Following the Railroad Tracks

The train station manager saw Mi Yun wandering around the empty train station, knowing she had been there for several hours. She had previously told him that she was waiting for her uncle to pick her up. He said, “‘You cannot wait here. Do you hear me? No one is coming for you!’ Hanging her head in confusion and alarm, [Mi Yun] obeyed. The thumping in her chest started again. Tears burned her eyes as she stumbled back to the ox cart… Mommy, I need you!” After being abandoned on a train by her mother, four-year-old Mi Yun spent her childhood on the streets of war-torn South Korea, scavenging for food, warmth, and love. Because her father was American and her mother was Korean, no Korean would accept her, and she was repeatedly beaten, tortured, and purposefully starved because of her origin. However, every time she was near death or so cold and hungry she wanted to die, someone would be placed in her path to remind her to never stop trying to survive. In her book She Is Mine, Stephanie Fast uses differing perspective, realistic details, and heart-wrenching events to communicate that Someone had a plan for Mi Yun no matter what happened to her.

Throughout the book, I felt as though I was in the mind of Mi Yun because Fast uses differing perspectives based on the age of Mi Yun to unfold the details of the story. When Mi Yun is young, the thought process in the book portrays that of a very young girl, who cannot understand what is going on as her mother puts her on a train alone; a girl gullible enough to believe after several days of being abandoned that her mother would still take her in if Mi Yun could only get back to her. As she sat in the cardboard box she had called her home for several days, while waiting for her uncle to pick her up, “She repeated again, ‘It will be all right. It will be all right. I will find my way back home… I will get back to my mama” (60-61). Then, as more and more people hurt her, beat her, and torture her, Mi Yun’s innocence turns to fear and hate. She stops trying to get help from the local villagers and instead hides as much as possible in shacks, burrows, and caves, stealing food and warmth whenever she could. Each encounter she has with strangers, I was immediately placed in the mind of the young girl, reading her words, thoughts, and fears. On one particular occasion when Mi Yun is caught stealing, she is grabbed by a farmer. As the farmer drags Mi Yun down the street and into a crowd of angry villagers, she cries, “‘Please don’t hurt me… I will leave… Just let me go.’ …Is there any kind person here… someone who will stand up for me, someone who will protect me? She could only see hatred, anger, and disgust on the faces of the villagers” (101). This switch between dialogue, Mi Yun’s thoughts, and narration made me feel thoroughly engrossed in the book, as if I were right there alongside the little girl.

In addition to differing perspectives, Fast also uses realistic details that kept me thoroughly engrossed in the story. For example, there are accurate descriptions of the Korean countryside scattered throughout the book, so I could picture where the events were taking place: “She saw the train tracks running along the rugged mountains… She looked to the right… and scanned the train tracks surrounded by the grass, rice paddies, and more mountains. Turning, she saw behind her only the empty countryside and even more mountains” (75). There are also many descriptive portrayals of Mi Yun: “She was tiny and beautiful in a way that was both Western and Asian. Her eyes were a bit rounder than the other children… Her hair, lighter in color than the rest, had a soft curl to it” (37). These are two of the many examples of Stephanie Fast’s excellent descriptions in She Is Mine. There are also depictions of Mi Yun’s encounters, the places she goes, and the experiences she has. These depictions allowed me to visually picture the characters and scenery, so I could imagine what Mi Yun saw as she suffered.

Finally, there are many events in this novel that caused me to deeply empathize with Mi Yun. One time, when she was caught stealing from a farmer, Mi Yun was dragged to a water mill and tied to it, and the water mill was then turned on. “[Mi Yun] didn’t quite know what was happening, except that the wheel was moving. Its slow rotation took Yoon Myoung to the top, where a flood of water spilled into her face, causing her to sputter and choke…With no time to catch her breath, she was thrust under the murky water as the wheel continued its rotation. Scraping along the graveling bottom of the pond, she felt her face being cut and bruised by the mud and gravel” (103-104). She was raped, beaten, run out of villages, suffered a fall from the hands of strangers that killed the baby she was taking care of, and nearly died from sickness. Many times, I found myself mentally yelling at the other characters, aghast at the inhumanity of the Koreans that Mi Yun encountered. However, no matter how much she went through, someone was always put in her path that cared for her, encouraged her, and helped her to keep going.

