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The Quindecim

The Quindecim has 103 articles published.

How Vietnamese Became More Universal/ Tiếng việt đã trở nên phổ cập hơn như thế nào?

Photo Source:

English Version:

Throughout the history of Vietnam, the Vietnamese language has been through many transformations and adaptations from different cultures. Nations like China and France’s past presence in Vietnam all played their roles in shaping the language. Those cultures helped to add many features to the original Vietnamese and made it evolve over time, and from that process, it became such a unique language. As a Vietnamese speaker, I think the language has also become more universal and more colloquial to the Vietnamese people.

Vietnamese is the official language of almost 100 million people living in Vietnam, connected to more than 160 spoken languages (Alves 104), Vietnamese is a branch of the Austroasiatic language family, which is mostly found in Southeast Asia. The language is diverse across the span of the S-shaped country with different local accents and dialects. Vietnamese has a cultural and transformative history. In a way, the modern language that we use nowadays is the product of different cultures, but it is still very much Vietnamese.

The history of the Vietnamese language started a long time ago and it has gone through many transformations to become a modern language. Since the beginning of the history of Vietnam, right after the foundation of the first government, the vulnerably young nation became an intriguing target for China and its expansion scheme. The Chinese’s effort to colonize Vietnam casted an imposing presence over the country; this started the two thousand years of Chinese domination (Alves 109). Vietnamese land became a battleground throughout this long era. During this period, all documents were written in chữ Nho (classical Chinese script), while Vietnamese was the spoken language. Since the two forms are not the same language, people from lower classes did not feel the need to know the written language; and even if they did, they could not afford the education, whereas the higher classes could afford it. Moreover, the written language was considered more intricate and more exclusive to the higher classes, while at the time, the living standard was low, and poverty was very common among the people. The implication of only wealthy people affording education shows the inefficiency of having different written and spoken languages at the same time.

Education was still a luxury for the Vietnamese during the time when the Chinese government enforced an assimilation policy (chính sách đồng hoá) on Vietnamese people. At this time, China put in an extra effort to try to convert the Vietnamese to Chinese both culturally and biologically by letting Chinese into Vietnam. They wanted to turn Vietnam into a part of China (Hays). Although the lack of education was an issue, in order to keep the traditions and culture alive and to resist the Chinese influence, Vietnamese people added characters to the Chinese characters and used Sino-Vietnamese vocabulary (Vietnamese words that have Chinese origin) to create a different script called chữ Nôm. This was to prevent Chinese domination and the Chinese understanding of Vietnamese. This script was strongly enforced by Quang Trung, an emperor of the Lê dynasty. He enhanced the importance of chữ Nôm by using the script officially for royal documents and national examinations. He viewed the script as a symbol of the independence of Vietnam as a separate nation, free from Chinese domination (Huu).

One of the most influential figures that popularized chữ Nôm to the people was Nguyễn Du, a great poet from the 18th century. His epic 3,254-verse poem called The Tale of Kieu (Truyện Kiều) is considered the most significant work of the Vietnamese literature and one of the most famous works using chữ Nôm script. Despite the popularity of chữ Nôm, the two scripts coexisted at the same time until the early 20st century. Only people who knew how to read and write, usually teachers, scholars, or ones that had to associate with the Royals, were placed higher in the scale of societal standards. Over the course of history, there were other figures other than Nguyễn Du that made an impact on the Vietnamese written language.

The influencers were not only from Vietnam but also were from out of the country. In the 17th century, some of the first Frenchmen came to Vietnam wanting to spread evangelism. One of them was Alexandre de Rhodes, a Catholic preacher, who wrote the first Vietnamese Catechism. He learned Vietnamese in order to serve his evangelical work. Later, he introduced the Latin alphabet as a replacement for the two scripts chữ Nho and chữ Nôm, but still expressed the sounds based on the spoken language (Pham). Thus, through the dramatic transformation of the written language, he developed the contemporary Vietnamese language. Personally, I think this change of using the Latin alphabet made the language less complicated to write, and therefore, much more efficient.

At the beginning of the 18th century, the French started expanding in Southeast Asia and Vietnam became a colonized country by the mid-century. The French language came into the picture. It did not alter the existing Vietnamese, but the frequency of French usage around Vietnamese people did make a change. A good amount of French words was added into the informal spoken language (Love 5). Gradually, they became borrowed words and ended up a part of the Vietnamese vocabulary. A lot of people do not even know that some of the most common Vietnamese words are from French words. For example, the word (butter) is from the word beurre, ga (station) is from gare, or vang (wine) is from vin. Before becoming a French learner, I did not know all of that. Therefore, I would say the more I learn French the more Vietnamese makes sense to me.

