Everything Begins with an Idea, Document of Learning #1

Last year our class focused mainly on the development of Canada from different hierarchical standpoints. We discussed the Confederation, the underground railway, the westward expansion, the conflict with Canadian First Nations, Canada’s economy, etc. Throughout the semester I played the role of Mary Ann Shadd, an African-Canadian anti-slavery activist. I watched Canada develop from the viewpoint of a minority group fighting for freedom. It was interesting seeing events and situation from a different viewpoint than my classmates. It made for very interesting and engaging debates that I would like to continue over into this semester when discussing the English Civil War, the French Revolution, etc.

This semester I hope to explore the development of other societies and nations outside Canada, as well as the interactions between various communities and individuals. I would like to further analyze situations and their effects on the development of societies and their people. Everything has a ripple effect, and I would like to delve deeper into what would or wouldn’t have been.

In my mid-term last year my main goal was to engage and participate more in class discussions. While I do feel I have made progress, I do not feel I have fully met this goal and I would like to carry it over into our discussions and role play this year. After reviewing the Core Competencies I realized this connects directly to the Communication Competency. It states, “I can take leadership in a discussion or collaboration, and focus on collective results. […] I offer detailed analysis, using specific terminology, of my progress, work and goals.” In this past week I feel that I have made great strides to attaining this goal through participation and the sharing of my ideas and opinions on the chapter discussed.

The Communication Competency also includes four main facets: connect and engage with others; acquire, interpret and present information; collaborate to plan, carry out, and review constructions and activities; and explain/recount and reflect on experiences and accomplishments. I would like to focus on interpreting and presenting information and explaining/recounting and reflecting on experiences and accomplishments. With these specific goals in mind, I hope to apply them throughout the semester while analyzing the development, interactions, and ripple effects of the societies discussed in Social Studies 9.

In terms of the four big ideas in Social Studies 9, the one that stood out most to me was: “Disparities in power alter the balance of relationships between individuals and between societies.” This has already come up a lot in the past week during our discussions about Columbus and the relationship between the Europeans and the Natives. I believe the upbringings, power, and religious beliefs lead the two societies to treat the other with the respect they thought they deserved. By this I mean, upon the arrival of Columbus’ ship “the Arawaks ran to greet them, brought them food, water, gifts.” 1 However, Columbus’ first thought was “They would make fine servants…” 1 One commonality was that they both justified their actions based off their religion and what they were taught to believe. Columbus grew up in a patriarchal society, which does not excuse his actions, but shows an example of how the difference in power balance within their societies led to an unhealthy relationship between the Arawaks and Columbus’ crew.

As the semester continues I hope to explore this idea further. More specifically, I would like to analyze how power balance has affected other interactions between societies in both current and historical times, as well as how it influenced decisions and the making of countries, borders, etc.

In an attempt to explore my chosen big idea and implement the facets of the Communication Competency mentioned above, I have come up with a list of questions pertaining to chapter 1 of ‘A people’s History of the United States’.

  1. Had the Arawaks and Columbus’ crew had equal power how might the situation have played out?
  2. Had Columbus been born and raised as an Arawak, would he think differently? How have his societies morals/power influenced his decisions and mindset?
  3. Why was Columbus’ first instinct to utilize his power over the natives for his own selfish benefits? Why not choose to use it to come to a peaceful compromise? Was it how he was raised or who he was?
  4. Can access to too much power take away a persons humanity? If so, how much is to much?
  5. What drives a human’s need for power?

I hope to discuss these questions further as a class, as well as apply some of the broader questions to other topics down the road. I think that they do not only apply to the Communication Competency, but more directly relate to Critical Thinking Competency. It states, “I can examine evidence from various perspectives to analyze and make well-supported judgements and interpretations about complex issues.” While this is not my main goal for the semester, I hope to continue to apply the facets of the Critical Thinking Competency to better succeed in meeting my goals within the Communication Competency. With better thinking comes better communication.

Overall, this past week has gotten me very excited for socials this semester and intrigued about the discussions to come.

1.Zinn, Howard. “Columbus, The Indians, and Human Progress.” A People’s History of the United States: 1492-2001. N.p.: n.p., n.d. 1. Print.

