by JH

Me, Myself, and Pi

May 29, 2014 in Endurance, English & History by JH

For my final Action Project of Endurance we were tasked with writing a paper reflecting on one of the books or survivors that we studied in class. I chose Piscine from Life of Pi and went in depth about how reading the book has modified my outlook on life. I really enjoyed reading and getting immersed in such an excellent book, yet found it very difficult to find so many quotes to use. If you’re interested on what I got out of Life of Pi, please read below!


Name: JH

Course: Endurance

Date: 05/29/2014

Word Count: 898 words

Me, Myself, and Pi

How does one find the strength to endure?

A life raft, an ocean, a young boy, and a tiger cross paths in what is one of the most unique and captivating stories of all time. In a course about Endurance, Pi (Piscine Molitor Patel) is the first person that comes to my mind. The young boy who in Life of Pi endured on a boat, with a tiger, for 227 days. He taught the tiger how to behave, and managed to create a daily routine which kept him alive and sane. This boy was dropped in one of the most difficult situation imaginable and acted in a way you wouldn’t expect Survivorman to.

“It is true that those we meet can change us, sometimes so profoundly that we are not the same afterwards, even unto our names.” (Page 15)

Pi, a young boy at the age of only sixteen he was able to be so brave and take such huge risks, which lead to him being able to endure and live on the boat for 227 days. It’s inspiring to see how difficult of a task he faced, and how he took it head on and never gave up. In the end, he was victorious and years later had his own family and it goes to show that things do get better, even at the darkest moments in your life. Pi went through various stages of belief in faith, questioning what had been taught to him, he was only then able to learn on his own and find his own meaning. I find this to be an extremely crucial part that everyone goes through in life, whether or not it has to do with faith– that transformation is crucial.

“I’ve never forgotten him. Dare I say I miss him? I do. I miss him. I still see him in my dreams. They are nightmares mostly, but nightmares tinged with love. Such is the strangeness of the human heart. I still cannot understand how he could abandon me so unceremoniously, without any sort of goodbye, without looking back even once. The pain is like an axe that chops my heart.” (Page 8)

Pi’s journey although extremely intense relates to the journey everyone goes through in their life, referred to as the Hero’s Journey. This idea that we in the span of our life go past many obstacles, peer into the unknown only to conquer the obstacles in front of us. My hero’s journey has already taken place in the past five years of my life. I’ve gone through trials and tribulations that have shaped the kind of person I am today. Learning how to manage time on my own, deal with learning how to spend money, and how to solve problems with friends and families are just a few of the things I’ve endured thus far. I’ve conquered my fears and pushed my boundaries, all of these experiences have come together to create the person I am today, which may be completely different from who I will be five years from now.

“Life on a lifeboat isn’t much of a life. It is like an end game in chess, a game with few pieces. The elements couldn’t be more simple, nor the stakes higher.” (Page 138)

In the future I hope to be able to create a company doing something I love, or work somewhere where I can be extremely passionate about what I’m doing. I want to find meaning in what I do, I don’t believe that work should be separate from the rest of our lives, I think it should add to it and give it meaning. I hope to be able to travel fearlessly through places I’ve never gone, and never would have thought of going to before. I want to push myself every day in whatever my passion is, and never let a day go wasted. Life of Pi has helped to give me this kind of meaning, as it has helped me realize how fragile and difficult life is. It’s something I’m going to hold with me moving forward, as being able to endure past the hard times is how you get to the good ones.

I believe that in the end Pi was actually lucky enough to have a second chance at life. He is able to restart his life however he wants to, and although he didn’t want to lose his whole family, if this incident never happened he never would have met his current wife. Pi was able to overcome one of the most difficult adventures of all time at such a young age, which really speaks to his character and how he will evolve into an amazing person as time goes on. I believe that people who are around more difficult and serious events have a much more mature outlook, even if it does happen at such a young age. I believe that Pi being able to go through loss, defeat, conquer, faith, and others obstacles has shown how strong the will to live is. It’s made me think about and cherish the life I have because it’s so delicate and can change at any sudden moment. In the future I’d like to learn to be grateful of what I have by always having in mind the question What if what I have today isn’t what I will have tomorrow?