The story of Mi Yun is one that captures the interest of every reader, as they learn about the horrors she endured as a result of her origin, from being abandoned by her mother to being refused food by villagers. However, the reader is constantly reminded that someone is watching out for Mi Yun through the little things that happen to her along the way. The end of the story renews one’s confidence that God is always watching over us, no matter how hard life becomes. But, if you would like to know what this incredible ending is, you will have to read Stephanie Fast’s She Is Mine.

Written by Michelle

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The Unique History of Thanksgiving

With Thanksgiving just around the corner, it’s time to prepare for family, feasting, and football. Timeless traditions surround this holiday, and it seems as though every American is aware of its origins. As a kid, I remember dressing up as a Pilgrim or Native American to celebrate a Thanksgiving feast just as they did in 1621. We learned that these two very different people came together to celebrate and feast together, which is the reason why we celebrate the same thing today. But, there are many facts about this historical event that the average person, including me until I wrote this blog, does not know.

When the Pilgrims and the Wampanoag tribe joined together to feast in Plymouth, Massachusetts, they had no intentions of celebrating on a yearly basis. For them, it was just a big get-together where everyone brought a dish of food to share. So, this was technically the first American potluck during the colonial days. The Pilgrims often dedicated days of thanksgiving to God when harvests or other good things occurred. When they finished feasting on their harvest with the neighboring Indians, they dedicated themselves to acts of thanksgiving.

This custom grew as the colonies expanded, and by the 19th century, many U.S. States adopted the holiday as an annual event. Abraham Lincoln selected the final Thursday of November as the day to celebrate Thanksgiving in 1863, but Franklin D. Roosevelt changed it to the fourth Thursday of November in 1939 to increase the shopping days before Christmas. Every U.S. president has delivered a Thanksgiving proclamation of some sort. However, the common pardon that is given out to one turkey did not begin until 1989 with George H.W. Bush. This tradition calls for the U.S. president to pardon a domesticated turkey from the Thanksgiving Day festivities for the rest of its life. Ever since, the turkey pardon has been an entertaining and enjoyable tradition for all to watch, unless you’re a turkey.

The large amounts of food are one of the best parts of Thanksgiving. Every year, I eat far too much and usually regret it, but isn’t that what Thanksgiving is all about? Every family dines differently on this day, but the most popular food for Thanksgiving is turkey. I grew up eating turkey every Thanksgiving, so I cannot imagine one without it. Despite this popular practice, there is no record of turkey being eaten by the Pilgrims in 1621. Instead, they ate venison as the main dish. Also, the popular Thanksgiving dessert, pumpkin pie, was not on the menu during the first Thanksgiving either. The Pilgrims were really missing out.

Perhaps the oddest part about the history of Thanksgiving is the various towns that claim to have started the Thanksgiving tradition before the Plymouth settlers. A small town in Texas called San Elizario makes claims for having the first Thanksgiving in America. In 1598, a Spanish explorer led a group of settlers across the Mexican desert. When they finally reached the banks of the Rio Grande River, they celebrated with thanksgiving. This Texan town is not the only place to declare its Thanksgiving claims. Berkeley Plantation in Virginia also argues that they started the tradition in 1619, just two years before the Plymouth settlers celebrated. Both towns reenact their own Thanksgiving Day events and defend their claims as the original location of Thanksgiving.

Regardless, thanksgiving has been a huge part of our culture. Many things have changed, but the values remain the same. It’s a time when we can relax with others and slide into a coma from all the delicious food. More importantly, it’s a time when everyone can reflect on their lives and give thanks for what they have been blessed with.

Written by Jack

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Works Cited:

Shenkman, Rick. “Top 10 Myths About Thanksgiving.” History News Network, 2001. https://historynewsnetwork.org/article/406.

