CAMP L.I.F.E 2014: The Daily Blog of an Apprentice Facilitator

I remember my first camp. I was invited to be one of the junior facilitators by a former tutor and the camp has nurtured me a fun and life-learning experience that has already marked my life. My tasks involved monitoring the venue’s cleanliness, assisting the facilitators in taking care of campers (e.g. doing the headcount when it’s time for activity), and looking after a buddy and distributing meals, while having the chance to enhance my talents and learn new skills through various workshops, and to apply my independent living skills. What marked me most back then was I met my friends for life. I felt blessed having the opportunity to join camp, discovering how I could be an inspiring role model to campers, most of whom have special needs.

My second camp was quite different from the first. I am now an apprentice facilitator – with bigger responsibilities aside from the ones assigned to a junior facilitator. One of these tasks involves labeling whether the different elements in the room (lockers, bed, baggage, bathroom..) are either clean or messy after the facilitators-in-charge have inspected the rooms. ¬†I am also in charge of helping a volunteer in arranging the library corner, look after two camp buddies as some facilitators are tasked to do (camp facilitators are usually asked to look after two-to-four camp buddies), and to facilitate in some of the workshops (social skills) and activities (being one of the room marshals in Superhero Team Quest) with the coaches. While being a junior facilitator is all about assisting a coach and being an older sibling to the campers, an apprentice facilitator is trained to be one of the future camp facilitators. There are times when I am referred as a coach by the new campers. I am equally required to work during the campers’ regular free time, which is filled with sweat and blood.

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Tasks I did as an apprentice facilitator. Seems like I am having fun in my job.

Yet this feels more like a challenge than a hindrance. I have told myself that it is time to move forward and I need to learn more skills that are more applicable in my adult day-to-day life. It is about time that I earn more respect from campers seeing me more as an actual adult rather than as a peer their age, who is actually an adult in disguise. While dreaming to be one of the senior camp facilitators in the future, I also need to be well-trained before joining their circle. Being an apprentice facilitator has fully exploited my skills in becoming a leader, and has boosted my self-worth and sense of accomplishment.

This year’s camp is indeed as memorable as my first. The following pictures sum up all the fun.

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And this leaves me with..

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My certificates as junior (2012) and apprentice (2014) facilitators. Who knows what will happen next? #aiminghigh

Further reading

#FlashbackFriday to my first camp: Why Camp L.I.F.E. is worth your summer ūüôā

Like One Dream Benefit Concert, CAMP L.I.FE is also organized by Candent Learning Haus (CLH), a center for tutoring and special needs. Check their official website (http://candentlearninghaus.wix.com/candentlearninghaus) for more details.

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When the virtual world is not that perfect

Remember when Internet was not the hype yet. Remember when news were only heard from the television, radio and press and we were only bound to be familiar with the played songs on the radio. Remember those times when we were only limited to meeting a certain type of people who do not necessarily share the same interests as us and there were times when we would feel isolated knowing there was no one we could share our fandom feels. Unless we were able to deal with different mindsets and passions, we would not stand a chance in gaining friends.

And there came the Internet. It was mainly used in the workplace in 80’s-90’s and was first introduced in the household during the 2000 decade. While social media and online gaming are on the rise, many people consider looking for online friends, preferably those who share the same interests and passions. These friends are also known as virtual life or VL friends and virtual friend finders tend to use them as their online confidants with whom they can spazz their fandoms. There are even times when they tend to spill their problems and ask for an advice to their online friends,¬†assuming that they can also relate so much they can provide some help.

Yet the virtual world is not a perfect place to be. Some tend to overestimate their friends met through virtual interactions so much that they forget that these kind of interactions also have their flaws. The following are the downside factors that one must expect when meeting people online.

1) Your friend may be a lot more different in person. 

