Ross School - Senior Projects 2011
Mentor: Alexandra Cromwell
Domain(s): 70% English, 30% Media
Title: Dream, Reality
As the title Untitled Dreams that tries to depict the boundary between dreams and reality, and to think about many scientifically unaccountable or seemingly supernatural aspects of dreams such as predictive dreams, true feeling dreams, and psychic dreams. The writing doesnÕt give any definite analysis or conclusions about dreams. It is a record of the interior and exterior exploration in narrative of a teenage girl. By the way, the notion that dreams are possibly pivots that connect different worlds and space appear a lot in the story.
Photos were shot under the title of Dream. The photos are meant to show the uncertainty and change of the world. The girl in the photos is trying to retrieve the fragmented herself. Because the photos are shot either very closely or overly exposed, so when you look at them closely, you may not get the whole picture. But when you step farther away out of the frame and look distantly, every pieces of a puzzle coheres.
For my senior project, I wrote a story called Dream,Reality, and shot photos under the topic. LetÕs begin from the photos. They will lead us into the story.
At the center of the photos, a child is peacefully asleep, surrounded by smiles. Yet the two columns on sides is a fragmented face of a girl. And ItÕs hard to notice that one of the fragment was not even her face, but belongs to someone she doesnÕt even know. The middle column represents a light and carefree reality. But the reality is between the girlÕs inquiring eyes. She is trying to discover a truth outside her reality, and to find the lost jigsaw puzzles to recover herself. The photos were shot either very closely or overly exposed. When you look at them closely, you may not get what they are. But when you step away, out of the frame and look distantly, pieces of the puzzle seem to cohere.
And now letÕs step into the writing, a writing that tries to depict the boundary between dream and reality, a wiring in narrative of the girl.
The main structure of the writing project is interweaving descriptions of dreams and narratives.
The dreams are of a wide range.
Certain human brains can create feelings and experiences that the individual have never come across in the real life. These feelings and experiences are accompanied by true feelings. And most of these dreams have actual physical impact on human bodies and emotions even after they wake up.
Another intriguing type of dream is the prophetic dream. For example, one may wake up one day, looking outside at the stormy sky, and say ŌItÕs raining.Ķ And then he wakes up, looking outside at the dark sky, saying ŌItÕs raining.Ķ Because of the extreme similarity, most people are not even aware that they had the prophetic dream.
One another kind of dream is interesting in their Ōsettings.Ķ One may find himself suddenly in a different country, space, world or time. Sometimes one appears as a long-existent person in the dream zworld, and his spirit or soul goes into this body to continue the history. Some other cases are different. One gets into a world as a foreigner. And even after they wake up from that dream and come back to their own world, there is a sense that the history of the dream world is still going on. Sometimes one is able to find paths to go back to a same dream, sometimes not.
The story is in the form of a journal. So a beautiful morning can come immediately after a dark dream. As in the photos, dream and reality form a strong contrast, yet coexist. The girl in the story not only contemplates dreams, but also cherishes her reality. The reality pieces are all bright and carefree. The more the girl dreamed, the more details and beauty she noticed after she woke up.
I dream a lot, and the mystique of dreams always fascinates me. I used to keep a journal that records my dreams and my thoughts. But in the past years, because of heavy schoolwork and boarding life, I didnÕt have time to read, to write or to think. I felt that my brain was rusting. So senior project offered me a valued chance to retrieve myself. At the end of last year, what I chose for my senior project was completely different from what I have now. At first, I wanted to do something related to business, because business is what I intend to major in. I thought about studying stock market. But before I decided another senior chose that topic. Then I wanted to help my mum make business plan in America. I spent my summer vacation collecting information and learning. But after the senior year began, I decided that it wouldnÕt be finished by the due date of senior project, and I was not really motivated to continue it. So, several weeks after the school year began, I changed my project to Ōwriting and photography.Ķ I still didnÕt have a final plan, and the time was passing quickly. Finally, I began to write down my first dream with a thought:Ķ Well, I have to begin something. Parenthesis. Though I donÕt really know what I want to do yet. But maybe I will know after a while. Fortunately, it did get clear to me how to structure the story after a while. But I was already quite behind at that time. Not only because I started late, but also because of the difficulties brought by language barrier and the hardship of writing itself. As a result, I had to work really hard during the Christmas break.
Writing is both physically and mentally demanding. ItÕs physically demanding because I like to compose by hands, so imagine sitting in front of a table, holding a pen and writing for hours. And it troubled me more mentally. To write my dreams down, I needed to go over my experiences and emotions in my dreams. As I said, some of my dreams are gloomy and even terrifying. So when I re-experience those dreams, I sometimes got so depressed that I didnÕt want to write any more. That was part of the reason why I progressed slowly.
A bigger difficulty lay in language. My first language is Chinese, so language was an inevitable challenge to me. One problem many of you may be curious about is: When I compose, do I think in English or Chinese? Thanks to the many essays of the former year at Ross, I am now able to think mainly in English when I write. But this story is a literature work, and for a literature work, you want to make it poetic and beautiful. This adds to the difficulty of writing. My writing improved a lot during the writing process, but I also realized how different is a first language from a second language. When I wanted to describe something beautiful or something abstract, what first came to my mind were always Chinese expressions, especially traditional Chinese poems. (IÕm a big fan of traditional Chinese poems.) It was really frustrating when I didnÕt know how to translate the Chinese expressions into English. Let me illustrate the translation with an example. Ō风雨千山予独行.Ķ Literally, it means ŌI walk among the mountains covered by rain and winds.Ķ But when I think of this poem, what come to my mind are scenes as in this painting. Even I can compose in English, what I cannot show the readers is the context in which I compose. In addition, English and Chinese have different rhythms, so I need to find a balance in translating, so that my writing wouldnÕt become something like Chinglish- the Chinese English, and that ideas wouldnÕt be lost in translation.
We are almost at the end of presentation now. So, letÕs talk about what I achieved. First, my written-English definitely improved a lot. Though my writing still needs improving, if you look at my first draft of the first story, you will say that I deserve to be the most improved writer this year. And what I valued the most was that I began to think and to write again. The writing will be my precious souvenir of my high school years. If anyone of you kept a journal, you will know that after many years, when you look back at your journal, you will find how you have changed and how you used to be. And sometimes you may even find something that you cherished a lot but lost in time. The whole process was painstaking. Especially at the beginning of the year, everything seemed to come together, schoolwork, college application and senior project. On the day when I handed in my product, the only word came to me was ŌFinally.Ķ The senior year kind of reminds me of the military training I had in my primary and middle school. After you get over it, you feel that thereÕs nothing in the world that you cannot overcome.
Works Cited or Works Consulted
Name: Jason Cole
Occupation: ESL (English As Second Language) teacher
Mr. Cole was a full time ESL teacher at Ross in the former year. In his class I not only learn English skills but also appreciate many of the greatest movies of the century, such as Casablanca and 2001: A Space Odyssey. I felt that he can help me both in language and thinking.