After French colonization, from the second half of the 20th century, the Vietnamese language kept evolving. In the 21st century, you can clearly see the differences between how the young generations of Vietnamese people speak the language and how the generations from previous centuries spoke it. The young generations are using a more modernized, and universalized version of Vietnamese with more casual words, phrases and slangs, even. There is a huge difference if you compared the contemporary version of Vietnamese to the intricate and scholarly version from the past. It is not as advanced and scholarly like it used to be. English speakers could understand what I mean by comparing the English that they are using right now to the English that the great Shakespeare used.

The Vietnamese language has a great number of speakers from all over the world, especially in Cambodia, the U.S., Australia, and Czech Republic. Therefore, there are various reasons why a lot of non-native speakers would like to learn the language. For example, they may have a relative who is a native speaker, or they may want to connect better to the Vietnamese community around them. However, most people find it hard to learn Vietnamese because they think the pronunciation is difficult. Those who are from western nations struggle especially because they do not have some sounds that Vietnamese does. In my experience, I have never heard any foreigner who could pronounce Vietnamese words perfectly, and I do think Vietnamese has unique sounds and tones that only native speakers can make. However, I do not think imperfections in pronunciation should be discouraging or be the only barrier that prevents foreigners from learning Vietnamese. It might not be the most practical language to know, nor should people feel required to be fluent in it. On the other hand, I think every language is worth a try. As a language learner, I would say learning a language is a very effective way to expand your mind. It also helps you have a different perspective to look at the world, based on the culture of the language you are speaking. This is especially true for a language that has a rich background like Vietnamese. Knowing it is the best way for anyone to get closer to the Vietnamese culture and people. The world is more connected than it has ever been before, so the resources that could help people learn Vietnamese are highly accessible. This is also the case for Vietnamese cultural products such as music, movies, and documentaries.

The colorful culture of the Vietnamese language was not achieved overnight. It took a lot of changes for it to become so unique. Personally, I think those changes were for a better future of this language. It is a good thing that Vietnamese has become not just more accessible, but also more colloquial for the people.

Vietnamese Translation:

7th Paragraph:

Vào đầu thế kỉ thứ 18, thực dân Pháp bắt đầu xâm chiếm các nước ở khu vực Đông Nam Á, Việt Nam đã sớm trở thành thuộc địa của họ từ trước khi nửa thế kỉ đã trôi qua. Ngôn ngữ Pháp đã bắt đầu có ảnh hưởng lên tiếng Việt, nó không hoàn toàn thay đổi ngôn ngữ Việt vốn có, nhưng cường độ tiếng Pháp được sử dụng trong khoảng thời gian đó cũng đã gây nên những tác động nhất định. Một lượng nhiều những từ ngữ Pháp đã được sử dụng vào trong văn nói Việt. Qua thời gian, những từ mượn này đã chính thức trở thành một phần của ngôn ngữ Việt. Rất nhiều người Việt không biết rằng những từ phổ biến và thông dụng nhất trong tiếng Việt lại là những từ mượn được từ tiếng Pháp, ví dụ, chữ “bơ” (bơ sữa) có nguồn gốc từ chữ beurre, chữ “ga” (nhà ga) là từ chữ gare mà ra, hoặc rượu vang có nguồn gốc từ chữ vin. Bản thân tôi trước khi học tiếng Pháp cũng không biết điều này. Vậy nên, sau khi bắt đầu học tiếng Pháp, tôi lại có thêm một góc nhìn khác biệt hơn về tiếng mẹ đẻ của mình.

Final Two Paragraphs:

Số lượng người nói tiếng Việt trên khắp năm châu là rất nhiều, đặc biệt là ở Campuchia, Hoa Kỳ, Úc và Cộng hoà Séc. Vì vậy, có rất nhiều người nước ngoài mong muốn được học tiếng Việt vì nhiều nguyên nhân khác nhau: có thể vì họ có họ hàng là người Việt, hoặc có thể họ muốn được kết nối tốt hơn với cộng đồng người Việt sống xung quanh họ. Tuy nhiên, đa số người ngoại quốc cảm thấy tiếng Việt là một ngôn ngữ rất khó để học vì cách phát âm phức tạp của nó. Đặc biệt là đối với những người từ các nước phương Tây, đa số ngôn ngữ của họ có hệ thống phát âm hoàn toàn khác biệt, không giống như của tiếng Việt. Chưa một người ngoại quốc nào có thể phát âm tiếng Việt chuẩn theo quan sát của tôi, và tôi cũng công nhận tiếng Việt có những âm sắc và những cách phát âm đặc biệt mà chỉ có người bản xứ có thể nói được. Mặc dù vậy, tôi không nghĩ những khuyết điểm trong cách phát âm của người ngoại quốc nên trở thành một rào cản khiến họ nản lòng khi học tiếng Việt. Nó có thể không phải là một ngôn ngữ có tính ứng dụng cao hay ai cũng nên thành thạo. Mặt khác, tôi nghĩ tất cả các ngôn ngữ đều đáng được thử qua ít nhất một lần. Là một người học ngoại ngữ, tôi nghĩ việc học bất cứ ngôn ngữ nào đều có thể giúp người học mở mang đầu óc. Nó giúp họ có một góc nhìn khác về thế giới và xã hội, dựa vào văn hoá tập quán của đất nước mà họ đang học tiếng. Đặc biệt, đối với một ngôn ngữ có bề dày văn hoá và lịch sử như tiếng Việt, hiểu biết được nó là cách tốt nhất để giúp bất cứ ai đến gần hơn với văn hoá và con người Việt Nam. Ngày nay, thế giới đã trở nên hiện đại hơn bao giờ hết, vì vậy những tài liệu tham khảo giúp mọi người học tiếng Việt cũng đã trở nên dễ dàng để tiếp cận hơn. Tương tự, những văn hoá phẩm về Việt Nam như âm nhạc, phim hoặc các nguồn tham khảo khác cũng vậy.