Internet provides us the opportunity to project ourselves and some people may only choose to project the person they want to be in order to be accepted. Even as they reveal the “real” them online, it still gives a different feeling to see their offline personality – their voices and their intonation, the way they act and look in person, and their real-life behavior and attitudes, all of which may be different from online. It will take time to figure out whether virtual friends can also make real-life close friends. A virtual friend will remain a complete stranger until the first meeting and if life does not provide an opportunity for virtual friends to meet, then they will be forever “stranger friends.”

2) As much as there are real-life people who are eyesores, there is also a chance that you will meet these kinds in the Internet. 

There is no escape from negative feedback and criticisms even as you enter the virtual world. This is proven through trash talks frequently seen in YouTube, online blogs and forums, as well as in personal-interaction based websites like Twitter. There are also as much fights, issues and gossips as in real life communities. There is no guarantee for escape from atrocities in virtual interactions and they will only guarantee you the same set of real-life problems.

Not forgetting to mention that meeting people online can involve a lot of risk. There is a high risk that you will meet a criminal in disguise (e.g. date rapist, a pedophile, hacker, scammer..) and if not, a person who will attempt to steal your pictures and identity and pose as you. It is best not to provide too much specifics especially if it will make you traceable enough to a stranger’s eye. And best not to provide specifics that will highlight your social status (rich people tend to be the online criminal’s top victims).

3) It will take time to figure out whether your closest virtual friends can make your closest virtual, or rather real-life friends. 

As mentioned previously, it will take time to figure out their real-life personality even as you meet in person. This means it will still take time to figure out whether you are meant to be close friends in real life, which may either happen or not depending on how you get along. In the meantime, you can still refer to them as virtual/online best friends as long as you have not met each other in person.

4) Friends do come and go in real life. Same goes in the Internet. 

And that is the sad fact of life. There will come a time when your virtual BFFs will be so busy with their real-life stuffs that they will no longer have time to still interact with you. Your virtual close friends may no longer be your close friends as time passes and their posts may no longer be as interesting as you used to think. There will be some virtual friends of yours who will no longer reply back to your comments. Some of them will even consider cutting communications with you for no reason, simply because you just do not interact with each other anymore. Unlike real-life friendships that can still be restored through reunions and simple invites, online friendships can never be as replenished.

5) And finally, it is the real life friends that give us the most comfort. 

They may not fully relate to you and give better advice than their online counterparts but they are still the ones to provide you comfort when you are down. They are the ones to give you a hug, to wipe your tears, to show up at your door and to invite you for a coffee to make you feel better. There is certainly such thing as virtual hugs and comforting online messages but a physically given comfort provides a different unforgettable touched feeling. Even though online interactions are at its peak, one should never neglect the importance of spending time with offline friends. And besides they are the ones to show up at your funeral when you die (while your virtual friends will only think that you went inactive, not care about your heard death or, luckily for you, send “RIP” mentions).

This article only seeks to point out the downsides of virtual friendships. The virtual world is not as perfect as those friend finders tend to assume and there is no reason for them to choose them over real-life friendships proving that they are better. Meanwhile, I am personally thankful that virtual friendships exist. They provide us the opportunity to communicate with people sharing our passions and interests, as well as to discover things that none of our real-life friends have made us discover. We can also turn to them whenever our offline friends cannot afford to help us or whenever there are problems we are uncomfortable sharing with them. Online friends are the ones not to make us feel alone, making us come out of our isolated selves that Internet-less world had conditioned.

In short, it is all about a matter of balancing friendships. While we can spend our time wholeheartedly with our real-life friends, it is with virtual-life friends with whom we can share our passion-related perks.

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One way to introduce yourself virtually (sarcasm)
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One sample of a negative highlight on online gamers
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Applies to virtual reality (i.e. virtual world) once entered

DISCLAIMER: This article does not aim to harm any virtual friend or people who are into virtual friendships. It only seeks to point out the downsides of such interactions, which some tend to overestimate. 

