Baking + Sunday Dinners

Baking and Making Sunday Dinners for My Family

During the course of my CAS journey one of my favorite endeavors that I decided to take up was cooking. It initially started as a one off thing but has soon become a regular occurrence in my household as of late and one that has not only been beneficial to me but my family as well. At home we like to switch things up whenever possible, order in different cuisines, try out new recipes etc. and lately as college has been drawing nearer and nearer my parents have reminded me how useful a skill knowing how to make your own food can be as you grow up. In addition to this I find cooking extremely therapeutic, it allows me to concentrate on whichever action I am doing and I momentarily let go of all of the stressful things in life. Another advantage of making meals on the occasion is that I get to give my mom a well deserved rest where she doesn’t have to cook and clean for the night while I simultaneously get to learn a lot about the cultures which my recipes come from.

^ Strawberry cheesecake & Chocolate chip cookies!

Over the past term I have backed everything from chocolate chip cookies to cheesecake while I’ve made dishes from all around the world. The key component of making everything is a lot of care, patience and practice as sometimes, doing things as simple as frying chicken can be extremely painstaking and time consuming but the end result is almost always more worth it if you put the effort in. The next mantra for the kitchen I would use is that not everything is going to work out, some recipes might do amazing but others maybe not so much. For example, this weekend I made chocolate chip cookies, now these were somewhat of a cheat meal because it was a pre-mixed pack and when I tasted the batter it didn’t taste too out of the ordinary but the moment you bit into it after it was baked it felt sweet enough to give you diabetes, which upon reflection wasn’t all too nice especially since I don’t have much of a sweet tooth. Another thing I’ve learned to deal with is that ingredients aren’t always readily available, especially during this pandemic since most of what we order is done online so I need to substitute quite a few ingredients whenever possible. Here are a few of my absolute favorite meals that I made over the past 3 weeks.

KBQ, also known as Korean Barbecue Chicken is a Korean dish which consists of crispy buttermilk battered chicken doused in spicy gochujang sauce and sprinkled with sesame seeds. KBQ is something that my brother and I always wanted to order in but since the store closed during lockdown we decided that we’d make it ourselves. The cook time was actually quite long because you had to wait for the chicken to marinate and then fry them till they’re cooked but the end result was very worth the wait.

Chili Con Carne on the other hand, is a Mexican dish which loosely translates to chili with meat, the dish consists of a delicious seasoned stew which is usually accompanied on a bed of rice with cheese on top, this dish was fairly easy to make and honestly delectable even though this was the first time I had tried it. The second part of this dish is the Hot Butter Cuttlefish which is one of my all time favorite side dishes which to my surprise is actually a part of Sri Lankan Chinese fusion cuisine! Unfortunately this time around there wasn’t any flour at home to make the crispy batter with, but it was just as delicious without.

The third dish that I found was a great success was my mom’s take on a Cajun/ Creole dish called Jambalaya which is basically a rice dish with vegetables and meat combined with rice. My mom’s recipe of the dish doesn’t necessarily follow the original ingredient list but uses an amazing combination of ham and rice with minimal vegetables instead! Jambalaya also contains influences from regions like Spain, Africa and France and so it can be said that many regions have their own take on the dish with different meat and vegetable variations but that’s what makes this dish so diverse in the first place.

I would highly recommend trying these out at home!!

 

Harvard Pre-Law Academy + In Conversation With Forbes’ Laurel Donnellan

Summer Endeavors 

Sometime towards the end of last year I loosely touched on my acceptance into Harvard’s  pre-law program. Among the many external courses I took part in in DP1 I was informed of two potential opportunities that I could take part in over the summer and after 2 essays, one questionnaire and an interview I received the news that I had been selected. Now that all of it is said and done, let me catch all of you up on a little bit of what I did this summer.

Harvard Pre-Law Academy

  < Day 1

After receiving my acceptance letter I could barely contain my excitement, I had made it into a law course! One that was sponsored by Harvard nonetheless! Even though I was happy I got selected in I was also just as nervous. Harvard is something that I have always associated synonymously with academic excellence so naturally, I had my fair share of nerves since I assumed the other 19 selected students would be mini Einsteins.

In the weeks that followed I received multiple emails briefing me on what I was to except from a course overview to a note docket and itinerary. I was then introduced to the two course leaders, Nisha and Maia who led our sessions for the upcoming weeks. The first few sessions were rather predictable, we did our introductions got introduced to different law terminology and judicial systems and were split into various breakout rooms to talk to conduct research in. I soon got to know quite a few of my peers some of whom I still keep in touch with today, and naturally they were all as smart as I expected them to be but they were also very welcoming and just bounced ideas off of each other. At the end of it all I can even confidently say that I learned just as much from my friends as I did my mentors. As the final week approached, things turned up a notch. Our mentors decided to introduce the main component of the program: a mock trial. Yes, you heard me right, an actual mock trial based off of an actual trial that would be mediated by Nisha and Maia in the end as unbiased judges.