History.com Editors. “Mayflower Myths.” HISTORY, 2009.https://www.history.com/topics/thanksgiving/mayflower-myths.

Bathroom Readers Institute. “6 Things Everyone Believes About Thanksgiving That AreAbsolutely Untrue.” Reader’s Digest, 2018. https://www.rd.com/culture/thanksgiving-myths/.

Monkman, Betty C. “Pardoning the Thanksgiving Turkey.” The White House Historical Association, 27 September 2018.  https://www.whitehousehistory.org/pardoning-the-thanksgiving-turkey.

Rosenberg, Jennifer. “How FDR Changed Thanksgiving.” ThoughtCo., 2017. https://www.thoughtco.com/how-fdr-changed-thanksgiving-1779285.

Veteran’s Day and the Ethics of Honor

President Wilson’s words at the commemoration of the first Armistice Day in 1919 ring true to this day: “To us in America, the reflections of Armistice Day will be filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country’s service and with gratitude for the victory, both because of the thing from which it has freed us and because of the opportunity it has given America to show her sympathy with peace and justice in the councils of the nations.” Germany and the allied nations signed a peace treaty known as the Treaty of Versailles, ending World War I on November 11th. That day was declared a day to not only remember World War I veterans, but to observe and maintain world peace as well.

Armistice Day gave birth to Veteran’s Day in 1954. Though many hoped and even proclaimed that World War I would be “the end of all wars,” World War II followed and brought that hope to a tragic end. Furthermore, a great number of soldiers, airmen, sailors, and several other military personnel were deployed for this war, leading the 83rd Congress to replace the word “Armistice” with “Veterans” to honor veterans of all wars.

Veteran’s Day is often easily confused with Memorial Day. While Veteran’s Day is a day to honor the living veterans of all wars, Memorial Day was established a year after the Civil War to honor those who fell in active duty. Both holidays are celebrated in a similar way and can even be interchangeable, but what they each stand for possesses distinct uniqueness. Moreover, Veteran’s Day honors men and women who have served in the military, regardless of whether it was in combat or not. Several people go out of their way to celebrate Veteran’s Day; from decorations and gatherings, to free goods and services for veterans, there are many ways people choose to express their gratitude and appreciation.

Most people agree that war is brutal and ugly, but when a nation is faced with the question “why are we going to war?” the answers vary, which makes it a rather controversial topic that garners some serious reactions from people across the political spectrum. Though Veteran’s Day is a national holiday, those who served aren’t always treated with the honor and respect they deserve. For instance, veterans of the Vietnam War were not fortunate enough to get a festive reception. This was due to the fact that the US neither had an objective or declared war beforehand, which caused the rise of an extremely contentious political climate during the war.

Students on university campuses and in the academic society started an anti-Vietnam War movement; soon, protests became more prominent and drew people’s attention to the reality of the war. When the soldiers that fought in the Vietnam War returned home, they didn’t get a hero’s welcome. Several veterans testified about being mistreated, insulted, and in some cases, assaulted. Another war that was ethically, morally, and politically controversial was the Iraq War. In 2003, the US invaded Iraq due to their alleged possession of “weapons of mass destruction,” an idea that was not clearly verified. Both wars took so many lives and nearly destroyed nations for reasons that are not clear to this day, which is why many felt the need to protest and oppose.

Some might begin to wonder if there is an instance where one should or shouldn’t honor a veteran. Most of the people that decide to either protest or refrain from celebrating holidays like Veteran’s Day have probably wondered the same thing as well. The answer to the question depends on the individual, but there are some factors we can consider to help guide us towards it. Sometimes, men and women in armed forces can decided whether or not they wish to serve; however, like in the Vietnam War, many had no choice but to serve and were simply following orders from their superiors. Therefore, despising them and blaming them for everything doesn’t change the situation.