Sự phong phú trong văn hoá của tiếng Việt không trở nên thành hình chỉ qua một đêm. Rất nhiều thay đổi và ảnh hưởng đã góp phần cho tiếng Việt trở thành một ngôn ngữ độc đáo và đặc sắc như bây giờ. Theo quan điểm của tôi, những thay đổi đó đã giúp phát triển tiếng Việt theo những chiều hướng tốt hơn.


Works Cited:

Alves, Mark. “Linguistic Research on the Origins of the Vietnamese Language: An Overview.” Journal of Vietnamese Studies, vol. 1, no. 1-2, 2006, pp. 104–130. JSTOR,

Hays, Jeffrey. “EARLY CHINESE RULE OF VIETNAM (111 B.C. TO A.D. 938).” Facts and Details,

Huu, Vinh. “Vóc Lại u Nu Giống Trái Tràm.” Vua Quang Trung Với Việc Dùng Chữ Nôm,

Love, Susan. “French and Tây Bồi in Vietnam: A study of language policy, practice and perceptions.” Adelaide Research & Scholarship, Aug. 2000,

Pham, Khoi. “Street Cred: Alexandre De Rhodes and the Birth of Chữ Quốc Ngữ.”Saigoneer,

Letter to the Editor


In December of 2015, I wrote an opinion article for the Quindecim entitled “In the wake of the Paris attacks, Islam must be held accountable.” In the aftermath of the tragedy, I leaned into the narrative that these terrorist attacks were fundamentally linked with religious doctrine. I was willfully ignorant by citing false information and statistics cherry-picked in order to support my argument. In doing so, I helped spread a hateful, racist ideology that has caused pain and destruction to so many people. This ideology can be summed up as a Western superiority complex. It reasons that our (white) ideas are the best and the others (people of color) must assimilate. This distinction between “us” and “them” is a critical component to the plague of white nationalism. Looking back on the words I wrote, I’m filled with deep shame and profound regret. I wish that instead of reading alt-right thinkpieces, I had listened to the words of Muslim students and faculty in our community. I want to offer my most sincere apologies to anyone who read that article or was affected by it in any way. I promise to use my privilege and voice to help support people whose faiths and cultural backgrounds are persecuted in our white supremacist society.


By Cameron Yudelson

Dying to Revive, Journey Just Starts. 走过涅槃重生,人生才始启程。

Zhang performs her first solo recital, “Dying to Revive”, accompanied by pianist Andrew Stuart. Picture Credit: Julian Fernandez

English Version:

On the night of April 3, 2019, with endless applause and cheers, I closed my first solo recital ever in my life with great success. “Dying to Revive.” It was an unforgettable night.

This is a recital about “death and life.” I died over and over again in the songs, and I sang my own eulogy. After my dance in this dark hell, I started a journey of revival. As I finished singing the last lyrics from Night of the Sixth Magnitude Star, “After being reborn, I’ll shine on tomorrow,” I finally reached new life. Just as shown on the poster, the first row of black and white photos means “death,” and in the second row there’s a movement from holding nothing to receiving life.

After the concert, when I saw my friends all waiting so long in line to hug me and send me good wishes, I experienced a happiness and sense of achievement that I’d never felt before. I appreciate my voice teacher Jennifer Blades, piano accompanist Andrew Stewart, and my friend Elysia Hempel for helping me make this recital possible, and I’m also so thankful for all of my friends who came to support me. The time you spend on roses is what makes roses so special.

I also want to appreciate all of my hard work behind the stage. I couldn’t believe I learned three new pieces in this half semester, sang them all, and gave a great performance. I think I deserve that night and all of the wishes and applause. But I know there’s still a long way to go.

One of my friends told me, “You are shining when chasing your dream step by step.”

