Studying Mental Illness Through Literature Works

From PBS
From PBS

I really love the theme in this round’s literacy class. We’re learning about Mental illnesses through literary works. I was very surprised and sad to know that 60% of people with mental illness don’t seek out for help because they’re being stigmatized and classified as mentally ill. We read two older short, horrific and mysterious stories by a male famous American writer, Edgar Allan Poe. The first text was called The Tell Tale Heart, which is about a madman who doesn’t accept that he is insane. Because of a nice old man’s eye (it annoys him), the narrator killed the old man. Without any guilt at all he even hid the body under the floor and the police came to investigate and found nothing until the narrator eventually revealed the truth himself. The second story is called The Black Cat. The text is simpler and easier to understand than the first text. The Black Cat is a story that is quite similar to The Tell Tale Heart because the stories are told in the first person perspectives, who are the villains. The Black Cat is about a nice man (the narrator) who loved pets, especially cats and very graceful, until he started drinking alcohol. He started to change and become more aggressive, until one day he killed his own cat, while knowing that it didn’t do anything wrong. A few months later, he found another black cat to replace Pluto, the original cat. Not long after, he attempted to kill the cat, however his wife stopped him, so he killed his wife instead. Not very different from Poe’s The Tell Tale Heart story, the narrator hid the body within the house and kept chilled. I thought learning about the mental state through literature is very interesting and interacting simultaneously. I look forward to reading more creepy and fun texts.

Make the Most of Your Learning

As always, at the beginning of a round, there’s a theme provided. This theme might be one of the best theme I’ve had. It’s “Make the Most of Your Learning”! Normally, we would be provided a specific theme and is assigned by different tasks. This theme, however is different. We could actually plan our own schedule during the English literacy hour! We can plan our schedule however we want, as long as what we are doing are English literacy related. We will document our tasks everyday in class, write down the time we spent on the tasks, check if we complete the task and description of the task. The main purpose of this theme is for students to be able to gain independence in class and have ownership of their own literacy class. Students can also bring tasks from other classes that are related to English literacy to work. I find it very convenience because you have the freedom of choice to choose what you wanted to work on.


Although we get to do a lot of independent work, but once in a week or so, we have assigned work to do as well. One of the work we have to finish was the novel study. We are required to choose any novel and finish it. During that period of time, we need to also keep a vocabulary log for the novel and at the end of the round, we need to do a book review of the novel we read.


I chose to read a novel named “Diving Deep, Going Far”. It’s about how Cambodian women are fighting for their rights against discrimination, forced marriage, etc… The title of the book is actuallly inspired by a Khmer saying that said “Woman can’t dive deep or go far”, however this book will proof that the saying is wrong based on the women’s experience. I found it very motivating and empowering to read the book. The book displayed a lot about the society in reality, not just fictional, imagining book. The book was written from four different women perspectives, which show us different experiences of all four of them.


Another task we did during this independent time is How to be Happy Essay. Below is the final draft of “How to be Happy When You’re Running Low Financially”.


Three Steps on How to be Happy When You Run Low Financially


Struggling to stay positive when the latest iPhone released and you found 10 dollars in your wallet? If so, this is the right place for you. Some people might find it very difficult to stay positive and happy when you are broke, but this tutorial will make you realize that being happy is an easy thing if you do it the right way. Just a reminder for you not to forget or skip a step, because it might result in a different way. Without any further ado, let’s get to the steps.


Step 1: Recognize that you are rich in many ways

According to Cosmopolitan and Lifehacks, we should appreciate and feel great about our strengths, about what we are rich in. According to Michelle Kennedy Hogan, an explorer, editor, author of 15 books mentioned, “People who are actually wealthy (in cash) might act stressed and frazzled, proving that being rich with cash may not be the best thing for everyone.” To add on to what the quote said, being rich (in cash) doesn’t mean that you are rich in heart. It’s best if you are rich in heart, like showing the kindness, the friendliness and the enthusiasm in you. This shows proof that you actually feel a lot better when you have the traits of being a great person than being rich in cash without the richness in your heart. If you have the traits of generosity, hard-working, etc… in you, there’s no doubt that you’ll be surrounded with friends that are supportive.


Step 2: Keeping a list of things you spent on.