They decided to pick our roles within our teams at random and much to my shock I ended up being given the role of the primary defendant! This was huge, I was going to be playing the defendant and defense attorney for myself as Dana M. Colby the principal of Michigan High School who was accused of enabling a memorandum that had to do with the alleged unlawful seizing of student, Pat Roman’s bag in a civil case. This meant that my partner Nubar (who would play co-defendant as the teacher who seized the bag (Terry Wordshaw)) and I, would act as defense attorneys while the other members of our team would be responsible for gathering data, cross examination and other logistics in a fight against the plaintiffs who claimed that privacy comes above the safety of the students seeing that the teacher came up empty handed aside from a cigarette after the search. Initially I was concerned because I personally sided with the plaintiffs argument at first, but naturally, one of the first steps to being a good lawyer is to put your own opinions aside. Nubar was extremely diligent and myself, her, a boy named Iqbal and a girl named Nadine spent the good part of the next week working tirelessly at finishing opening statements, closing statements, witness statements, summaries of facts, rebuttals, questions for direct and cross examination etc. It was a very long and nail biting week but we managed to stay on top of things. On top of that we had sometimes up to three meetings a week and constant correspondence via social media just to ensure that we were on track.

On the day of the mock trial we went in well prepared. I was to give out the opening statement which I had written and answer all the questions in direct and cross examination. My opening speech was spoken out without much error and I was positively beaming on the inside because we had made a solid start. I had also suggest that we trip the other team up by making our expert witness a child psychologist so that she could comment on Pat Roman’s behavioral tendencies to create mischief. Any good lawyer is a good story teller after all 😛

The direct examination went quite well except a member of the other team kept interrupting at every instance saying “the question is irrelevant to the case your honor!” every time I opened my mouth to answer which was rather infuriating but the cross examination was where I redeemed myself.

We had known full well that the angle they would use to win the case would be to talk about an infringement of privacy but we made it so that we placed special emphasis on certain clauses of the amendment in focus and after that it was really just a matter of re-iterating facts. The rest of our trial went off in very intense rounds of questioning, I didn’t quite expect that much passion from an online mock trial but it was clear that everyone including myself was very highly invested and much thanks to Iqbal our resident cross-examiner he asked questions from the plaintiffs that had them squirming in their seats. After a good 20 minutes of deliberation our judges felt they were ready to give out our verdict.

I had been excitedly talking to my teammates on the chat reminding them of how proud I was of all our hard work regardless of the verdict since at that point in time I genuinely did not know what the decision would be and then, much to the defense team’s delight Nisha announced that although their personal views resided with the plaintiff’s argument we made such a compelling case that we won! All of us were elated and knowing that we had not only managed to win but sway the personal beliefs of the judges felt incredible. Having gone up against some seriously intense opposition and still winning out made it all the more worth it :))

In hindsight, Harvard’s Future Lawyers Program was one of my proudest achievements and most exiting endeavors. I had not only been accepted into an exclusive group but also lead my team to a solid victory as well alongside Nubar! This was an incredible once in a lifetime opportunity that I will certainly remember for the years to come.

An extract from the 57 page case reading we had to each do and take notes on! ^

^ My certificate of participation

^ Our program course book

In Conversation with Lauren Donnellan 

Another pleasant surprise I had this summer was when Learn With Leaders (the platform I used to find my law course) extended an invite to an invite only conversation with Laurel Donnellan about career paths. By this time after my participation in the pre-law academy I had made up my mind that I would want to choose a law related career path perhaps in diplomacy but I wanted to see if it was the right fit for me, not to mention that Laurel is a contributor at Forbes.com where she writes about Compassionate Leadership and focuses on leadership and falling in love with careers through kindness and purpose. This is naturally a major achievement and her resume spoke for itself when looking at all the incredible entrepreneurs she interviewed and the people she inspired. In this time we spoke in small groups about what makes someone passionate about a job and how being passionate towards it can benefit your lifestyle, health and happiness in the long run.

^ Donnellan’s Forbes Profile

^ Certificate of Participation

Creativity Post

A little bit of everything 

Over the past few months, I have done a culmination of far too many things creatively to rant on about on my CAS blog without boring my readers, however I will give you a few small snapshots into the greater things I accomplished this semester. Admittedly, initially, I always thought of CAS as something which highlights a monumental non-academic achievements which you have participated in, but over the past few terms I have gradually learned that that is indeed not the case. CAS is about how you incorporate these 3 elements into daily life and how you benefit from it and how others benefit from you taking part in them, so this time around, instead of focusing on one major event aside from those already described in my CAS blog, I chose to take a step back and admire the bigger picture, by looking at the ways in which I employ creativity in my day to day life. Creativity has become of the essence to me as of late because I have just gone through another tumultuous turn of events where we went from online school, to in person school, to online school and lockdown… yet again. It’s almost like we come full circle each year!

