My Favorite Teacher

One of my fondest memories of high school is having my favorite teacher Mrs. Cascone as my teacher and counselor. I first met Mrs. Cascone during my sophomore year, she was my English teacher. Not only did I improve my English skills that year, I opened myself up to her and her impactful advice as a counselor. During my junior year of high school, I applied to be in National Honor Society in my school. I received the news that I did not make it in. To be quite honest, I was so devastated. I felt crushed, just as I had started my junior year. I felt like my goals I had already set for that year weren’t valid anymore.

I went and talked to Mrs. Cascone about how I was feeling. She could tell that I was in a slump, so she gave me the advice to work all of junior year to build up my leadership qualities. She advised me to start my own club. After thinking about it, I decided to start my own Spanish Club in my high school. I saw the need for Latino students in my high school to feel included. Even though I have left my high school, the Spanish Club at my high school now has students in it. My senior year, I made it into National Honor Society thanks to Mrs. Cascone. Mrs. Cascone has always been there for me, as a teacher, counselor, and mentor. She has always been a cheerleader for my successes and a shoulder to cry on for my failures. She saw the quality of leadership in me even when I did not see it in myself. Mrs. Cascone built up my confidence so I could succeed in my internship with Bank of America Student Leaders and at Fontbonne University. Due to Mrs. Cascone, I am the treasurer for a new student organization, the Latino Hispanic Union at Fontbonne.

The most admirable characteristic of Mrs. Cascone is her humbleness. She is always wearing herself out trying to help every student with their problems. She rarely takes time for herself. She always schedules time out of her day to check in on me. Even though she is in Kansas City and I am in St. Louis, she still manages to shoot me a meaningful text every once in a while. Mrs. Cascone made me the woman I am today. I wouldn’t be at Fontbonne University if it weren’t for her!

“One child, one teacher, one book, one pen can change the world.”-Malala Yousafzai

Take care,

Mari

 

Do You Ever Wonder If You Could Learn Another Language By Yourself Alone?

I speak three languages. One is my mother tongue. One is part of the school curriculum since I was young. One was self-picked-up due to mere personal interest.

Learning languages is difficult, not to mention languages that are not in the same “system” as your mother tongue. Take Chinese and English as examples: the basic writings are nothing alike, and due to cultural difference, meaning of expressions are half a world apart.

However, if you yourself have that thirst and determination, being fluent in another language is not that tough a task. It is hard, of course, but it will be enjoyable if you love the language enough.

I have to say this upfront, as for me, learning language is not just learning how to listen, speak, write or read. Language is the firmest and trickiest boundary between cultures, it is an inevitable part of any culture. If you plan to get over the fence, be ready to learn how to deal with the thorns attached. This post, however, will not show you how to absorb the culture, because that would be up to individual’s interest and ability. Here, I would only show the general steps that I took to be able to “make Chinese sounds,” because it takes a lot more than this to “speak Chinese.”

I am a Chinese-drama addict. In other words, I could not possibly live without watching at least 1 episode of Chinese drama per week. During breaks it’s per day. After a while, I realized that I could understand what the people are saying without looking at the subtitles, sometimes. And then I learned the words, the sound, and the way some common phrases are used. That was my first layer of foundation.

For Asian languages like Chinese, once you get a hold of how grammar works, it is actually a simpler job to understand the language. I bought several textbooks on this and started from scratch, annotating all grammar points from the simplest greetings to more complicated structures. This set of notes never left my side. Whenever I have time, I would take them out and read them thoughtfully, but would not force them into my memory. Until this point, I had had some grammar foundation.

And then, I went back to carefully watch even more drama and TV shows while minding every sentence being said and paying closer attention to structures that were familiar with me. I would recite the sentence occasionally, until it naturally became part of my knowledge. A little bit of history of the country would also help a lot in learning vocabulary

Learning vocabulary is an essential part, but this comes after the grammar. After I had a decent amount of grammar in my head, I turned to cover my surroundings with vocabulary. Every piece of furniture in the room would have its Chinese name on it, and after I was familiar with these words, I changed to other things like colors, shapes, etc., until I had known how to describe my surroundings, myself, the people around me.