Being prepared and not nervous is the key to everything, and I felt this so strongly on that night. It felt so good for everything to be under control and turn out better than expected. After the performance, a friend said that I have magic, that my songs have a serene power which draws people into their aura. I heard that one of my friends cried halfway through the concert, and many other people told me that my songs made them want to cry at some point. Another friend said that he sank into real darkness, but saw a shimmering light. I never knew that my voice could be that powerful. Aside from all of my surprise, I was very glad that the audience could feel my emotions from my songs.

As a performer, honestly I could not feel the aura and enjoy myself during the performance because I need to think about how to deal with the next place in which I often make mistakes and how to pronounce the lyrics better and control my breath. But when I watched the video the day after, surprisingly, I felt like I was watching another person’s performance, and I became a member of the audience, and I was moved by that singer’s songs. That was the best feeling that from the audience’s perspective; I could feel what I wanted to show, and I felt so moved.

From my conversations with my audience members afterward, surprisingly, all of them said that their favorite song was the Chinese song, Da Yu (Big Fish). Something I wondered about was that most of them didn’t understand the lyrics, but still loved it. Then I asked my professor and she said, “Because this language and this song is part of you.” Suddenly, a conversation that I had with a musician came to my mind. I asked him which was more important: melody or lyrics. I used to think melody was more important, but he said that it’s lyrics. Although the audience may not understand the lyrics, as performers, the goal is to show what we’ve understood. Melody is a tool to help present the lyrics. When I first heard his words, I was surprised but I didn’t understand much. Finally I proved what he said exactly in my own performance.

Zhang and Hempel perform their duet, accompanied by pianist Andrew Stuart, during Zang’s recital. Picture Credit: Julian Fernandez

I die over and over again in the songs, but in real life, my journey has just started.

Coincidently, last Friday was the Tomb Sweeping Festival in China. Showing “death and life” in this concert gave me more thoughts about my own life. Because I’m still alive, I can do the things I love, and make everything possible.

Soon, I’ll start to volunteer at a hospice. At first, I was kind of afraid of this work, but gradually I realized that since I’m so into “life” and “death”, by doing this special job, I might grow and have a deeper understanding of life and death, though the job will be heavy.

Recently, I read a quote from people who work in this field: “You matter because you are you. You matter to the last moment of your life, and we will do all we can, not only to help you die peacefully, but to live until you die.” Till the last breath, life is always an important existence. And this job gives people strength to live. I recalled a sentence, “We should not spend too much time mourning the death. Instead, we should spend more strength to confront our lives. As long as we exist, Death has not arrived; when Death arrives, we are not existing anymore.” As long as there’s still breath, it is the biggest affront to death. Although we are all going to compromise in the end.

I remember that after my grandfather passed away, in front of the crematory’s fire door. My mother said to me that no matter how hard life is and how much you feel that you can’t continue, you can come to see the real farewell. Then you will feel that all the things you thought you cannot endure are not a big deal anymore. It’s everyone’s last station, a little box.

A few days ago I read a sentence: “People die three times in their lives. The first time is biological death; the second time is one’s funeral, which is the sociological death; the third time is being forgotten by the last person who remembered them, and that is the real death.” Thinking this way, my grandfather has still not left me, and people who I’m going to serve will also not disappear, because of being remembered by their loved ones.

After the journey from death to life, I’m just starting on my road.



Chinese Version:

Poster for Zhang’s recital created by herself.




演唱会后,看着大家排着队来拥抱我时,感受到了前所未有的欣喜。感恩我的老师Jennifer Blades,钢琴家Andrew Stewart和我的朋友Elysia Hempel的帮助让这场演出变成可能,也感谢所有到场支持的朋友们。正是你们花在玫瑰身上的时间,让玫瑰如此珍贵。





在观众们的反馈中发现,所有的人都千篇一律最喜欢我的中文歌《大鱼》。出乎意料般,因为他们都并不理解歌词,却依旧喜欢这首歌。之后问老师,她说,“Because this language and this song is part of you.”想起之前和一位音乐家的谈话。我问他,曲调和歌词,哪一个更重要。我曾经认为曲调更加重要,但他的回答是歌词更重要。即使听众无法理解歌词,但若表演者能够通过自己的理解和表演来将歌词的情感传达给听众,这就是目标;而曲调是一种辅助表达歌词的方法。当时对他的这番言论挺新奇,这次终于在自己的歌里得到印证。




最近读到一段关于这个职业的从业者的自白。“You matter because you are you. You matter to the last moment of your life, and we will do all we can, not only to help you die peacefully, but to live until you die.  ” 即使在生命的最后一刻,也是重要的存在。而这份职业就是给予人们活着的勇气。想起一段话,“不应用太多的时间去凭吊死神,而应用更多的勇气去直面人生。因为我们存在时死神不会降临,等到死神光临时,我们又不复存在了。” 只要一息尚存,就是对死亡最大的蔑视,即使我们终将走向妥协.