First Dance Lesson, In-Depth Post #2

On February 2, 2016 I attended my first dance lesson since my tiny tots ballet classes at the age of three. Let’s just say, ballet didn’t stick. Hip hop on the other hand was a whole new world. It was nothing like ballet. There is a much greater focus on attitude and much smaller focus on technique and perfect posture.

When I arrived at my lesson on Tuesday night I had no idea what to expect. I approached the door alongside Anne excited about the new opportunities. The moment I walked through the door the dance instructor, Bev Soh, took one look at me and said “I’ve taught you!” After some discussion of where we could have met we realized she had been a substitute teacher for Mr.Beveridge when I was in the MACC class at Kwayhquitlum Middle School. On top of that she also taught the dance unit to my PE 7 class. While you might not think it, this gave me a great sense of welcoming and comfort in the environment that only grew as the night went on. Bev maintained a very open and supportive environment in her class. She 12669291_526694584176588_951299010_otaught the moves while keeping everyone comfortable and included throughout the whole night. Even though Bev is not my “mentor” I do feel I have learnt a great deal from her as a leader. Some of her main strategies included, taking initiative, engaging with each of her students (getting to know each one on a more personal level, and using humour to keep a positive mood.

In terms of new dance moves, I have learnt a total of 5 new moves. These include:

  1. Body roll
  2. Shoulder shrugs
  3. Hip thrusts
  4. Hip ball change
  5. Slide and step

The following day I was able to meet up with my official mentor Mika Backus who also takes hip hop lessons from Bev at Room to Move Dance and Fitness Studio. Below is one of her group routines from the ‘Music video Hip-Hop’ class at Room to Move Dance Studio. Mika is second from the left and Bev is third from the left.

Before that, she took lessons from an array of different studios that specified in different dance styles. These studios include, Caulfield School of Dance, Coastal Edge Dance Centre, Prism Dance Centre, and Tri-City School of Dance, specializing in tap, jazz, ballet, hip hop, can-can, salsa, chacha, and more. She has been dancing for over 20 years on top of her full time job as a paralegal assistant, wife, and a mother of two. Since she was little she always had a passion for dance, but her mom forced her into piano instead so she did not get the opportunity pursue dance as a serious hobby till much later in her life. During our lesson she said, “When I joined dance, I loved it instantly. It felt so natural.”

In a matter of one week, I feel like I have gained a great deal of new skills from Mika as a dancer. One note that we both noticed from my lesson on Tuesday was that I was very stiff, but I feel that in just one hour Mika was able to help me improve drastically. She helped me become more comfortable in my skin and let loose to improve my attitude for our first routine choreographed by Bev Soh to the song Confident by Demi Lovato (the final dance will be posted at the end of our 5 week course). I am very excited to demonstrate my new skills at our next lesson.

On top of that, Mika demonstrated a lot of qualities of a good leader/mentor. I noticed that she planned her lessons around what I wanted to learn and my personal goals for the project. She created a very free environment where I could pitch ideas and ask questions as an equal rather than someone of a lower standing. I very much appreciate when adults talk to/treat me as an equal and create an environment where I feel comfortable to have a real conversation as appose to the awkward back and forth that can happen between adults and kids/teenagers. Mika also helped me evaluate my own progress by filming me at the end of our lesson so we could watch and reflect on what looked good vs. what I needed to improve on.

For future endeavours as a leader I hope to take away many of the skills both Mika and Bev used in their teaching styles; including, taking initiative, using humour and warmth to create a welcome environment, engaging with my mentee (taking into account their opinions), and treating the mentee as an equal. I also hope to take videos after all my sessions to log my improvement in the course and note what needs to be improved for the following weeks to come. Overall, I am very glad I chose this project and very fortunate to have such wonderful mentors guiding me through this process.

New year. New In-Depth.

Here I am writing this post for the second time as grade 10 TALONS student. You would think that I would know by now not to procrastinate on blog posts, but one year later and I’m still at it. That being said, in the craziness of the first week I was able to find the time to plan out my second, and potentially last, In-Depth project. Hip hop. I had multiple impromptu planning sessions with Anne and Alyssa to plan out the overlapping components of our In-Depth projects; including, signing up for hip hop lessons, answering certain contract questions, and planning our final performance (see rough outline in contract), as well as many late nights working on my own personal goals. Looking ahead at what’s to come for 2016, I know it will be hectic and I probably won’t get much sleep, but I am stoked for the experiences to come!

