Experiencing Pilates: A Journal

           As an International Student, which is a full-time student, I have the requirement to take minimum 12 credits in one term. So, in my first semester I already choose three classes which are one English class and two Early Childhood Education classes, which is the major that I take. Unfortunately, the credit from those three classes is only eleven. That’s why I need to take one more class to meet my minimum credit. Apparently, because of some consideration, including the financial one, I need to take a class which has one credit only. My searching of class with one credit only ended up into the P.E class. I decided to take one P.E class to fulfill the minimum credit needed. From all P.E class offered, I then considered two classes which are Yoga and Pilates. Then, because of the schedule reason, I chose Pilates class.
              Before taking this Pilates class, I already heard about Pilates in my home country, Indonesia, but I never know what actually Pilates is. What I had in my mind is that it is similar to yoga, and a lot of women in my country do it. There even some famous artists who open their own Pilates place and endorse people to do more Pilates. So, in the first meeting of the lesson I did not have any expectation or general view about what I will do in the class. Arrived five minutes late because trying to find the entrance door of the gymnastic building and got lost into the indoor basketball court (well, that’s not the first time I got lost in a new place since I’m not good at direction and have a low visual spatial skill), I got the syllabus and the registration code needed to enroll to the class. In the first meeting, there was no workshop since the instructor needs to explain about how the class will be and other information needed such as the dress code, props needed, and so on. My first impression about this meeting is that the class is gonna be exciting since the instructor is very energetic and friendly. She tried to memorize all of the student’s names in the first meeting, which I found it is fascinating because it is not easy to memorize more than twenty names in less than one hour. It made me got the good feeling that I will enjoy the class.
              On the next meeting, I came to the class a little bit early. After finished attending my English class which ended at 10.30, I went straight away to the dance room. When I arrived there, the previous class was still not finished so I waited outside. Wow, I just think how “strong” my instructor is because she only has less than 10 minutes break from one class to another class. Then it came the time for me to do the Pilates. My first Pilates exercise. I felt exciting yet nervous at the same time. This first exercise went slow as my instructor already mentioned before that at the beginning she will conduct the class a little bit slow to make sure that everyone understand the instruction and can do the exercise right. She is very expressive and tries to use simple and easy word to describe the movement so we can memorize it easily, for example the star fish position which is a position we do where we lay down with our legs and arms spread in order to relax after doing some ‘heavy’ exercise. Some words in English were little bit confusing to me and sometime I cannot hear clearly because of the loud music so that it makes me depend mostly on watching my instructor and imitate her rather than listen to the instruction. That’s why when she did not stand in front of the class and walked to the center of the room, I got some difficulty following the movement. Thus, if I cannot see her I will look at my friends or look at the mirror, trying to find out what to do. In the middle of the exercise, I felt dizzy, wanted to throw up and almost faint. Maybe it’s because I didn’t have enough breakfast. Or maybe it’s because I still adjusting with the time change since the time difference between my country and here is 14 hours and I had just arrive two weeks before. Anyway, I tried to do the exercise slowly and stopped a while when I felt dizzy. At the end of the class, I know that I surely need to have enough breakfast before doing the exercise.
            So, on the next meeting, I already had my breakfast and came to the class just right on time, 11 PM. The exercise started with warming up or stretching, a little bit slow with the slow music too. Then, it came for the core activity, doing the curve and the bend or six o’clock, neutral, and twelve o’clock position. At this time, I still a little bit confuse in differentiating the six o’clock and twelve o’clock position. Then, my instructor came to me and helped me to do my six o’clock and twelve o’clock position. Still, after a while I have a little confusion about which one is six o’clock position and which one is twelve o’clock position. So, I just do the three positions orderly without knowing which one is six o’clock and which one is twelve o’clock; off course neutral position is easy to be memorized. I think I know better when the term used are curve and bend (but after several meeting, I finally know which one is six o’clock and which one is twelve o’clock).
          Meeting after meeting, day after day, I tried my best to do the exercise. The class went regularly with some basic exercises we needed to do such as one hundreds, single leg circles, single leg stretch, single straight leg stretch, double leg stretch, double straight leg stretch, criss-cross, and so on. Sometime we used props such as roller foam, brick, and circle. I don’t like the brick nor the circle and prefer the roller foam. Still I found difficulty in having my balance on the roller foam and do exercise on it; but I love when it time for us to do the “massage” on our legs using the foam. It kinda hurt but it feels so good at the same time. I also enjoy doing the six o’clock – neutral – twelve o’clock exercise even though sometime I forgot to hold my stomach in. From all position we’ve been doing in the class, the one that I love most is the star fish (off course, who don’t love it…). It is so relaxing doing the star fish position after “being tortured” by the one hundreds or criss-cross exercise.
             I won’t lie that sometime I felt so unmotivated and did not want to do the exercise. I even skip some classes and kinda “sacrifice” this class because I have to study and prepare for the other class quizzes. Nevertheless, I got excited and surprised when I found myself doing the difficult exercise that I cannot do previously. It gave me more motivation to continue attending the class and doing the exercise. I feel that my body is more flexible now even though only a little bit. I can do more criss-cross or sit up then I used to be before. Generally, I feel the benefit of the Pilates exercise and I am more aware of my body posture when I walk or sit. I feel that my shoulders are more open now and I can stand straighter that I used to be before. The exercise works. I just need to keep on motivated and continue the exercise. Hopefully at the end of the class, when it comes the time for us to do the second fitness testing, the result will be good and shows some improvement on my body.