Needless to say I have been taking part in activities that both consciously and subconsciously employ my creative side ranging from creating posters and posts for various social media sites for my service groups, to mindfully taking part in meditation sessions to coloring and photography and last but not least… music. This term I have come to have a more focused approach on myself in terms of self care and learning to derail a bit from the often draining academic train that is the IB outside of the classroom.

I have done everything from helping my mom rearrange the living room, to creating and organizing aesthetic Pinterest boards of things I hope to accomplish, to serenading my dogs with Jason Mraz accompanied by my guitar (this is a secret), to dedicating time into making playlists with over 200 songs each to match each mood I’m feeling to name a few. I have also actively spent more time on perfecting photography and editing as well as just spent a laidback day doing therapeutic coloring with my friend and just sat down to do guided meditation for 15 minutes each day. None of these activities may seem extremely glorious, but as someone who is constantly on the move and a bit of a workaholic at times, I am proud of the fact that I have gotten myself into the consistent rhythm of taking at least an hour away each day to unwind, which earlier, I found shockingly difficult to bring myself to    do.

This time around the activities I have done in terms of creativity are intended not to please others but to to satisfy myself, a much needed serotonin boost of sorts as I feel like I strive too often to make others happy to the extent where I don’t tend to my own needs and just end up stressed and frustrated instead. Usually my outlet for releasing stress is being on a pitch kicking a soccer ball around, but with lockdown weighing heavily on Sri Lanka again, I have had to find more creative ways of stress relieving, keeping my mental wellbeing at the forefront of my mind.

Accomplishment wise, mine may not be a great deal astonishing, but I do have to acknowledge the fact that this is somewhat of a major personal milestone and that by putting myself first at times, I have become more attentive to my interactions with others! For example, my Spotify is now a carefully curated list of playlists ranging from classical, to rap, French music to improve my listening and speaking skills to numerous others that capture my emotions. It has also given me the ability to get to know a few of my classmates better due to similarities in music taste and it have given me a great amount of joy to be able to share something that I consider personal to myself with others. I have also dedicated a fair share of time to spend with my friends, for example the other week my friend Shreya and I decided to do online coloring for about 30 minutes which was a great way for us to catch up given that we hadn’t seen each other in person for a while and in the way that we were able to work as a team to carefully complete each piece!

< A piece I created with Shreya during Lockdown

Moreover, something else that I have taken up as a new endeavor is meditation. Initially I must admit I was a bit skeptical but one night I was so overwhelmed by my work that I thought the only way to calm myself down might be to try meditation so I spent about 30 minutes of my night the first time listening to Deepak Chopra’s ‘Fear’ to calm myself down, and what did I know, it worked! From then on I spend 15 minutes each night listening to a podcast of sorts and attempt to focus on nothing else but my breathing and the words of the narrator in that time and it has been proven massively relieving each time.

That aside something else that I have been spending significant time on is photography, personally, I tend to take a camera or in the least my phone with me wherever I go, so in that way I can capture an image at a moment’s notice. I was truly able to exercise my aptitude for photography when I was in Hanthana,  the views were spectacular and I had just discovered some presets on Polarr which I immediately had to use. In a way, I was aiming for a more abstract image of things simple due to the composition of the landscapes and I wanted to make something different. Needless to say, I am really happy with the way in which they came out and can’t wait for another opportunity take more photos like that again! Similarly, I have also been paying attention to my video edits.  I must admit though that with the end of my DP1 experience nearing, I have been finding less and less time and motivation to edit, which does make sense because at this stage I do need to be prioritizing my school work.

In my off time however, I have spent a small amount of time working with new apps like Cap Cut to try out new filters and transitions. For example, my most recent exploration is creating videos with photographs that turn 3D when a certain effect is applied, I am constantly blown away by the developments in technology and I was fascinated with the outcomes. Although my editing account has reached somewhat of a hiatus for the time being, I have every intention of starting it back up full force when summer vacation starts so I’m really looking forward to that!

Last but certainly not least is my newest update on my adventures in the kitchen. When comparing  my cooking  from when I started this  blog to the work that I am capable of doing now, even the blind can see the extent to I have improved by in only a matter of months. My cooking has grown from me only being able to make instant ramen and a fried egg to being capable of  making a full meal! Sure, I do occasionally have my missteps (often because I have an irrational tendency to improvise), but also because trial is the only way towards perfecting newer recipes. My parents have so much faith in my cooking now that I was even given permission to bake a batch of cupcakes completely unsupervised if would you believe it!  (They came out tasting amazing for the record, although I grossly misjudged the ingredients and ended up with a 22 instead of the mere 6 I needed 💀) Regardless, my cooking skills have witnessed a major growth curve of the past year and I think I might just be on the right track to being able to feed myself during university!