Making the decision to do hip hop was not nearly as easy as choosing my grade 9 In-Depth project. Unlike last year, I had tons of skills I was interested in learning, such as boxing, entrepreneurship, hip hop, sound engineering, and more. The night before school started again, I finally narrowed it down to my top two; boxing and hip hop. I knew I had to decide before Friday, and with the pressure of the due date being so near, I made the split decision to do boxing. After some further investigation, and a marathon of hip hop routines on YouTube, I quickly changed my mind. Maybe it’s because I got inspired by YouTube performances, or maybe it’s because my parents weren’t to keen on me fighting others, or maybe it’s because I went to see So You Think You Can Dance Live Tour w/ Anne Yolland (see footage below), but I am confident that I made the right choice.

As I mentioned above, I will be collaborating with Anne and Alyssa during this project. You will notice the structures of our projects are very similar. All three of us will be taking dance lessons together with choreographer Bev Soh, as well as meeting frequently to share what we have learnt. In terms of solo components, we will each be meeting with our own mentors and moving at our own pace. We also each chose our own goals for the outcome of this project based on our vision for the next five months and the areas we wanted to focus on. Below is my monthly schedule, as well as a list of my personal goals for the project.

  • Month 1:
    Research – History of hip hop/it’s influence (websites)
    – YouTube tutorials on basic hip hop moves for beginners
    Biweekly mentor sessions w/ Mika Backus (every 2 weeks)
    Weekly workouts
  • Month 2:
    Hip Hop Lessons – Room to Move Dance & Fitness Studio w/ Bev Soh
    – Taken w/ Alyssa Turcott & Anne Yolland
    (5 sessions; Tues, February 2nd – Tues, March 1st from 5:30-6:30pm)
    Continue Biweekly Mentor Sessions w/ Mika Backus (every 2 weeks)
    Weekly workouts
  • Month 3:
    Weekly mentor sessions w/ Mika Backus
    Biweekly meetings w/ Alyssa Turcott & Anne Yolland (every 2 weeks)
    Weekly workouts
  • Month 4:
    See month 3.
    Choreograph first dance – preparation for final project
  • Month 5:
    Weekly mentor sessions w/ Mika Backus
    Weekly meetings w/ Alyssa Turcott & Anne Yolland
    Weekly workouts
    Polish performance – preparation for final project


  1. Create an inventory of hip hop moves on my blog (5+ moves per post)
  2. Choreograph my own routine (1-2mins.)
  3. Learn the basics of hip hop (history + technique)
  4. Set a workout/practice schedule after the lessons end (month 3 onward) to work on my time management skills

(NOTE: This schedule is flexible and likely to change. Updates will be given in following blog posts.)

You may have noticed the name Mika Backus came up multiple times in my monthly schedule. No, she is not some random person whose house I intend to show up at for dance lessons every week. Mika, otherwise known as Mira’s mother, has kindly agreed to step up and be my mentor for the next 5 months. My biggest worry when choosing hip hop for my In-Depth had been finding a mentor. I spent hours over the holidays looking at different dance studios and hip hop dancers in the Tri-Cities. Most classes were not for my age range nor level, and those that were, were very expensive. I mentioned this in conversation one day with Mira, and she told me her mom was a dancer. One quick text later, she agreed to be my mentor. I later found out that she has been taking hip hop for the past few years at Room to Move Dance and Fitness Studio with Bev Soh, giving her connections to a few different choreographers. I am so grateful that she has agreed to help me along my journey and relieve me from the stress of finding a mentor. I send my thanks!

In conclusion, I can safely say the next five months will be full of fantastic new experiences. One of them being next week. I will be having my first official meeting with my mentor and I am ready to get started. In-Depth 2016 begins!

Interview – Zeid Founouni

When I started this assignment, I ran through a list of people as possible leaders to interview, such as Kevin Perry, my curling coach, Richard Steward, the mayor of Coquitlam, and Rodney Lee, the manager of the Hoy Creek hatchery. I eventually decided upon Zeid Founouni, the father or my sister’s best friend, Nouri, and a volunteer police officer for the Coquitlam RCMP. He has been a volunteer police officer, officially known as an Auxiliary Constable, for 7 years and is constantly finding new ways to involve himself in our community. As an Auxiliary Constable, he visits schools and gives talks about safety, as well as responds to 911 calls and joins regular police officers on general duty. This past summer he also volunteered at a youth RCMP camp that both my sister and Nouri attended. When he isn’t on duty, he is a stay at home father to three kids (his son Nouri, and his two daughters, Zara and Talia) who has a passion for art, more specifically paint and jewelry making. He has an account on Saatchi Art (http://www.saatchiart.com/account/profile/97275) where he has shared one of his paintings, Canary’s Kiss, as well as an in-depth bio. This includes some of his personal background, such as he majored in philosophy and his relationship to art.