After combining both the vocabulary and the grammar, I visited Chinese websites that were about things I like and created a few accounts on Chinese social networking sites. Here, I made Chinese friends and talked to them about our mutual interest through typing to improve my writing. The conversation could last forever, or only in a few surfaced greetings. It doesn’t matter — just take every chance to have. A lot of people that have the same interest are really friendly and enthusiastic. You will eventually find someone that can talk to you verbally. And this is when you practice your speaking.

To conclude, my advice is to take your foundation study seriously and build on it with things in the culture that interest you. I also try to speak Chinese to all the Chinese people I’ve met, in other words, speak Chinese whenever and wherever I’ve got the chance. Because constantly speaking the language will make it yours.

images

 

“Take Chances, Make Mistakes, Get Messy!”

Oh my gosh, Junior Year – is this real life?  I cannot believe that I am more than halfway through college.  I can still remember freshman year for the most part but I will say that of course I was not a fan of it – yet who is a fan of their freshman year in high school or college?  Looking back I can say that I am proud of myself for making it this far, for the material and content that I have learned thus far, the person that I am continuing to become while in college and much more.  I would say that for new students in college, be open to possibilities – be open for new chances that may not seem like the kind of chance that you would take but sounds interesting enough to try out.

College is the place where you can take risks, make mistakes, and learn from those mistakes even before going into the big world, which is great!  Take advantage of the time that you have and explore new areas that you may not have expected from yourself before.  Example, I did not think that I would change majors at least three times like I did, but if I had not thought about different possibilities then I would not be where I am today.  Lastly I want you to think about what Ms. Frizzle said from the show “The Magic School Bus,” which I hope that most of us watched as a kid or else I will really feel odd at this moment: “Take chances, make mistakes, get messy!”  Though when we get messy, really remember that we need to pick ourselves back up again and that is what our professors, close friends, and family are all for – to help us through the journey of life especially in college with finding ourselves.

Ms. Frizzle

A Surprising Lesson This Semester

When I began my first semester here at Fontbonne this spring I knew that I was going to learn a lot. With three studio art classes and one modern art history class, how could I not? The thing that surprised me the most was how much I’ve learned in my modern art history class. In general I don’t care for most modern art. I know that art is generally subjective, and everyone likes different things, but I admit I wasn’t looking forward to being visually assaulted by elongated figures, arbitrary color, and abstractions.

The surprising thing was the information behind the art that my professor supplied to us. Historically, art has been influenced by society, technology, politics, religion, etc. Modern art is no exception to these influences. I learned that social upheaval, the Industrial Revolution, and both world wars had a huge impact on the art being produced at the turn of the century. Logically, this all made sense to me, but to see the visual progression of this process was something else entirely. The artists of this time period were literally trying to change the world around them through their art; they had a message they wanted to impart to the general public and they did so fearlessly. Their spirit and passion is something to be admired. Learning each artists’ story and seeing the resulting work has been a fascinating journey and I’m very grateful to my professor for each lesson.

What I Wish I Knew

Coming to college was a brand new experience for me. It was a completely different environment from what I ever experienced. Of course I learned as I went along, picking up pieces of information along the way. However, I wish I had known one major thing before I came to college. That piece of information is the importance of relationships with people and accepting advice when needed. The people here taught me to accept advice and, even, to actually use it. I’ve always been a very stubborn person, I didn’t realize that this was hindering me from improvement. The people I met in my first week of college alone taught me this important lesson. New experiences can open your eyes to a different point of view an the people here has shown me that. I listen more intently now and realize that I can’t always be set in my ways. Change is a vital part of life, you must learn to accept this. If you follow tradition you might be steered down the same path you were going, that path may not be the best thing for you. People and your connections with them really matter. Before, I was too stubborn for my own good and I can admit it now. However, I now listen more and that is what I wish I had known.