Martel, Yann. Life of Pi: A Novel. New York: Harcourt, 2001. Print.

“Analysis of Major Characters.” SparkNotes. SparkNotes, n.d. Web. 02 June 2014. <>.

Weston, Paula. “Great Stories.” Life of Pi Explained. Great Stories, 23 Sept. 2008. Web. 02 June 2014. <>.

Phutully, Chris. “”The Real Life of Pi”" Flickr. Yahoo!, 5 Jan. 2013. Web. 02 June 2014. <>.

by JH

What’s your path in life?

April 22, 2014 in Endurance by JH

For my first Action Project in Endurance, a English and History class meant to ready Seniors for College, we created Mandalas. We did this as part of recognizing our journey through life. Our first Unit has been about vision and self-exploration and this project has made us reflect on our life in order to create our Mandalas. The most difficult part for this project has been bringing my idea to reality by the medium of Painting. I’m not a skilled artist and I feel that I wasn’t able to fully realize my vision due to lack of art skills. I’m extremely proud with my idea for my mandala, though I hope others follow my idea while creating a Mandala for them. Check out my Artist Statement and Mandala below!

Acrylic on Canvas Board

With this Mandala I’ve created I took a very unique approach. To me, a Mandala is a representation for the journey of one’s life. For my Mandala, I created an abstract painting, inspired by the abstract art class I’m currently in. I thought this medium would be best because it makes my art more open to interpretation and allows people to get what they see out of it, rather than me telling them.

My Mandala is the journey of my life up to now, as well as the future. Each line represents a different stage or experience in my life, and the lines come together to create a circle. This circle as a whole represents who I am, and when you look deeper into who I am you see the experiences that have molded me into the person I am today.

Mandala represents the different periods in my life so far, and how they have created who I am today, you can look at my legend for a deeper understanding. It carries the idea that you are made of the experiences in your life. People can look at my mandala and see the different colors and textures to be able to tell which times in my life have been more easy and happy while others have been more difficult and dark.

I’d like people to take away the idea that you are the captain of your ship of life. In the book Endurance, Frank Worsley was a master navigator who led the group to safety, without his navigational skills they all would have gotten lost and died in the Arctic. I believe that being able to navigate your own life is just as important, your life decisions should be up to you as your life is made up of your own experiences.  You create the experiences that make you into the person and it’s up to you to decide the kind of person you are going to become. For me, it’s my family, friends, travel experiences, and personal struggles that have made me into who I am today. If everyone were to do a Mandala in the same style I did they would all look unique, some brighter, some darker, but unique nonetheless.

The main symbols I use are lines, although I was inspired by an art piece of a completely different medium. The art piece which inspired me the most is a group of statues that are installed at the corner of Roosevelt and Michigan in Chicago. The texture of these statues is really vivid and adds a lot to the art piece, which gave me the idea of texturing my art piece to add some character to it. I was also inspired by  Colors represent mood and emotion of a path, lighter being happier, darker being gloomier. Paths also have textures based on the difficulty of it, creating a more rocky or rough path. My hope is that others could create a mandala in this style to share their life stories as well.

by JH

99 Boxes of Coffee Creamer on the Wall…

February 24, 2014 in English & History, Journalism by JH

For my third Action Project in Journalism, I was tasked with creating a Spot Story. A spot story is a journalistic approach to covering an event and, more than most other stories or narratives, a spot story focuses on the eight News Values[link to news vals]. I went to the Lakeview Food pantry and took a rather abnormal journalistic approach by also participating in the event, not only watching like most stories nowadays are. By taking on this role of going out and writing a spot story I was able to much better learn the process journalists go through, and it has given me a deeper meaning for what journalism is. I learned about the huge amount of planning that goes into creating a story, as well as the amount of research that goes in afterwards,in order to give a good amount of background info about the event. 

If you’d like to read my spot story, check it out below!

Lakeview Food Pantry

A cold Tuesday afternoon in Chicago I find myself at 1414 W. Oakdale standing outside of the Lakeview Food Pantry. More specifically it’s 4:45 and after a quick five minute introduction and walk around I find myself standing in front of a 18-wheeler semi truck being told it’s time to work on unloading donations. If I had any common sense I would have started running right then. The only thing scarier than the semi truck itself were the contents. Two full pallets of Coffee Creamer from Walmart.