Submitted for Skyline College Pilates Class


A View about Intelligence

            Intelligence is a person’s natural ability on doing something compared to what common people can do. When I think about highly intelligent persons, I came up with several names. 
           The first one is Steve Jobs. I think many people in States are very familiar with him. He created many high-tech products that are very useful for other people; one of them is the famous iPhone. He has the ability to think out of the box which is not many people can do that. I think Jobs is one of many creative and highly intelligent persons in the world. 
          Another name is Oprah Winfrey. She can be categorized as an intelligent people. Her shows are always encouraging and inspiring. The way she speaks and delivers her message is amazing, and many people feel inspired while they were watching her shows. She knows how to deliver her messages and inspire her audience. There are not many people who can inspire others in such a good way; therefore Oprah can be categorized as an intelligent people. 
          Last but not least, Ludwig van Beethoven also fit to the intelligent person category. He was almost totally deaf but he had produced lots of beautiful classical music composition in her life. He has the natural ability to work with his instinct and skills then came out with many great music compositions. That is surely a thing which mediocre people cannot do. 
         Steve Jobs, Oprah Winfrey, and Beethoven are so different yet have one thing in common. Steve Jobs must be a person who is good at math because he creates a lot of technological stuffs. Oprah must be a person who is good at language because she knows the way to speak and encourage people, while Beethoven absolutely is very talented and good at musical area because he can compose music even though he did not have his hearing. Despite their differences, these people have one thing in common. All of them do something beyond mediocre people. They have the natural ability to do something that cannot be done by average people, and they do their best to use their skills to come out with outstanding results compared with other people.

