Tzippy, do you have a story to tell when you almost died or were in a serious fight?
“Well, I have a story when I saved a life, does it count?”
Sure, go ahead.
Here is Tzippy’s story:
1. “Basically one time, it was long time ago, I was young, in 1st grade or so.

2 We were preparing succot, it’s a Jewish holiday.

3 My whole family was involved and couple of friends, too.

4 My father was on a pretty high ladder on a cement porch.

5 I was sitting right below.

6 The ladder wasn’t 100% steady, he lost the balance and fell.

7 He fell right into my lap.

8 If I wasn’t sitting there, he would have basically cracked his head and died.

9 So that’s how I saved his life.”

Joel, do you have a good fight story or when you almost died?
Oh yes, I have an interesting near death experience.
Great, let’s hear it.
Joel tells us his story:
1 “I was in the 5th grade when I was experiencing horrible, horrible stomach aches to the point when my mom decided to take me to the doctor.

2 The doctor says: he is faking it.

3 Just give him those horrible tasting pills and he’ll stop lying to go back to school.

4 However, the pills don’t work, I’m still suffering and so my mom is like, something’s wrong and she takes me to the specialist.

5 A specialist who is, like, top rated on Long Island.

6 So we go to see him, he runs bunch of tests and he comes up with the diagnosis that I have this serious sickness and am going to die in couple of weeks.

7 Of course my mom is flipping out and I’m just like: alright.

8 The doctor says to my mom: you can take him to the hospital and operate and so maybe save his life.

9 So we go to the hospital, they start to prepare everything, you know, IV and all that and then they’re like: wait, why are you here again?

10 So I tell them and they look at my chart and all and say: something is not right.

11 And so they run the tests again and they say: no, you don’t have it, you’re perfectly fine, it was just a stomach bug.

12 The specialist has misdiagnosed me!

13 Luckily I didn’t have the operation, they stopped just in time.

14 And I’m alive now.

15 Yuppie!”

 

Inspired by the assignment, I searched on google.pl for Liceum Ogólnokształcące nr. 1 in Ozorkow, Poland. I didn’t expect to find any footprint of its existence online. How wrong was I! Here it is: a proud website of my high school with all information on it that you would expect on any reputable school’s website:

http://www.lo-ozorkow.pl/strona100.htm
There is even an English version to keep up with the trend of globalization. I am shocked. I didn’t expect a small town’s only high school to have its own, looks like well run and updated website. I surely underestimated the times of computerized reality. The mission presented in school’s profile sounds impressive and attractive unlike its reality I have lived there few years back :

“The teachers want to prepare students for individual work
and creative participation in social life.”
“The school promotes the hard-working, the responsible
and the ambitious.
The words by a Polish novelist Stefan Żeromski:
“Czuję w piersiach, żem młody i Polak” feature
the youth admiration and patriotism.
These words oblige…”

Going by the website, this school might have developed in the right direction. The sports’ achievements have especially impressed me because during my time there, we had nothing to be proud of. There was nobody to train us and mainly nobody to motivate. I have even found few youtube videos refering to the school of which one seemed to me worth sharing because it shows creative trend among young scholars there. They have embraced new ways of expressing themselves:

Good job!