Everyone has the right to agree or disagree with the government’s decisions on wars, and they have the freedom of speech to express that too. However, political criticism should be the last thing veterans get considering the several challenges they face that are often unique to their circumstances and background as former military personnel. On Veteran’s Day, the focus should be on the bravery and will of the human spirit displayed through ordinary men and women who exhibit extraordinary courage. The least we can do is to put our politics aside, take time out of our day to give back, and help make them feel appreciated.

Written by Kenean

Sources

Office of Public and Intergovernmental Affairs. “Office of Public and Intergovernmental Affairs.” Learn to Communicate Assertively at Work, 20 Mar. 2006, www.va.gov/opa/vetsday/vetdayhistory.asp.

IowaPublicTelevision. “Experiences of Vietnam Veterans Returning Home from War.” YouTube, YouTube, 21 Oct. 2015, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b6t9jchhVRg.

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5 Lethal Mistakes Freshmen Make and How to Avoid Them

As a sage senior and soon-to-be-graduate, I have a lot of knowledge in my noggin. It’s not necessarily the traditional text-book kind of knowledge, but rather an acute awareness that only time can provide. Basically, this is my fourth year around the collegiate sun of observing bushy-tailed freshmen navigate their new habitat. Seniors often joke about the silly quirks all freshmen students have until the passing of their first Christmas break seasons them a little. And lately, with all these fresh-faced young ones eagerly roaming the campus around me, so blithe, so nimble, so…frightful, to be honest, it got me thinking about all the quirks and misconceptions about college I had as a young freshette. To be a little less of that typical freshman on campus, heed the following tips, and you’ll trick people into thinking you know you what you’re doing.

  1. Nobody Knows What They’re Doing

I don’t know what I’m doing, and I’m a senior! When it seems as if everyone on your hall is far more familiar with the campus, the people, and the whereabouts of everything cool to do and see than you are, there is a 100% chance that person is as clueless as you. The biggest fault of freshman is not that they don’t know things, it’s that they pretend as if they do. Trust me, you’ll come across much more mature and reasonable if you ask questions about the things you don’t know.

  1. Nobody Has Friends Yet

Okay, this is a bit of an exaggeration. Some people really do stick with the friends they made during freshman year all throughout college. But it’s rare. In fact, it’s natural and expected that by the time you graduate, you’ll have a totally different crew of friends, true friends, to do life with. It’s natural because building friendships takes time. Freshman feel pressured to be sociable 24/7, never be caught doing anything alone, or worst of all, eat alone *gulp* But the fact is, even if looks like everyone around you already has a gaggle of friends, chances are they’re doing the same thing as you: buddying up with randos to look like they know and love everyone. It’s okay to do stuff alone. In fact, you might make friends with a few upperclassmen by going to things alone; they’ll think you’re one of them.

  1. Wearing Your I.D Around Your Neck

Don’t do it. Just don’t. Back pocket? Fine. Wallet? Fine. Attached to a lanyard hanging around your neck? Never.

  1. Don’t Dress Like a Slob for Class

On your first day of classes, you saw them: girls hopeful for a ring-by-spring wearing a full face of makeup, sporting freshly straightened hair while wearing…Nike shorts, Chacos, and an over-sized t-shirt. Ya know what will make not only a favorable impression with your professors but also with your fellow students? Dressing up a little! We know that you care, so dress like it. It’s okay to be sloppy every now and then, but there will be ample opportunity for that come finals week. You’ll fit in much more with the wiser upperclassmen if you slip into a blouse instead of a t-shirt every once in a while.

  1. You Don’t Have to Go to Everything

Go to every class, but don’t go to every event. Enjoy your college experience, take advantage of the free time that you have, but you don’t have to go to every school event unless that’s truly how you roll. A lot of the “college experiences” you’ll look back on with fondness are going to the movies on a weeknight and staying in and eating ice cream with your roommates.

Freshman year can be a lot of fun, and as cheesy as it sounds, the key is to be yourself. Do what’s fun for you. Be patient with finding friends you truly connect with, and they might become pals for life. You’ll encounter some of the most trying times of your life, and also have some of the best times; don’t waste it! We all made and will make silly mistakes due to inexperience, but I can guarantee that by heeding these tips, you’ll come across a little wiser and enjoy yourself a lottle more.