And there stood Carrie and I, standing outside on a Cold Chicago Tuesday, staring at a huge semi truck which somehow managed to fit into the small church parking lot. Out comes two men who quickly come over to say hello, and quickly follow that up with asking if we have a Pallet carrier. Looking rather confused Carrie (head of operations) responds saying no, of course. The two men look at each other, then open the back of the semi truck and leave us in awe, staring at two pallets of Coffee Creamer. These wouldn’t fit in the huge refrigerator the Pantry owned, even if we took everything else out. The more important question was, who is about to move a couple thousand pounds of coffee creamer.

Lakeview Food Pantry hands out food to 30 people 3-4 times a week, giving as much as 50 pounds of food to each person. This food consists of non-perishables, as well as fresh fruits and vegetables, and meats. This little operation, ran out of the basement of a church ran by two full time employees and on average ten volunteers hands out as much as 4500 pounds of food a week! While sorting produce, Carrie  told us that, while deciding whether or not food is good, think “would I eat it?” we often lower our standards in these situations but Carrie made it a point to make sure the clients receive as much respect as possible.

Lakeview Food Pantries serve more than 12,000 individuals (located in the Lakeview neighborhood) with bi-weekly food supplies as well as weekly fresh bread and produce. They have only 10 full-time staff and have more than 800 dedicated volunteers. They have only two locations and serve 1.5 millions pounds a year, but this wouldn’t be possible without some of their major partners: Greater Chicago Food Depository, Green City Market, Jewel, Trader Joe’s, and Whole Foods.

You’d be amazed by how much could get done at this little cramped location in the basement of an old church. A lot of time is spend weighing the food so that they can track how much they get from each of their partners, next, the most difficult part: sorting. A lot of the fresh produce is past its sell-by date; not all of it has gone bad, but we had to make sure to go through to make sure all of the food was high quality and was something we would eat. I spent a solid twenty minutes looking through crate, after crate, after crate of bananas sorting them into good, and trash. Taking part in handing out food to the clients can be extremely rewarding, and even though you may be exhausted after spending a couple hours running around your feet, you’ll go home knowing you made a difference in Chicago tonight.

by JH

Holy Cow! — A Voice of the 20th Century

February 10, 2014 in English & History, Journalism by JH

For my second Action Project in my Journalism (an integrated english and history course) class, our goal was to create the Story of a Voice through creating a podcast inspired by the famous podcast series, This American Life. We were supposed to portray a popular voice of the 20th century and explain their importance and who they are/were. I chose to share the life and career of Harry Caray, baseball announcer for the Cubs along with a few other teams. I researched into how he had an impact on Chicago, the game of baseball, and the United States as a whole. He is known famously for being extremely enthusiastic and having a personality bigger than life itself. In the process of creating a podcast I quickly learned the importance of having good questions. Previously in this unit about Journalism and Podcasts we worked on forming good questions which is a really useful skill to have. If you’re interested in learning more about Harry Caray and his role in the game of baseball, read my podcast below!

See the transcription here.

by JH

The answer to life is…

January 24, 2014 in Journalism by JH

For my first Action Project in Journalism we were tasked with figuring out what the meaning of life is. A huge topic, no single answer is correct, so I decided to interview one of my grandparents, someone who has lived a long life and might have a better understanding. It was great to hear stories about growing up in a whole different society. It was really hard coming up with interview questions to try to find out what the meaning of life is, because it’s not just as easy as saying “whats the meaning of life?” as you might imagine. If you would like to read my story, keep reading below! 

 As we sit at home on a lazy Sunday morning, watching TV, we quickly kick up conversation about how school is going. I begin to explain my two classes and, as I start to explain my current course, Journalism, she exclaims how she loves journalism. I explain my current assignment to her, how I’m supposed to talk with someone about the meaning with life, and she says “Okay”. I sit there for a moment wondering what just happened. She didn’t know that I was actually going to interview my grandpa the next day, but who am I to pass down a cool conversation about life?