What really stood out to me was his most recent efforts to help Syrian refugees. While doing my background research, I discovered that for the past few months Zeid has been working on building a community to welcome Syrian refugees to Coquitlam. This stood out to me in particular because my family, like his, heard it on the news and wanted to help out as well. We will be helping a family get accustomed to our society, as well as having them over every week for an afternoon/evening to teach them new dinner and dessert recipes and get them settled in Coquitlam. During their first few weeks we also intend to help them decorate and collect all the basics (cooking utensils, towels, bedroom linens, etc.) for their new house.

As you will notice, I chose to base my interview questions off his work around Syrian refugees. I have recorded the interview on SoundCloud, as well as typed out a transcript below for those who cannot access the SoundCloud for any reason.


NOTE: Please ignore any grammatical errors in the interview below. All answers were directly quoted from the recording above.

To start things off, what do you do as a volunteer police officer, or as my sister told me, Auxiliary Constable?

Yes, the program is called the Auxiliary Constable program and it is a volunteer position. What we do is we supplement the work of the regular members. We may need to do community work. So we go to block parties, we visit schools and give school talks about safety, mostly around halloween time, and we do go out with the regular police officers on the general duty, which is responding to 911 calls, but that is pretty much it.

How often do you respond to 911 calls? How often do they call you as oppose to someone else?

Oh, you see when we go out on general duty it has to always be with regular members. The regular member will be driving and we’ll be next to them. The way it works is that the regular members get a call, and we go out and we respond to the call together. So our role as auxiliaries is not enforcement, unless we are with a regular member, and then the supervision of a regular member makes us very close to being regular members ourselves. We are the second part of that team, the leader is the regular member and we follow and support their team.

What inspired you to become a volunteer police officer?

Being a police officer was the most alienate thing to my nature. I didn’t grow up liking the army or toy soldiers or wearing a police costume for Halloween. But I remember when my son, my first child, was born and he started to grow up. He was around three years old, and it was important for me to teach him how to be a good person and be an active member in his community. So I sat him beside me and started to explain to him what volunteer work is. I explained that to him and then we sat together, and we went on the internet to find try to find volunteer positions in our community and I found a few. I hadn’t even imagined that we could be volunteer police officers, I didn’t know there was such a position. So I explained that to him and we looked into different options, and then my wife mentioned that she saw a flyer somewhere that the RCMP has an Auxiliary Constable program. I went and checked it out ,and I took my son with me just to show him how the process happens, and I had my first interview with my boy next to me and he was impressed, he liked the idea that his dad was doing this.

Wow, so as a kid you never thought of doing this at all?

No, my brother who is four years younger than I am was always that typical boy that is into the army, police, action and everything, and he had this whole set of action men. I had little animals toys, thats what I wanted.

Going a little off track, you paint, correct? As a kid did you still like that too?

I do. Ever since I was a child my relationship to art came naturally. This is what I love spending my time doing, and I am still doing it now. So yes, thats the way my character, I suppose, is.

I heard that you were trying to help out Syrian refugees, and you wanted to start a community to welcome them to Coquitlam?

Yes, I have been going in an out of meetings with some community members last week. Now, when we first heard that we would be receiving Syrian refugees among us, almost everyone I know was interested and wanted to help and have a part, which is what makes our community beautiful. So I have been asked by many of those friends because of my background, my family is from the Middle East. I grew up in Lebanon, and I only immigrated here 11 years ago. So most of my life, until 11 years ago, was in the Middle East. So I’ve been asked for input, for advice about the culture, what kind of people to expect, what their needs would be, things about cultural sensitivity, and so on. So, I just became part of that initially, nothing special.

How do you feel being a volunteer police officer will influence the refugees perspective of you? Do you think yourself, along with others, could change their perspective? 