Written by Karoline

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Do Bees Have Knees?

If you grew up in the south like I did, you’ve probably heard more strange idioms than you can count. It seems as if the qualifications for being a southern grandma include having a name like Mamaw and meeting a nonsensical idiom quota. However, have you ever stopped to wonder what these sayings mean or where they come from? Well, I’ve got the answers for you. Here is a list of some strange idioms and adages and what they really mean.

  1. “Don’t wear white after Labor Day.”

As it turns out, this phrase stems from an upper-class sense of superiority in the late 1800s. In order for affluent women to distinguish between themselves and lower class impostors, they created a series of absurd fashion rules that only rich women knew. Not wearing white after Labor Day was one of them.

Source

  1. “You can’t have your cake and eat it too.”

Most people who have heard this phrase understand it to mean that you can’t “have it all.” The phrase comes from the mid-1500s, with the first documented use being in 1546. Essentially, it means you cannot both eat the cake and still have it; you have to choose between the two things.

Source

  1. “One in the hand is worth two in the bush.”

This phrase is fairly simple. It means it’s better to hold onto what you have than risk it for the possibility of something better. The phrase originated from medieval falconry practices in 16th century England. Fun fact: the original phrase was written as “Better one byrde in hande than ten in the wood.”

Source

  1. “Selling like hotcakes”

It is believed that this term came about in the mid-1800s because pancakes, or hotcakes, were common food at fairs and socials. At these busy events, the crowding resulted in a rush at the pancake stand. The phrase most likely developed as a slang term from such occurrences. It simply means to be in high demand and sell quickly.

Source

  1. “The big cheese”

This phrase originated in England in the 1800s as simply “the cheese.” That phrase by itself was a slang term meaning something was a big deal. Experts suggest that the phrase came about when English colonizers misheard the Hindi word chiz, which means “a thing.” When it crossed the pond to America, we added “big,” likely because of the large wheels of cheese produced in America at the time.

Source

  1. “Take it with a grain of salt.”

As it turns out, this phrase came from a 17th century recipe for a poison antidote. The grain of salt was added to a mix of nuts, herbs, and fruits. The meaning comes from the idea that with this mixture in his or her body, a person could disregard potential poisons he or she might encounter. Thus, if you take something with a grain of salt, you can disregard it.

Source

  1. “Dead as a doornail”

Obviously, this phrase means something is very dead, and most people probably recognize it from Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. The phrase was first used in the 1300s to mean dead, and was popularized later by William Shakespeare. The reason doornails are considered dead is because the process of hammering one into a door and bending the protruding end to keep it from falling out would render the nail useless afterwards.

Source

  1. “The bee’s knees”

This phrase simply means cool or in fashion, and was popular in the U.S. in the 1920s. It originally was supposed to mean “nonsense” because it was a nonsense expression. The reason that the phrase now means “cool” is unknown. It likely evolved from local slang.

Source

There you have it, folks. Now you can consider yourself well-informed and share this knowledge with the world. And, next time you use one of these phrases, you can relish in the fact that you know where it comes from.

Written by Taylor H.

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DBU is Home: A Godly Experience

“I don’t want to just pick a school, I want something more… an experience.” I’d been saying that since I first made my list of colleges to tour, but it was important to say it once more while flipping through the list of colleges on my ‘to tour’ list.

“It’s only the first tour, let’s just see what they have to offer,’ my mother chirped as we chapeldrove to the Dallas Baptist University campus of Dallas.

“Wow! Look at this campus. It’s beautiful,” my mother said, facing the chapel with its steeple reaching the Heavens and the view of crisp blue waters engulfing its backside. Astonished by the beauty and calmness of the campus, I found myself easily distracted from the patriot preview guide; I could barely manage to keep up with the group. Throughout the course of the tour, campus wanderers offered big smiles and courtesy like I had not seen in quite some time. When inquiring about my aspirations and interests, faculty and staff seemed genuinely intrigued. Enveloped in amazement after only a couple of hours, I’d felt a sense of community exceeding that which I’d known my whole life. By now, I was already pretty excited about the possibility of being surrounded by a community of caring and loving people, but what came next sealed the deal with DBU.

