Archive for the ‘Life’ category

New Year’s Resolution for 2011

December 28, 2010

Blogging can be as difficult as going to the gym. You know it’s important yet you cannot bring yourself to doing it on a consistent basis.

I’m a journalist. I got my degree in journalism. Shouldn’t writing be not just a hobby, but a way of life? I have often pondered these concepts.

It seems like forever since I’ve last blogged because it indeed has been forever. Since 2010 is soon coming to a close, perhaps I should make it my New Year’s resolution to blog more often; such as three to four times per week.

Some bloggers publish new content every day. That’s almost like a job. If someone paid me to blog, you can darn well guarantee I’d update it every day. But alas, that is not the case. But I should not let that stop me. I’ll find something to write about, even if I don’t get a paycheck to do so.

Finding content should not be difficult. After all, my current internship requires me to manage a blog. If I am supposed to get a group of high school kids to give me good, compelling content on a regular basis, I should hold myself to a similar standard and do the same. That’s only fair, right?

Right. Absolutely. Without a doubt. I will hold myself to a similarly high standard. I’m a grownup, so I should start acting like one. No more excuses.

Look at me, I sound like a football coach.

A journalistic football coach. Whatever that means.

But that is neither here nor there. Starting on January 1, 2011, I promise that I will provide my readers (whom I need to start reestablishing a relationship with as soon as possible) with funny, thoughtful, and useful content on a continuing basis. That is what a journalist should do: give their readers something to read. A writer who does not write is like a professional athlete who does nothing but sit on the bench all day. Why are they even on the team?

Of course, even professional benchwarmers get paid. Some get paid million just sitting down and watching a game. Most fans have to pay money to receive that privilege.

The point to all this is that in 2011 I will try to be an active participant instead of a passive observer.

Wish me luck. And make sure you keep me accountable! Do whatever is necessary. Throw tomatoes at me. Send me vicious e-mails. Pester me on Facebook. Do whatever you think will keep me on track with this goal.

Oh by the way, have a happy New Year.

Go Seahawks.


Equality is a Myth, Ugly People Suck, and Other Inconvenient Observations

October 17, 2009

Disregard whatever you’ve heard before: we are not all created equal.

No man, woman, or child is equal to any other man, woman, or child. This is a tough reality to face, especially in a democracy like ours. We would like to think that all men (or women) are created equal, and that we are endowed with certain inalienable rights, including the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Have you heard this somewhere before? You probably have.

But the truth is a little more brutal than that. Granted, we do live in a society where most people are given equal rights under the law, but the buck pretty much stops there. Anyone can go to school, enroll in college, and apply for a job. But will anyone hire them? That depends on a multitude of factors.

Some of those factors are innate. Others are biological. And others are dictated by society. Let me explain.

Americans like to believe that every citizen can make something of themselves if they just try hard enough. But those on the left will argue that factors like wealth, family prestige, and race/gender/sexual orientation help give certain people an advantage over others. Their observations are quite right. There is an old saying that in America, anyone can grow up to become President of the United States. But it sure helps if your father is named George H.W. Bush and you come from an oil rich family.

There are countless studies arguing that men have an advantage over women in many areas in life, that white people have an edge over racial minorities, and that gay/lesbian/bisexual/transgendered people have hills to climb that their straight counterparts do not. All of these problems are true. And thankfully, society is making progress (as slow as it may seem) to make amends and truly treat everyone as equals.

But besides demographic handicaps, there exists other factors that give people a significant advantage over others. And there is no way to stop it.

Intelligence is one. Smarter people, supposedly, are more likely to succeed than not so smart people. The exception might be found in the world of sports, where brainless jocks can make millions only because they can catch a football better than any of us.

But consider intelligence as an inherent characteristic that gives people an edge when it comes to making money, scoring high paying jobs, and getting into good colleges. No dummy can get into Harvard or Yale (unless, of course, you come from a rich family); never mind survive it for four years. Or get a degree.