Kill la Kill, Dress to Kill: Best Anime of late 2013-2014

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Alternative Names¬†Kill la Kill, KLK,¬†„ā≠„Éę„É©„ā≠„Éę

Directed By Hiroyuki Imaishi

Producer Trigger

Original Run October 4, 2013 РMarch 27, 2014

Genre Action, Comedy, Drama, Ecchi, School, Science Fiction, Seinen, Supernatural

Plot 

Seventeen year old student Ryuuko Matoi transfers to Honnouji Academy as to search for the owner of the other half of her scissors that murdered her father. She then receives a powerful sailor uniform named Senketsu, fated to fight against the life fibers that lie in the academy and beyond. Meanwhile, during her school journey, she eventually learns more shocking revelations about her father, his death and the rest of her past.

Main Review

There is so much to love about Kill la Kill more than a one-page essay can describe. One of the aspects to love includes how the anime is seen as a metaphor of materialism, its brought values and its consequences in the society. Materialistic consequences are shown through the fashion contest turned battlefield of fashion wars with a series of sword fights, while the life fiber clothing proves to be the culprit to having materialistic values. It is seen as a source of beauty, glamour, power and high social status, and it later brings bad influences to the bearer driving them to do evil deeds. It is revealed that life fibers further lead to chaos and war, given their nature in choosing a bearer and fighting another life fiber that will lead the bearers to fight themselves. The “humans slavery to clothing” philosophy is sure not to be neglected, and is therefore a perfect portrayal of humans being slaves of clothes and other material possessions in real life.

Other worth-tuning imagery in the series includes “No Late Day,” a wacky portrayal in episode 4 wherein the daily challenges of not coming late to class is translated into a literal amazing race. The student who comes to class the earliest after a series of victory in different encountered contests emerges as a winner, although Ryuuko and Mako end up winning the contest (all thanks to Mako’s tactics) despite showing up late. Another interesting imagery lies in the school popularity ranking based on worn uniforms (Three-star Goku uniform, Two-star Goku uniform, Jengetsu, No-star..), wherein the popular students in the council happen to be the chosen bearers of life fibers and the unpopular ones wear an ordinary school uniform.

It appeals me to see how woman take major roles in a fighter anime. It is rare for women and men to be main characters and sidekicks respectively in the anime of named genre, although Kill la Kill is more about fashion trend that is typically considered a hype for females. This alone already makes the series unique and distinguishable, being the sole male-oriented fighter anime with women as main characters. Not forgetting to mention that Kill la Kill has taught many lessons on importance of human relationships over ambitions and material possessions (as seen through Ryago’s defeat, who is only interested in fulfilling with ambitions and using her kinsmen to achieve them in contrast with her daughters claimed to fight together) and any related virtues – friendship, sacrifice, compassion, teamwork and fighting for justice together. Self-discovery and acceptance of discovered past (as seen through Ryuuko and Satsuki who are trying to cope with their learned past despite learning it the hard way) also reveal to be the anime’s two of the most crucial themes.

And finally, the overall entertainment (the wackiness, the “ecchi” scenes, the full-loaded action, the gore and morbidity seen through Nui’s ripping of heart, regeneration of wounds, cut arms and separation of head from the rest of the body) and the unpredictable well-crafted plot make Kill la Kill worth-tuning to. There is a whole lot of progression in the second half of the series, despite the generic, repetitive and sometimes confusing episodes that dominated the first half. The interesting characters, the enticing ships (well..thank you fanservice!), the inclusion of French terms like “La vie est drole¬†” (life is funny in itself) and¬†“oui maman¬†” (yes mommy) that emphasizes the fashion culture environment (France is typically known as the country of fashion, perfume and gastronomy), and the background music that well fit the fighting scene atmosphere and the overall theme of the anime are as worth-appreciating. Its old school anime vibe (the pre-2000’s art, action, and comedy style and a few references to classic fighter and mecha anime) makes Kill la Kill identifiable from the rest of the modern anime, enticing old school fanatics to watch it further especially with such progressively driven plot.

