Archive for June, 2009

First, I’d like to note that I’ve already written a 3pg paper on this tourney.  However, it doesn’t seem worthy of blogpost privileges…my writing skills have deteriorated in the summer. : ( Also, the paper was a bit boring so let me try to make this more interesting.

I competed in Varsity Policy Debate, which is essentially like walking into a clearing full of wild beasts hungry for the kill.  Policy on the mainland is completely different from policy in Hawaii.  I knew this before competing so I attempted to prepare by first researching kritiks, counterplans, and the stranger disadvantages (with everything leading to nuclear war) on Wikipedia.  Then I looked up YouTube videos of spreading, the infamous speed-reading style (punctuated with loud breaths of air…kind of like in competitive swimming) that’s common on the mainland.  Sometimes you’re only able to pick up on key words but most of the time, they’re just spewing nonsense anyways.  How does spreading teach communication skills?

People who know me are probably aware that I don’t believe in misleading optimism.  In this case, I didn’t expect to do well…and we were basically crushed. : )  Yet I still find it to be a good life experience: there’s something grand about reaching the point where you’re not at all intimidated about walking into the lion’s mouth.  I do wish that I had more fun with the rounds though.  For example, in one debate, the other team jumped from a gas tax to promote the use of alternative energy all the way to a preachy-sounding kritik on man and nature becoming one to prevent world extinction.  Back then, I had been extremely tempted to ask in cross-ex, “So, how is your relationship with nature?”  Looking back, I should have. ; )

I also did a supplementary event, expository speaking (basically a mini oration) and that was a lot more enjoyable than debate.  Even better was when we got to watch final rounds: some performances were simply breathtaking, including an impersonation of Judy Garland for Dramatic Interp, a couple of very eloquent US & International Extemp speechs, and a hilarious Oratory on the lost art of communication.

And now…onto gorgeous green Alabama!! ^ ^  I LOVED it there.  We were lost on the road (hitting dead ends & going the other way on one-way streets) half the time, but we did manage to explore the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute & the 16th St. Baptist Church next to it, a Peanut Depot (more fun than it sounds! cajun peanuts are amazing), a Steel Museum (all of our sightseeing had to be educational, obviously) at the Tannenhill Mill and Park, and go “hiking.”  Luckily for me, Schwan’s Party was even held in the McWane Science Center.  The thunderstorms in Alabama are also spectacular to watch… they really lit up the skies and lasted much longer than the ones in Hawaii.

Ahh, speaking of thunderstorms, I have a must-recount experience from our first night in Alabama.  We ate out at a Cajun restaurant and as we’re finishing up and getting ready to leave, the waitress comes by and says “Y’all be careful now.”  Then there’s a huge gust of wind (which seems to affect only our table) and the umbrella starts to jerk and spin wildly.  Everyone trys to hold the umbrella down but it eventually flies off, overturning the table and knocking all of the dishes/plastic glasses/leftover food to the ground.  I end up completely soaked in ice water & sticky bread-pudding syrup.  But it doesn’t end there!  Then it starts storming and all the lights in the area go out. : K  Freaky, yes?

This post would not be complete without mentioning Southern food.  Everything does taste better fried. ; ) Haha… the fried green tomatoes (at the original Irondale Café from the movie) were great!  Fried chicken, barbecued ribs, sweet tea, every available dessert…you really can’t go wrong with food in Alabama.  Just don’t order seafood.

Lastly, I didn’t really get to go shopping on this trip but I did find a lovely goldstone necklace at the Colorado airport. ^ ^ I love goldstone…& I got NFL (National Forensic League) souvenirs including a little red computer mouse (for my future laptop) and Ozark lollipops (have yet to try the Flaming Hot Melon one!)  That’s all for now folks.  Y’all be careful now!! ; )

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Valedictorian Speech

posted at doc!’s request : ]

As for my own thoughts, I’m glad I got to say what I wanted to say minus the sappiness and plus some strands of humor.

B.F. Skinner once said, “Education is what remains after one has forgotten what one has learned in school.”  Now if there’s one thing you’ll be forgetting about today, it’s this speech.  And that’s why I won’t try to hammer in a key message or attempt to explain the secret to living a long and fulfilling life: instead I’ll sprinkle a few ideas around and we’ll see what you retain.