Here is of my favorite dishes I made this month, spaghetti and shrimp with white sauce  :))

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1M_LQLw_nO6M4XHf6utER4LzEBjqL-264/view?usp=sharing

^ a link to my 3D video edit

Écrire des lettres aux personnes âgées

Writing letters to the elderly – French Service Project 2021

As student in French B this year, I was told at the start of DP1 that I would be required to cover are all three areas of CAS in 3 posts by the end of my 2 year DP journey. Luckily for myself, I thought ahead of time and have managed to complete 2 of the 3 tasks. I successfully completed my first task when I made my own rendition of the Swiss desert, bonhommes last Christmas and I have just now done my part in my French service project.

For this year, myself and a few of my classmates, chose to write letters to the residents of an elders home who have had a hard time with COVID being unable to see their families and were in need of a little bit of cheering up :)) By keeping that intention in mined, I set out with the goal of writing my letter (shown below) to put a smile on their faces and to assure them that everything would be just fine during COVID and that the tough times will pass. My letter began with me introducing myself, my name, my age, my home and my hobbies etc. after which, I went on to talk about my own experience in quarantine and how it is affecting my life and its shortcomings, while I also assured my pen pal about how it it possibly the only way for things to go back to normal. I talked about how it has given me the time to explore things such as hobbies that I would usually not participate in leisurely in the absence of COVID, namely hobbies of mine such as playing music, reading and playing with my dogs which I haven’t had the time to engage in due to school. And at last, I said that  I hoped they were doing well and concluded with an inspirational quote by a man named Robert Choquette who said something the lines of, “At the heart of uncertainty, there will always be hope, no matter how weak it is.” and included 2 pictures of my dogs because let’s be there’s no bigger serotonin boost than puppies out there.

En français: 

Cette année, pour mon projet de service CAS, j’ai choisi d’écrire une lettre aux personnes âgées dans une maison pour personnes âgées en France. J’ai choisi de le faire parce que je savais que COVID doit être plus difficile pour eux que pour moi, car la plupart du temps, ils ne pourront pas voir les membres de leur famille, alors je voulais les rendre heureux et pleins d’espoir et leur rappeler que tout allait bien se passer.

Alors je leur ai écrit cette lettre:

 

Service Post – Hope for Kids

Hope For Kids Update!

While a lot has changed in the past few weeks from completing online school, to going back face to face for  only to be thrust back into a blindsiding state of  lockdown again, my service group, Hope For Kids has never let ourselves see a dull moment. Instead of complaining about the revocation of our visitation rights to the home (because of safety precautions) we have been spending even more hours working at various projects that had us sacrificing a few lunch hours, Thursday afternoons and other weekdays after school hours to make it all come together.

I feel as though our group has honestly accomplished more this year than I would have ever assumed we would have been able to complete given our inconvenient circumstances, although somehow, in a strange way, I have come to realize that it has given me a one off opportunity to step up to the plate  to genuinely make a contribution to the cause we work to support and to do more than physically spend time with the young cancer patients like we used to do when Covid was not an issue. Even more excitingly, it has given me a perfect opportunity to step up into taking some initiative in the leadership area.

Many changes were made starting with some basic housekeeping at first. We decided that it was high time we made some updates to some of our archives. Namely, we needed to change the outdated logo which I took upon myself to redo which required me to employ my creativity. While the original logo was simply just an image of a handprint, I felt that it didn’t really show all that much relevance to our cause which is why, after doing some research I found out that the color for child cancer was gold and then decided to make a simple but striking logo which said OSC Hope for Kids at the top with a gold cancer ribbon on a contrasting black background.

Additionally we decided that we needed to make our outreach greater in terms of raising awareness as a service group. We already had a website but it was rather incomplete in terms of the aesthetic value of it which is why I spent majority of our last session trying to help one of my make the necessary changes to the website via Zoom. Naturally this was a lot harder than expected since it was online and also because the previous creators of our website had graduated, hence making it a work in progress for the upcoming weeks.

We also decided to create an Instagram page in order to keep our school community updated on recent happenings within our group as well as it being the perfect opportunity for us to raise some awareness regarding the severity of the issue that is child cancer. During the first few weeks, while others made certain informational posts, I took the time to create a quiz to educate our followers. Using Instagram formatting I was able to post a small informal multiple choice trivia game on our stories to which a pleasantly surprising number of our followers answered.

While the participation was great, it did go to show that quite a few people within our school community were still not all that aware of the statistics or prevalence of childhood cancer, which is why  I have been in talks with Ms. Tanuja (our service teacher), Saesha (the other service leader) and a family friend of mine who has worked closely with the Cancer Hospital for the past few weeks. More specifically, we collectively came to a conclusion that it was important to make people, especially within our school community,  understand the reality of the situation as well as how we can help patients as well as help prevent it so I took it upon myself to reach out to a doctor to get in touch with us and perhaps give us a small virtual session on what I mentioned earlier. In this way we could also record it and share it via our social media while also coming up with more effective fundraising plans. However, there is still somewhat of a difficulty in getting in touch with a doctor during this time because of the peaking of the Covid-19 cases within the country which has left first responders in a bit of a time crunch which we have to be understanding about.  Nonetheless, she has promised to reach out to us the moment her workload diminishes so that we can carry out our meeting.