Submitted for Skyline College ESOL 400 writting assignment #1


ECE Environment: Creating the Appropriate One

             When people hear or read the word ‘environment’’, the first thing that usually pop up in their minds is a place or other surrounding physical things.; either it is building, furniture, or others. Yet, in the context of Early Childhood Education, environment has more meaning. It is way beyond than only a physical things. Gordon and Browne state that there are three different kinds of ECE environment; those are “the physical environment (the equipment … and the facilities available), the temporal environment (timing...activities), and the interpersonal environment (number and nature of teachers … style of interactions among them)” (Gordon & Browne, 282). Together, those three types of environment play a significant role in children learning and education. The environment role is so significant so that it affect children in term of their behavior. Most likely when the behavior problem occur, the environment might have contribution upon it. As Koralek and friends briefly write that “when the environment is not working, problem behaviors are likely to become the norm rather than the exception” (Koralek , Colker, and Dodge, 99). This statement is also being supported by Fujiwa who declares that “thoughtful planning of room arrangement...can eliminate many discipline problems” (Fujawa, 16). Or in another sentence, the behavior problem or the discipline problem occur often when children are not in the right environment.Thus, if the problem keeps on occurring, children will not learn effectively and it will affect their learning result too. Moreover, children have unique way of learning and “they learn best when their physical needs are met and they feel psychologically safe and secure” (Stuber, 58). Those two explanations surely enough to ensure us that when it comes to children learning, environment does matter.
Knowing and understanding that environment plays strong impact in children learning, adults need to make sure that children have the appropriate environment they need when they come to their learning place. Whether it is a children learning center, a childcare, or other forms of children learning place, adults who are involved in those places have their big influence in creating a supporting learning place which can help children grow and develop for they can experience meaningful learning there.
In creating the supporting environment, there are some aspects that need to be consider; those are the setting, the schedule, the interaction, and the curriculum. Each place might have their own setting, schedule, interaction, and also curriculum since there is no place that will be exactly the same and each place have their own uniqueness and that’s what makes early childhood education is so dynamic.
Moreover, here are one environmental setting that I want to proposed to ensure the children learning and growth -socially, emotionally, and physically. First, it will be started by developing and creating the curriculum. Curriculum need to be designed and decided first because it will affect the other aspects of the environment. A Montessori school surely will have different physical setting and schedule than a Reggio Emilia center. In this proposal, the curriculum will using the Reggio Emilia approach where the acknowledgment of children work will be the focus and developing children self-esteem will be the goal of the program. Through the consistency of acknowledgement they got, children will develop their self-esteem. Furthermore, the center will also focus in the creativity part since creativity is one important thing that children need to have if they want to produce more work that can be acknowledged.
As the starting point, which is the curriculum, already being decided, the next thing that need to be created is the setting and the schedule. Setting, which is the part of the physical environment, needs to be designed and arranged carefully. Along with the decision that the goal of the program is acknowledgment, self-esteem, and creativity, the setting should be arranged in certain way that it can support and nurture children creativity and provide a lot of acknowledgement so that children self-esteem will nourish tremendously. One suggestion given by Fujawa to encourage children creativity is “provide a comfortable atmosphere where children can discover, experiment and explore” (Fujawa, 14). This comfortable atmosphere could be in form of a place where children can finds a lot of stuffs that they can explore. I would like to called it ‘the creativity zone’. The place should have “an endless supply of ‘stuff’ …. to use to create something new” (Fujawa, 14). It doesn’t need to be filled with expensive stuffs, but it have to be filled with a variety of stuffs that can be used by children to create something new. One important thing that adults should pay attention is that “the program material should be regularly updated to provide new challenges and to build on current ‘passions’”(Koralek, Colker, and Dodge, 108). The reason is because “children’s skills and interests are constantly changing” (Koralek, COlker, and Dodge, 108). Last but not least, one principle in encouraging creativity is “allow messes” (Fujawa, 14). If children are restricted and don’t be allowed to make messes, they will not do anything and it will affect their creativity. Off course, the messes should be directed so that it goes into creative works.