The ending, however, is not as good in contrast with the popular belief. It would have been better if the finale is less of a cliffhanger (Ryago would have been defeated for a deeper reason than just ripping her own heart after a sudden realization that humans can never be fused with clothing) and involves more exposure on Senketsu’s disintegration teary eyed scene. Likewise, it would have been better if Ryuuko would have made more efforts in her fights until her mother gets defeated and the life fibers should have disappeared by actually having the original fiber defeated (and not when Ryuuko calls on them that humans can never be fused with clothing). Another flaw in the anime lies in the repetitive episodes at the first half, which makes the audience think that he or she is wasting his or her time (no matter how entertaining they can be). Despite the presented flaws, Kill la Kill still remains an anime series filled with awesome “feels”.

‚ÄúYeah, we‚Äôre neither humans nor clothing. But at the same time, we are humans, and clothing, and EVERYTHING ELSE. Humans can‚Äôt becoming clothing. Humans are humans and clothing is clothing! THAT‚ÄôS JUST WHO WE ARE!‚ÄĚ ‚Äď Ryuuko and Senketsu (credits to littlecloudcuriosity.com).

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My favorite ship in the series ~

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Overall Rating 4.75/5 stars (9.5/10)

Sources

Kill la Kill, MyAnimeList

Kill la Kill, Wikipedia

“Kill la Kill Episode 24 FINALE AND END SERIES REVIEW”

Further Reading

“No-holds-barred insanity in Kill la Kill,” GMA News

Naked Blood Megyaku: The Pain of Pleasure That Turns Back Into Pain

This movie is painful in a good way. The pain of pleasure theory is quickly translated into a vivid literal imagery through a simple and gory story line, wherein a young scientist experiments his newly founded painkilling drug – named¬†MySon¬†– on three ladies, and they in turn suffer brutal side effects leading them to either take pleasure in harming themselves and others. Other genius sides in the film lie in the name MySon and its implied irony. Literally suggesting the idea of having a child, it turns out that the known drug actually gives birth to so-eternal happiness leading to eternal pleasure of pain, insanity and even death, after being mixed with the anti-pregnancy experiments conducted by the scientist’s mom.

But the real genius aspect lies in the extremity of gore. The movie itself has managed to captivate cringe among the audience, most particularly through enormous presence of blood and close-ups of self-mutilation, self-cannibalism and atrocious sadistic murders. These alone have outlawed the movie’s flaws including boring and unnecessary scenes, and some confusion in the plot wherein sometimes the audience does not receive the answers to their questions they have been asking themselves throughout the film. The film can also involve various interpretations – wherein the drug is perceived to directly turn pain into pleasure by manipulating the users into self-exploitation of hurting themselves and others, or to actually kill pain with a side effect of manipulating drug users into resorting to harm when taken excessively or with another drug. Or it may be that their curiosity in not feeling pain in their unintentional simple wounds after the drug injection leads them to hurt more even until they are soaked with blood. The movie is likewise interpreted as a morbid metaphor of damaging effects of drugs consumption in general, providing the bloodily damaged painkilling drug subjects as an example.

Definitely a recommendation for gore and horror aficionados. The film never fails to answer their expectations in what makes an excellent gore/horror masterpiece.

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Country Japan

Release Date February 20, 1996

Based on its original movie The Genuine Rape (1987) from the same director.

Directed by Hisayasu Sato

Starring Misa Aika, Yumika Hayashi, Mika Kirihara, Sadao Abe.

Genre Horror, Psychological.

Length 76 min long

Plot

The young scientist named Eigi creates a painkilling drug called¬†MySon¬†and experiments it on three women who are also subjects of his mother’s anti-pregnancy test. The effects of the known drug slowly take their toll on the three subjects, often leading to self-cannibalism, masochistic self-mutilation and sadistic murders.

Overall Rating 4.5/5 stars (9/10)

Sources

Naked Blood, Megyaku IMDb

Naked Blood, Wikipedia

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