1/2 Vaccinated

April 22, 2021

Yesterday morning, I received my first dose of the Pfizer vaccine for COVID-19. Only around three days ago, eligibility for those sixteen and older to receive a vaccine opened up across the nation, and my school partnered with a nearby pharmacy to provide students who wished to get vaccinated with a vaccine clinic on campus. 205 students, around half of the student population of my school, chose to get the vaccine that day, though I know of quite a few people who were able to get their shots prior to the official eligibility date and all faculty members have already been fully vaccinated.

 As health experts and epidemiologists have said numerous times, vaccines are the solution to returning to some sense of normal, and though masks are not disappearing anytime soon, the most important change is, of course, that lives will be saved. My sister, a college student in New York, has already received both doses of her vaccine, and my parents will get their first shots this weekend. It is strange to consider that my sister and I were able to secure shots prior to both of my parents, who would both be deemed to be of a much higher risk than me or my sister due to their age. Even so, we are thrilled that by mid-to late May, everyone in my family will be fully vaccinated, and while we will continue to practice all safety guidelines as put forth by health officials, that crippling fear of contracting the virus that is universal across the country and the world will slowly start to fade away.

The approaching summer also fills me with excitement. The more Americans get vaccinated, the more normal the season will seem, and the warm weather and ability to be outdoors will also help mitigate the spread of the virus that, while dwindling, is still infecting people everyday. Though last summer my family was able to travel by car on a few occasions, the bulk of it was spent at home, and I look forward to more safe travel and excursions this summer as well as small gatherings, because like so many Americans, I have not seen many of my friends and family members for well over a year now.

Though I am hopeful about a gradual end to the pandemic, there is one very important barrier that must be overcome to achieve immunity among the American population: vaccine hesitancy. Time is of the essence for administering COVID-19 vaccines, as waiting too long allows the virus to continue to circulate in communities and for new, potentially deadlier or more contagious variants to emerge. Vaccines cannot save lives unless people get vaccinated. As many doctors and health experts have stated, vaccine hesitancy declines when people see their family members, friends, and colleagues get vaccinated, and so each person has a responsibility and important role to play in receiving their own vaccination so that others will feel more comfortable doing so too.

Spring Courses: Race and Ethnicity & Latin Literature

April 7, 2021

I am one and a half weeks into the last trimester of my high school career, and in honor of my final spring trimester and as a follow-up to a post I created several weeks ago sharing my winter term courses, I wanted to reflect on my brief experience in my spring classes thus far and what I hope to learn as the term progresses. During my spring term, I took an English class and as well as Comparative Government and Politics—two courses that will go down as definite favorites—and my final classes as a high school student are also humanities-based: Race and Ethnicity and Latin Literature.

Winter Courses: English Literature and Composition and Comparative Government and Politics.

Race and Ethnicity

Divided into three thematic sections, the first three weeks of Race and Ethnicity focus on the foundations of ethnic history in the United States, the middle of the term is spent examining the immigrant experience, and the term concludes with a study of the Civil Rights Era and beyond. Over the past week, we have centered our discussions on indigenous Americans and the arrival of white European settlers, including both the Spaniards led by Columbus and the English colonists who arrived to Jamestown and New England. Our central text for the course is A Different Mirror by American historian Ronald Takaki. Though I have only read around sixty or seventy pages thus far, I have been gripped by the author's depth of analysis and raw, realistic portrayal of an American in which, "ever since the arrival of the English strangers to Jamestown," the "Indians' story had been one of stolen lands, sickness, suffering, starvation, and sadness."

Latin Literature

In contrast to my rather large Race and Ethnicity course composed of around seventeen students, only two students, including myself, are enrolled in my Latin Literature course. This class examines the traditions of Latin lyric poetry practiced by writers such as Ovid and Catullus. A bit rusty from not having taken Latin in almost year due to school schedule changes from COVID-19 and wanting to start with the text that most resembled the epic we worked with last year, Virgil's Aeneid, we chose to start with the Metamorphoses, Ovid's magnum opus. The Metamorphoses was written around 3-8 AD and, composed of a whopping 250 stories all interwoven by the theme of transformation, is the source of many of the myths known in modern Western societies. Centuries after his death, Ovid's work continued to move audiences and influence creators including prominent Renaissance artists as well as renowned playwright William Shakespeare. For the past week, we have focused on translating the story of Daphne and Apollo, and we will continue to delve into other of Ovid's popular myths before transitioning to the works of Catullus.