Introducing Myself in Japanese

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Super Bloom – Lake Elsinore, CA. March, 2019

はじまして。マリサです。だいがくのせんせいです。いまさんじゅさあい。よろしくおねがいします。

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“Self-Portrait of the Artist” Phase 1: Dinosaur Kid

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As promised for #inktober2018, I am doing my artist autobiography in the form of comics. (I suppose these are more of a glimpse into my artistic life rather than a true and accurate retelling.) In any case, one of my earliest memories of drawing is tracing a toy dinosaur after watching Jurassic Park for the millionth time. I loved dinosaurs then and to be honest, I still love them.

Friday Faves: The Number 13

Walking under ladders, crossing paths with a black cat, and the number 13. These are all things that are said to bring bad luck. Today is Friday the 13th! This is a day where many people, especially in the U.S., have anxiety about going about their daily routines. It is also a day to watch scary movies and get cheap tattoos. I have always been a contrarian, however. I have found that 13 has been my lucky number.

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Mimi the cat. I don’t think she’s unlucky!

I often had the number 13 for my soccer jersey as a child, one of my favorite jobs was off of 13th street, and my boyfriend and I first moved in together in an apartment #13. A few years back when I was flying RyanAir, I looked for a seat on the 13th row and found that right after 12, they had 14! This is apparently very common as some buildings also skip the 13th floor and go directly to the 14th.

Lucky 13

I found when I lived in Italy, 13 was lucky:

In some countries, such as Italy, 13 is considered a lucky number.[18] The expression fare tredici (“to do 13”) means hit the jackpot. 17 is considered an unlucky number instead.[19] (Wikipedia)

It seems that I am not alone in my love of the number 13. What is your lucky number?

My Teaching Philosophy

I started my teaching career 3 years ago as a Teaching Associate for Cal State Fullerton. At the end of my studies for graduate school, I completed a practicum which required me to compile a teaching portfolio, including a teaching philosophy.

By plucking her petals, you do not gather the beauty of the flower.”

-Rabindranath Tagore

Through my teaching of English and critical thinking, I want students to engage in society in every aspect of life through claiming their voices and not abdicating their personal power. Through a Socratic, communicative method of questioning students’ beliefs about authority and the right to speak (Peirce), professors and students can co-create knowledge and process in the classroom (Freire).

Through the MS TESOL program, I have gained much experience from my practicum teaching experience as an English 101 instructor, as well as my tutoring experiences at Coastline Community College’s Success Center and the CSUF Writing Center. In each of these positions, I have learned and applied the theories from Bonny Norton Peirce to Paolo Freire that I learned in Second Language Acquisition and Teaching Adults in an ESL/EFL Context. I also have modeled much of my syllabus after Ferris and Hedgecock’s recommendations.

Students are regularly subjected to the whims of teachers and other authority figures; their student knowledge and experience valid only if validated by authority. Paolo Freire’s banking concept of education applies quite well to today’s education system. In this philosophy, teachers give the gift of knowledge to eager students. Students lack knowledge, therefore they sit in class in order to absorb the knowledge that the all-knowing teacher bestows upon them. But this philosophy ignores the basic humanity of students: no one enters the classroom tabula rasa.

A new metaphor, rather than the negative, capitalistic definition of banking, is more apt to describe the classroom I strive for: a garden. The professor should act as a gardener, working with the natural inclinations of students for them to flourish. It is vital to consider students’ interests as “any gardener who should attempt to raise healthy, beautiful, and fruitful plants by outraging all those plants’ instinctive wants and searchings, would meet as his reward—sickly plants, ugly plants, sterile plants, dead plants” (de Cleyre). Ignoring that students bring their experiences and personal knowledge into the classroom is misguided. It is also important to give students the chance to grow in autonomy or “beauty” rather than “plucking away” at them so that they can fit into our educational molds. It is easy as teachers to engage with students on a purely transactional level rather than a human one. Each class brings different ethnicities, age groups, and social classes teaching the professor much about the world outside the classroom. Nothing happens in a vacuum.

Professors should act to encourage students to share their knowledge in the classroom and critically evaluate it. Critical thinking skills are integral parts of any English class. In doing so, the professor helps the student to become a critical thinker as well as a co-creator of knowledge. We learn how to interact with the discourse in society through our classrooms and our professors. Giving students the tools to go out and engage with society facilitates not only great English skills, but also social change. As a professor, I want to encourage my students to dissent and look for solutions if they see ills in society.

I wrote this two years ago for my practicum. Since then, I feel like I have lived many life times. However, the foundations of my teaching philosophy are still present in my mindset today. The garden metaphor is apt to describe the classroom, in more ways than one: a gardener can only control so much, plants thrive best in different environments and conditions, some plants need more or special attention from the gardener.

My Favorite Artists Through History – Rembrandt

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I love that Rembrandt was unafraid to use heavy shadow in his paintings. The darkness is used strategically to bring the viewer’s eye to the focus. This is the chiaroscuro effect that I am a huge fan of.

His self-portraits are absolutely stunning and it’s really cool to see his evolution through his self-portraits. I am always inspired to start painting self-portraits again whenever I look at this Dutch master.

He wasn’t just a painter. He was also a printmaker! They had a collection of his etchings in Boston a few years back which I was very happy to see! I love his swagger in this one:

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Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (2014)

I’ve had the pleasure of seeing a lot of Rembrandt work in person in Amsterdam at the Rijksmuseum. I also made sure to go to his house which is maintained as a museum.

My Favorite Pieces: The Night Watch, etchings

Psychic Vampires and Updates

Just and update for you all: it seems very likely that I will not be going to Japan with the JET program. I’m currently on the waitlist, but it seems unlikely that I will be upgraded at this point. It took me a while to be okay with taking the L on this particular dream of mine. While I can apply through other programs to teach in Japan, I’m taking the summer to focus on my writing and other creative pursuits.

I am developing ideas for a short form comic book. I have three stories currently brewing in my mind right now.

In order to actually get this accomplished, I’ve put myself on a social media diet. I’ve deactivated my Facebook account and deleted apps off of my phone. It’s funny how easy it is to get addicted to something so stupid. I’ve been off of it for about a week, and I’ve found that during the time I was mindlessly scrolling through Facebook was when I needed to daydream and be creative.

I will be using this blog more for thoughts and general observations as well as updates regarding my work.