        So, I awkwardly go to my room to grab my notebook and pen, and I can feel the excitement she has to start talking about the topic as I re-enter the room. Before I asked a question, she began telling stories, which I soon realized she had a lot of. She talks about growing up in a small town in Iowa; more importantly, how she moved to Chicago to go to nursing school. She spoke about her first experience in a big city: without her extremely conservative parents, she had no leash, no boundaries. Later she started to explain what gives her meaning in life, and she touched on how new opportunities and new sections of her life have really continuously changed what life means to her.

        The word travel is something she quickly begins to focus on. “Being able to see something unlike anything you’ve ever seen before at my age is an extraordinary opportunity”. She talks about how she doesn’t make big purchases, and how she still works to make money to go on trips and experience new things in her life. I begin to ask her about how her family had an affect on her life and, after another moment of silence, I finally get the answer I was looking for, her meaning of life. Upon the question of what life is, she breaks it down into the good, the bad, and the ugly. We go back and forth through these transitional periods in life. Life is constantly changing for us, and it’s how we adapt and live through these changes, is where we find meaning in our life.

        Towards the end of the conversation I notice how I still haven’t taken a photo that I’m happy with. That’s not to say I haven’t take one; I had about fifteen others to pick from, but none seemed right. It was when she stood up to grab something from the kitchen that I recognized a good moment to take a photo. If there were one thing you would be able to tell upon having a conversation with my grandma, it would be that she couldn’t stop moving or doing things. Even years after retirement, she still babysits, and gets out of the house to take the bus to a friends house, or goes to do her antique shopping in which she buys things, cleans/makes them better, then sells them for more. She’s always looking for experiences and opportunities in life. That is the person I see when I took this photo.

        In the background of this photo, you see the sunlight shining through our windows in the living room. If you notice what she’s wearing, you might question why she has a vest on, even though she is inside. That’s because even on a lazy Sunday morning she had already been out to run errands, went out for breakfast, and got back by the time I made it to the living room.

The aperture is wide, and the shutter speed is a little slow as you can see a little bit of blur as my grandma is moving. The photo does not focus on anything specific, but you are naturally drawn to the light coming from the window. I tried to capture the photo to show that she was on the move by capturing a majority of what was behind her. I did not expect the light to come through on the photo, but I think it really adds to the quality of the photo. This photo does a great job of summing up the personality of my grandma, on the move and active.


by JH

They’re watching US

October 18, 2013 in English & History, Policy by JH


For my final Action Project in Equality I created a piece of propaganda.  We have been researching propaganda and the affect is has on the world.  We were tasked with creating a piece of propaganda, and making a case study.  I did it on a topic which is extremely important to me- Internet Censorship.  I used photoshop, a digital editing program to make my art piece, which proved to be extremely interesting.  If you are interested in reading more about my process, you can read my Artist Statement below!

by JH

Blame it on The Media

October 4, 2013 in Equality by JH

For my second Action Project in Equality, and integrated english and history course I did a case study about the Trayvon Martin and George Zimmerman case.  At first I was trying to find out about the case and I quickly discovered how bias the case is.  Wether it’s bias for Zimmerman, or against him most media sources never simply displayed a full overview of the incident.  I believe that almost everyone in America who knows about the case has extreme bias towards one side of the case because of the way media has presented it.  Below is my case study on the subject, enjoy!

by JH

Holes the GCE Adventure

May 14, 2013 in Art of Rhetoric by JH

For my Policy (English & History) class we were tasked with doing three hours of service to an  organization of our choice.  This project was inspired by a field experience we did to Lincoln Park Community Center (LPCS).  I had a great time doing my service, and you can read about it below!

After going to TedEx myself and my Policy class were tasked with doing three hours of service, and it couldn’t have worked any better. Durring TedEx we watched a speaker who advocated for public gardens with his slogan Grow Some Shit (see the Ted Talk here!).  Meanwhile at GCE there was word of us starting a public garden outside the school so we could have access to fresh produce, and flowers.  If this garden continues as planned I would hope we would be able to feed those who wouldn’t otherwise have access to healthy food, a human right that I think everyone should have.