You might be surprised to hear that I changed in just 3-4 months here at college. That’s what this place does to you. It makes you wonder what else is out there. The faculty and students here were my catalyst to thinking more about other points of view, thus improving my understanding of a variety of things. The people here are influential, it doesn’t take long to realize that. When you come to Fontbonne, things change for the better. You become what you really want to become and learn that change is important and beneficial for you. In the short months I’ve been here, I’ve learned so much. I’ve learned to accept change and I think that’s the most surprising thing about Fontbonne. The influence that it has on you is profound.

Meet the Intern at TalentPlus

In order to get my degree in fashion merchandising, it is a requirement to complete an internship. And as hard as it is to believe, I am at that point in my college career. My internship is at a company called TalentPlus Universal, which was originally intended to be solely a summer thing. But, I am excited to say it has been extended into the fall! I am glad that they like me enough to keep me. I first found out about this internship opportunity back in February when I was at the National Association for Campus Activities conference in Boston. I spoke with a TalentPlus representative at a booth that was set up at a fair, and applied as soon as I got back home to St. Louis. My first official day was May 15.

TalentPlus Universal is an agency that is only located in St. Louis (in the Central West End, to be specific). There are four divisions within the company: TalentPlus Entertainment, Centro Models, TalentPlus Commercial, and TalentPlus Production Services. The agents at TalentPlus represent talent, which includes musicians, comedians, models, actors, hair/makeup stylists, and more. They are responsible for getting the talent bookings and handling their marketing. There are only 12 employees, plus three interns. It is like a family around the office because everyone works so closely with one another. There is even a TalentPlus pool party coming up. I’m really looking forward to that and getting to know everyone better outside the work environment.

Honestly, I can say I learn something new every day I am there. So much goes on between all four divisions. And I’ve never been in a setting such as this before, so it’s like a new world to me. Luckily, I’ve had the opportunity to see the way each division operates. I primarily work with Entertainment, analyzing and handling client social media and marketing. Within the Commercial division, I’ve helped film videos and edit them myself. This was a completely new and very exciting experience to me. Last, but not least, most days I work on my projects while sitting at the front desk. While there, I answer phone calls, process payments, and greet and direct visitors. I especially enjoy greeting models when they come in for photo shoots and model scouters traveling from other major fashion cities. There is definitely never a dull moment at TalentPlus!

I’ve Been Holding On…

It never fails to amaze me just how much I can change over the course of a semester at school. And I’ve come to find that it’s not necessarily the stuff I spend eight hours reading in a textbook that ends up sticking with me, because it’s usually (ahem, pretty much always) not. As cliché as it sounds, it’s usually other little things that I pick up on during the course of the semester that get me closer to where I want to go and who I want to be, and they’re typically not things that the authors of my mistake-filled biochem book are trying to get me to understand.

This summer, I’ve put as much distance between myself and a textbook or anything remotely resembling schoolwork or reminding me of what’s coming in three weeks as I could. And yet, I’ve found myself slowly but surely learning and growing, and maybe not so much changing who I am, but instead changing my perspective on things. A few of the lessons I’ve learned in the past few weeks…

1. Don’t judge a book by its cover: People are surprising. Like, unbelievably surprising, and I suppose that’s what makes us so awesome. I’ve spent a lot of my life growing up being too shy to really talk to people, worrying that they may dislike me if I opened my mouth and said what I wanted to say. So naturally, I kept my mouth shut 90% of the time, thinking about all of the witty contributions that I desperately wanted to make to the conversations I listened in on. These days, though, I don’t really hold back so much. Instead, I do the exact opposite and actually initiate the conversation now. I’ve learned some pretty cool things about the kids I work with as a result of this brilliant strategy of mine, and that we actually have a lot more in common than I would have ever imagined if I had sat back on the sidelines and not opened my mouth at all. I mean, one guy asked me the other day if I bake with almond flour. Um, hello? How many teenage boys do you know who know what the heck almond flour is? Seriously. I was speechless (and kind of impressed). Another kid and I both dream of heading West and moving to Colorado someday. And a lot of my coworkers are so well traveled, and way more than me, a girl whose dad is a pilot, for crying out loud! Anyway, my point is, I’ve learned that talking to people isn’t really that scary. If you’re genuinely curious about somebody, open your mouth already! Worst-case scenario: you’ll end up with new friends of all different backgrounds and interests.