前几天读过一段话,“人的一生有三次死亡:第一次是生物学死亡, 第二次是葬礼,被宣告社会性死亡,第三次便是被最后一个记得其存在的人遗忘,那时才是真正的死亡”。这样想着,爷爷也并没有离我远去;我即将服务的人们也因为被思念着,而不会消逝。



Phone Free Day Reflection

Phone free day founder Reilly Musgrave, ‘20, unknowingly shakes hands with disgraced shirt-winner Cameron Stewart. Photo Credit: Dylan Margolis, ’19.

This year’s celebration of Phone Free Day had the largest turnout in all of Goucher’s history! A documented thirty-nine people wore stickers pledging their support that proclaimed them “phoneless” – a whopping 2.5% of students! While not everyone sported a sticker, it was clear that everyone on campus could feel a certain phoneless aura in the air that day.

No one felt that phoneless aura more so than the select few that vowed not to use their phone for the entire day. Only the bravest and most tactful dared embark on this journey from dawn to dusk without the warm embrace of a phone, and this measure did not go unrewarded; those few were allowed to put their name into a drawing to win a hand-embroidered shirt made by none other than Goucher’s Eliza Owen-Smith, ‘20.

During what seemed like a normal rambunctious Mary Fisher dinner, a hush fell over the crowd of attendees in anticipation of the announcement of the shirt-winner’s name. I had no idea that the next moments would go down in infamy. The hat chose Cameron Stewart, ‘19. The crowd erupted, as they thought they should. It was “the best day of his life,” according to Stewart, but others didn’t feel that same sense of elation, especially Sinaia Campora, ‘21 (also a registered entrant in the contest).

Campora, who herself went completely phone free for the entire day, alleged that Stewart had in fact used his cell phone on April 2nd. These allegations were not denied by Stewart, who insisted that he “used his phone less,” pointing to the sticker.

Phone Free Day staff members do not condone loopholes of any kind, so judicial action must be taken. While the shirt cannot be revoked and the picture cannot be un-taken, the title can be moved. So here, forever in print, Sinaia is named the phone freest of 2019. May next year’s celebration be a more just one.



April 22nd, 2019.

Minor grammatical edits were made.


Photo credit:

Bacon, toast, biscuits and sausage.

They don’t thrill me like you do.


Soggy surface jiggles on my fork’s tip.

You may moan and groan about the shriveled yolk

But I attack my prey of yellow sponge with my drooling mouth.


Brunch never been so fine.


Squishy, squashy, moosh and whoosh

My buds taste your lukewarm spirit.

The scent of sulfur eagers my ears and beckons my toes


Brunch never been so fine.


The puddle you leave behind my plate

That soggies my skillets and ruptures my bowels.

You are the treat of the week.


Brunch never been so fine.


Pondering down the line of red pots:

I’ll have some bacon, toast, biscuits, sausage and…

I want me some scrambled eggs.


Brunch never been so fine.




Photo credit:

I glance up the stairs

Are you busy today?

I need me a plate of your sweet embrace


I await YOU.


I creep in line for your irresistible spice

Will you give me a chance?

I grab me a dish for you to fill


I await YOU.


I think of the possibilities

If you were mine and I was yours

I know you can be mine.


I await YOU.


I worry.

Is the line to get you too long?


I panic.

Will you ever emerge from your dome of steel?


I fret.

Will you not come back to me?


I wish time would move faster,

For I want you in my arms right now.


I wish you would finish your sizzling,

For my mouth waters with thoughts of devouring you.


Give me your onions and peppers, green and red.

Give me your spinach, your mushrooms, your heart and soul.


I await YOU.


I’ll be the old if you’ll be the bay

I’ll hold your hand if you lead the way

I’ll be the stir if you’ll be the fry


I await YOU.



Chinese Version: You move forward like the seasons, I move forward like Greyson Chance

Zhang (left) and Chance (right).






I can see something pure and clean inside of him, no matter how time changes.


He knows what is right.



他的一首歌,写的是他妈妈曾经对他讲,希望若有一天她离开了,他会是一个good man. 他小时候在公众场合骂脏话,被妈妈严厉批评,说那是boy才做的事,而她,只想培养a man.

他说,成长中最棒的一件事,是developing the perspective of how life works. It’s constantly up and down.

他说,f–- ur Instagram. 这个社会和世界只通过数据的多少来评判人的成功与否,完全是不合理的。自己的价值不该由这些数值来定义。别沉浸在屏幕里那个虚幻的世界;好好爱自己,爱朋友,家人,好好享受每一天的阳光,因为生命真的太短暂。





他今天没有唱任何一首早期的歌,应该是认为那都是属于他的过去了,也希望自己能以全新的面目获得认可。就像他自己唱的一样,I’m not looking back, to rewrite my f–-ing past. 既然他都大步向前,为何我还要纠结于过去呢?




You move forward like the seasons,

I move forward like Greyson Chance.

Our story goes on.



You move forward like the seasons, I move forward like Greyson Chance

Zhang (left) and Chance (right).

