In Sherman Alexie’s The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, Junior’s most significant conflict is with discrimination, as it is at the root of all of his other struggles. Junior’s poor education is a result of discrimination. On the reservation, a societal structure itself originating from racial discrimination, there are limited funds for education, forcing students to use textbooks that are “thirty years older than [them]” (31). How is Junior expected to lead a successful life if his education is outdated? This education conflict leads him to leave the reservation and attend Rearden. Here, Junior is able to see the full extent of how his poverty is directly related to discrimination against indigenous people. Living in poverty around people in poverty is much different than living with people who are far from the poverty line. Indigenous people aren’t hired for better jobs because of assumptions based on stereotypes (due to education issues previously mentioned). This act only perpetuates the idea that when “you’re Indian … you’re destined to be poor”(13). When Junior decides to transfer to Rearden, his poverty makes him feel “worthless and stupid” as he doesn’t fit in with the average Rearden student (58). It’s difficult for Junior to make friends and feel confident at first because his acceptance of himself and his culture is so low. Outside sources make Junior feel “that [he is] stupid and ugly because [he’s] Indian” (13). The negative perception of indigenous people in Junior’s life has created an internal conflict: pride in himself vs. shame in his heritage. The external conflicts in Junior’s life can all be linked to this inner struggle stemming from the discrimination against indigenous people. Through this story, Junior is actively fighting a force much greater than himself, determined to defy the odds and the people who say he can’t do it.
Pretending to be someone you aren’t does not make you weak. Less than half of the T.A.L.O.N.S. 9 class truly knows who they are as a person. We may know what we are for and against, our main interests, and our background, but that does not mean we know who we are. If we don’t know who we are, it’s difficult for us to pretend to be someone else. Everyone alters themselves at different points in their life. It happens when we make friends, write applications, or try out for sports. There are so many points in our life where we feel such a desire to fit in that we change ourselves. This doesn’t make us weak as even the strongest people have done it. This being said, those who truly know themselves are some of the strongest people. They know their morals, when to say no, and genuinely value themselves more than those who don’t know themselves. Overall, although people who know themselves are strong, those who don’t know themselves aren’t weak, just not as strong as those who do.
Eroded metal cuffs strangle your wrists, cool enough to numb the torturous gashes they’ve caused. An overwhelming ache covers your shoulders as if you’ve been hanging for centuries. Cloudy slime coats the frigid stone wall like a slug. It grabs at your back, not having had a friend to play with in years. The goo drips from the ceiling in a hypnotic pattern, adding onto the icy ocean of slime licking your feet. Your nose burns from the rotten odor coming from the filthy pool. The depth of the repulsive brown ocean is unknown, too murky to see below. With just a pin-sized spotlight from a hole in the wall, it’s difficult to make out the damp room. Beads of cool sweat run down your face, the salty concoction stings your peeling lips. The feeling of being watched brings you to look on the wall beside you. A spider, it’s long, hairy legs curiously making its way over. The unusually large arachnid skitters up and around your neck, leaving a trail of goosebumps. Quickly taken away by the revolting sludge, the spider’s fate reflects your own. The slime that was once at your ankles is now near your neck, creeping higher by the minute. The acidic flood feels like a million bee stings, you’re drowning in the swarm. Holding your breath for ages, your lungs are a balloon ready to burst. Breaking down the dam, the vile substance is let in. You try to scream, but there’s no point. No one can save you now.
Dr. Dame Daphne Sheldrick has played a crucial part in organizations of endangered species. For over 63 years she created a haven for endangered and orphaned animals. She was accompanied by her husband for the first 23 years, but after he passed she did something incredible. She founded her own organization in memory of him, the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust. By learning how to care for orphaned elephants, Daphne was “the first person in the world to successfully raise newborn elephants”(CNN). Having been defeated by breast cancer this past April, today she is and will continue to be remembered for many years as “Mama Elephant”(CNN). Without her contributions, the elephant population wouldn’t be close to what it is today. Every elephant rehabilitation center around the world has been influenced by her and it’s because of this that future generations have a chance at seeing these majestic animals.