It should come as no surprise that intelligence runs in the genes. They say the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. I am very inclined to agree. But intelligence doesn’t always guarantee success, of course. There are plenty of lazy people out there who are very bright, but aren’t terribly motivated. They made a choice, and they are living out those choices. And, naturally, there are smart people who choose careers that don’t rake in the big bucks. I am willing to bet that most starving artists are very intelligent people; they’re just not very rich. But money and success don’t always mean the same thing, right?

Then there’s the case of smart people not getting the breaks or opportunities that others do. If you’re an intelligent person who lives in a poor neighborhood, your odds of getting into college or attending a decent public school system is lower than those who live in a wealthier city. This would be what is known as “untapped potential.” There are millions of kids out there who could be potential Noble Peace Prize winners if they just lived in better conditions. What a shame.

Another uncontrollable factor is natural talent. Some people are born with better physical abilities than the rest. No matter how hard I try, I will never become a better basketball player than LeBron James, or a better hitter than Ichiro Suzuki, or a better quarterback than Peyton Manning. They are born with natural skills, hand-eye coordination, and physical bodies that I am not blessed with.

And talent cannot be learned. No matter how many hours I spend in the gym, or how many world-class coaches I work with, or how many years I spend practicing, my jump shot will never be as good as LeBron’s. His genetic make up makes him a superior basketball player than 99 percent of the world’s population. I, on the other hand, live among that 99 percent, not that small elite 1 percent.

There is proof that athletic ability is genetic and not a learned art. It has been said by medical experts that certain athletes are able to return from ligament surgery quicker than the rest of us because their bodies are so coordinated, that when the nerve endings in essence “rewire” themselves after surgery, it happens quicker in them than John Doe. John Doe (or Jane Doe) needs more time because his/her nervous system is not nearly as well tuned as that of an NFL player.

This might explain why soccer moms or baseball dads who punish their kids with hours of practice in hopes that they will become the next future hall of famer in their respective sport might be wasting their (and their kid’s) time. Making your little Billy practice fielding for three hours after school will not guarantee that he will become the next Derek Jeter.

Maybe this explains why so many “children of famous athletes” like Ken Griffey, Jr. (Ken Griffey, Sr.), Matt Hasselbeck (Don Hasselbeck), Lofa Tatupu (Mosi Tatupu), and the Manning brothers (Peyton and Eli have a famous father in Archie Manning) have made it big over the years. Talented athletes give birth (or father) to more talented athletes. Is this a miracle? No, it’s scientific.

Natural talent goes beyond physical abilities. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart could write symphonies before most of us could do our times tables. He was blessed with a musical ear and an endless fountain of imagination that most of us do not possess. There is a reason why his music is still listened to and played today.

But could any Tom, Dick, or Harry replicate the musical achievements of a Mozart, or Beethoven, or George Gershwin? Probably not, unless our standard of excellence dramatically falls all of a sudden. I doubt that will happen any time soon.

And, of course, there is another category where some people are considered superior to others. It is a category that we notice everyday. We are reminded of it every time we walk into a grocery store. Children as young as 5 or 6 can be teased about it on the school yard. Today there are people who spend thousands of dollars to improve it.

Have you guessed what it is? If not, that’s okay. The category that gives certain people an edge over others is beauty. Physical looks. This has nothing to do with intellectual capabilities, hard work, or learning. Some people are born better looking than others. Yes, there are ways to enhance beauty (some strategies are as modest as the simple application of makeup to the more extreme road of plastic surgery), but either you got it, or you don’t.

Beauty and physical appearance do give people an unfair edge over their more homely friends. Good looking people are usually served quicker at restaurants. They might be more likely to beat out a speeding ticket. An employer might hire a beautiful person over a less attractive person; especially if the job requires dealing with the public (does Abercrombie & Fitch ring a bell to anyone?).