After children do their part in being creative and produce many creative works, then it come the next thing which is acknowledgment. There should be a place in the center where children works can be displayed and being acknowledged. Each rooms in the center should have at least one display board where children can put their creative works there. If it possible, a special room such as ‘exhibition zone’ will surely give much bigger acknowledgment for children. In this zone, children can choose their masterpiece from many creative works they have done and display it in that zone for a certain amount of time and parents will be invited to a special day of exhibition to see their children masterpiece.
Beside the creativity and the acknowledgement which already being accommodated through the ‘creativity zone’ and ‘exhibition zone’, the center needs to have a mini stage where children can develop their self-confidence more by performing their talent to others. It could be started by performing for their classmates only, then it will be continued by performing for their schoolmates, and finally for public. Gradually, children will develop their self-confidence without being forced to.
After the curriculum and the setting, the next step is designing the schedule. Schedule, which is a part of the temporal environment, should be appropriately accommodate children learning. In this proposal, the schedule chosen is the half-day schedule since the center is designed as a learning center and not a full-day childcare. Because children in this learning center are ranged between 3 to 5 years old, activities in the center will be started at 8 .30 am by a 15 minutes circle time. Then, each child can choose what kind of creative work do they want to do. Either it is drawing, painting, creating things from playdough or other activities, each child will spend approximately 30 minutes in the creativity zone. After that, they should be gather again in a second circle time where they will bring their creative work and tell story about it. The second circle time will take longer time than the first one, it will take 30 minutes. Last thing that children will do before they go home is wrapping up that day activities by sharing thing they have learned, things they like that day and they wish they can do it again another time. By this, children will be more confident as they will practice their public speaking skill by sharing stories about their creative work and their feeling on that day.
Finally, the last part that need to be addressed is the interpersonal environment, which is mostly focused on the interaction. The interaction itself has more than one dimension; child-child interaction, child-teacher interaction, teacher-teacher interaction, and not to forget the teacher-parent interaction. Child-child interaction will likely happen automatically along with their development. As for 3 to 5 years old children, they will go through the phase of parallel play, associative play, or cooperative play (Gordon and Browne, 135), the interaction between them will gradually develop too. When it comes to the interaction between child and teacher, the quality of interaction and relationship will influence children learning. Bilmes explains that “once [teacher] develop a mutually caring relationship with a young child, [they’ll] find [him/her] has a vested interest in living up to [their] expectations” (Bilmes, 33). Simply stated, if a child like or even more love his/her teacher, he/she will try his/her best to make his/her teacher proud. A great interaction and relationship among children and teachers will also give benefits to both sides since children will feel safe and comfortable and it will make them learn better. Teacher-teacher interaction and teacher-parent interaction are the interaction that happen between adults. Teachers in the center and parents should cooperate and filled up each other in term of creating and accommodating children activities and also monitoring them. While the teachers can accommodate children learning at the center, they need to interact with parents and have the relationship with them so they can communicate children learning and progress at the center so that parents can accommodate the learning at home so that children learning will happen continuously .
Last but not least, there is no guarantee that children will come out with the exact amount of creativity and self-confident. But there is a guarantee that if all those environment needs above being fulfilled, children will learning on their best condition and they will progress. The amount of creativity and self-confident children progress cannot be determined exactly but there is a certainty that it will develop.