Now you should start keeping a list of everything you spent on, even the smallest thing like buying a cone of chocolate ice cream. Keep the list with you all the time, especially when you are outdoors because that’s usually when you spend money most. The list could be written in a book or a note on your phone. Just have a three columns list of the name of things you bought, its price and would you considered it as a need or a want. Below is an example:


Names Price Need or Want?
Teddy Bear $20 Want
Notebooks for different subjects $10 Need


Step 3: Avoid It!


Keeping a list like one above will help you to reflect and not overspend again. After having this list noted down for the whole week, then you should look back and reflect on how you managed your wants and needs, maybe you spent too much on buying things you want when it’s not even a need. Remember to look at this list weekly and never forget to use it effectively. By that, you should minimize your wants as much as possible. Limit yourself to use your money for needs only and you can award yourself once in a while if you’ve done well managing your wants and needs.

How to Neaten Your Closet

The theme of this round’s literacy class is Happiness. It’s one of the best theme yet this year. I find it super interesting and wanting to learn more. During this seven weeks round, we did a lot of writings related to happiness. One of my favorite writing piece is the “How to”. It’s basically a piece, where you write steps of how to do something that you would do everyday. Mine was about “How to Neaten Your Closet”, so if you want to organize your closet, keep reading.

How to Neaten Your Closet


Materials: A closet and everything in your closet


Making everything is tidy and neat is one of the priority for many people and one of the messiest place in your house might be your closet, because it’s a place where you store all your hair ties (probably) hair combs, bags, books, and mostly almost everything. If you find yourself not organized, this tutorial will help you to make sure that your closet will look tidier and it’ll make you easy to find things in your closet, if you’ve ever needed to find a lost item in your closet.


Step 1: Take everything out of your closet and keep it in a big space

In order to make your closet neat and beautiful, you should always take everything out of the closet to actually know what are the things that are kept in there, probably for decades.


Step 2: Sort them by labels or just spread them in teams (read step 3 before do this step)

This step will help you to just know how many of the same or similar things you have in your closet and by having them in teams will make your closet even more tidy and beautiful. Also when you want to pick a pair of earrings, you can see more options in the same space, you don’t need to pour everything from your closet to find another pair.


Step 3: Choose a bunch of important clothes or uniforms to hang them up

If you are a student, you should always hang your uniforms up, because it’ll make your life easier, when you need to choose your uniform of the day. In general, putting your important clothes (party dresses, outgoing outfits, etc…) elsewhere would be time consuming, since you are a busy person (I bet you are one) you will need to choose very quickly and won’t have time to search through your closet.


Step 4: Fold your clothes into its type then put them back in your closet!

After hanging those important clothes, then you can start folding the clothes you already sorted out in Step 2. You can sort it out in different ways, I won’t be going into detail in this tutorial. Afterwards, just put them in your closet. Make sure that you pile them differently, not all over each other.


Step 5: Organize extra things

You should have extra things beside your clothes in your closet, obviously. If you do, you might want to have a section of your closet just for those things, such as; your bags, your jewelry, your hair accessories, etc… I suggest combine similar things like your jewelry with your hair accessories, since they are pretty much similar things. Also you could also have a book section with your bags, if there are space for them.


Note: If you find things that don’t go with other things in your closet, for example a cup or a teddy bear that your friend gave you, then you could have a section just for things that you don’t really know where it belongs, but always make sure to clean that random space area in your closet once a month or so, just to make sure they aren’t dump in your closet.

A New Theme-Identity

A new theme is always chosen for a new round of the school year. This round’s theme is “Identity”. Before going deep into Identity, I was questioned by some simple questions, but not simple answers. “Who are you?”, “What defines you?”, “What makes you who you are?”. It couldn’t get any harder when it comes to understanding yourself. I was borned in a family, where I’m the youngest and we adore dogs. To my family, dogs aren’t just pets, but family; they are part of us. I’m from a place called “home”, a warm, cozy place, where smiles and joy are shared. I’m from a place, where I first see sunlight, a place where I’m taught to be a grateful child, a loyal friend, a great student and a respectful leader. It’s the genes I got from my parents and the environment around me that made me who I am today. They are the ones who shaped my personalities, my behaviors and my actions. We then wrote a vignette about the meaning of our names.