What about jobs that just require being beautiful? Modeling is an industry created specifically for the more aesthetically pleasing in our society. So has most anything in the entertainment and media business. It is no mystery that women are discriminated against in the businesses where being featured on camera is involved. Do you ever wonder why all “weather girls” are perky, pretty, and shapely?

Discrimination against less attractive people has been going on for centuries, as well as the backlash against it. People are upset because putting beauty on a pedestal only makes life difficult for the rest of us, not to mention more costly, time consuming, and frustrating. If girls as young as 10 or 12 are starting to use makeup, then we have a problem.

All this is to prove that there are factors in our society that go beyond race, gender, socio-economic status, and religion in deciding who is “superior” to others. This is not a uniquely American thing, either. This practice has been going on since time began. But all this seems more upsetting considering we live in a “free society” where anyone can achieve anything if they just try hard enough.

Which is not to say that we don’t live in a free country where self-determination is still the name of the game. It is to a certain extent, but we have to realize that no matter how you spin it, some people are “more equal” than others. Sound Orwellian to you? Not really. Sounds more realistic to me. These standards aren’t unconstitutional, of course, but they do seep into our every day behavior.

People with higher intelligence, natural talent, and beauty do have an advantage over everyone else. But is that necessarily a bad thing? What’s wrong with using your God-given gifts to your own advantage? Pragmatic self-interest never hurt anyone (just ask the infamous political scientist Niccolo Machiavelli). As the old saying goes, if you got it, flaunt it.

But our egalitarian mindset tells us that this is all wrong. Everyone should have an equal chance in life, regardless of what cards they were dealt with. Being dealt a “superior” hand should mean nothing in the long run. But it does, doesn’t it?

Maybe there is no answer to this. Maybe we are all born unequal and we should just accept it. Why bother to change something that is so deep rooted in our collective culture? Or can we change our culture and perspective regarding human worth? That is a question I leave to you.

The Summer of 2009 Was Never Short on Drama

October 7, 2009

            Yes, I am aware that it has been forever since I last blogged. It’s not that I haven’t had the time. I’m currently between jobs. Sometimes I get burnt out writing all the time. If I got paid writing a blog, I’d definitely do it more often.

            A lot has happened this summer. Senator Ted Kennedy passed away. Healthcare has become the latest huge issue facing our country. Afghanistan is spinning out of control. Football season is now upon us. The list is endless.

            Much has been written about Obama’s push for insuring the uninsured. Should there be a public option? Should we even have universal healthcare? How are the systems in England and Canada really like? Are people lining up in the streets waiting to see a doctor (as Republicans would like you to believe), or is the system all rosy like Democrats would want you to think?

            I don’t really have a good answer to that, nor should I even attempt to answer that. I think it is safe to say that if you want to get good information about the healthcare debate, I am not the place to go for that. Check out other sources. They are much more informed than I am.

            I will admit that I have not paid attention to the healthcare debate as closely as I should. It seems like too much to handle. On one hand, it is wrong that millions of people are without health insurance in our country. We are a wealthy country (recession or no recession) and should have the capability to care for our poor.

            And a lot has been said about all those series of disastrous “town hall meetings” designed to let public officials and the public meet to discuss healthcare reform. And by discussion, I really mean shouting matches. Because that’s exactly what happened. Whatever happened to civility in our society? Maybe it never existed.

            As we move into fall and the upcoming winter, there will be a lot on our plate. The showdown over healthcare will happen sooner or later. President Obama will have to make a decision about how to move forward in Afghanistan. And whatever happened to Iraq? Should we stay, leave, or a little bit of both?

            All this is happening while I still look for a permanent job. Trust me, I have tried. But no matter how many jobs I apply for, there are at least twenty or thirty others who are just as, if not more qualified than I am. That makes for a difficult job hunting extravaganza.

            Nevertheless, I hope our government solves the issue of healthcare sooner than later. The longer this drags out, the wearier the public will become and the angrier our elected officials will be. If there is a way to provide health insurance to those who need it while not making too much of a significant dent in the national debt, I would be all for it. But until that happens, it looks as though leaders on both sides of the aisle will never come to an agreement that will make a genuine impact in our country.