Oh yes definitely, thats very, very true because in the past four years I have been with the auxiliary program I have been chosen to attend events that are centred around Syrian refugees and recent immigrants. I have found it very beneficial for these groups to have contact with a police officer that is positive and a police officer that is from their background and speaks their language. Most of the refugees flee their countries because of war and dictatorships, and in those countries dictators use their police force to torture and murder, so these people come here and they have past trauma and whenever they see a person in uniform that makes them scared. A lot of people actually wear a uniform after the contact, and they were congratulating me about doing this. What I’m doing and they feel much more safe and secure and proud that one of them is actually in this position. I see that and the city has seen that, and I have been asked by the officials to try to have my uniform on when i’ll be greeting these refugees and helping them. So now the uniform is a positive instead of a negative.

What inspired you to help out Syrian refugees? What got you into that initially?

Initially was like the rest of the members in my community, we heard it in the news. We’ve been hearing for the past 5-6 years what is happening over there, but it felt far away and when we heard that we will have the chance to some balance of justic,e I was just one of many who wanted to do something.

I heard that you had the idea to collect Arabic books so the refugees have something for entertainment when they get here. could you tell me more about that?

Well, it was a question that was asked to me by a teacher in the school system whether I have access to Arabic children’s books or if I can advise her on how to get her hands on such books for children because our public libraries don’t have Arabic books for children. I thought I’d ask my connections back in the Middle East, but until now I haven’t really been successful because the people who want to help you with that initiative and send books are dealing with struggles in their on countries, and these countries are like Lebanon, adjacent to Syria and they have their won problems. A lot of the groups that I wanted to encourage to send or help in that are actually doing a lot already in the refugee camps in Lebanon because, see Lebanon is a very small country and it already has over 1 million Syrian refugees. I am not sure of the number, but its more than 1 million and less than 2. So what we are getting in Canada is just a very small fraction of the refugees that are being helped everywhere in the Middle East.

Do you want to continue to try to collect books?

Well, what I am going to do now, what Im thinking of doing is that first of all I am going to write a storybook. I am going to try to write a story book, no promises, but I am going to try to do that because I was thinking of something directed towards introduction of the kids to their city. I want to write this book for Syrian refugee children, this is for you. I am thinking that I might be able to do that. Otherwise, one of the meetings that I have been in this week was at the library with the library personnel that were there, and they were interested to know about what kind of books they can get for these children, so that solved the problem. They are willing and interested in books combining Arabic and English, so they will be able to read books in Arabic and learn English at the same time. I think that’s solved already, because, you know, nobody is too old to enjoy a picture book. There is a certain point when you stop reading them, but then again you have contact with children or you have your own children and then you are reading them all over again to your children and you are enjoying it too. So anyone who comes here, having lost everything, being scared, having seen horrible, horrible things happen to them and their family, these kids just like any other kid you put a nice picture book in front of them and they are just lost in it.

Are there any other projects you are working on the community right now?

I have a meeting tomorrow with a member of a church in Coquitlam, and she is very interested, and her church is very interested, in helping out as much as they can.  But she wants to be informed more about possible cultural sensitivities and nuances, so her contact with them will be as agreeable for them. She just wants to make sure that she can offer all that she can to this group. So she wants to sit with me and we will be talking about the cultural sensitivities of Islams.

To finish off, what has been the most rewarding experience for you as a volunteer police officer since you started?

The children. It has been amazing how children like cops. Now, a lot of them might grow up and mistrust them and then not like me, but the first step is when the children have positive contact with police at a very early age and that will effect them positively in the future. Because what we do is we go to schools.  What we do is sit with them and show them we are there to protect them and their families, and we tell them about what they need to do in the future. Because a lot of them want to be cops, we tell them to be a cop you have to a have a very clean record and try not to make mistakes, and when your 18-20 and finished high school you can apply and that works. I remember visiting one class, and I met the mom of one of the girls the next day and she just told me “you know, my daughter came back home, and she said I feel so much more safe and secure now that I know a police man personally because my kid goes to that school and she used to see me as the father of Nouri (his son) and now she sees me as a police man and she put that together and she said I know him personally, I know he is a police man, and I feel much more safe an secure”.  Which is good  that I can do something positive for children.