My Name by Mealea Mang

My surname, Mang Rathanak Mealea, is quite a long name to have, but I love having a long name. My first name was given by my grandfather and my middle name was given by my aunt. I don’t really use my middle name, “Rathanak” a lot, just because it is really long, so I usually just use my first and last name.

My name has a really beautiful meaning, Rathanak, my middle name means diamond or gold or something valuable and Mealea means floral or flower. Interesting fact about my first name is that, it could be found on the Khmer dictionary! Most of the Cambodians have their last name named after their grandfather’s first name, like me. Actually, my last name is written in a French way, “M-A-N-G”, if I could I would change the spelling to “M-O-N-G”; it is still not the right pronunciation, but at least close, closer than “M-A-N-G”.

People sometimes would pronounced my name “Melea”, instead of “Mealea” and no one has pronounced my last name correctly on first try yet. I am not upset when people called me “Melea”, but I am not really happy when people pronounced my last name incorrectly, but I am used to it now. People also say that my name sounds really aggressive. I am kind of aggressive just like how my name sounds like, because my mom has the personality of kind and aggressive at the same time. That’s how I get this trait of mine.

Fun facts: my name is actually the title of one of the most famous Khmer novels called “Mealea Duong Chet”; it means “florals in someone’s heart”. My name sounds really familiar to most of the Cambodians, since the novel is really well-known all over Cambodia. Surprisingly, my name is the name of one of the temple in Siem Reap. It is a really old temple built in the early 12th century.

Despite from opinions from others, I feel like this name doesn’t represent me that well, but I love it and I really don’t want to change my first name, because it is something that my grandfather left for me before he passed away and I would never change my name to anything.

Afterwards, we learned about literary devices, elements that a great author uses to create fascinating effects to the story. I found it really helpful, because these elements are just things that we need in a story to make it amazing and with literary devices, it just makes the atmosphere when you are reading more realistic and able to visualize. These literary devices create imaginary images in our mind and extend our creativity.

We are currently in groups of 3-5 people reading the same book with the theme of “Identity”. There are four different books to choose from; Outsiders, Wonder, Looking for Alaska and Monsters. I chose to read Monsters, because it’s totally a different taste of reading for me. Every week, we have a book discussion, where everyone in the team is assigned for a role, such as; the summarizer, the word detector, inferencer, symbolizer and visualizer. We switch roles every week and we basically just discussed about the book as one of the five roles listed before.

An author always has his/her purposes of writing the books. They might want the book to be educational, entertaining, informative, persuasive or descriptive. They might choose to add some opinions or facts or add different literary devices to give some amazing effects to the book.

This round’s theme has caught my eyes so much and I am really looking forward for next round’s theme. I could guarantee that it’s going to be another exciting theme.

English Literacy-Round 2

The second round of the year starts off with the study of social and environmental injustice; social injustice is basically about how people are treated unfairly, due to their race, origins, religions, etc… Environmental injustice is quite related to social injustice, as it is about how the environment affect human life. As we are learning, we completed a hyperdoc about minority groups in Connecticut and how the power plants affect them, since most of the power plants in the state are located near the minority groups territory. Besides that we are currently focusing on writing argumentative essays. As a warm up, we did something called Philosophical chair, where a topic or statement is given and students need to choose to agree or disagree and they will debate and give turns respectfully. Before writing the argumentative essay, we also learn tips and skills to write an argumentative essay. That includes devil advocate, writing thesis statement, choosing evidence, integrating source and more.

Etymology-English Literacy

Currently, we are focusing on studying etymology, which is very helpful and useful for English learners. We have a homework packet every week, in which we learned about the root words. We are only focusing on greek and latin words, also we have three new root words every week. Some of the root words we have learned are graph/gram, dict, scrib/scrip, aqua/aqu, mer/mar, bio, photo, phil etc… I really think studying these root words help me and everyone to know more vocabulary and could figure out the definition easily by just looking at the root words. We also have a little assessment related to the root words every Monday. In this class, we did a lot of discussion and the current one is about Poison. The morals of poison is for us to discriminate anyone, to be grateful, appreciative and not do the same as Harry, one of the character in the story that discriminates the doctor by calling him “ Litte Indian” and “ Dirty Little Hindu Sewer Rat”, which is very rude and disrespectful. This story is very descriptive of what was going on in the story and is very detailed.