            Or maybe they will. And the president can sign it into law. We’ll see.

Want a Change Next Summer? Try Theatre Camp!

September 28, 2009

When summer vacation arrives every May (or June), parents everywhere scramble to think about ways to kick their kids out of the house. With no more school, homework, or classes to attend, no self-respecting mother or father would want to torture themselves with having to take care of their kids during the whole day for three months out of the year.

Hence, the popularity of summer camp comes to light. Kids need something to do during the summers. They aren’t old enough to get a job (but then again, in this economy, who can find a job?) and can’t really take care of themselves. Paying a babysitter to watch over little Suzy and Billy can get costly after a while. So why not dump them off to an organized camp that takes the burden of having to entertain them all day off your shoulders?

The choices for which summer camp to send Suzy and Billy to are plentiful. There are a vast array of options ranging from traditional sports to hiking, craft making, water skiing, pottery, glass blowing, religious themed gatherings (think “Jesus Camp”), nature exploring, and anything related to the performing arts.

Sports are, of course, a typical cliché of summer camp lore. Sports like baseball, soccer, football, basketball, and hockey are good ways to train your kids with skills in physical athleticism, teamwork, and hard work. And what parents wouldn’t want their kids to learn a little bit of that? Besides, they might grow up to become the next LeBron James.

But sports doesn’t really allow you to express any form of creativity. There are those who argue that sports is an art, but those arguments run pretty thin after a while. How many times can you hit a baseball and make it look cool? Home runs do look spectacular at first, but seeing a hitter casually job around the bases is just so boring. Baseball is a great sport, but it’s limiting in what it can teach someone to become.

That goes for all sports, to an extent. The ultimate goal of any athlete is to become the best that they can be. They want to win and win as often as they can. That’s basically it. There’s nothing wrong with that, of course, but it can get a bit monotonous. Any endeavor where there’s hard and fast rules doesn’t really allow you to explore any creative outlet.

But enough about bashing sports. I say this because I never played sports when I was little. I wasn’t very good at catching a ball and still can’t really do anything too amazing. But where kids these days should really consider spending their summer is at theatre camp.

Theatre camp? Yes, a summer camp dedicated to the dramatic arts. Sounds nerdy, but it is. There’s an old joke that kids who can’t catch a football are then signed up for band camp because sitting around and playing an instrument takes no athletic prowess at all. There might be some truth in that joke.

But theatre camp is something that I actually did when I was little. As kids, myself and many others would spend our summers indoors practicing our lines, going over our blocking, and learning the basics of the theatrical arts. As a result, I think we’ve developed better social, verbal, and professional skills then kids who learned how to hit a ball all day.

Theatre is a team sport. There are many components that go into putting on a production. There are actors, directors, producers, lighting designers, set designers, set builders, a stage manager, grips, assistants, a prop master (or mistress), a costume master (or mistress), a costume builder, makeup artists, special effects designers, light board/soundboard operators, house manager, playwright, photographer/graphic designer, box office manager, and many other jobs. Putting on a show, obviously, takes more than one person. And these are roles that children are learning at these camps.

Granted, most kids are learning the acting portion of the theatrical process, but as they get older, they start to realize that they are only one part in a very large machine. Very much like how we all function in society. In order for society to operate, we need doctors, lawyers, writers, accountants, teachers, students, caretakers, storeowners, architects, transporters, entertainers, politicians, and every other kind of job imaginable (reality TV star does not count).

Besides, kids get to learn that they can become part of something that is bigger than themselves. Too often we get caught up in individual achievements and forget that people could not live without other people. I’ve worked at summer theatre camps as a director and have seen first hand how kids learn that it is not always about them. It is about the group. It is about the big picture. We need to teach our kids more of these lessons.