Submitted for Skyline College ECE Principle class - Paper#4


The Six Characteristics of Ideal Teacher of Young Children

                          Among many teachers in my country, Indonesia, preschool teachers and kindergarten teachers or teachers of young children were considered to be teachers who have less qualification. Many times they were being underestimated because they “only” teach children. Some people says that they were only accompanying kids and playing with them. Fortunately, that paradigm was only occurred a few time ago. Nowadays, people in my country started to see teachers of young children differently. They finally realized that being teacher of children is not as easy as it seems. To be a teacher of young children, someone has to have certain characteristics. These characteristics include the personal and also the professional ones. Some characteristic are just come naturally while the other characteristics might come naturally to some people and the others might need to do some works to obtain it but there are also characteristics that are ‘teachable’.
                        An ideal teacher of young children has to be playful. One reason that makes me enjoy teaching young children is because I like to play with them. I still remember the excitement and pleasure that I got when I design my first learning by playing activity in a kindergarten class I taught back in 2005. They enjoyed the activity but they were also learning at the same time. Besides, I can learn a lot of things about children while I am playing with them. Again, playful is a must character that a teacher of young children has to have. There are two main reason why a teacher of young children needs to be playful. First reason is because playing is a thing that young children naturally do and they were born with the excitement and enthusiasm to play. “Children’s live and learning are full of play.” [Liz Tertell & Jan Jewett - When Teachers Reflect pg. 1]. Second reason is because children learn best through play. By playing, children accomplish many learning goal and they learn lots of new thing during their playing time. So, it is obvious that because young children are playful an ideal teacher for them should be playful too.
                      An ideal teacher of young children has to love children. It is so obvious, right? How can someone do their best with something they don’t love? If a kindergarten teacher or a preschool teacher don’t love children, how can he/she work well with them? He/she will be doing his/her teaching without a ‘heart’. His/her work will be a mediocre work which he/she might not prepare his/her teaching carefully. Therefore, an ideal teacher of young children has to love children. When he/she has this love, he/she will teaches with passion and the passion will delivered greatly to children. Moreover, the ‘energy’ will transferred to them and it will make them responds to teacher better. Before I become a kindergarten teacher, I always found myself smiling and admiring children I saw whether it was in the mall, church, or in other places. Thus, I decide to have a career in the field that involves children and the love of children makes me able to pass all challenges I faced while I became a kindergarten teacher.
                       Those two characteristics above, playful and love children can be categorized as the natural character. These characters are considered to be in the teacher of young children naturally. If a teacher of young children is not playful or not love children, he/she might wants to think twice about his/her decision to become a teacher of young children.
Beside the natural characteristics, there are also characteristics that are ‘teachable’. Someone might not born with this characteristic but he/she can obtain it with some efforts. Those characteristics are communicative and good listener.
             An ideal teacher of young children has to be someone with good or even great communication skill. Basically there are two reason that make communicative become a must-have character of a teacher of young children. The first reason is because children, whom they teach, are still learning to communicate. Many of them still in their period of gaining the communication skill. They still speaking and communicating with their ‘language’. Thus, it made communication skill become the vital characteristic that a teacher of young children has to have. By having a good communication skill, the teacher can communicate with children and teach them to communicate as well. Furthermore, the communication skill also important because the teacher is not only interact with children but he/she also need to work with parents. He/she needs to be able to build a good relationship with parents so that both teacher and parents can cooperate and be a good team to accomplish the same goal which is the learning of the child. This communication skill is teachable and the teacher can do a lot of things to improve his/her communication skill. Either it is attending a communication skill workshop or reading books about communication especially communication with kids, it is the teacher responsibility to improve himself/herself. It should be a part of his/her professional growth.
                         The other characteristic of an ideal teacher of young children is that he/she has to be a good listener. Children are generally talkative and they have many things to be told. They like to tell things to others. They might will tell the same story for many times and it just the natural thing of a child. Therefore, the teacher must be a good listener. By listening to children, the teacher will also be able to understand them better; the better understanding will lead the teacher into a better decision or future action, especially in designing the teaching and learning activities. Moreover, children will listen back to teacher if the teacher listen to them. Teacher cannot expect children to listen if he/she does not do the same. Since this character is ‘teachable’, he/she can practises and learn how to be one. There are a lot of articles and books about listening skills that are very helpful in order to gain this listening skill. The teacher are also always can ask to those whom they considered are good listener about the ‘secret’ of being a good listener. Yet, there is one obvious way to do it, that is practise. By having more experience and practising a lot, he/she can be a better listener and then be the good one.
                   Between the natural characteristics and ‘teachable’ characteristics, there are the other characteristics in between. Some teachers of young children might have these characteristic naturally and some others might need to do some works to have it.
Creativity is one thing that an ideal teacher of young children has to have. It is important for the teacher to be creative. Because children are unique and one method that works for a child might not fit the other child, the teacher should be able to provide himself/herself with various ways of teaching to make children learn best. If plan A did not work, there are still 25 letter in the alphabets. Having plan B, C, D, etc is a must thing for an ideal teacher of young children. While some people were born with these creative talents and they are naturally using their right brain more than their left brain, this creative skill is also something that can be learnt. If the teacher is naturally has more preference of using his/her left brain and less creative than other who does the opposite, he/she can sharpen his/her creativity by having more creativity skill exercise. There are a lot of brain exercise that can be done to balance the brain and improving the creativity skill, one of them is the Six Thinking Hat exercise that was introduced by Edward de Bono. Building the habit for thinking out of the box also will be very helpful.
               Last but not least, it is the patience that an ideal teacher for young children has to have. Children are children. They are always be what children should be. Active, lots of questions, curious, and many more unique characteristic of them that might be challenging if the teacher don’t know how to handle it. No matter how good the teacher is, there will always be some challenges in dealing with children. Thus, the teacher has to be patience. If the teacher does not have the patience, both the teacher and the child could end in a stressful situation. Children do better with guidance, not with command. To guide them, the teacher need to do it patiently because these children are still in their period of learning. Moreover, there are some people who were born with this high tolerance and are very patient. It seems that they always have a big stock of patience and never losing their temper. But this characteristic is ‘teachable’. Someone can be a patient teacher if he/she know how to do it. Practise is always be the good way to achieve it. Usually, the more experience and more age he/she has the more of patience he/she will have.
        There are still a lot of characteristic that can be found in an ideal teacher of young children such as cheerful, multitasker, good story teller, and so on. However, the six characteristics about ideal teacher of young children described in the paragraphs above are the most important one. Playful, love children, communicative, good listener, creative, and patience are six things that exist in the portrait of an ideal teacher of young children.

