Friday, February 18, 2011

High School memories...on floppy disk!

While going through some things at my parents' house, I found a paper (saved on floppy disk!) from my senior year of high school when I took senior project. For any of you that don't know, senior project is when you basically get to leave school in 4th period to go volunteer somewhere or get a job, and you have to write a paper about what you learned during your project. Here is my paper, about my experiences with Independent Study Italian, my chosen project. Y'all might not find this as funny as I do, but I think it's absolutely hilarious. This paper had to be 5 pages, and you can definitely tell I was trying to B.S. my way through it. Enjoy!

            In the spring of 2005, I went to the guidance office, as all other Powell High School students do, to schedule the next year of classes, my senior year. I knew that I had some important decisions to make, because I didn’t want to load myself down. Not only do I take classes on the AP level, but I also am co-captain of the Powell Pantherettes Dance Team and I am a member of the BETA Club. I knew, however, that the year would be busy regardless of what I signed up for.
            For some unknown reason, when I entered the office of Ms. McCluen, I signed up for AP Calculus. Looking back, I don’t know if I had a moment of insanity or something, but there was no way I could have taken that class! I already had signed up for three other AP classes, French IV and V AP and English IV AP. Needless to say, when I went to pick up my schedule, I instantly picked up a schedule change application. After some hard work by guidance, no doubt, it was fixed. I picked up my schedule, and it read as follows: “English IV AP, Cassell; French IV AP, Taylor; Keyboarding/Keyboarding Applications, Lentz; Senior Project, Cagle.” I about died. I did not want to have to be in Senior Project! I knew it was better that Calculus, but at that moment, I wanted to switch back. It is not like I don’t want to get to leave school early and get a job and earn money and all that fun stuff, it is just the fact that I can’t. As already mentioned, I am on the dance team. We have practice two times a week after school in the lobby. It would be impractical for me to leave, work for probably about an hour, then come right back. I had no clue what to do for my project that would allow me to go to practice, but still earn all my hours. I figured that my project would end up being something lame that I hated. Finally, the perfect solution came to me in a miraculous dream that also showed me my future.
            Just kidding! Madame told me the idea, and I ran with it. Her idea was for me to study Italian independently in her classroom. It was perfect. I could sit in there, while she had French IV AP, the second class, and study on my own. She already had the books for me to use from when she taught a weekly survival Italian course after school for those of us going with her to Italy. I already knew a little Italian from that course. And most of all, it worked out great for me. My dilemma of being at school at was solved, and I would be doing something that I actually wanted to do!
            I soon found out that studying something independently is not as easy as it sounds. Sure, I had no problem teaching myself, it was motivating myself that I had a hard time with. I found myself not wanting to do the work. It wasn’t like I didn’t like learning a third language or anything, just that like anyone else, I guess I had a little case of “senioritis” and I didn’t want to work. But I got through it. I have to work hard at it, and sometimes it is really tough. I just keep pushing myself to do my best and not give up.
            I learned a lot through studying a third language. It was easier to learn it, because I could relate it to French. For instance, it took me a long time to understand the concept of forming verbs in the past tense in French. When I studied it in Italian, I could make sense out of it by saying, “Oh, I get it, passato prossimo is like passé compose!” However, though it does make things easier, it also makes things harder. I know it sounds like an oxymoron, but it is the truth. I can understand the concept more easily, but it is easy to replace a French word with an Italian one. I was taking a test in French class, and we had to write a composition. All of a sudden, I could not remember the French word for “angry.” All that popped into my head was arribiata, which is the Italian word for ”angry; spicy.” I was forced to add this word into my all-French composé, because the word “angry” was vital to the whole idea of the paragraph. I was a little arribiata at myself for forgetting this word, and that I had to substitute. I have tried harder now not to get the two mixed up, and I have to make sure that I remember that although I can relate the two, they are not interchangeable.
            I loved the chance to learn a third language. I love speaking French, but I wanted to know more. Languages are like the saying on the back of the Lay’s potato chip bag, “Can’t have just one” or whatever it says.  It is very important for people, especially the current generation, to know more than English. It is visible that there is a need for multilingualism not only when one is traveling abroad but also right here at home. In East Tennessee, more and more Spanish-speaking people are coming to work and live. Some can only speak Spanish. Many people are very closed-minded and say, “They’re in our country, why can’t they learn our language?” Also, through two trips to Europe, I have been shocked at what I saw. In Paris, almost every person I encountered spoke at least some English. This shows that Americans have traveled to Europe, and have been so insistent on speaking English that the French were forced to learn English to keep the Americans coming. Americans have such a feeling that they are superior to everyone. Although they say that immigrants should know English before coming to America, they are mad when they travel abroad and find out that “Wait, you mean these French people don’t speak English?” English is not even the most widely spoken language in the world, it is Mandarin Chinese. Americans need to realize that there is a lot more to the world that just America. The world would be a much better place if more people were multilingual. There would not be such a problem between nations if they could sort things out face to face, and not through interpreters.
            Independently studying Italian for my senior project was a great idea. I got to learn some Italian, as well as more of an understanding of the Italian people. I enjoyed the Senior Project class a lot more than I thought I would. Although I found the daily schedule and the journals a little tedious, it was a good system. After being given the chance to study a third language, I would love to continue learning languages in college. I believe that I will continue with my French and also take Spanish. It is important for people to know more than one, even two languages, and for people to understand others a little more. That is what studying Italian has helped me to see.

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