So before you consider sending your child off to band camp or water rafting camp next time summer rolls around, consider this: are there alternatives to just the same old sack of potatoes? Or are we stuck with hoping that if our kids learn how to dribble a basketball for three months it would help them later lead productive adult lives? Take a chance and sign up little Billy or Suzy to be in a musical, or a Shakespearean production, or a mime troupe.

Know what? They may actually like it. Imagine that.

Washington State Needs to Reconsider the Role of the WASL

June 23, 2009

School is out for the summer. For others, school is out for much longer than that. And not those who have graduated and are moving on to bigger and better things. For many high school students in Washington State, they are dropping out of school at rates that we should all be alarmed at.

According to a recent article reported by The News Tribune, the Tacoma area’s largest daily newspaper, Washington students have a 24 percent dropout rate. That means nearly one out of every four students will not see high school graduation anytime in the near future. That means they will continue to struggle to find sustainable jobs and careers that will keep them productive for the rest of their lives.

Things weren’t always like this. There was once a time when hardly anyone dropped out of school. A recent report by the nonprofit organization Editorial Projects in Education (EPE) Research Center found that the U.S. high school graduation rate is 69.2 percent. That is actually an improvement compared to statistics reported in 1996, where the graduation rate was 66.4 percent. If things are improving, there is still plenty of room to go up.

The catastrophic disaster that is our public school system should not come to a surprise to anyone. Conservatives have complained for years that public education is doing nothing but corrupting our children and not teaching them well enough for the real world. Liberals argue that the system is broken, not obsolete. Anyone who has actually attended the public schools know that anyone can get a good education there if they want to. I went to the public schools all my life and I turned out fine.

But not everyone has turned out so well. If nearly one quarter of students are dropping out before the twelfth grade, does this mean that our schools are hurting our children, or our children are hurting themselves? Parents play a very important role in raising children. If kids are not getting help from mom or dad or a guardian, who will help them?

President Obama made this past Fathers Day an opportunity to speak on the importance of fatherhood and being an active participant in a child’s life. He talked about his own father, Barack Obama Sr., who left his family when he was young. The President made sure he communicated to fathers and parents everywhere that we do our children a disservice when we ignore their needs. It was a message that certain people needed to hear.

But other than that, what else is to blame for the poor performance of our students? Let’s take a moment to look at the contentious issue of standardized testing. To many educators and students alike, the words “standardized testing” has become a curse word of the highest order. Students not performing well on standardized tests means less federal funding. It means your school is inadequate. It means children are being left behind. No one wants that.

Washington State has the WASL, which stands for Washington Assessment of Student Learning. When I was in fourth grade, my class was considered one of the early guinea pigs of the WASL system. Fourth graders like me during the 1996-1997 school year were tested on math, reading, and writing. If we passed, we were given a pat on the back and maybe a high-five. Today, tenth graders taking the WASL have slightly different stakes at hand.

If they do not pass all the sections of the WASL satisfactorily, they will not receive their high school diploma. Only after passing all the sections will they be able to graduate. Controversy has broken out because African, Latino, Native American and lower income students were disproportionately failing the WASL compared to their Caucasian and Asian counterparts. While achievement gaps are not a rare occurrence in schools, when graduation depends on it, there is reason to be concerned.

There is also controversy whether or not developmentally disabled students have to pass the WASL as well. As it stands, students with learning disabilities have to take the test. I am not sure about the latest developments regarding the WASL, but a lot of anger has poured out over the years just because of one little exam. This is not a small matter.

It seems fair to say that too much emphasis has been put on the WASL to assess whether our children are really learning. Former President Bush thought it was a good idea to create standardized testing as a way to inspire teachers and students to return America to its once former academic glory. There was once a time when the United States had the best public school system in the world. That is not true anymore by a long shot. Kids in Asia and Europe are achieving math and science scores that are making businesspeople nervous. If standardized testing is supposed to make us stronger, then we’d better hurry up and improve before the rest of the world surpasses us.