This has been a great opportunity for me to step up as a leader and also a great reflective period to upgrade and improve what we already had while also being a convenient time for us to plan ahead for the future and next year and the fundraisers we could be carrying out then!

^My story awareness project for our Instagram followers

^ The new Hope for Kids logo, which I designed earlier this year

^ Previous Hope for Kids logo

Making Desserts

I might just be competent enough to cook…

A few months ago around Christmas time, I took on a few challenges to learn how to make certain dishes, i.e. make cookies, bake some bread people, and even make some homemade ice cream. At the time however, I could by no means be left unsupervised in the kitchen out of fear for everything getting burned to a crisp or having the risk of having recipe going terribly wrong, but here I am 3 months later having grown significantly in my cooking abilities after many hours of practice and last but not least, episodes of My Kitchen Rules  Oh… and I can be left to make things on my own now… 😭

Over the past few months I’ve tried to do my best to be helpful around the kitchen, whether that was for making dinner with my mom or making desserts for birthdays of family members and friends. Over these few weeks I have successfully mastered the art of cake making, churro making and tiramisu and chocolate biscuit pudding making. (I am pleased to confirm that the tiramisu and churros with chocolate sauce have become high in demand).

So how did I go from incapable of being unsupervised in the kitchen to Nigella Lawson the next day ?(that was a quite and awful comparison, my bad, Nigella is the queen of the culinary world and I could never possibly measure up to her). Well, in reality I really owe it to my mom who has a tireless way of looking up random recipes that catch her eye and then pulling out all stops with it with her own unique additions. The first few times around I just observed how she did things in the kitchen being allowed to occasionally stir and mix things, but soon it became a scenario while I did most the work with her giving me some life changing advice in the midst.

And so it became that I learned make my own recipes which caught my eye, helped make Grandpa’s birthday cake and even made 2 dishes of pineapple gateau  and 2 chocolate biscuit pudding dishes for a family function . The highlight for me, personally was also being able to make churros and dip all by myself, and I was elated seeing how quickly the plate finished.

Now naturally, it hasn’t been all smooth sailing, for instance, this one time I dropped a piping bag into hot oil containing churro batter (oops), but I learned to adopt new techniques and improvise. No matter how slow or fast the progress, I am happy knowing for a fact that this is going to be useful to me in college when I am expected to cook for myself, so I’m really glad I’m getting the practice now. As for the future, I would really like to learn how to make more savory dishes because that would probably come even more in handy, it’s always the effort that counts!

Here are a few of the desserts I made with minimal assistance:

^ chocolate cake for my grandma’s birthday

^ pineapple gateau!

 

Overlay Effect Practice

Continued Experimentation on VideoPad and Filmora 9 Pro

Hey, here’s an update on what I’ve been up to in my process of learning how to edit using Filmora 9 Pro and VideoPad for my video edit account.

General Update

The last few months have been a bit hectic in the editing scene, especially in terms of how much free time and inspiration I had which honestly wasn’t too much. On top of that Instagram introduced a new algorithm which limit’s an editor’s reach, for example, likes no longer matter and for more people to see your posts, more people have to save and share them. This can obviously be a bit disheartening considering that we put hours of our time into making videos that get under 500 views, which explains why my archives have more content than my actual feed, since how much your edit succeeds is pretty random. On the brighter side however, there have also been certain positive outcomes! For example, I just hit 1,266 followers and I had a video of mine pass 4k views! And as the icing on the cake… I got recognized by 3 players, two of who I look up to immensely and my favorite club, Manchester United WFC!!!

The players were Manchester United and the Spanish National team’s Ona Batlle, the USWNT and Arsenal veteran Heather O’Reilly and Sky Blue FC’s  Paige Monaghan. In all honesty, I didn’t know much about Monaghan  since  I didn’t keep up with the NWSL anymore, but I do hugely look up to Ona and Heather. While Ona is  one of the most skilled defenders in the league with amazing achievements in both in the FA and international games, Heather O’Reilly is one of my all time favorite veteran USWNT players who also played with Arsenal till her retirement in 2016. Which… come to think of it means she also shared the pitch with some of women’s soccer’s most iconic names like Abby Wambach and Shannon Boxx. Either way, she has somewhat of a legendary status in women’s football so I certainly found myself a bit stars truck that she knew my name.

