Flask Half-Empty

ramblings about warcraft, other games, & randomness

Category Archives: photography

July Challenge: Something About Me – Becoming a Teacher & More

Ambermist’s July Challenge prompts us to write something personal about us, the people behind the blogs and the real faces to the characters we talk about so often. It’s funny, actually — if you’d asked me to write on this prompt a month ago, my answers would be very different. While brainstorming, I swayed between writing something heavy-hearted that I’ve opened up to accept recently, or just listing several small personal things about me. While Ninevi has been going through some changes lately (she’s Worgen now!) some parts of my real-life have been going through a shift, too. Here is my story!

The Academy (My residence for student teaching this upcoming semester)

Now, as somewhat of a warning, I get harped on a lot from friends and family about always talking about my jobs/school and being a workaholic. But to me, that’s my life and what feels like I put all of my passion into and thus defines a lot of who I am.

Early this July, I left my position as a research associate at a biotech lab because I was accepted to both grad school and a teacher residency program that I had interviewed for earlier this year. Don’t get me wrong — I love research in science, and I’ve enjoyed learning so, so much during the 5-6 years I’ve been exposed to the field. But I realized a couple of years ago that my heart isn’t completely there. Maybe it wasn’t so much that I loved research, but that I love science and innovation as a whole. I wanted to do something that reached out to more people and not just in academia and mingling among “distinguished” scientists. There was something missing from the picture, and it was being able to really contribute much to the community around me. There were no feelings of making significant differences or real satisfaction. Granted, I was but a small pawn out in the field and there wasn’t much for me to grow on unless I pursued a doctorate, but I finally came to realize that research was not something I could call a career and dedicate the rest of my life to.

After having worked with many local educational outreach programs in the major city nearby and also with undergraduates in my lab, I discovered a niche — teaching. I found myself feeling happiest and excited to engage with students and getting them likewise excited about science and math. Teaching and leading them opened an opportunity for me to shed my usual introverted, ISTJ-type personality and instead be engaging and less of the held-back, reserved, and overall shy person I’ve been for twenty some years of my life. And so I readily jumped on the residency & grad school program opportunities as soon as they came.

I’ve gone through a lot of (re)-discovering my personal identity as a teacher. The two classes I’ve had so far have examined social injustice and equity in education.  Some of the topics such as racism and classism touched too close to home. It was almost bizarre to me (an Asian-American woman who grew up in the Bible Belt portion of Southeastern USA) to hear fellow members of my program describe that they’ve never had experiences of interacting with people from different ethnicities/cultures. It made me realize I always see things in a different lens: in a room of 30 intelligent future teachers of various subjects, 29 were Caucasian, and 1 was…well, me! Having grown up being constantly racially profiled and stereotyped, it was glaringly obvious to me upon entering the classroom. But I wondered if my classmates and friends noticed?

Through discussion, we established that race is a socially constructed notion. Well, I agree. If only someone could explain that to classmates I met throughout grade school who unquestionably saw me as different. Even in online and gaming communities, there are stereotypes. These boxes of labels and over-generalized classifications — they’re everywhere. But how do I relate my experiences to my future students (likely in an urban, inner-city setting)? More importantly, how do I explain (or break down) the walls of social constructs to my future students? These are just some of the things that I’ve been brainstorming since starting my education program. The depth of the topics in social injustice is both disturbing and captivating — it’s something I never really touched on in my core studies in the hard sciences. Social science is so eye-opening, and I hope I can learn even more by getting to know my students and learning from their backgrounds and experiences.

There are a lot of things that drive me as a future teacher. One huge motivation is that I hope to inspire lesser-represented groups of youths (minorities and girls, especially) to be interested in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math). And not just them, but I want to spark more interest in those subjects for all of my students and to show them what kinds of applications there are in everyday life as well as in future studies or careers if they so choose. In two weeks, I’ll begin my student-teaching hours in the classroom at a science and math academy. It’s a lottery-based, urban and public magnet school that pulls from the entire county. I’m incredibly excited and even more nervous and hope I don’t completely make a fool of myself. After all, I’ll have to come up with some way to capture their attention, and I’m hardly as verbose or rambly IRL than I am online and in writing! But perhaps that’s a good thing… :P

All in all, I’m excited and psyched for new beginnings and for changes to come. I know it’ll be a hard and oftentimes underappreciated job, and I know there are frustrating and hair-pulling times to come. But more than anything, I look forward to these challenges. If I can overcome that and make a difference by pushing my students towards being successful in school as well as becoming thriving citizens of society, I would be most pleased.