Since 24 hours before the concert, anxiety, excitement, happiness, nervousness, expectation, fear, all different kinds of emotions mixed together in my mind. Grey has been my idol for the past eight and half years and is my initial motivation to study abroad here. I was worried for myself that at the moment of meeting him, I might lose my destination for the future and not know where to go, since I would complete a goal I’ve had for a long time.

However, I found my new hope today.

I used to think, today is the time to say goodbye to “the old me,” and let him only belong to the past; nevertheless, I found a new destination and goal from him. Besides the tears that dropped at the moment I saw him, after the whole concert, I felt from a strong and peaceful belief and power. There’s no “foreignness” that I used to worry about. He is really like a real old friend. He’s always on his way to becoming an excellent, comprehensive and special musician, and I’ll be as good as him, and sing together with him on the same stage. I’m also on my way.

His serious attitude and hard work for music, and all the efforts behind the stage, were all shown in this one hour of performance.

His “silence” for these years finally turned into his powerful songs, which became the steps of his great return today. The concert exceeded my expectation, powerful and impressive. His confident demeanor and dances, skillful and mature way of singing, meaningful lyrics, the “just right” melodies, with his special high and low voices. All the moments of this concert were painted with his own color. He has already polished himself to a pure jade, not too dazzling as other diamonds, but the shine only belongs to him. Tender and peaceful, but strong and undaunted.

I can see something pure and clean inside of him, no matter how time passes.

As for his kindness and honesty, I think it’s from his humble hometown, and education and love from his family.

He knows what is right.

His lyrics are from the heart. He writes the conversation with his favorite person, he writes to encourage his friend who’s feeling low, he writes his thoughts about everyday life.

He said he experienced “love” for the first time last year. He has never had those kinds of feelings before, and he wanted to get married and raise kids. But when the guy said he didn’t want to stay with him anymore, he was heartbroken. So he turned this desperation into power, and wrote this new album called Portraits, which is going to be released on March 15.

One of his new songs is about how his mom used to tell him she hoped that if she left someday, he would rather be a good man. Once when he was young, he was saying bad words in public, and was criticized seriously by his mom. She said only boys do that, and she wanted to raise a man.

He said one of the best things about growing up is developing the perspective of how life works. It’s constantly up and down.

He said f–- your Instagram. This society only judges people’s success by the numbers next to their name (followers and likes), and that’s nonsense. The value of self should not be defined by these numbers. Don’t be drawn into the world inside of the screen; love yourself, your friends, family, and enjoy the sunshine every day, because life is so short.

He, who said these words above, finally became a glass of wine that was distilled and fermented by time. Discarding the unkindness of society, he smiles as peaceful as a breeze, and sings his own stories without inhibitions.

He was betrayed and discarded, but he finally got back on his feet. When he was questioned and doubted, he proved himself.

Suddenly, a sentence written to me by one of my friends came up to my mind: “Being aware of pretentiousness but not being pretentious is the kindest way of growing up.”

I’m so proud of you from the bottom of my heart, and very honored to have you as my idol for my entire youth.

He didn’t sing any songs from his early period – maybe he thinks that belongs to his past, and he wants to convince audience by his new works. Just like he wrote in his lyrics, “I’m not looking back, to rewrite my f–-ing past.” He has already chosen to walk forward; why am I still entangled in the past?

Since today, he is the new Greyson Chance. As for me, I like this new him. After I saw him work so hard and serious, I’m more sure than before that he will continue to be better and better by his own efforts. And I’ll also work hard and try to be closer to him step by step.

After meeting with him, I suddenly felt that there’s nothing hard that I couldn’t endure. I’ve already met with the person that I want to meet so eagerly. For things and other people that I used to have hard time with and thought that I couldn’t handle, they are not big problems anymore and are all gone with the wind. All by myself, I’ve made my childhood dream come true that used to be most impossible, and now I know that by keeping faith and moving forward in one direction, someday I will reach the destination. It’s just a matter of time.

You move forward like the seasons,

I move forward like Greyson Chance.

Our story goes on.




Marijuana in The South

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Marijuana is the new hot topic in the United States. Whether it’s medicinal or recreational, states all over the country are legalizing cannabis. But there is a clear line on the map where cannabis hasn’t been able to enter the scene. Some call it the Bible Belt, some say it’s the Mason-Dixon line, but no matter what you call it: there’s no legal cannabis the South. The conservative rural south will always exist, but what makes these southern, hard-working people opposed to cannabis legislation? Is religion playing a part in people’s distaste for cannabis? Has a deep fear been ingrained into Southerners’ heads? Or is it that Southerners just don’t want to smoke weed?