Some people told me that senior year was going to be the cruise year…and they are the biggest liars I’ve ever met.  I mean, colleges were more fickle about acceptances than most people are about dating, the AP workload just piled up, and senioritis became the newest form of peer pressure—everyone was doing it & the blatant indifference seemed so cool.  So congratulations, my fellow classmates, for earning the privilege to don the stunning, heat-absorbing graduation attire and to the underclassmen—sorry, but you don’t know the full meaning of survival yet.

Back to senior year.  Somehow, in the chaotic mess of papers, labs, & applications, I was roped into participating in the Real World Design Challenge, or RWDC.  You might have heard about our team of six fine young ladies winning this national engineering competition or seen us posing in cute outfits and million dollar smiles on the local news, but today I’d like to tell you more about the events that led up to the conclusion, because so often, the process is much more significant than the end result.

We were quite the eclectic, unusual team, the only all-girl group & the only RWDC participants with no members having ever been in a major science competition.  Our credentials?  To quote from our team bios, our talents & triumphs included being a “senior workaholic”, drawing “realistic fashion models”, having moved around enough to be left “confused”, being math team captain, leading the orchestra, and being vaguely referenced by a Wikipedia article.  We had no idea what we were in for, were a bit intimidated by the other teams that towered over us, but ended up designing a fuel-efficient aircraft and having fun.  I never imagined doing anything related to engineering, but I’m glad I did.  As we all head off to college, I won’t say that I hope we “don’t ever change”, because I certainly hope we all do change.  I hope you broaden your horizons, look in new and unexpected places even when you feel you lack the qualifications to do so: I hope you challenge yourself & the image others (including The CollegeBoard) have of you.

During the actual RWDC design process, we made…many mistakes, some more major than others.  There was forgetting to separate drag into components, using the wrong altitude values, and finding out we uploaded the wrong final report after the deadline.  So the message here is short: life isn’t easy.  Screwing up is inevitable.  When there’s an obstacle, when a mistake is made, accept it, persevere and move on.  Easier said than done so friends, chocolate, and the FML website are there to ease the process.

While bonding with our competitors from other states, I couldn’t keep track of the number of times people said, “Oh, you’re from Hawaii!  Yeah, I see it, your features look Hawaiian.  So, do you guys live in grass shacks and dance hula everyday?”  It was easy to smile and correct the misconceptions but then when the top three teams were announced (Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, & Hawaii), the first thing I heard was “How did Hawaii get in the final three?”  That was upsetting since we had worked hard and I certainly felt like we had a chance of winning, but let’s face it, Hawaii’s claim to fame is its sandy beaches & palm trees.  I could go into the details of exactly how much blood and sweat was put into RWDC, but there’s no need to do that.  Why?  Because you already know all about the commitment, about putting your time and every ounce of energy into something.  The six guys who made up the other Iolani RWDC team worked just as hard & were our biggest competitors.  The speech & debate, math ,science bowl, and econ teams practiced & prepared like crazy this year.  Every athletic team radiates stamina and spirit, even at 5am practices and hour-long games.  Then there’s orchestra, band, dance, chorus, IDP—think of how many rehearsals go into a single outstanding performance.  Art projects, Imua, clubs & events run by officers & prefects, the list goes on and on.  With your dedication, Class of 2009, there should be no problem proving that Hawaii’s students can excel.

Let’s not forget however, our achievements would not have been possible without certain people.  For RWDC, Dr. Inouye acted as a mentor and as a provider of food & shelter.  And yes, those last two things are very important.  For our years at Iolani, our teachers have become irreplaceable figures, and their influence will only continue to grow as we gradually realize that they’ve always had our best interests at heart.  Thank you teachers for truly educating our mind, body & spirit, for all the guidance and inspiration you provide, and for being what makes Iolani great.

And now, I would also like to thank my favorite people in the world, my parents.  Mom and dad, I still love the stories of the old days when you, as new immigrants from Shanghai, would lug twenty-pound watermelon from Times Supermarket to UH in the interest of saving bus fare money or when you were so excited after looking underneath that Coca-Cola bottlecap and realizing that it could be exchanged for a Whopper at Burger King.  And then somehow you end up paying thousands of dollars in tuition to send my dearest brother and me to private schools.  It’s hard to make sense of but I truly appreciate everything you’ve done.  Thank you to all the family members present today for your endless love and sacrifices; I hope we make you proud.

I conclude by quoting former New York City mayor, Edward Koch: “The fireworks begin today.  Each diploma is a lighted match.  Each one of you is a fuse.”  Together, let us illuminate the skies with explosive talents & multicolored dreams.  Class of 2-0-0-9, well done, today is your day!

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