After touring all the hangout hubs, study spots, and intimate classrooms, we attended a chapel session. Inside the beautiful building, inspired by the First Baptist Church of America, were the ceiling and walls decorated with encouraging verses. An elegant stained glass image of Jesus praying to God stood above the pulpit and adorned the gigantic sanctuary, and near it stood a student praise team that sang with conviction. After the songs, a prophetic message was given by a faculty member that moved the crowd to their feet.

It is easy to see that God is present on this campus, and He has filled the hearts of those He called to be at DBU. I realized that here, I have been given the freedom to praise God openly and granted the opportunity to do so with a community of other Believers who like me, not only sought a college degree but an experience- a Godly experience. Overwhelmed and amazed by the Holy Spirit and with joy in my heart, I claimed Dallas Baptist University as my home.

Written by Ashley

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Topic vs. Thesis: A Tale of Two Cokes

If you’re Texas born and raised, you’ve probably noticed that people who live in Not Texas tend to say some funky stuff. My favorite is the use of the word “soda,” or even coke_smallbetter, the laughable “pop.” In Texas, we like to keep things interesting and use “coke” to refer to literally any carbonated soft drink on the market. It’s a simple concept, but for my proud Yankee readers*, here’s an explanation:

Texan 1: We’re going to Sonic, y’all want a coke?

Texan 2: Sure, get me a Dr. Pepper.

Texan 3: Yeah, I want a cherry Coke.

Texan 4: I’ll take a Sprite.

Texan 1: Speeds off in a Chevy Silverado Texas Edition with Jason Aldean** blasting through the speakers

Cut scene

See? Simple. In Texanese, “coke” is just a generalized category that umbrellas dozens of beverages. Just as “Mexican food” and “rom-com” and “soda” are unspecified generic topics, so is the word “coke” in Texas.

Understanding the difference between a topic and a thesis can be just as easy if you realize the coke is like your topic, and your thesis is all the other individual drinks it represents. The topic of a paper is usually pretty darned generic, and it is often what is given to you by your professor. It’s the thing on the syllabus that makes you think, “That’s way too broad of an assignment. I still don’t know what to write about!” Here are some examples:

  1. An argument paper about making college free for everyone.
  2. A research paper on the leadership of the Founding Fathers
  3. A compare and contrast essay of the ancient Hebrews and pagan religions.

These are topics, the coke of the writing world. Theses, on the other hand, are born from within topics, but they are much more specific because they include a stance on the topic, as well as basic support for the stance. Some examples might be:

  1. Although the idea of tuition-free college sounds appealing to many, universal post-secondary education is dangerous to the quality of university education, the health of the economy, and the careers of future graduates.
  2. Thomas Paine and George Washington had vastly different roles in the American Revolution, but their similar transformational leadership styles encouraged and equipped Americans to achieve victory in independence.
  3. The ancient Hebrews and pagans shared similar proverbs and cultural tales, but the two groups differ greatly on their theology of God and humanity and practices for worship.

Now you’ve transitioned from generic coke to Dr. Pepper, Orange Fanta, Diet Sprite, and whatever else the kids are drinking these days. The original topics pointed in a general direction, but the theses that evolved from them are highly specific.

As you prepare for the semester ahead and struggle to get back in the academic swing of things, remember that the difference between a topic and a thesis is as simple as knowing that, in Texas, when somebody asks if you want a coke, you better tell them what kind of coke you want. Otherwise, they’ll probably bring you a Dr. Pepper because this ain’t New England, y’all.

* No Yankees were offended in the making of this blog. My dad and my fiancé are both from Not Texas, and I love ‘em both.

** I’m not as blatantly Texan as I appear. I had to Google “famous country singer” because I had no idea.

Written by Savanna

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