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Learn about the events I attend, the knowledge I gather, and my opinions. 


Jake Halpern

January 01, 2020

My biggest takeaway is that it’s not as easy as it seems to be a journalist. Jake seems like a man of incredible integrity, and I can’t imagine making some of the decisions he’s had to make for his job. He seems to live and breathe storytelling. It’s a hard path to take, but for him it is worth it. I can relate to this desire to do what I love, despite it being impractical. I’m planning on being an artist. I can’t imagine myself without art, and it’s the only thing I love enough to pursue. Jake told us to follow our dreams if we’re sure of what we love, and I was very inspired by this advise. Too many adults tell us to choose what we do practically. I don’t think that practicality is worth sacrificing dreams. 

Syrian Cooking Class

I think that food is an excellent window into culture, and I’m sure that Yaman was glad to share her culture with a group of interested high school students. Food isn’t a large part of American culture, so I always find it interesting to view other cultures through their food. We get to do this in Seminar with the Yum Yum boxes, and it’s enlightening to see what people eat around the world. I know that food is a large part of many cultures, so food is probably very close to Yaman’s heart. I’m grateful that she shared it with us and told us such personal stories to better our understanding of the refugee crisis. As we learned in A Path Appears, it’s far more effective to learn about issues from personal stories. 

Palestine Museum US

I had a very powerful experience at the Palestine Museum US. I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect, given that the museum is new and mainly run by one man. I was surprised by how well-put together the museum was, especially for such a small space. There were so many artifacts and pieces of different styles crammed into the small space, and Faisal Saleh seemed to know everything about every piece. It’s always refreshing to speak with someone so purely passionate for a cause, but it was also heartbreaking to see how close he is to the horrific issue. I can tell through the museum that he loves his people, country, and culture, and the museum is a way to preserve all three. It is important to educate second-generation Palestinian-Americans on their culture, and to prove their existence for thousands of years. The museum provides a record of Palestinian culture that dates back centuries, which both validates and educates Palestinians living in America who are unable to return to their country. In such an Israel-centric country, it is important for Americans to be educated and aware, and the Palestine Museum US provides a platform for Palestinians to be heard by Americans. It is a record of the injustice in Palestine, which goes entirely uncovered and unnoticed in American media. Americans who visit this museum will learn about the injustices of Israel and gain a better understanding of Palestinian culture. This humanizes them, which may allow more Americans to be empathetic. It’s a shame that this is necessary for such a large injustice to be recognized in the United States. I am also aware that the museum itself will not change many minds, but it is certainly a step in the right direction for the recognition of Palestine by Americans. The Palestine Museum US also preserves Palestinian culture, which has been dampened significantly by Israeli suppression. 

New York Trip

January 01, 2020

The Band’s Visit was one of my favorite performances I’ve seen. The music was exceptional, and the story was compelling. As a musician, I understand the underlying theme of the power of music. I remember the moment when Tewfiq tells Dina about conducting an orchestra, and Dina says that it must be the most important thing in the world. I can relate to this kind of power in music. The Band’s Visit highlights how music can connect people across culture. We see differences between the Israelis and Egyptians, but music doesn’t fail to connect them. I’ve seen a range of shows on Broadway, but almost all of them had extensive choreography and showy numbers. The Band’s Visit, however, was “deceptively simple.” It didn’t have much choreography, lighting work, or large harmonies. It the staging was simple, and the storyline was simpler. Reflecting on the show, I can’t come up with any significant plot points or events. The entire show was about relationships, and there was no resolution. I think equating it to a poem is accurate, because it can be interpreted in so many different ways. So little happens that the viewer thinks about every word. It is extremely relatable because in everyday life, big things don’t usually happen. The Band’s Visit simply outlines a couple of days for a couple of people and as in life, there is no resolution. This simplicity is reflected in the music. I think it is important to bring Middle Eastern music to the United States, and especially to a venue as white as Broadway. Broadway-goers are presented with an (as far as I’m concerned) ethnically accurate depiction of both Middle Eastern and Israeli culture that they wouldn’t otherwise encounter. 


I have seen Arn Chorn Pond perform at all school almost every year since sixth grade, and I have continuously been amazed by his story. I remember reading Never Fall Down and being awestruck that this man was connected to Watkinson, and that I got to experience his music each year. The level of preparation we had through studying Cambodia in Seminar allowed me to truly appreciate the event. I am very glad that we watched the The Flute Player, and that Mr. Gromak spoke with us. Without this preparation, I would not have been nearly as inspired by the event. I was able to take in the music and stories without focusing too much on the facts, because I was primed with enough knowledge about Arn and company. I was excited for the masterclass all week, but it far exceeded my expectations. I was awestruck the entire time. It is truly amazing that people can come out of such violence with such love. As an artist, I am deeply inspired by the work that Arn has done, and I find it hard to understand how he still has the heart to create. It is evident that he is full of love for both art and those around him. When the musicians played and danced, it created a powerful atmosphere. I remember thinking, “this is really magical.” I deeply appreciate the power of music and its ability to unite people, and there was something about this performance that brought the students, performers, and teachers to the same level. Music, like Arn explained, is one of the only ways to unite people so powerfully. When put into the context of Cambodia, music has an incredible healing power. All the humanitarian aid, grievances, and political rebuilding cannot match the power of a simple song. 