 

Editing Practice

And now for the actual editing…

While I usually prefer to use only one software since it conserves a lot of time, I also know that using both to create an edit creates a much more sophisticated looking end product. I may have a decent following on my edit as of right now, but I am physically a long way away from the kind of editor I aspire to be. This takes days and days of practice especially when it comes to learning new transitions, overlays, effects and colorings etc. in order to produce smooth and creative posts. While in my previous blogs I looked at coloring and the velocity features, these past few months I have been trying to improve my use of the overlay effects.

Usually, any editing software has certain premade features which can be added on top of your regular timeline to create additional effect such as glow or grain, or even in Filmora’s case, certain color gradients.

So what would happen is that I would crop and add transitions to my regular video, but then drag in a gradient overlay say, for example the red one. I would then go to the tab called composting, choose a blending mode, such as lighten and then adjust the opacity in a way that you could still see the video beneath it, only now it would be tinted red. This way I could add multiple tints to my videos so that the coloring could change on beat, which gives a cool effect.

As a an experimentation edit (which I later ended up posting), I made video of the 2019 world cup. I had previously made the sequence on VideoPad and added the old film and glow effect to give it a signature black and white film look and used velocity to slow down and speed down certain parts that focus on skill moves. After exporting my clips, I then opened Filmora, changed the aspect ratio and began adding my overlays. At first I added the chromatic abrasion feature which separates the color spectrum and does so on beat,  that can only be used in small amounts. As for the color gradients, I then proceeded to add blue red and white blank overlays, I chose darken as the blending mode and reduced the opacity.

Here are some screenshot of the final outcomes – (white didn’t make that much of a difference since that was the edit’s original color anyways):

Final edit snapshots:

Link to edit (you might want to watch this in HD and in the picture in picture setting) : 

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1zSuP10RYkFFegy0_sNqcGWkaH4cNI4nH/view?usp=sharing

 

IVY GIRLS – Pt. 2

IVY GIRLS – ACTION PROJECT

In my last blog post, I introduced everyone to the IVY GIRLS Lead project which I became a member of in late December 2020. However, although in my earlier post, my focus was on the guest speaker element of the project,  another major part of the program that  I want to talk about is the service task which we were asked to complete after our first 2 weeks as a trial to see how well we were able to apply what we were taught to real life.

We were each asked to pick out a topic on which we wanted to work on and then assigned groups with random members based off of our interests. We were then asked to brainstorm a project outline, create an effective plan and then present it to a panel of judges on our final day of week 2. Once approved we were expected to complete our tasks over the span of 3 months (or more) to hopefully end up accomplishing the intended end goal.

I had a difficult time choosing between two topics, gender inequality and ocean pollution. The deciding factor in the end ended up being the fact that I had to choose something that was doable during the COVID situation, and while I was passionate about sport I had doubts that others would think the same way. This is why I decided to continue my efforts which I started out in the 10th Grade with my MYP 5 Personal Project, only this time, with added elements and it being more of a group effort. This would also ultimately help me in fulfilling my CAS goals.

Our progress check in was actually due yesterday, here is an excerpt from what I submitted on behalf of my group members…

Towards the start of  the of Ivy Girls Lead action project, the Reef Revival group consisting of Thimanya and Ayesha and I took on a very venturesome initiative to raise awareness on to raise awareness regarding the issue of ocean pollution amongst social media users; while, taking a personal course of order to do our part in combating the issue in question within Sri Lanka’s oceans. 

Over the course of the past few months we have done our level best to stay true to our goal despite many major challenges we were met with.

Here are few of the biggest obstacles we have faced:

  • Although I reached out to 5 dive centers in order to initiate underwater cleanups and only one responded, we were able to carry out two dives but they shut down too due to the lack of business and risk of COVID (i.e.. having to re-use equipment). 
  • We could not have as much physical engagement as we liked considering the pandemic situation so we were forced to do this within our families and close friend circles in a much less official way. 
  • Thimanya could not get a lot of beach cleanup participants considering the COVID-19 situation as well.
  • School work and distance interfered more with our project than we anticipated, while Thimanya and I kept continuous correspondence via WhatsApp and G-Mail our third group member who was supposed to take on the role of the researcher did not interact with us at all despite how many times we emailed her or used slack, which meant that Thimanya and I had to carry out her share of the tasks ourselves.

Overall, the obstacles that we were faced with, to a degree reduced our productivity and narrowed down the limits of how much we could achieve with our goal during this period of time, however, I am very proud of how we decided to stay true to our initial plan and took up our goals to the best of our ability. 

