning.
I knew very little about Metropolitan College of New York, so I decided to do my research. MCNY offered Human Services with flexible course schedules, so the only thing that was left for me to do was to enroll. I was still apprehensive because fear was still my security blanket, but I told myself there will be no more excuses; I have something to prove to myself and to see through on my passion; I needed to start living my truth.
September 13, 2014, I began my journey at Metropolitan College of New York as a full time student, majoring in Human Services. I will admit, I have a very challenging road ahead, but I’m following my passion because I believe that’s what I’m meant to do. Taking the time to evaluate who I am has definitely changed my perception of what I’m capable of doing. All things are possible if I believe in myself and stay focused and determined. I’ve been standing in my own way for quite some time, but I’ve made a conscious decision to get off the bench and begin playing on the court.
If you feel stuck about where to start with your writing or where to go next, you are not alone. Here is a list of tips from pros for how to get your juices flowing when it seems like the well of ideas has run dry.
Some facts and figures from Harper’s Index (September, 2014) regarding education, race, national energy politics and more. A statistician’s dreamboat! Possibly profound, disturbing and hilarious for the rest of us.
The most-read article in the history of the magazine The New Republic is “Don’t Send Your Kid to the Ivy League.” Published in July as an excerpt from author William Deresiewicz’s book Excellent Sheep, it started a national conversation about higher education, and one of the most interesting responses, published in the same magazine, is titled “The Trouble With Harvard.” Both offer provocative thoughts on education, classes, standardized testing, and the point of college.
In New York Times article, “Taking Fares, and Writing in Between,” Rohter (2014) shows how Syrian poet-in-exile Osama Alomar does just that from the driver’s seat of his cab in Chicago. A pile of dictionaries ride along with him in the front seat, and a notebook at the ready. Writer Lydia Davis calls his work “very imaginative and vivid and exhilarating,” and I find his grit and dedication also an exhilarating reminder of what little moments can add up to.
At first glance, the picture below might seem familiar –an old map of the Amazon River and its tributaries. Looking more closely, you may find this map increasingly curious… Armenia? Spain? Athens? Along the Amazon? In fact, this image is from the first text book for American school children, a textbook written in 1824 by feminist and innovative educator, Emma Willard. She created this map and diagram for students to memorize European history, in this case the progression of the Roman Empire, by diagraming that expansion visually onto the course of the Amazon. If you click onto the map below, a link will take you to version of the map that you can zoom into and see much more clearly.
Some LEC students have found it helpful to do thought maps too — of a different kind — as an initial method of visually organizing their ideas. Below, you can find an example of a thought map (about thought mapping) from the internet. Click onto it to find a link.
And here is a picture of Aston Powell, BBA 2015, standing in front of his thought map.