The WASL was originally meant to assess student learning, which is part of its name. It was not intended to be a benchmark for deciding who gets to graduate and who doesn’t. Like Affirmative Action, standardized testing has become the only solution to solve our problems, not one of the solutions. In an ideal world, teachers would have more freedom to teach their students the curriculum that they believe is right. When I was going to high school, teachers fretted about inspiring students to perform well on the WASL. Were they inspiring us to learn period? Not really. Just do well on a test. There is something not right about this.

It seems the culture of learning has disappeared from our country. The Soviet launch of Sputnik in 1957 inspired the U.S. to advance its teachings of science to kids. Since then, America became one of the best places to educate a child. During the late 90s and the inception of the 21st century, that has dramatically changed. This needs to be fixed.

But standardized testing will not do it alone. I have nothing against tests like the WASL, but when the government thinks it will solve all our problems, they are dead wrong. Students need a reason to go to school. Hopefully the election of an African American president will inspire at least some kids to work harder in school in hope of achieving something great in their lives. But the real responsibility falls upon the parents. They need to stop letting the television and Internet raise their children. They need to be the parents, not the media.

Hopefully if Washington State starts to downplay the importance of the WASL and give teachers and administrators more freedom to teach their students the way they feel is appropriate, progress will be made. If failing the WASL means no diploma, it is no mystery why 24 percent of students are dropping out of high school. They need to be encouraged, not discouraged by one little failure.

Learning is something that cannot always be quantified. Passing a test does not automatically mean you are ready for college or working in the real world. Passing a test means you can pass a test. Learning means you have retained information that will help you later in life and that you know how to apply that knowledge when the opportunity presents itself.

I’m sure our state government will learn better. After all, they are not immune to making mistakes themselves. And as the old saying goes: if at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. And our lawmakers need to try again and reconsider what role the WASL should really play in our classrooms.

But for now, enjoy your summer.

Graduation: Part II

May 20, 2009

Graduating from college is like an Olympic athlete running a race. They sprint as fast as they can, they huff and puff and give it their all until they approach the finish line. And when they finally do, it’s all over.

All that hard work, all that blood, sweat, and tears, is over so quickly. You give 110% toward finals week only to have it all end in just a short while. That is how most of us college graduates feel at this moment. Unless we have a job lined up immediately, most of us have the luxury of sitting back and reflecting on all that has happened. It’s weird coming back home and being able to sleep in till noon. I had to wake up at 7:30 every day during finals week in order to cram for my next test. All that mental strain took its toll on morning Friday, when I was finally able to rest.

Thank God I will never have to worry about another finals week for at least a while. Graduation weekend was really tiring. Finishing up finals, senior reflections, Baccalaureate, Commencement, saying goodbye to good friends, packing up and moving out, and doing the long drive from Spokane to Federal Way is no small task. It might take me three years to fully recover. Hopefully not.

But now I get to wait for my summer job to start. I will be working for Stone Soup Theatre, a small Seattle theatre that specializes in producing one acts. They have a yearly summer theatre camp for kids that I assisted directed for last year. This year I get to be an actual director. I might not be working at a job that’s within my major (journalism and mass communications), but it’s something. In this economy, you have to take what you can get.

With graduation comes the fear of the unknown. Most of us don’t have jobs lined up, let alone long term career goals. Many people I talk to are spending the next couple of months job hunting or traveling. That sounds nice. I will be working a little and trying to figure out what I want to do with the rest of my life. For those of us fearing ambiguity, I have to say to them: “lighten up!”

Summer should be a more relaxing time, anyway. The sun is out, the weather is generally nicer, and the possibilities are endless. We can do anything at this point in our lives. We can work, travel, do both, or sit and think about our future. Sounds gloomy, right? Perhaps. But we have another option: we can do something that we would never have done before. Now is our chance to take a pro-active stance on our lives and live out our dreams.

Ever have the fantasy of sitting on the beach, listening to groovy music, and soaking up the rays? Now you can do that. Ever want to take a long road trip with your best buddies and create life-long memories? This is the best time to do it. Ever want to do something so epic and mind-blowing you could only dream about it? Now is the time to attempt that.