During her rise to eminence, Daphne overcame a few challenges. Interestingly enough, many of these challenges weren’t necessarily work-related. Other than the challenge of being a woman, the biggest challenge that I believe she faced was her husband’s passing. Immediately after her husband died, Dame Daphne Sheldrick stopped fostering elephants. She was heartbroken and unsure of how she could continue in the late 1970’s as a single, white woman in Africa. She nearly gave up on what she was born to do. She always wanted to help those around her and make a real difference in the world and her fear that the elephants would suffer because of humanities ignorance drove her to persevere. I also believe she found one last love after David, the elephants.
Daphne Sheldrick deserves much more recognition than she has received. I believe people should know why the existence of elephants has been stretched and why their children have a chance to see elephants in the wild. Researching and teaching others about this wonderful woman would be an honour. She’s an inspiration to everyone that if you work hard you can achieve something amazing.
There are many organizations that work to help endangered species. Some may question my choice to focus on this one in particular. The reason I decided to focus on Daphne Sheldrick is that although she is eminent, she is seemingly unknown in the class. This project will be much more engaging if the notable I’m researching isn’t well known and I’m able to introduce my peers to her and her legacy. With this criteria, there are still many others I could’ve chosen. The defining thing about her is not only that she is immensely respected in her field, but it is also that I feel a strong connection with her.
I was first introduced to the foundation when I was seven years old. In the fourth grade, I did a project on elephants and came across the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust. I was so intrigued that I ended up “adopting” an elephant, Kamok, rescued by the foundation on the day she was born. I’ve kept myself updated with the David Sheldrick Wildlife Foundation ever since through Kamok’s monthly ‘Keeper’s blogs’. With Daphne’s death in April this year, I believed this would be my way of paying respect.
I’m drawn to Daphne because of her compassion, intellect, and overall moral compass. She knew what she wanted and how she could reach it. She pushed for her goals and continued to strive for change. I am also intrigued by her love for animals. As she founded the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, she cared greatly for the treatment of animals which I find a truly respectable quality.
Although we are in no way the same person, there are a few similarities between Daphne and me. The first would be that we both have a passion for caring for others. We take the feelings and circumstances of others and see if we can improve them. We were both brought up in a family that valued academics. Daphne receiving a spot on her honour roll in high school as well as a scholarship for university. Although she was a kind-hearted woman, she put her goals before others to succeed which is something I could benefit from.
As a TALONS learner, I have many goals but I believe there is one which Daphne seemed to achieve in her lifetime as well. Being thoughtful and compassionate about everyone and everything around her. My goal in TALONS is to leave a positive impact on my peers and I believe that Dr. Sheldrick did just that. She left a positive impact.
As Caucasian, heterosexual, educated females, Daphne and I don’t have very many barriers that we need to overcome other than simply being a woman. In my speech, I will address these difficulties by relating them to myself. I will also investigate the similarities and differences of these challenges between current times and when they affected her. Furthermore, in my speech, I’ll explain how these challenges changed and motivated her during her lifetime and why without these challenges, she may not have been the same eminent person as she was.
“All life has just one home, the earth, and we as the dominant species must take care of it”
~ Dr. Dame Daphne Sheldrick
Check out the DSWT at https://www.sheldrickwildlifetrust.org/
My next goal for this project is to contact the foundation and hopefully conduct an interview with one of Daphne’s daughters, Angela or Jill. I believe that this would be the best way for me to fully understand her and her impact on the world through the eyes of those who knew her
Works cited (MLA):
Laffrey, Anna. “’Mama Elephant’: How Daphne Sheldrick Changed the Fate of Elephants Worldwide.” CNN, Cable News Network, 15 Aug. 2018, http://www.cnn.com/2018/08/15/africa/kenya-daphne-sheldrick-wildlife-conservation/index.html.
“Daphne Sheldrick.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 4 Sept. 2018, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Daphne_Sheldrick.
Elehost Web Design Inc. “The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust: A Haven for Elephants and Rhinos.” The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust: A Haven for Elephants and Rhinos, http://www.sheldrickwildlifetrust.org/.
Manby, Christine. “How One Woman Became the Kenyan Elephant’s Best Friend.” The Independent, Independent Digital News and Media, 1 May 2018, http://www.independent.co.uk/news/obituaries/daphne-sheldrick-elephant-kenya-conservation-help-a8313881.html.