Here are a few of our greatest accomplishments:

  • We officially launched our social media campaign, Reef Revival which gained the desired amount of traction and so much more than we anticipated we hit 50 followers in 3 days!
  • Our first post, which was a trailer / awareness edit that I made as an introduction to our initiative, reached many activists around the world who congratulated us on our efforts, our friends and family were also very supportive and reposted and shared our content etc. We were pleasantly overwhelmed by the support.
  • Thimanya who was in charge of the beach cleanups carried two out successfully at Pinawatta  within her family and with the help of the municipal council in her district. 
  • I was able to carry out two successful dive cleanups at Swami Rock, collecting over 30kg’s worth of debris, most of our haul consisting of plastic bags and bottles with additional surprising collections of a massive cement block, fish cage wiring, a few corroded poles, lots of rope and ceramics. 
  • We came into contact with a major ocean pollution advocate and social media influencer named Arlian Ecker on Instagram. He’s only 16 and is already an ambassador for Project AWARE with over 2k followers! The Ocean Purpose Project panelist has been a great mentor and has actively encouraged us to follow through with our project. We even discussed the prospects of doing a Q and A or collaborative project with him in the near future! (which we are very excited for! )
  • Our project was kickstarted with the help of many other popular awareness blogs such as SEAFOAM , Bali Dive Time and Aqua5 who loved our content and helped spread the word about our initiative.
  • Our first post had a 36 person share rate which is pretty major for an Instagram post!
  • I was also able to carry out my own beach cleanup with the help of my family and friends at a beach in Hiriketiya which was very polluted to the begin with; the content we recovered ranged from bottles of poison to fishing lines and an overwhelmingly large collection of washed up shoes. 
  • We were able to engage with our followers via the IG story feature, regularly quizzing and educating them on our action; we decided that stories would be more efficient than releasing posts because they get a bigger reach due to notifications that followers get, but we also release a few posts designed by Thimanya.
  • I was also able to log my Data successfully onto Project AWARE’s diver profile which is available to the general diving community and scientists who analyze the data that divers collect. 

What the future holds for Reef Revival:

Hopefully we are able to continue our efforts in the following months especially with the COVID situation easing around the island, we are hoping that for the sake of the project and the local community that Dive Centers are allowed to go back into business so that we can have greater engagement with the community, have more cleanups and make it a more engaging experience. As for the near future, we are currently looking forward to doing the Q and A with Arlian Ecker (plastic free boy)  and hopefully get many more activists involved in the project, maybe even at local capacity. We also plan on  carrying out the installation of the bins in the beaches close by with the money that Thimanya has raised for that purpose and more generally, expanding our following and engagement.

Creativity – Designing Posts + Stories

Activity – Diving 

Service – Raising Awareness + The Removal of Rubbish

 

Detailed Action Plan:

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1Cb46XrVRakONA2p7vJkNC-jin__8nwmI/view?usp=sharing

Progress Check- In ( click link for more images & details ): 

https://docs.google.com/document/d/1nabsBU7EQ7T7pRWvcbQKyxZjEjADtBiXa0jZ6PNACW4/edit?usp=sharing

^ hiriketiya beach pre-cleanup

[OUR LOGO] 

Faire des Bonhommes!

French CAS Project – Creativity – Making Christmas Bonhommes! (good fellows)

As a part of my French lessons, my classmates and I were asked to take on a strand of CAS in the form of creativity to both practice our French and to promote francophone culture during the holidays; specifically in the form of end of year celebrations and traditions.

Among the many options that were available, what caught my eye the most was making a Christmas food from a French speaking country. I had as of late been spending more and more time in the kitchen exercising my cooking and baking abilities; which for the record, I would say is neither here nor there (usually whatever I make is either shockingly delicious or quite frankly, downright inedible – there is really no in between.) Needless to say I understood that it would have been beyond useful to brush up on those skills before heading off to college in two years time. (LO1 & 2)

Thinking hard on what I could make given the resources I had available, one of the first things that came to mind was the amazing baked bread called “gritibenzen” I ate around Christmas time every year when I was kid and lived in Germany. The bread would be shiny and golden brown, in the shape of adorable little bread people decked in Christmas attire, often decorated with a generous handful of raisins or dried fruit. More importantly, I remembered my dad explaining to me when I was younger that the tradition came from Switzerland where the snack was instead dubbed “bonhommes”.  Even thinking back on it, I would feel a sense of nostalgia, camping outside the stalls at Christmas Markets waiting for our warm “bonhommes” right before heading back home after doing our Christmas shopping.

It was decided then that I would give this dish my best shot – I had never attempted making bread before so this was a start for me and I just prayed that it would all somehow work out in my favor.

Here is a little explanation on the background and origins of my dish in French:

Pour mon projet CAS français, j’ai décidé de préparer un plat de Noël appelé Bonhommes de Suisse. C’est un pain sucré fait pendant la saison de Noël, préparé en général le jour de la Saint-Nicolas; célébré le 6 décembre. Ce plat provient des Celtes qui faisaient leur pain en forme de dieux et d’évêque. Le pain est généralement décoré avec des noix et des raisins et il y avait de nombreux noms différents dans différentes régions de la Suisse comme “Grittibanz” et “Stutenkerl”. Le pain ressemble généralement à un homme.