Think of college graduation as a beginning, not an ending. Yes, we are no longer college students, but what else has changed? We are still the same people that we were two months ago when we were thinking about classes, tests, and partying. Okay, maybe not partying if you go to Whitworth University. But you get the idea.

The race might be over, but now we are running a different track. A marathon is more like it than an actual sprint. There are no really significant benchmarks left in our lives, unless you count marriage and raising a family. Such thoughts have not occurred to me yet. It’s weird to think that friends of mine are getting married. Where did the time go?

This world isn’t as scary as we might think. Despite the depressing job market, we could not have graduated at a more creative-inducing time. Those of us who need to make a living need to be more creative than our predecessors. Should we pursue our dream jobs or drudge it out at some dead end job that pays the bills? Why not do both? If we can, we should.

For those of us starting this marathon, we have plenty of people who are running it with us. It’s more comforting to go into the unknown when you know you’re going to have friends coming with you. I have plenty of friends in the same boat as I. You don’t see me freaking out, do you? (I might be freaking out a little, but I’m good at hiding it)

For now, I can spend my time practicing theatre and watching the Seattle Mariners play baseball. They might not be playing too well now, but what do you expect? Life will go on. They’ll be back next year.

But you know what? All of us college graduates will be back next year, too. We may not be in a classroom per se, but we’ll be somewhere. Specifically where is now up to us. Scary thought, n’est-ce pas?

Graduation: Part I

May 17, 2009

On Sunday, May 17, 2009, I can officially call myself a graduate of Whitworth University. After four years of hard work, experiencing dorm life, eating campus food, and hanging out with the best of friends, everything will come to an end very shortly.

And what a ride it has been.

High school graduation was not very dramatic because I knew what was coming next: college. I knew I would be attending Whitworth in the fall while my fellow colleagues had similar fates. So why bother with the dramatics?

Granted, there were many people I would never see again. Some of them friends of mine, others people I am glad to never see again. By the time senior year in high school rolled around, I was ready to move on with my life. I was ready to live on my own and participate in higher education. Spokane may not be too far away from Federal Way, but it’s far enough. I couldn’t come home every weekend.

And why would I want to come home all the time? Everything I possibly need is here on campus: friends, a place to live, a place to learn, etc. My only regret was the fact that Whitworth is located in Spokane, Washington. Not everything can be perfect.

But what can be perfect is my experience here at Whitworth. Here is what I have accomplished from fall of 2005 to the spring of 2009:

I’ve roughed four long and snowy winters, endured eight finals weeks, eight midterm weeks, enjoyed three summers where I eagerly anticipated returning to school, and four very different Jan Terms. I’ve traveled to Washington D.C., South Africa, and New York City during my time here. I’ve actively participated in the theatre program; appearing in four mainstage productions, “frosh on stage” (the annual freshmen show), I’ve directed a one act, performed in five of them (one being a pre-recorded voice over), went to Broadway and saw eight wonderful shows there, participated in three different theatre projects (one for Core 350, one for World Vision, and the other for a Christian camp), and took several classes in the department. I’ve earned a theatre minor and an honorary theatre major in my four years here.

I’ve been on The Whitworthian staff for four years. Two years I wrote for News, one year I was the Circulation Manager, and this year I wrote for Opinions. I completed an internship at “Inland NW Homes & Lifestyles,” a magazine that covers arts, culture, and life in the Spokane and Coeur D’Alene area. I’ve earned a BA in Journalism and Mass Communications and minors in theatre and speech communication. The month I spent in South Africa was life-changing. The two weeks I spent in New York were some of the most fun I’ve had in my lifetime. I’ve made some life-long friends (Alex and Luis, you know who you are!) and have been dubbed the nick name “Tech Nine” by a certain Mr. Smith. That name has spread wider than I had ever expected.