And just so this post isn’t completely dry work/study related and kind of super-serious, here are some photos of things that are dear to me… :)

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Off-Topic: Photoset – Traveling, Botany, & Heritage

Note: This post is off-topic and contains lots of photos!

Oh my…it’s been a couple weeks since I posted, hasn’t it? I’m not doing so great on keeping up with this new blogging thing! *scolds self* This month’s been super busy, and I’ve been on travel for the past two weeks or so at conferences for work (ASM/ASMCUE 2012) in San Francisco, CA. Such a beautiful city and lovely weather! It was super nice to have 60°F weather and sunny skies instead of constant summer thunderstorms and mid-90’s like at home. Despite being mostly busy with presenting at the conference and visiting all the exhibits (omg, all the automated lab machinery on display was AMAZING…) I did get the last day to go about the city and do some exploring! This was maybe my 3rd or 4th time in CA, but first in SF. It’s so different, and I loved it! I like taking pictures, so I wandered through downtown, Chinatown, and Golden Gate Park with my camera, trying to avoid the overly-touristy places and hide from overwhelming crowds since I was alone. And I got to see some things that are really dear to me – gardens, nature, heritage, & culture.

So instead of me rambling more, I thought I’d share some pictures (even if they’re off-topic from this blog…!) :P

Some aerial photos I took while in flight!

 

Hazy, sloped city!

 

“Fear Head” by Roman Cesario, Mitsu Overstreet and Roberto Gonzalez @ Tenderloin

 

Not sure of artist(s).

I live in the suburbs, so street art is always something I look forward to when visiting cities. :)

Historic San Francisco cable cars! :D

 

Is the street tilted…or am I??

 

Such colorful houses :D

 

Some random noms: egg tartine w/ fresh tomatoes, dim sum, green tea bubble tea, 馬拉糕 (ma la gao)

 

Some more random noms…gyoza, “mother & son” sushi roll, chicken paratha fold & gulab jamun, fish tacos!

 

Various Chinatown scenery, shop fronts, street art

Going to SF Chinatown was really an amazing experience. I’ve been to different ‘towns around the US (Atlanta, New York, Chicago, & more) but SF Chinatown was HUGE. Just entering and being among all the shoppers (regulars & tourists alike) was really very humbling, and it made me nostalgic for Taiwan, where my family is originally from. SF Chinatown is really a city within a city, the oldest and largest community outside of Asia. The sights, the smells, and the sounds brought back memories & made new ones, and I was kind of sad I had nobody to share it with except me & my camera! But now I can share some pictures with you :)

Religious sector, bakery & roasted duck/bbq

 

Dried goods & herbal medicine stores, cake shop with all sorts of flavors

Seeing all the dried goods/herbalist stores reminded of my grandfather, who I guess you can say was a real life herbalist and apothecary! (Oho, I snuck a WoW reference into this OT post! See what I did there?) He had a small eastern medicine and herbal store in his own home in Taiwan, and he was really active in tending his gardens and flowers. I wish I could have bought a little of everything, but just a few grams of many of the dried goods were so expensive!

San Francisco Conservatory of Flowers

I guess here is where I get a bit nutty and druid-y! I majored in environmental science/ecology in college, and I’ve always kind of had an obsession with plants and botany…(*spam heals Regrowth to watch leaves falling*) so going to conservatories, botanical gardens and the like excites me like none other and turns me into a major nature dork. I kept texting my friend Pneu while spazzing out about all the flowers and amazing plants, and I’m sure I was probably very annoying! D:

Just some of the hundreds of photos I took of the gorgeous flowers & greenery…

There were also some really neat pitcher plants, and I couldn’t help but keep thinking…”Oh look, it’s a Victreebel…!”

Raptors in the conservatory?!

 

Stegosaurus! :D

 

Oops…

 

Japanese Tea Garden

 

Adorable gift sets.

 

Succulent garden @ SF Botanical Gardens. I love succulents! :3 I wanted to buy them ALL and take them home with me!

 

& going home…(with crappy phone pics lol)

So that’s it! I’m back home and waiting for my next big adventure to start (ie: grad school — eek!) and hoping to have more time to write more on-topic stuff here, as well as finish Diablo 3 and get ready for Mists! :P And it’s Midsummer Fire Festival already, so I hope to make a post about that sometime soon, too. Lots to do and little time.

If you enjoyed my photos, feel free to visit my Flickr (homepage) – or the specific sets: San Francisco or Golden Gate Park for a lot more pictures. Thanks for reading or browsing! :D