After having this conversation with Zeid, I have been opened up to so many more volunteer opportunities in the community, as well as other ways I can help out Syrian refugees. As I mentioned above, my family will be helping another family get settled here in Coquitlam, and this has definitely motivated me to prepare some recipes and games to engage the family when they get here. Before this interview, I knew Zeid only as the father of Nouri, but now I feel like I got to see another side of him. In my opinion, he truly embodies the qualities of a good leader. In just 17 mins. and 29 secs. he has shown generosity, compassion, accountability, effort, and many more qualities in an effective leader. I am very grateful that he took the time out of his day to come meet with me. I have gained a new appreciation for not only our community’s police force, but all the police officers across Canada keeping our country safe and welcoming in those in need.

Other interesting links:

  1. Coquitlam RCMP Awards (Recipient of an OIC Award for Community Service)
  2. Facebook
  3. Pinterest


It is time for my final blog post of Eminent 2015, the bi’BLOG’graphy. Below I have listed all the sources I used to find information for this project:











The RISE and RISE of Lady Gaga; Pokerface, Maureen Callahan

GAGA, Johnny Morgan

Lady Gaga Critical Mass Fashion, Lizzy Goodman




The End of an Era – NoTN Reflection

Its been over a week since the official Night of The Notables and I still remember every detail as if it were yesterday. Looking back on the experience as a whole, there isn’t a single thing I would change. It was like nothing I had ever done before and I’m very sad to see it come to an end.

At the beginning of the block four Mr.Jackson said to not wish the experience away, but to live in the moment and enjoy the ride. And I remember thinking to myself, why would anybody wish away such a special experience. Sure, my palms were sweaty and my heart was beating faster than it had before, but I wasn’t alone. Everyone else in the room was feeling the same sense of anxiety and nervousness and that’s what brought us together as a family. That’s what made this experience so memorable.

Screen Shot 2015-11-30 at 5.04.22 PMWhen the bell rang at  3:10pm, there was a frantic energy throughout the TALONS classroom as everyone put the finishing touches on their learning centres, but as the clock ticked down to 7:00pm people started to become quieted. Many, including myself, retreated to the mirrors
in the drama room to rehearse our speeches at a low whisper. The lights dimmed and time had run out. It was seven o’clock. I recited my speech over and over in my head until I heard my cue, “Nevermore.” It was my turn.The speech felScreen Shot 2015-11-30 at 5.05.38 PMt like a blur. My lips were moving, reciting my speech as I had a thousand times before in practice, and suddenly it was over. I was walking off stage immediately grateful I did not forget the words, and even more grateful to finally take off the four inch heels that were digging into my feet in more places than I could count. Overall, I am very proud of m speech and my costume, and I am so happy to have had the opportunity to share my hard work with such a supportive audience.

After watching the second half of the performances it was time for the learning centres. This year I channeled Lady Gaga’s most recent album Artpop, as a celebration of the album’s one year anniversary. I set up the locker bay as an art gallery with pictures of Lady Gaga and facts about her and her life. I also chose a piano for the centre because it was the instrument that got her into music in the first place. I am very proud of how my learning centre turned out, and I feel I did a good job balancing information and aesthetic. Personally, I think the Artpop brownies were also a big hit. They definitely drew in more people.
(NOTE: For pictures of my learning centre click here.)

As the night came to a close, and all the brownies were eaten, it was time to dismantle my learning centre and join my class in a closing circle. As I mentioned in two blog posts, my goal for this project was that, “I want to take this assignment as an opportunity to show another side of Lady Gaga that some people may never have seen before and all the things she has contributed to our world aside from her music. I hope that along with myself, everyone else will get a better glimpse into her life, and I can prove that Lady Gaga is indeed a very eminent person.” While I was standing there reflecting on that night I knew I was able to attain this goal within my speech and learning centre especially. There was a constant stream of people at my learning centre that I was able to share my work with, and show a new side of Lady Gaga that many never knew about. A surprising amount of people had never heard of her organization, nor her abundance of donations to different charities and causes worldwide. I was able to change many peoples perspectives of her in minutes, and that made this project a huge success in my eyes. I am very happy to have embraced the eminent persons project and taken the time to produce work I was proud of, rather than procrastinate till the last day possible. I hope to apply some of the skills I have learnt during this project to future endeavours and I am so grateful to be surrounded with such supportive people to help me along the way. Listening to others talk about their experiences made it that much more special just thinking of how we all got to experience NoTN together. If I could, I would do it again in a heartbeat.