Smoking cannabis first became popular in America in 1910. It was introduced to Americans by Mexican refugees who were trying to escape from the Mexican revolution. Its popularity wasn’t only with Mexican immigrants but also in the African American community (Mcnearny). With racism still in full swing and Prohibition repealed, white lawmakers targeted marijuana and criminalized “the production, sale, possession, and consumption of the drug” (Warf, Reefer Madness). According to an article by Alison McNearny, “twenty-nine states had outlawed marijuana by 1931, and in 1937, the Marijuana Tax Act was passed, essentially making the plant illegal in the United States.”

Marijuana propaganda began showing up everywhere. There were informational signs, movies, and pamphlets made that showed different ways of cannabis ruining lives. This scared the white working-class American people and instilled a deep fear into society. Reefer Madness was one movie made to strike fear in Americans. This 1936 film depicts characters using marijuana and, subsequently, going insane. These false depictions of marijuana and its effects permeated society creating urgency and fear in the hearts of the American citizen.    

Though lawmakers have been opposed to marijuana for a long time, there has always been a push from other parties to prove that marijuana isn’t the “devil’s harvest” (Propaganda Ad). Medical personnel have consistently found marijuana not to be as bad as lawmakers make it out to be. One person who consistently ignored the medical field was Harry Anslinger: the first commissioner of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics (FBN), and its head for the next three decades. Anslinger repeatedly rejected clinical analyses that concluded marijuana did not induce violent behavior or lead to the use of more addictive drugs (Warf). If he had listened to the doctors, maybe more patients in pain could be healed.

Take the case of Charlotte Figi. Charlotte was just three months old when she had her first seizure. Her parents Matt and Paige were terrified. She was rushed to the hospital, but the doctors found nothing wrong. Despite the doctor’s prognosis, Charlotte continued to have seizures. After five years of pain, seizures, medical bills, and treatment, the hospital could not do more. Charlotte’s father Matt decided to leave the army so he and Paige could take care of their girl. They began to research cannabis. This process wasn’t easy. They were repeatedly denied by doctors who weren’t sure about the effects on children or were concerned about the legality. They finally found a doctor who would work with them. They acquired marijuana that contained high levels of cannabidiol (or CBD, the non-psychoactive part of marijuana) and extracted the oils from the flower. Results were seen immediately after one dose. Charlotte went from having three to four seizures an hour to not having one for seven days. Charlotte is now doing well and the Figi family remained intact. Luckily for the Charlotte and her family, they lived in Colorado where medicinal marijuana has been legal since 2000 (Young). If they had lived in the South, Charlotte may not have had the chance to live.

Though other states are moving past it, fear and misguided knowledge has not left the South. According to DISA, a website created to inform people of their workplace rights, 10 states (20% of the country) have made cannabis fully legal, and medicinal marijuana is legal in 34 states (68% of the country). Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee, Kentucky, Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas, and both Carolinas are a few of the states where marijuana is fully illegal.

This group of states could be called “the South” or states below the Mason-Dixon line, but Bible Belt states is more accurate. The propaganda produced in the anti-marijuana age often depicted the devil with marijuana or had headlines that said “the smoke of hell! Devil’s harvest” (Propaganda Ad). In a census done by Pew Research center, it was concluded that 76% of the South identified as Christian. The propaganda created a sense of fear that smoking marijuana will send you to Hell. These Christian Southerners had a good reason to stay away from marijuana; who wants to be eternally damned? After a little research, it was clear to see that these fears are unprecedented. “The plant called hemp is proper for Christians to use for food, medicine, and enjoyment (Gen. 1:12)” (House). There are recurring themes in the Bible that state that God is ok with the use of everything that is created. That isn’t to say it should all be used without caution, but it surely doesn’t mean one puff of marijuana is equivalent to eternal damnation.

It’s time for Southern policy makers to legalize marijuana and enjoy the economic benefits. Since the legalization of cannabis, California has made over $2.75 billion in sales (DePietro). When states legalize marijuana, a boom in economy follows. Business Insider’s “Every US State Economy Ranked Worst to Best” list has seven Southern states in the top ten worst economies. Louisiana, Kentucky, Mississippi, West Virginia, Kansas, Arkansas, and Tennessee have not legalized marijuana and all of them are ranked poorly. With a change in policy and information on cannabis, these states could benefit from legalizing marijuana. Not only would the economy boom and jobs be created, patients would be able to get their much-needed medicine and people could recreationally enjoy marijuana.  

As more research is conducted, it seems illogical to remain in a society that isn’t allowing patients to get the medicine they need. If not legalized recreationally, the Southern states at the very least need to update policy and allow these people who are in pain to get access to marijuana. By not reforming the current cannabis policies, lawmakers in the Southern states are blatantly disregarding their citizens health and well-being.  

It’s time for Southern states to journey out of their comfort zone and begin to rewrite policy on marijuana. Cannabis is not something that should be feared, but something that can be used to relax and to heal. Citizens all over will be grateful the South has caught up to the rest of the country.