I remember very vividly the best, most significant and most educational moment in my scholar career that had impacted not only my studying but my whole life on many dimensions. It was in my third year of studying German Language and Literature at the University when the opportunity for an achievement scholarship in form of studying abroad has been announced. The scholarship was very attractive to all students for many reasons: it was sponsored by the European Union and all expenses except the trip costs were covert-university’s tuition, living expenses, and even a small pocket money were all part of the package. It was a one year program with one semester at the Sheffield University in England and one semester at the Justus-Liebig-Universitat in Giessen, Germany. That would be attractive to students of all programs but for linguistic students it had additional component of enhancing and polishing the very subject of the study: foreign language. Obviously all students would like be awarded this highly attractive and prestigious scholarship, but there were only six available spots. Six spots for hundred and fifty five students. I guess, you couldn’t call me an overachiever since my GPA has placed me only at the 5th position, but that was surely enough to make me a serious candidate, because the GPA was, as expected in such cases, the first ingredient necessary to make the application a successful one. The second part was an interview in which I had to present in a convincing manner my plan for dissertation because the stay abroad had a purpose to expose us to more literature available for research so I should know how to use it wisely. This was the challenging part for me. No, not because I didn’t know what I wanted to do research about. The topic of interest was clear in my head for some time then. I was immersed in philosophical writings in search of life’s meaning and it seemed like the mediaeval mysticism had the best answers so I was passionately studying scarce texts of Meister Eckhart, Hildegard of Bingen, Heinrich Suso and them alike. My personal challenge was of a different nature: I had to fight for myself, I had to “eliminate” other candidates, show that I am better, that I deserve it more then the others. This might sound peculiar in today’s reality when virtually every attractive program, job or scholarship requires just that: to show that you are better then other candidates. But I grew up in a family with strong values of socialism and Catholicism mixed together where self-confidence was confused with vanity, assertiveness with aggression and ambition with greed. In this reality, you don’t stand up for yourself, you don’t prove yourself, you don’t take up on challenges: you get what you get and you don’t get upset! Now, having mantras in my head of the kind: “what makes you think you deserve it? Don’t you feel guilty that others won’t get it if you do? Don’t you feel guilty that you even want it in first place?!”, It would have been a fundamentally different experience if it has just been announced that based on GPA the following group of students have received this precious scholarship (you get what you get and you don’t get upset- remember?), but there I had to distinctly express my interest, show up at the interview and promote myself as a candidate worthy the scholarship . Until today I don’t know how I managed to quiet my self defeating mantras in my head to sound confident, self conscious, proud of my scholar achievements and clear about my future plans. I sometimes think, maybe it was because I was wearing that casual dress- the only one I have ever bought and wore in my life so I felt almost like not myself? Maybe the weather being as perfect as it was that day: not too hot, not too cold, just like a perfect day in May can be. I did it! I got it! I consider this experience and more importantly this victory as the most important event in my life. I use it as a reference whenever I feel like I need to remind myself that I am in fact capable of being confident, competent and worthy.

The article of my choice is dated April 22, 1972 and reports about demonstrations against the Vietnam War that were spread throughout the country and involved most major universities.  Interestingly enough, in the NYC area, the Columbia University seemed to be considered the most revolutionary one, since the comment was “In New York, the biggest antiwar demonstration again involved Columbia.”  The CUNY was involved only marginally for this cause: “The city’s other campuses were relatively quiet. Several hundred students stayed away from classes in Queens College.”

As the recent protest at Queens College against tuition fee hike has shown, students could in the past and can today gather together to voice their opinion in sometimes peaceful and sometimes more violent manner.  There can be issues concerning only one University like the fee hikes or issues that move the hearts of all Americans and in the latter cases, colleges do tend to express bravely their differences in opinions.  And it does require courage to stand up to your believes because even in the country of freedom of opinion, voicing this opinion might still cost lives:

People do not have equal opportunities in any area of life from meeting basic needs like food or shelter to more advanced like self realization in form of for example college education.  I don’t know why, I don’t know if it’s fair, I don’t know if it’s wise, I don’t even know if it has any meaning beyond our understanding… – it is what it is.  In a perfect world we would like to see everyone having the chance to “realize their full potential” whatever this “full potential” might mean.  Part of it is an access to education at all levels.  In fact, the United States is trying to accommodate people from all financial background in form of grants, free governmental programs and loans to give chance for development of skills and interests.  However, no matter how free and widely available the colleges might become, the preparation for the college starts from almost the time of birth with heavy influence of the parents.  As much as the country has taken steps to protect children from violence and hunger, it is not able to provide equality in parental care that entails their intelligence but also emotional support or broadly understood love, interest and financial ability to provide for after school programs.  All those factors will greatly influence further educational ability and opportunities.

My road to Queens College has been long and a rocky one. My first university experience grew out of my parents’ and my own expectations towards me but without a clear path and goal settings. As a child and a teenager I was not exposed to various experiences and had scare opportunities to find out my passions, skills and predispositions so I was pursuing what I was best at at the moment which happened to be a foreign language. After years of experiencing the life of adulthood and not working in the field of education, I finally know what I want to spend my energy on, so I came back to college to get my credentials. Why? Because in the field of my new choice which is sport psychology it would be extremely difficult to get a chance of advancement without a proper degree.

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