2. Where you live doesn’t define you: This is one of my favorites. During the past three years of my college career at Fontbonne, I would find myself counting down the days until the weekend when I could escape from my dorm and go home. Then as I’d make the long trek home I’d beat myself up over the “fact” that I was a baby and couldn’t stay at school for two weeks straight. But this summer I’ve finally decided to own up to the fact that I like small towns and that I’m not a city person like I thought when I was a naïve little freshman a few years ago. And you know what? THAT’S TOTALLY OKAY. Going home every weekend doesn’t mean I’m lame or boring or a baby or whatever, it just means that I’m doing what makes me happy. And living in a small town, or being from one, for that matter, doesn’t make you less interesting, educated, or fun to be around. So does this mean I’m celebrating the fact that I have Fridays off this semester because it means one more day here each week? You had better believe it does!

3. Don’t be afraid to be yourself: Because in addition to being really interesting, people tend to be a lot nicer and accepting than you think. (See Lesson #1.)

4. Do what you love and what makes you happy, and everything else will fall into place: My, the beginning of the summer, when I was super pale and super stressed about my future, seems like eons ago! And news flash, I’m still not totally for sure what I’m going to do with my life. But I know I like chemistry and I’m good at it, and I’m really interested in organic agriculture. Do I have a plan for what my career is going to be? Not exactly. But am I on the verge of being sick over it? Not anymore. I’ve come to embrace the unknown and the fact that it gives me total freedom to shape my future into what I want it to be. The only thing I know for sure at this point is that after I graduate from Fontbonne, I’m going to transfer to another university to complete my second undergrad in chemistry. In fact, tomorrow I’m going on a college road trip of sorts to meet with professors from the chemistry and ag programs at Truman (my first time on their campus). I’m stoked to see what comes of it all.

And finally….

5. Don’t be so uptight: Enough said.

-Carly

“Holding On” by Classixx

I Wish You Could See the Thoughts in My Mind.

I’d like to take a moment to acknowledge the fact that we’re, what?, a week past the halfway mark of the semester? The sheer amount of stuff I’ve learned in the past eight weeks is kind of really mind-blowing.

I’ve learned, for example, what a derivative is. I’ve learned how to take the derivative of the aforementioned derivative. I’ve been reading all about GMO foods for a book report that I’m doing for my evolution class. I’ve learnt about the Michaelis-Menten equation and its graphs. I’ve learned some really, really fun words, including, but not limited to, glycosylphosphatidylinositol (try saying that one five times fast. Heck, try saying it at all. I dare you.). I’ve revisited some old friends from general chemistry that I really should be a master at, but actually kind of suck at (but it’s okay, because I think we all have come to the agreement that we all suck at these things and should probably retake gen chem. as a result), including acid-base chemistry, the pH scale, and pka; kinetics; and thermodynamics. Yes, if I haven’t pulled this analogy on my blog yet, I’m doing it now:

My mind is like a supersaturated solution: one more particle of information, and everything will crystallize out of solution.

(Yes, it’s nice to know that the concept of solubility is not above my level of comprehension and that I can make such analogies as a result.)

In addition to lots of learning going on, things have been picking up speed at the Botanical Garden, where I’m currently an intern. A classmate (who is also a dietetics drop-out) and I are in charge of designing seven display cases in the Brookings Interpretive Center. Hey, no pressure, right? I think we did a fine job, and tomorrow we get to start putting them together. I highly recommend you go to the Garden this spring and check out Brookings…it’s going to be awesome when we get it flipped to fit the Garden’s “Foodology” theme! Plus, something tells me the Garden is spectacular in spring…

Anyhow, I hope everyone else’s semester is going smoothly as well! I’m feeling at home in my new department, and I think I know what I want to do with my life. I would say what it is, but it’ll be different next week or month or whatever, so I’ll refrain from doing so.

Have a great weekend everyone! And remember: spring break is almost here.

-Carly

“Assistant Director” by Ducktails