The Problem of College Alcoholism

Photo Credit: NPR

The general view today of college is a place of heavy drinking culture and partying all night. Many students now go to college to binge drink and party. These students and athletes are turned into a nameless face in a sea of people constantly drunk, which creates problems such as court cases, dropouts, and sometimes death. As a college student now, I have seen many instances of alcohol consumption that changed students who I’ve met so far and persuaded me to no longer consider some people I once called a friend. This has been tough emotionally to have to decide that a friend has turned into someone that I don’t want to see or be around. Even though alcohol is emblematic as the reaching of adulthood in college, many seem to climb that tower a little too early than they are meant to. Tragically, this can cause some to come crashing down and few to reach realization of their trouble before it is too late. But there are a few that see that this as just immaturity and students will grow out of it.

As I look around now, I see that I am not at a school with a strong influence of alcohol, even though it is still present. I have seen students make decisions that they regret for weeks or even months on end, while some feel, as they lay awake in a hospital bed, that they should never drink again. A year ago, a couple of my friends were partying in a room, but some kids were having a little too much, three of whom ended up in the hospital. One had to stay for two days and the other two needed to have their stomachs pumped. Many students do not see the problems of binge drinking until the next day. Students who partake in underage drinking at college just want to feel as if they are now adults and be among a higher social group. This leads them to start drinking every day, every week, becoming the ‘party animal’ that they see in movies or hear about in stories about the average ‘college experience.’ Many students who start and continue in underage drinking have a high “risk of serious social, medial, and legal problems” (O’Malley).  Many of these problems not only affect the student, but also the school that they attend. If there is a court case for drunk and disorderly conduct, it can also look bad on the institution that the student attends. This can cause scholarship losses and people losing their chances of doing something important in life.

Risks of legal and social problems are not the only problems students face. Problems also occur on campus and in classes. Constant drinking can lead to “impaired performance at school or work; interpersonal problems with friends, family members, teachers, and supervisors” (O’Malley). I have seen many students struggle in class or drop out of a class because they couldn’t function properly as a result of a party the night before. Early this year in my history class, I could tell who had been drinking the night before. This person would not be able to keep up with what was going on in class. Later, I would no longer see this person in class. After a month I had found out that the student had dropped out of school and went back home. This is really unfortunate, because the parents of this person had clearly hoped that college would be a place for their child to learn, grow, and enhance the option of future employment. Some students actually do not work and just sleep in class trying to fight being hungover from over drinking the night before. Sadly, they think that coming into class with a hat pulled down on their face with sunglasses on, trying to fight the headaches, the spinning, and the nausea that haunted them all day will not be noticed. This caused some great students to fall to the bottom of the social ladder in classes, and potentially face the possibility of dropping out of school and having to go home empty handed, not rising to their potential.

Studies have taken place all over the world trying to understand what kind of influence alcohol has on students and people. A study at the University of York shows that the police and the parole board “estimate half of all premeditated crime is alcohol related” (McDonnell). This goes to show that most of crime and uncivil accidents have been caused by the influence of alcohol on the mind of students. Most of the court cases and honor boards that happen at universities are in response to alcohol related incidents, such as vandalism, rape, assault, breaking and entering, and theft. Many universities know that this type of abuse of alcohol is happening on campus, but can’t seem to do much about it because it will happen no matter what. For example, there was an incident with a student and her boyfriend at Oxford involving alcohol and a court case. She became angry and stabbed him in the leg when “he realized she had been drinking” (BBC). While incidents like this one happen on college campuses, the girl in this case was forced to spend ten months in jail after the court case. The sad reality is that a case like this rarely deters college students, and these events do happen and most of the times involve alcohol. People who aren’t able to see how alcohol affects them are at more of a disadvantage of preventing accidents and criminal activity.

Many consider alcohol harmless and a pleasure to have while at college. Often student feel that booze allows them to let loose after a hard week or day at classes. While I can agree with the stress factors, many just put that up as an excuse to hide or avoid confrontations of serious accidents. Blame is then directed at the students for not knowing how to drink responsibly. This is a valid argument, but they don’t see what the true danger of drinking or even binge drinking has on a campus. At the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, researchers have discovered that on an average day “4 college students die in accidents involving alcohol. An additional 1,370 suffer injuries tied to drinking, the study says, and an estimated 192 are raped by their dates or sexually assaulted after drinking” (Schemo). This shows how drinking can stir trouble or even be the cause of people doing things that they never would do in a sober state of mind. Many students would blame their guilt upon the alcohol and then the schools would sweep their problem under the rug.

Alcohol has caused many problems and terrible accidents across campuses all around the world. I have seen these effects first hand. I would like to point out the common issue that causes these problems. I believe that banning alcohol on campuses would not solve the problem at hand; rather, I believe better alcohol education is the key. I share all of this to remind my fellow students to be responsible and careful with how you use the alcohol that you drink. I hope that we can come to a better understanding of the dangers of alcohol and use it more responsibly.



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