Document of Learning

Four days, two hours, and twenty-nine minutes till the official beginning of Night of The Notables and I have yet to speak to a TALONS learner who isn’t stressed or having a minor panic attack. With that time crunch in mind, I have decided to take this time to share my document of learning to reflect on my goal for this project and the work I did to attain it (my speech draft and my Instagram account with posts on Lady Gaga).

In my first post of this project, ‘Mother Monster – Lady Gaga’, I stated, “I want to take this assignment as an opportunity to show another side of Lady Gaga that some people may never have seen before and all the things she has contributed to our world aside from her music. I hope that along with myself, everyone else will get a better glimpse into her life, and I can prove that Lady Gaga is indeed a very eminent person.” After reading my speech over right now and looking at the work I have accomplished, I can safely say that I have met this goal, and hopefully this post will show why.

Over the course of this project I posted 8 pictures on Instagram with facts on Lady Gaga. Each of the captions was a 1-2 paragraph explanation of the fact explaining it in more depth. I tried to include a variety of different components of her life and career to show just a few of the reasons why I believe she is eminent. Below I have recreated the Instagram feed with all 8 posts.

Screen Shot 2015-11-14 at 3.55.21 PM Screen Shot 2015-11-14 at 3.55.06 PM Screen Shot 2015-11-14 at 3.54.51 PM Screen Shot 2015-11-14 at 3.54.33 PM Screen Shot 2015-11-14 at 3.54.19 PM Screen Shot 2015-11-14 at 3.54.06 PM Screen Shot 2015-11-14 at 3.53.47 PM Screen Shot 2015-11-14 at 3.52.54 PM

NOTE: Each post is directly linked to the post on Instagram, so if you click on a picture it will open the post in a new tab with the paragraphs. If you want to go directly to my page @GagasLittlestMonster, click here.

Moving along to my second component, below I have typed out my second speech draft. Feel free to leave any feedback of suggestions!

Tonight is the night that we are free.

People always try to tear me down, but it doesn’t hurt me anymore. And you want to know why it doesn’t hurt me anymore? Because I am free. I have stripped myself from all those people who told me I couldn’t. And slowly but surely I remembered who I was.

And tonight, whether you are gay or straight , or bisexual or pansexual or transexual or transgender, whether you are or black or white or yellow or buddhist or hindu or christian, whether you come from Europe or Asia or Africa, tonight we erase all labels. Tonight you are free to be yourself.

Tonight is your chance to be break free. To reject all those people who defined you based on stereotypes, or told you, you weren’t good enough, or pretty enough, or smart enough, or couldn’t win a grammy! Don’t let anybody ever tell you can’t, cause you’re a GODDAMN SUPERSTAR! Tonight I want you to go home loving yourself more than you did when you got here. I want you to go home and look in the mirror before bed and think, HECK YEAH, that is a person I am comfortable sleeping with every night. My little monsters, tonight you are the rebels, nonconformists, you are free to be individual and unique, you are free to be yourself!

Bless god and bless the gays!

Just to recap on a slightly choppy blogpost, I am very passionate about Lady Gaga and I hope that you will take the time to look over my Instagram account. Feel free to skim if you find there are to many words. And on the note of my speech, I have worked very hard to create a speech that sounds like Lady Gaga herself when she is giving a speech before one of her shows. For some the grammar might seem a bit odd, but that is how she talks, so I tried to replicate her voice when I wrote it. Now I intend to take a quick break to BREATH before I dive straight back into the last minute hustle and bustle of eminent.


A Non-Existent Interview

After 3 long weeks of waiting and no replies I have decided to start my interview blog post by stating, I did not get an interview. I sent out numerous emails, and upon Jordan’s suggestion, I also tweeted Lady Gaga herself and sent her a Facebook message, none of which got any response. The people I contacted included, Lady Gaga’s sister, mother, father, agent, and best friend, as well as a reported from People Magazine, a tech crew member from her shows, and of course Lady Gaga. Below I have included a screenshot of the email I sent to Natali, Stephani aka Lady Gaga’s younger sister.