To make this whole experience possible we were tasked with tilling the hard, trash-covered soil outside of our school in order to make it usable for summer when planting would begin.  I’m happy that I was able to be outside with my friends working on a project that will impact many people in the future.  I think I’ve got a new-found gratitude for where my food comes from and what people do to prepare and farm it.  I also have a new sense of awareness that not everyone has access to fruits and vegetables, and that many low income residents in Chicago are located in a Food Desert. I would hope with more awareness on public gardens the amount of food deserts around Chicago (and all of the US) could continue to decrease until everyone has access to healthy produce.

I’ve noticed that there were a ton of different options of community service to pick from in Chicago: from tilling a soon-to-be garden, to serving at a soup kitchen.  I’m hoping that what I did can have as big of an impact if not a larger one.  This project has inspired me to want to do more help and I will definitely continue working on the garden at school.  I’ve noticed that most kids tend to run away from the idea of community service (myself included) and I think that could change as I had fun with friends while helping!

I believe that being able to eat healthy food cheap (or even free!) is such a simple idea that could be solved for simply.  Everyone should have access to such basic rights like water, shelter, and food!  It makes me happy that what I am working on will one day help out many others, or even make other people want to do the same somewhere else.

by JH

The War on Private Prisons

April 29, 2013 in English & History, Policy by JH

For my second milestone in Policy (English & History) we created an infographic about a monopoly that exists today in the US.  I did mine about the Private Prison system and how terrible of a system it is.  This was a extremely eye opening source and I learned why we hold  %25 of the world’s prisoners, yet only %5 of the world’s population.  If you would like to check out my narrative of my infographic about it, check it our below!


Right now in America one of the most lucrative businesses is making more people go to jail than ever before, and it’s legal.  What I’m talking about is the Private Prison market, which is a 70 billion dollar market.  It has grown by %350 in the past 15 years, and this isn’t a coincidence.  This industry is extremely corrupt, and is emptying the pockets of taxpayers, and imprisoning those for longer than is deserved.  Many Private Prison companies require that states keep the capacity of prisons at above %90 full for 20 years.

This puts pressure on the justice system to increase sentencing length, and increase the frequency at which people are incarcerated.  Over 2.27 million US citizens are in jail, that’s about 1 out of 100 people.  The US hold %25 of the world’s prisoners, while only having %5 of the world’s population.  Roughly 51.5% of prisoners are there for drug related offenses.  Roughly %81.9 of prisoners are in jail for possession of a controlled substance.  The US government spent over 15 billion dollars, equaling to $500 every second.

I’ve noticed from doing this report that Private Prisons are becoming much more lucrative and profitable over time.  While profitability has gone up, so has the amount of prisoners in the US.  There has been a %700 jump in US prison population, which is outpacing general population growth and crime rates (%44 population growth).

The amount of spending on prisons has been skyrocketing over the past thirty years, and private prisons have not been the only reason for them to jump so high.  State-ran prisons supply more than 800,000 jobs, so it is at the best interest of the government to keep prisons full as well.  I think that the private prison system is absolutely terrible, and terrifying.  I believe that prisons should be ran at who has the people’s best interest in mind.  Not a company who has themselves to worry about.

Works Cited
“American Civil Liberties Union.” American Civil Liberties Union. N.p., n.d. Web. 28 Apr. 2013. <>.
“BRIEFING: For-Profit Prisons.” WhoWhatWhy RSS. N.p., n.d. Web. 28 Apr. 2013. <>.
“How Extensive Are Private Prisoners in Our Country? plus a Report on Private Prison Lobbying | Rortybomb.” Rortybomb. N.p., n.d. Web. 28 Apr. 2013. <>.
“International Centre for Prison Studies.” International Centre for Prison Studies. N.p., n.d. Web. 28 Apr. 2013. <>.
“Jailing Americans Becomes a Profitable Business – RT USA.” Jailing Americans Becomes a Profitable Business – RT USA. N.p., n.d. Web. 28 Apr. 2013. <>.
“PolicyMic.” PolicyMic. N.p., n.d. Web. 28 Apr. 2013. <>.
“Private Prisons Have Public Benefits: Newsroom: The Independent Institute.” The Independent Institute. N.p., n.d. Web. 28 Apr. 2013. <>.
Staff, NPR.
“How Louisiana Became The World’s ‘Prison Capital’” NPR. NPR, 05 June 2012. Web. 28 Apr. 2013. <>.
by JH

Can you have your cake and eat it too?