New Haven

We traveled to New Haven to learn about IRIS, a refugee relocation service. We visited the Yale Library and saw the play Kiss at the Yale Rep. 

Bolokada Conde

This masterclass has been my favorite all year. Bolokada was interactive, lively, and passionate. He had a semi-circle of djembe drums set up where each up us could learn individually. There were five larger drums set up along the back wall of the stage. Bolokada began by teaching us about the importance of the djembe in his life, and his upbringing in Morowaya, Guinea. He has a number of  initiatives to improve the quality of life in Morowaya, and he has built an access road to the village, funded a schoolhouse and a mosque, drilled a well for clean water, and helped rebuild houses after a fire. This in itself is amazing and inspirational work, but Bolokada’s real work is in drumming. He is one of the three master drummers in the world, and is the only master drummer who performs or teaches. It was an excellent snippet of traditional Guinea culture that we otherwise would have been blind to. I find it amazing that Bolokada comes from such an impoverished village and is now able to speak fluent English and share his culture around the world. Since there was not a road to Morowaya before Bolokada built one, their culture would otherwise be completely unheard. 

Bias in Education

What inherent biases do we hold, and how would they affect the way we view education? I designed a workshop with Oliver Avery to explore these biases, and ran it twice with groups of Watkinson students. We divided the students into three groups, and gave each group a packet of applicants for a scholarship. We told them that each student would not be able to attend college without the scholarship. Each applicant was underprivileged. The three groups were given the same descriptions of the applicants, but different names were paired with each description. The goal was to catch our bias in selecting students, regarding race and gender. 

Attached is a link to the applicants that "group 1" saw. 

The Brooklyn Museum: Proof

Proof was my favorite exhibit in the museum. I was amazed by the beautiful contrast between Longo’s hyper-realistic drawings, Goya’s abstract prints, and Eisenstein's films. Each component of the exhibit conveyed a similar message despite apparent differences. I took different “proof” away from each Longo drawing. Untitled (Raft at Sea) depicts the vastness of the ocean compared to a tiny raft. It can be inferred that the people on the raft are refugees, and the image is similar to images in Human Flow. This piece is proof of the horrors of being a refugee, both literally and figuratively in the middle of the unknown with nothing. Untitled (Black Pussy hat in Women’s March) is proof of the importance of one person in a massive movement. Longo chooses to focus on one person in a large crowd that can be seen extending far into the distance. Untitled (Vatican Bishops) depicts Roman Catholic bishops looking forward. Though they are looking forward they cannot see anything but the backs of more bishops. They are blinded by their own beliefs. This piece is proof of the dangers of religion. 

Bangsakol: a Requiem for Cambodia

Bangsokol absolutely achieved its goal. I was entirely captivated the entire time, and the hour and a half long performance felt like twenty minutes. It takes a special kind of emotional impact to make time move that fast. I’ve always enjoyed hearing Arn Chorn-Pond speak at all-school over the years. When the Magic Music Bus was first starting up I loved the idea of rebuilding a culture through the arts. Now, as a junior, I have a more clear understanding of the genocide and I understand the devastating impact the Khmer Rouge had on Cambodian arts. Bangsokol honors Cambodian culture through the arts, which is incredibly powerful. I liked how they gave us pictures of people who lost their lives. It’s a concrete way to honor each victim. It’s amazing that Bangsokol captivates each member of the audience and focuses their attention on honoring the dead. The full attention of each audience member is what makes the energy of Bangsokol so powerful.

Human Flow

uman Flow was a powerful documentary. I was deeply moved by many of the scenes, and although it was long, I was engaged the entire time. Ai WeiWei’s choices in directing gave the film meaning, and as an artist I was able to appreciate the film from both global and artistic viewpoints. From the beginning, WeiWei instilled empathy in the viewer: he opened the film with long, silent shots of refugees staring into the camera. The refugees were immediately established as human as an unbreakable connection between the viewer and the film was created through eye contact. Artistically, these long shots are an uncertain choice because they risk becoming awkward or boring. Human Flow, however, does a beautiful job at establishing empathy by unusual means. Additionally, the lack of dialogue made it especially powerful when we heard a refugee talk about his or her situation. Ai WeiWei could have overdone the interview footage, but he chose to spread it out throughout the film and only include incredibly powerful interviews. The most memorable moment was when these two tactics to establish empathy merged into an interview with a man who was visiting the graves of his family. Like the other refugees, he was introduced with a long shot of his face. He spoke for longer than most other subjects, and this extra length added substance to the interview.