Mim impresses me when she shows no hesitation to leave Mississippi to go find her mother. She isn’t supposed to find out that her mother is sick. It happens when she is called down to the office in the middle of the day. She overhears the principal talking to her father and stepmother Kathy. With her unknowing parents only steps away, Mim instantly changes course and “turns from the oak door, calmly exits the office, the school, [and] the grounds” (6). She is filled with courage and determination and heads all the way home. It becomes clear how observant and resourceful she is as Mim “catches a metro line to the Jackson Greyhound terminal”(8). Mim Malone is a very independent girl; however, I believe that she relies a lot on one person who has also come to be a proven weakness, her mother. Mim wants to be there with her mother to support her, but she fears that her father and Kathy won’t let her. She’s also scared about her mother not being well. If my own family hid something of such importance, I would be greatly afflicted. I too do things on whims and can make drastic impulsive decisions. That being said, if I were in the same situation, I would have brought up the issue with my father. If he didn’t allow me to see my mother, then I would likely consider doing the same thing as Mim.
After reading “Dad is Dying,” some may say that all of the conflicts in the story would have been solved if Sam hadn’t lied in class. These people are mistaken. The lie actually “rescue[d] his mother and father” and also helped set their family on a better path(139). At the start of the story, we are introduced to Dave. Dave is Sam’s father who is struggling with spring. “Spring always settles uncomfortably with Dave” and makes him feel aged and unwell (138). However, because of the lie, the story ends with him feeling less concerned about his age and health. We can ascribe his new sense of confidence to the constant compliments from his neighbours and other citizens who are under the false impression that he is dying. Morley, Sam’s mother, also went through a transformation during this story. She was portrayed as a frantic woman with no time for anything. “She was so busy, in fact, that this spring Morley had no time for her garden, no time for her family and no time for herself” (139). Through both the experience of dealing with Arthur, the ill family dog, and having an unusual amount of support from her friends, Morley was able to slow down and appreciate everything much more. She would not have received this amount of support if Sam hadn’t lied in class. The story came to an end and Sam “hadn’t seen her so relaxed in months”(156). With Morley having enough time for her family, Dave feeling reassured that he is not sick and the anxiety and guilt of the lie being lifted off of Sam’s shoulders, the family is able to be at peace once again. The lie “My dad is dying” causes an interesting quandary, which ultimately leads to a good outcome(141). Although lying is wrong and shouldn’t be done unless absolutely necessary, in the end, the pros overshadowed the cons and the benefits of Sam’s lie outweigh the issue of the lie itself.
2.a) You’re digital footprint is something that will stay with you forever. Even if you don’t think anyone will see or care about that post, it may come back and influence your current opportunities. One way it can affect your life is by keeping you from getting a job. It’s becoming more and more common for businesses to check your social media. Maybe you had a post of that party you went to a few weeks ago or you made a negative comment about a brand that is connected to the business you were looking to join. If the employer sees something they don’t agree with, they can turn you away. Another example is if two students are wanting to go to the same university. There’s only one spot, and the applications are both outstanding. The university checks both of the student’s social media and immediately picks student A. It turns out that student B had said quite a few controversial things online. Student A was more mindful of their digital footprint, which resulted in a better outcome than student B.
2.b) A few ways you can keep your digital footprint appropriate and safe are:
- Before you post or comment something online, ask yourself if you would: Feel comfortable with your family seeing it, be okay with it in a few hours, hurt anyone with what you are doing. If the post meets all of those requirements, then it’s safe to post.
- Make sure your accounts on social media are private! As an adult, you can make this decision for yourself, but until you’re 18, you should definitely only let your friends and family follow you.
- On some websites, even if your account is private, you can still view the description of the profile. Having a limited amount of personal information in your description can help keep you safe from people online that you don’t know.
2.c) If I could go back and give advice to my younger self, I’d tell myself not to rush into social media. Wait until middle school to make an account. There is no reason to have social media in elementary school, and you don’t need to get into the habit of using it. Getting it in middle school will help you learn the balance of how often you should be using it so you don’t become addicted.