Voici est la recette que j’ai utilisée 

(The Recipe)

https://www.bettybossi.ch/fr/Rezept/ShowRezept/BB_WEGE071101_0064A-40-fr 

Here is my reflection I wrote after making the bonhommes:

Je viens de terminer la cuisson de mes bonhommes il y a environ une heure avant! Ils sont bien sortis, je dois dire. Bien sûr, ce ne sont pas les meilleurs bonhommes, mais ma famille les a goûtés et ils ont adoré. Cela nous a également rappelé à tous notre séjour en Allemagne, ce qui était vraiment agréable. J’ai fait quelques ajustements au plat, par exemple, j’ai fait un petit bonhomme de neige et une bonne fille aussi (même s’ils n’existent pas vraiment). Je n’aime pas trop les amandes, alors j’ai ajouté des raisins à la place qui sont généralement également présents dans la recette traditionnelle. Enfin, j’ai trouvé qu’ils n’étaient pas aussi colorés que je le souhaitais, alors j’ai utilisé le reste du glaçage de mes biscuits au pain d’épice pour ajouter un peu de couleur à mes pains.

Overall I really loved making them, and I was beyond relieved when they turned out good! I may be an amateur bonhomme maker for now, but I suppose I can add this to the list of Silva holiday traditions at home. I’ll be a professional baker before you know it!! (LO 2 & 3)

Ici sont mes bonhommes!

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1k2CEZ_NbUHxvxvmLXV4-RKvbNKbVePdJ/view?usp=sharing

Winter Wonderland

Final Guitar Ensemble Performance – Spreading the Christmas Cheer *virtually*

Although this year’s guitar ensemble sessions were far beyond unconventional, we certainly found a way to make things work. Towards the beginning of the semester we practiced for the Pink Panther theme song which we all learned but ultimately never pieced together for unknown reasons. However, in realizing we were indeed called the guitar ‘ensemble’, we agreed it felt necessary to at least execute one well rehearsed piece together.

Now, on a normal school year, we would have all been recruited my Miss. Duncan (the music teacher) to participate in the annual Winter Gala – one of the ensemble’s well anticipated performances, but naturally, corona deterred and we were forced to settle for a more unique performance. Instead; we decided to spread the Christmas spirit virtually! We felt this was fitting, especially since it was much needed this year, with a lot of us being isolated from loved ones and without being able to celebrate extravagantly like a lot of families usually do. (LO2 , 4 & 7)

So with a little coordination from Mr. Marlon, we spent roughly 2 (or in my case 1 and 1/2) Wednesday sessions rehearsing to play the classic “Winter Wonderland” by Bing Crosby. The first lesson was spent familiarizing ourselves with the chords and notation with the group members being assigned their parts, while, I, on the other hand had to miss the crucial second session where they played the chords together for another meeting!!

Regardless; I was eager to not let the rest of my peers down and immediately contacted Mr. Marlon who kindly initiated a make up zoom call lesson for me sometime around 10:30 pm (I may have panicked because I thought the video would be displayed at the end of year assembly the very next day) and we were on our way.  I struggled minorly with the time keeping especially because in a usual ensemble setting you could hear the tempo of the other guitars playing and timing it accordingly but I had to do it by counting. (LO5) The last thing I wanted was to be too fast or too slow because I was playing the most recognizable chords to the song. After working our way through multiple unfamiliar chords and after learning how to track the tempo mentally, I finally called it a day at 11:30 pm, after completing multiple retakes of Winter Wonderland (so many that I was unwilling to listen to Bing Crosby for the rest of the Christmas season :)) and finally gave my guitar strings a much needed break. (LO 4)

Despite the rush to finish, I guess Mr. Marlon didn’t intend for us to show our pre-recorded video the next day because I received the video only two days ago (which might I add is a partial relief because we weren’t necessarily looking the most spirited in our pajamas and flimsy excuses for Christmassy outfits).  It turns out our video was sent to the entire OSC staff instead on the 25th to celebrate Christmas and the work they have done for us in the last term! It was a rather thoughtful gesture and I hope we brightened up their day even by a little bit! :))

I felt proud of the group overall and especially of Mr. Marlon’s editing skills since it came out extremely well timed taking into consideration each of us had a different set of notation to play and recorded it separately without being in the same room as the other! It was quite a feat and thankfully resembled a piece that we would have performed in person. I feel like as a group this year, we overcame a lot, naturally in the same time frame face to face, we would have completed around 2 more pieces, but rehearsal time became limited this year. In addition to that we had less group members at the meetings so the compositions had to be altered and we practiced in rather strange formations from going solo to two person break out rooms to finally playing together. Overall, despite our many shortcomings resources wise this year, we jumped a lot of hurdles (musical and technical); a  Christmas miracle if you will…

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1xcT6RpCTjXbRVCF12CEe2_-IgCiGTFv5/view?usp=sharing

^ The link to our video!

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