April 10, 2013 in A Nations Argument, English & History by JH

For my final milestone in Art of Rhetoric I created a topic to discuss, that being how can someone be fiscally conservative, and socially liberal. I was extremely interested in this project because it’s something I personally am interested in. I had the opportunity to talk to an amazingly smart entrepreneur about this topic, check it out below!


For my final Action Project in A Nation’s Argument I studied dialectics as a method of argument. In dialectics one side forms a thesis on an issue. The other side forms a antithesis which combats the thesis. Out of this debate these two arguments create a new synthesis. I interviewed Chicago-based members of the Entrepreneurs Organization. I wanted to see how someone could be fiscally conservative, yet socially liberal. Thesis How can someone say they want to do good while not paying for the good? To test and support my thesis, which began as an interest in hearing that Warren Buffett gets taxed at a lower rate than his assistant, I listened to an interview with him. In it I found out 337 million dollars go uncollected every year in the U.S. because the top 1% use other means to avoid paying taxes. This thinking became the question, “How can you advocate and want good, without wanting to pay for it? Many entrepreneurs and upper-class businessmen declare themselves fiscally conservative, yet socially liberal. Meaning more conservative on topics including money and spending, but being more liberal on subjects like giving public goods to others. I’m interested in how people can justify wanting good without paying for good.


You can want to make the US a better place while wanting to keep your money. The government does a terrible job of using our tax dollars. If there were other ways to help the public good (not taxes) I would be willing to do that. I talked to an entrepreneur BB on the topic, and below is my email exchange with him:

To me, being socially liberal and fiscally conservative means wanting the greater good for society, while not wanting to pay for it.

It will be interesting to see if you still think this way after additional education and life experience.

If this isn’t what it means to you, how would you define it?

Socially liberal = freedom of gender/sexual/racial/drug preferences Fiscally conservative = believe free market principals promote the most freedom and highest economic benefits for a society Socially moderate/liberal, fiscally liberal = Democrat Socially moderate/conservative, fiscally liberal = Republican Socially liberal, fiscally conservative = Libertarian

Do you think there is a contradiction being socially liberal and fiscally conservative?

No, I think socially liberalism and fiscally conservatism produces maximum liberty. I think any other variant is a contradiction because it would produce less freedom and reduce liberty. Social conservatism discriminates against personal liberty through abdication of human rights. Fiscal liberalism discriminates against personal liberty through abdication of property rights.

Would you be willing to pay more in taxes if it was going directly towards a cause you supported, rather than toward the government to spend?

The nature of this question posits an inconsistent premise on the role of the government. The role of the government, as I see it, is four fold: 1) to protect individual rights (provide rule of law, enforce freely entered contracts, protect individuals from monopoly coercion) 2) to manage neighborhood effects (manage common resources like air and water, commission highways, basic education) 3) to provide a defense (a military to protect individual rights from other societies) 4) paternalism to advance freedom (manage members of society which are not capable – i.e. madmen, violent criminals)

How would those social goods be funded?

Social goods should be funded directly by individuals using their free will. Any other method reduces the overall impact of social goods and distorts the intention of the people (deadweight loss, coercion, corruption).

What “socially liberal” public goods are worth paying for with your taxes?

Examples from four roles of government – education through adulthood, EPA, road systems, insane asylums, prisons, courts.

Many articles nowadays talk about how being fiscally conservative and socially liberal is the new way to be, but many are against this idea.


After talking to BB I wouldn’t say my opinion is changed, but I now understand it. Before the interview I thought it was selfish to advocate for good and want it, but not want to pay for it. I think I now understand what it actually means, and to some extent I agree. Once extremely convincing point for me was when BB said:

I think socially liberalism and fiscally conservatism produces maximum liberty. I think any other variant is a contradiction because it would produce less freedom and reduce liberty. Social conservatism discriminates against personal liberty through abdication of human rights. Fiscal liberalism discriminates against personal liberty through abdication of property rights.

Which I thought was very well put. I think from the interview I’ve had with BB I could agree that being socially liberal and fiscally conservative is a viable option. I think that this has opened my eyes to a lot of other political views, such as the views Ron Paul has.