Submitted for Skyline College ECE Principle class - paper #3


Pilates VS Yoga

            Before I join this Pilates class, I already knew that Pilates is different from Yoga; but I never knew exactly what the differences are because I knew just a little bit about both. I also never have any Pilates or Yoga class. My knowledge about Pilates and Yoga is limited to what the TV advertisement says about it. Pilates is more common to women while Yoga relates more to spiritual life, it’s similar to meditation. Moreover, I assume that those two exercises have their connection to flexibility since I saw a woman that was doing Yoga and she was very flexible, bending her legs and put them over her neck. It was amazing. Then, I decided to take a Pilates class, to have a try (and also to fulfill my minimum credits requirement). I was thinking that I could take Yoga after that.
            A light research that I’ve done through Google gave me more explanation about the differences between those two exercises. Many sources and articles discussed about Yoga vs Pilates and I narrow down my research then choose one source only; that is www.active.com. According to the article in that website, there are five differences between Yoga and Pilates.
            The first one is about the origin. Yoga originated in India more than 5,000 years ago (Wow…it’s an old exercise indeed) while Pilates began in the mid-20th century. Simply, I can say that Pilates is Yoga’s younger brother J. The name Pilates came from a person who created it, which is Joseph Pilates.
            The second difference is about mind, body, and spirit. Yoga focuses on mind, body, and spirit; the spiritual life has a big portion in Yoga practice especially through meditation. On the other side, Pilates focuses more on mind and body. To make it easy to remember, I would say that Pilates is Yoga minus the spirit part J
            The next difference, the third one, is about the class. Many yoga classes are more flexible in routine. It also has meditation part. Pilates classes are a little more structured and it doesn’t have any meditation part. Again, I had my version and I would say that Pilates is a more structured Yoga minus meditation J
            The fourth difference is about the workout. In a yoga class, we will work out every muscle in our body equally. In a pilates class, the exercise will focus on aligning the spine and strengthening the core. So, my version would be Pilates is more focused Yoga exercise J
            The last difference, the fifth one, is about breathing technique (fiuh…I just know that we use technique in breathing, I thought it’s a natural activity we do every day, every second in our life). Yoga uses breath work on a very deep level, there even a breath session called pranayama. On the other side, in Pilates we inhale through the nose and exhale through the mouth. What will be my version about it? Pilates is Yoga without ‘complicated’ breath technique J (even though in Pilates class we need to master the skill of breathing regularly without forgetting to suck our belly J)
            Those five differences above are clear enough to distinguish Pilates from Yoga. In my personal opinion, if Pilates and Yoga is a person, Pilates will be a more cheerful person, a sanguine person because Pilates uses more cheery music and not too complicated (or maybe because my instructor is also a cheerful and sanguine person? J). Then, Yoga will be a calm person, a melancholic or phlegmatic person.