I feel I have improved as a writer here at Whitworth and am now equipped to pursue a job in the journalism field. I also feel I have learned enough about the theatrical arts to at least be a part time actor/director/playwright/techie. My understanding of Christianity has also deepened and I feel I understand Jesus more than I ever have. I’ve had to endure Sodexo cooking for four years (though we Whitworth folk call it “Saga”) and working out at the ridiculously small gym called the Scotsford Fitness Center. I have never caught a virgin pinecone (defined as a pinecone that has fallen from a tree but never hit the ground), been hit by a Frisbee (though last week I was very bloody close), dropped a tray in Saga (back when we had trays) or got engaged to someone by spring. The thought of marrying someone scares me.

I’ve seen the election of America’s first African American president, witnessed a vicious hurricane that devastated the gulf coast, seen Iraq spin out of control, seen Afghanistan spin out of control, saw a bloodless coup in Thailand, two wars in Israel, rouge missile launches by North Korea, anti-Semitic remarks by an Iranian president, a devastating shooting at Virginia Tech University, the most unpopular American presidency since Richard Nixon, a Seattle Seahawks Super Bowl loss, allegations of torture at the hands of the CIA, a continuing genocide in Darfur, lawlessness in Somalia, terrorist attacks in London, Madrid, & Mumbai, the execution of Saddam Hussein, the deaths of Ken Lay, Slobodan Milosevic, & Augusto Pinochet, five states legalizing same-sex marriage, the closure of many newspapers across the country, a strong economy going down the drain at the hands of greedy Wall Street executives, a deep economic recession, television going digital, the swine flu, powerful automobile companies like Chrysler and GM bordering on bankruptcy, congressional and executive bailouts, two new Supreme Court justices, Facebook becoming mainstream, MySpace becoming outdated, YouTube rising to superpower status, Google expanding, Twitter tweeting, and the launch of the iPhone. This only scratches the surface of what has happened in America and around the world in the four years that I have been a student at Whitworth.

At school I have had one roommate, lived in a single for three years, taken a wide variety of classes from departments ranging from history to theology to theatre to natural sciences to political science to communications. I’ve attended lectures by Middle Eastern scholars, a South African preacher, and crazy speakers ranging from a hippie Presbyterian minister to a wacky socialist. I’ve taken classes from many brilliant professors and been in classes with countless brilliant young minds. I’ve spent countless numbers of hours in rehearsal, studying for tests, reading for class, doing homework, and goofing off. I’ve had lots of late night chats, pun offs (where you get a group of people together and all you do is tell random puns till you can’t think of any more), Safeway runs at midnight, random YouTube videos shown to me by friends, and coffee dates with friends. I’ve been asked out by a few young women over the years, and even rejected an offer to start a serious relationship with one. I won’t dare reveal who that is.

And what about those four mainstage theatre shows? “Our Town,” “Tartuffe,” “The Cradle Will Rock,” and “Museum” were all a blast. I would never trade a single hour of lost sleep for the world. The cast and crews of all those shows were ones of the best I’ve ever had the privilege to work with. And the directors of those shows were fantastic as well. I will most likely dedicate a whole blog post to my theatre experience at Whitworth.

Whitworth itself has changed a lot. We’ve expanded in student body size, torn down two Village buildings (the building I have lived in my junior and senior year, Keola, is next on the chopping block), seen the construction of Duvall Hall and the new East Residence Hall (lame name, huh?), saw the destruction and construction of a new fine arts building, said good bye to Beyond Hall, said hello to a new and improved Westminster Hall, and plenty of other changes that are two numerous to mention. The “small school” vibe I felt my freshmen year is slowly evolving into a “medium school” feeling. Also, our radio station, KWRS, went under this year. It is now known as “Whitworth FM.” Totally not the same.

Too much has happened in these four years. It boggles the mind to just think about it. But that’s what the future is for. You remember the past once you live in the present. And I plan to live in the present. I do not know what the future holds exactly, but I am sure it will be a happy one. But for now, I should really go to sleep because tomorrow is a big day.