Oneika Raymond

I’m inspired by Oneika. She seems to be the embodiment of Watkinson’s mission. Unlike some Watkinson students, she didn’t grow up affluent enough to take trips for the sake of traveling. In college, however, she took advantage of the resources offered and spent a year studying in France, allowing her to find her passion. Oneika took advantage of the opportunities available and created her livelihood out of her passion, which is a rare blessing.

Freshly Squeezed: The Domacracy Suggestion Box

One of Colin’s first questions was about the Catch 22 of democracy: that the system needs to be changed, but it’s too broken to do so. An underlying debate throughout the night was regarding this question. Some panelists thought the source of the problem in democracy was in the citizens, and some thought it was in the system. I believe the source of the problem is far more deep-rooted than most Americans are willing to admit. The source of the problem with democracy was built into the system at our nation’s creation. American history begins with a genocide of Native Americans, and continues into hundreds of years of slavery and the oppression of women. The constitution was drafted at a time when a black man was considered 3/5 of a person and a woman did not have the right to own property. Because of this, it’s not surprising that democracy continues to present problems. Americans are still, to some extent, conditioned to be closed minded. The Electoral College, as mentioned by Bilal, was created to keep free states from abolishing slavery. Our system is so flawed that we continue to value practices put in place to keep human beings as property. These issues that extend from the birth of our nation cause modern-day individuals to be biased, closed-minded, and lacking in civics. The flawed system affects the individual, making it nearly impossible to create change. This Freshly Squeezed event has caused me to think more about where the problem lies in democracy, and if it is feasible to fix it. 

CT Forum with Stephen Breyer

Breyer was engaging, humorous, and spoke to relevant issues. He brought up two points: first that the American public respects the law, and second that Supreme Court Justices respect each other. Regarding the first point, Breyer explained that American respect for the law is built on a hundreds-of-years-old foundation. Though personally I tend to lean towards a non-nationalistic standpoint, I find it hard to deny that this unspoken respect for the law is unique. Breyer’s second point on respect concerns respect of different opinions. In light of our current governmental status, I’d say that most everyone, citizen or politician, has a hard time respecting opposing viewpoints. Even I am guilty of dismissing most Republican stances. It is hard to grasp the level of respect that the Supreme Court Justices have for each other. Breyer said that no Justice has ever raised his or her voice in the conference room, and although they don’t agree with some decisions that are made, they remain respectful of each other’s opinions.

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Click below to read my entire Reflection Journal 


Learn about the work I do in Global Studies, including the research I do and the out of school events I attend.  


In my Plan of Action, I outline my plans for the year including the events I plan to attend, the research I hope to conduct, and my goals for senior year. 



Date plan devised: 10/6/17

Date plan revised: 11/15/17



  • This year, I will attend the following events:  

     - Glenn Ligon & Huey Copeland in Conversation (Race & African American Art), Wadsworth Atheneum, September 13

     - Skype with Adam Alter, author of Irresistible, September 25

     - Caitlin Wolfe, Global Health Epidemiologist, September 27

     - CT Forum: Evening w/ Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer, September 28

     - Great Democracy Suggestion Box! Freshly Squeezed, October 4

     - FULL DAY FIELD TRIP:  NYC and Bangsokol: A Requiem for Cambodia, December 15

     - Borders, Judi Dworin Performance Project, Watkinson Theater, February

     - CT Forum: The State of Journalism and the News, 8pm, March 16
      Artemis Joukowsky- Assembly, Class Visit & Evening Event, April 10-12

     - Global Studies Field Trip Full Day, April 26

     - KISS, play at Yale Repertory Theater, April//May

     - A Raisin in the Sun, Watkinson Theater, May 18-19

     - Service work at the South Park Inn

  • I will write reflections on each event I attend in my Reflection Journal

  • I will begin to formulate ideas for my capstone project next year. As of now, I would like to research either visual art, music, or neuroscience. I will read about how each of these topics affect culture.

  • I will create a Global Studies portfolio website, including the work I complete in the program and my work my extracurricular work


In Global Studies this year, I intend...

  • To take the Student Web Portfolio Design Workshop in the fall

  • To take an online course in how music affects culture 

  • To play in the Greater Hartford Youth Wind Ensemble at the Hartt School of Music

  • To play chamber music at Hartt, and to do musical service with my chamber group

  • To read Brain and Culture by Bruce E. Wexler

  • To create a sculpture that makes a statement against gun violence

  • To speak about women’s heart health around the world at All-School in February

  • To put together a panel with the Young Women’s Empowerment Group  

  • To look into traveling with Watkinson to Uganda over the summer

  • To create a workshop for Social Justice Day on 4/11 (topic TBD) 




I will continue to play music at Hartt, and hopefully bring that music around Hartford in the form of musical service. In the past, I have attended workshops called Chamber Music for Peace, and they emphasized the power of bringing music around the world. Since I can’t bring my chamber group to another country, we will play around Hartford.


Beyond high school, I am interested in taking musicology classes. I would learn about the scientific side of music, but also how it relates to culture. Next year, I may research this topic in my capstone project. I am also interested in researching how culture affects the brain. I am also considering this topic for my capstone project. 

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