Three Steps in Confronting Prejudice

                November 6th, 2012 will always be one unforgettable moment for America. It was the day when Barrack Obama re-elected as the US President. In his first speech after being re-elected, Obama said that, “We are an American family, and we rise or fall together as one nation and as one people.” That is a very beautiful speech which reminded all Americans about unity and togetherness; a reminder that no matter how many differences the American people have, race, ethnicity, religion, or socioeconomic status, all American people are still one family and need “to rise or fall together.” That speech, of course, sounds very beautiful and ideal, but there are many obstacles that need to be addressed and conquered in order to make that idea become a reality; one of the obstacles is a thing called prejudice. Many times people eventually experienced a situation where they have prejudice and stereotype others. Thus, if prejudice and stereotypes continue exist, unity and togetherness will only become a dream that might not come true. If America really wants to be one family that “rise or fall together...as one people”, prejudice needs to be confronted. Even though confronting prejudice, whether it is racism, sexism, ageism, or other socio-economic discrimination, is not easy, it is also not impossible. People can do many things to minimize prejudice and confront it. More than one step is needed to minimize prejudice that people have, and it might take some time, but it is possible.
           In order to confront prejudice, people can do three acts.  Those three acts starts by realizing that people tend to stereotype others and have prejudice. My English professor, in one of her lecture, mentioned that prejudice is a subconscious thing which people do normally because the human brain naturally categorizes things. Because there is a huge amount of information, and the brain capacity is limited, the brain will automatically categorize information in a short amount of time. Therefore, when people meet someone for the first time, they will unconsciously put the new people they met in certain categories; this is the time when people have prejudice. By realizing that people tend to stereotype others, by appearance or ethnicity for example, people can do something to overcome stereotyping. If people don’t even know that they were stereotyping others, they will not do anything to confront prejudice. One example of how people need to be aware that they stereotype others before they can do something to minimize prejudice is in an essay titled “Of My Friend Hector and My Achilles Heel” by Michael T. Kaufman. He started the essay by writing, “This story is about prejudice and stupidity. My own” (Kaufman 140). Kaufman need to have an epiphany when he finally was aware that he was stereotyping his childhood friend as a longshoreman just because he is Puerto Rican and always saw him “wearing a knitted watch cap” (Kaufman 142). When Kaufman finally read a newspaper article about his friend having a role in a famous play on Broadway, he realized that he had prejudice and stereotyped his friend. Having awareness that people will automatically stereotype others will let people go to the next step in confronting prejudice.
           After people realize that they might stereotype others, they can go to the next step in confronting prejudice which is being open to learn more about others. People should not decide whether they like or dislike someone before they know other people better. In addition, people say that first impression is very important. Even though that is true somehow, people cannot rely on their first impression only. People need to understand that it is important to know someone better before they can judge them and put them into their own category. Melba Pattillo Beals understands the importance of being given the chance to be knew better before being judged. In her book titled, Warriors Don’t Cry, she wrote about how she wanted the white people to give her a chance and for them to try to get to know her first before they decided that she and her other black friends were not supposed to be on Central high School. Her friend, Minnijean, even insisted on wanting to perform at one school event just because she wanted the other white students to acknowledge her talent, so they might finally accept her. By giving others a chance and trying to know them better, people might finally realize that, their first impression or their prejudice is not true.
           After having the willingness to get to know someone better, of course people need to take the next step, which is to act. Having willingness only without transforming it into action will be useless. Many things can be done in order to get to know others; people can talk to others and share about their culture, or they can read articles about different culture and diversity. Reading more about ethnicity and culture will broaden people minds and lead them into an understanding of others. For example, after reading “Don’t Misread My Signals”, people will then understand the culture that makes Puerto Rican women choose their colorful clothes, and people will not misread their appearance. As Judith Ortiz Cofer says, “Our mothers had grown up on a tropical island where the natural environment was a riot of primary colors,” therefore the colorful dress that Puerto Rican women wear are not meant to be used as a sexual signal (Cofer 309). Moreover, K. Connie Kang, another writer, also can give a little insight about the way Korean people interact each other, where Korean people will only smile to their relatives (Kang 452). If people do not know that simple thing about Korean culture, they might end up assuming Korean people are an unfriendly people and don’t want to start any conversation with them. If only people know about that Korean culture, they might have started a conversation with Korean people and understand more about them. Then, any prejudice that people might have about Korean people will eventually be eliminated.
           Awareness, willingness, and action are the three steps people need to take to confront prejudice. People need to be aware that they will automatically categorize others and might stereotype them. Then, people need to have a willingness to get to know other people better. Lastly, people have to take action to get to know others. Those three simple steps can be the start of getting along with others without having prejudice. Thus, the idea of America as one family who “rise or fall together” will become real, because there is no more prejudice.      