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NOTE: Due to the restrictions on WordPress, I cannot enlarge the image more than it is above, but it reads:

Hi Natali,

My name is Elyssa Bingham. This year for my schools socials unit we have to do project on an eminent person. My choice was Lady Gaga. One of the requirements is that we get an interview with someone closely related to our eminent person or, if possible, with our eminent person. I was wondering if you would be willing to answer a few questions in an interview over email for my assignment.
1. How do you feel Lady Gaga has impacted today’s society?
2. What do you feel stands out the most about Lady Gaga’s motto in a positive way towards youth?
3. How do you feel your sister’s fame has impacted your life?
4. What is Stefani like offstage? Personality traits?
5. What is Stefani’s stand on the LGBT community? Do you agree?
6. How do you think Stefani’s Born This Way organization will benefit people 5 years from now? What about 10 years from now?
7. What motivated Stefani to become Lady Gaga and stand up issues such as bullying? Anything from her childhood?
Here is the my blog from my program if you would like to see some of my previous posts about Lady Gaga, or for more information on the eminent person project:
Thank you for your time,
Elyssa Bingham

(I used this template for all my emails)

I chose the questions used above to gain more insight on Lady Gaga’s outlook on life, and her point of view on controversial issues. I did this because with this project I wanted to focus on her opinions on issues; such as, bullying and gay rights. I also wanted to look into her impact on these issues, and prove why she is eminent. Her musical career was less of an interest to me, because that’s not who she is, and I wanted to show what she stood for, rather not define her by her hobby/career.

Aside from the email, I also reached out through multiple other social media sites as shown below.


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Reaching out through Twitter and Facebook was more difficult then an email due to the word restrictions. I was not able to include the questions in my message on Twitter, and as you can see I had to reply to my own tweet to add a link to my blog for more information.

Overall, I am disappointed that I was unable to get an interview; however, I am proud of the effort I put in. I tried multiple different ways of contacting people, and I waited long periods of time between each email. I figure, after two years of eminent and not one interview, they really aren’t my thing. Finger crossed next year I can get one…if we have eminent in TALONS 11 that is.

An Exploration for Information

On our class trip this past Wednesday (October 14th 2015), we boarded the school bus and made our way to the Vancouver Public Library. While peoples’ goals for this trip varied, mine was to find information about both my eminent person and my ZAP project. I am pleased to report that I found both.

We started the day with a solo spot in the city where I watched one particular driver attempt at a u-turn. By attempt, I mean he failed miserably. He began to turn just as the light was turning green and causing him to block all the incoming traffic. On top of that, he was unable to properly drive his massive car and had to drive back and forth a total of 4 times to reorient his car. When he finally thought he made the turn, he drove his car up on the curb squashing an old drink container and spaying his car with an unknown milky substance. I, on the other hand, was rather enjoying myself, and I think that might have been my most enjoyable solo spot to date.


Following the solo spot, we spilt back up into our groups (bus 1 & bus 2). My group, bus 2, went down to the used book store a block away. Meanwhile, the other group went to the library. While the book store was very cramped for twenty-some people, I was able to squeeze through to my section and find their one available copy of “Lady Gaga Critical Mass Fashion” by Lizzie Goodman. I have yet to start seriously reading the book, but I am very excited to go through it. The illustrations and formatting are very appealing and well done, and I had the chance to briefly skim a couple paragraphs while I was in the store.  I can tell this will be a very good resource for my project.


About an hour later, we walked back to library to meet up with the other half of our class for lunch. We had the freedom to choose between a variety of different places to eat. Nicole and I decided to divide and conquer. I bought the sushi, she bought the bubble tea, and we split it. It ended up being very fast and efficient leaving me time to mingle, and skim over some more pages of my new book. Since we were already seated in the library food court, we were able to separate again from bus 1 and go straight into the library to search. Here I was also very successful. I had pre-planned the night before and looked up books I was interested in taking out, so I already had my barcode numbers prepped. I was able to find 2 books on  Lady Gaga and a few scripts for my ZAP project, leaving me with enough time to order a mocha before we left.

With my books in my bag and a mocha in my hand, it was time to board the buses and head back to school. I feel like I accomplished my goal for the trip, and I was already able to use one of my books “The Rise and Rise of Lady Gaga” by Maureen Callahan in my eminent intro post. I am very excited for this project and for Night of The Notables. It will be a different experience this year from last, and I think having chosen someone I am very passionate about (Lady Gaga) will make it very fun.