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By Lina Zhang, V Form
Moana: The Movie that Could Have Been
As part of Disney’s revival era animations, Moana details the journey of its eponymous heroine to restore peace and prosperity to her island, a community loosely based upon Samoan culture but also drawn from Polynesian culture as a whole. As Moana is one of the first movies to be made about Polynesian cultures, many see it as representation and awareness for the community and dismiss instances of cultural appropriation or misrepresentation in it as mere unintentional accidents. However, it is important to recognize that while the film promotes the positive message of strong femininity in the character of Moana, it also reinforces the limited and stereotypical narrative that Western audiences have of Pacific Islander cultures. From the culturally-insensitive coconut people to Maui’s controversial body, Moana is the movie that could have done better but didn’t, failing its expectations of cultural representation and perpetuating Disney’s trend of cultural appropriation.(more…)
By Kian Sahani, VI Form
Humans as One: How The Wayfinders Illustrates Human Integrality
Language and culture are like animals and plants: the forcefulness of Western culture endangers many of them. In The Wayfinders, Wade Davis explores the concepts of language, culture, race, and the ways they fare in a world primarily dominated by Western ideology. Within his first two lectures, Season of the Brown Hyena and The Wayfinders, Davis argues that although differences between people are fascinating, it is the similarities that are worth celebrating; below the surface, each person is virtually the same.
Season of the Brown Hyena begins with the statement that “on average, every fortnight an Elder dies and carries with him or her into the grave the last syllables of an ancient tongue” (Davis 2009, 3). Davis then continues with the argument that with every language there is an associated culture; therefore, for every language lost, there is a culture lost as well. Each language has the idiosyncrasies that make it unique, allowing a whole new culture to bloom from it. For example, the different ways in which people may describe a color can reflect something about their culture, such as how much of a role color plays into tradition or how specific one must be with different shades. Each ethnic group’s Sprachgefül, as Germans would call it, affect how the group views language. Lera Boroditsky’s TED Talk regarding “How Language Shapes the Way We Think” explains how differences in language are reflected in physical differences in the brain. These differences will affect thoughts, which, in turn, change beliefs and morals, generating a unique culture. Each of the latter is worth celebrating as Davis states, “every culture is by definition a vital branch of our family tree, a repository of knowledge and experience, and, if given the opportunity, a source of inspiration and promise for the future” (Davis 2009, 5). At the same time, every human on this Earth is almost identical to one another, according to biology.(more…)
By Andria Bao, III Form
Globalization Through Glow Sticks
Editor’s Note: For this assignment, III form students in The Global Seminar (TGS) were asked to create an infographic that could tell the story of globalization through a chosen product.(more…)
By Anishka Yerabothu, VI Form
Embracing Global Citizenship in Sri Lanka
Editor’s Note: This article was previously published by Anishka Yerabothu and Educate Lanka in Medium. It is republished here with permission.
This summer, I traveled to Kandy, Sri Lanka for three weeks to volunteer with the Educate Lanka Foundation. I first came across Educate Lanka when I began researching global citizenship opportunities through my high school — St. Mark’s School— last fall. The opportunity with Educate Lanka immediately appealed to me and my parents because my great-grandparents lived in Sri Lanka for 40 years, leaving before the civil war that ravaged the country broke out in 1983. They carried with them their love for the country, the people, and the cuisine, and they shared that love with the entire family. My grandmother still prepares traditional Sri Lankan dishes we enjoy at home.
As part of my research into the opportunity with Educate Lanka, my family and I watched the TEDx Talk of Educate Lanka’s founder — Manjula Dissanayake; his message about creating universal opportunities resonated with my family. After conversations with Dr. Laura Appell-Warren, the Director of Global Citizenship at St. Mark’s, and Mr. Dissanayake about volunteering with Educate Lanka, we finalized the plan for my travel in June. We bought a plane ticket and arrangements for my stay in Sri Lanka were made in coordination with Educate Lanka staff.
On the morning of April 21, 2019, however, we woke to the shocking news of the Easter Sunday terrorist bombings at Sri Lankan churches and hotels.(more…)
By Suha Choi, IV Form
Travel Reflections: Cultural Immersion in Lovely Airbnbs
This June, when sunshine and the early hints of summer were slowly surrounding us, I was very lucky to travel to Europe with my family! This trip was the first time my sister and I visited Europe. We traveled in a rental minivan around many cities and sites. The route included Milan, Florence, Rome, Venice, Nancy, Paris, and Lucerne. I am extremely glad that I had a chance to visit countless sites of human history and landmarks! In this reflection, instead of simply listing the places I visited, I am going to recount a few moments that remain the most memorable to me.
Culture lies everywhere, in the lifestyle and daily bases of people. It is embedded in the restaurants we go to, in the streets we walk, and on the faces and in the words of people we meet. But I believe that there is no place like home to reflect the cultures and lifestyles of people so precisely. What kind of food they eat, how many security locks are set in the door, what kind of books are stored on the shelves, and what time they turn off their lights and go to bed are the small details and factors that define identity and form a culture. During my trip, because our family chose to stay in Airbnbs, which are actual houses rented from the local people, instead of in regular hotels, we were able to directly experience the lifestyles of the people in Europe. Of the dozen of Airbnbs we have been to, two still linger in my heart, and I wish to share them.(more…)
By Edna Kilusu, VI Form
A Journey More Than 7347 Miles: From Tanzania to the United States for High School
I am always smiling! However, so much that is hidden behind the smile on my face.
I was born in a traditional mud wall house in a Maasai Boma village, surrounded by bushy mountains of rural Northern Tanzania. In the fall, brown dust fills the air and blankets are blown everything. Despite the beauty of the Maasai community, I had to walk long distances on dusty brown roads to get to school, to get to town, and to get to the market.
At home, the girls work on the farmland, do all the laundry by hand, cook, fetch water, collect firewood, and clean the house. Girls do not have enough time to study or prepare for the national exams, so they are often considered to be not as smart as boys.
Four years ago, I made the tough decision to leave my friends, my family, my culture, and my country to attend St. Mark’s School. At that time, my dad was sick, which made the decision more difficult for both my parents and me. I was the first person in my community to leave and study abroad. As a child, I never thought of attending school after grade six because most of the girls in my community were forced to marry as teenagers. Going to boarding school seemed like a dream. (more…)