Submitted for Skyline College ESOL 400 writing assignment


Pilates Props

            Generally, there are many props that can be used in Pilates to vary the exercises and to maximize the benefit of the exercise. Yet, in this semester, my Pilates instructor had introduced students to three props; those are Pilates Circle, Pilates Foam Roller, and Pilates Brick. Those three props have their own function. Moreover, different people have different preference about the props as it was shown in the class where students will choose different props they prefer to use.

The first prop that my instructor introduced in the beginning of this semester is the Pilates Circle. Some people called it Pilates Magic Circle. As far as I remember, our class only used this circle once. We put the circle between our legs while we were doing One Hundreds exercise, Double Leg Stretch, and Double Straight Leg Stretch. It will help us to maintain our parallel position since it will become the real “personal cheesecake”. Moreover, it seems that my class did not like it so that they never choose to use it when the instructor asks about what props do we want to work with in particular class session. Well, I guess it is not as magic as it called since less students like to work with it. Anyway, it actually has its benefit. The circles “add light resistance to Pilates’ exercises and help target specific muscle groups. They are often used to help tone the arms and thighs, and increase the core strength challenge of an exercise” <http://pilates.about.com/od/magiccircl1/Pilates_Magic_Circle.htm>

The next prop is Foam Roller. It is the most popular prop in my class. Lots of student like it and we often use it in the exercise. We do many variations of exercise using the foam roller. It helps us to practice our balance as well as adding the level of the exercise difficulties. There are three benefits from using foam roller; those are stretches muscles, effective exercises, and increase balance <http://benefitof.net/benefits-of-foam-rolling/>. Personally, I like this prop because we can ‘massage’ legs, arms, and other parts of the body with it. It helps me to loosen my tight muscle even it feels very hurt when my muscle is very tight. Again, it tells me that those muscles need more treatment. In addition, I also find some difficulties when doing exercise using the foam roller. The most difficult part is to find my balance because it keeps on rolling. Thus, it ‘force’ me to have more balance.

The third prop is the brick or block (actually, I don’t even remember how to call it...:). Our class used it several times but not too often. My instructor will tell the class to put the brick between knees or feet and it will replace the ‘personal cheesecake’ that we used to have. It will help us to hold the parallel position when we are doing the exercises. To tell the truth, this prop is not my favorite. I remember the time when I felt very uncomfortable and dizzy because in the exercise I had to put the brick under my head, use it like a pillow. Maybe it’s because I did not put it to the correct position. Still I will not choose this prop if there is any other option.

Beside those three props I’ve mentioned above, there is one prop that I will love to try if there is any opportunity; it is the ball. Once I saw in a TV commercial someone who use a big ball in a Pilates exercise. This bouncy ball looks interesting. According to Downey, this prop has is very popular and common. It has many benefit; those are muscle strengthening, flexibility, posture, and labor <http://www.livestrong.com/article/98224-pilates-ball-benefits/>. That’s why I am looking forward to try using this prop.

Despite of the benefit and fun that we can get by using various props during the Pilates exercise, it is important to remember that we have to use it correctly. The props will only give benefit if we use it properly. As my instructor always says that the most important thing is doing the exercise correctly or it will not give our body any benefit.

This one is for my Pilates class