Taking Things My Philosophy Professor Says Out of Context

This is not meant to discredit my philosophy teacher in any way but rather commend his unconventional teaching habits; his weird phrases often stick to my mind and help me remember the material. The post’s purpose is a good laugh so enjoy!

Based on a true story.

Oh cow, why are you so beautiful. Is it because you have reached actuality?

Out of Context: “Take the cow. A nice, beautiful cow.”

In Context: According to Aristotle, all things in nature try to achieve actuality, their final form. Take the cow. A nice, beautiful cow. A calf has the potential to become a cow, and therefore strives to become a cow, which is its species’ final form.


When He crowed, the Light entered the Universe.

Out of Context: “God is the Chicken of the Universe.”

In Context: Concerning the infamous dilemma “Which came first: the chicken or the egg,” Aristotle would argue that the chicken in the form of a purely sentient “god” not only came first but had always existed. His existence propels the universe around him to move, thereby birthing eggs. In this sense, God is the Chick of the Universe.



Out of Context: “I think the cabbage would scream in French.”

In Context: There are three types of souls: the vegetative soul, the animalistic soul, and the human soul. Aristotle teaches that what differentiates humans and animals from vegetables is the fact that we can feel pain and emotions. On a side note, if a cabbage felt pain, I think the cabbage would scream in French. I’m not sure why.


For the sake of the three souls, we live off of candy!

Out of Context: “If we could just live on a diet of cotton candy.”

In Context: (Continuing off of the last one) If vegetative souls could in fact feel pain, all the vegans would be at a crossroads. If we could just live on a diet of cotton candy…

#JustPhelpsScholarsThings: The Detroit Trip Itinerary

Now when I look back at the screenshot I took of the annual Phelps Scholar Program Detroit Trip’s itinerary, this is what I see:

7:40 a.m. – Students sign in for the trip in the Scott Hall Tomb. Pro tip: Make sure to always have a back-up plan for when you somehow manage to sleep through six alarms.

Leftovers from breakfast kept me fueled throughout the trip.

8:00 a.m. – Leave Holland. Breakfast (apples, muffins, granola bars, water bottles, etc.) provided on the bus. Make sure to keep a pillow handy because sleeping on the bus is quite a feat without one.

Unfortunately, photos were not allowed but I sneaked a picture of the entrance for y'all ;D
Unfortunately, photos were not allowed but I sneaked a picture of the entrance for y’all ;D

10:45 a.m. – Arrive at Holocaust Memorial. One of the most impactful, memorable experiences I’ve had from a PSP trip. It resembles a museum but is called a memorial to shine light on the millions of deaths caused by a regime of hate. The class split into two groups and followed the progression of Hitler’s control as well as learn the history and culture of the Jews. What struck me the most was a display of an antique box car that was originally meant to carry cattle and cargo but instead shipped Jews to concentration camps. Although it posed no danger, the object itself carried a devious, ominous, desperate air, reminiscent of its time. After the tour, we met with and heard the story of Mania Salinger, a holocaust survivor and the author of the book “Looking Back.” The 90-something year old lady enraptured us with tales of her gutsy decisions and the brutality of the concentration camps.

I met a Holocaust survivor!

1:30 p.m. – Leave Holocaust Memorial.

Feed me!
Feed me!

2:10 p.m. – Arrive at Vicente’s Cuban Cuisine. As much as we enjoyed our visit to the memorial and Mrs. Salinger, our minds were consumed with food. We were entertained with authentic Cuban cuisine which ranged from fried plantains to a variety of rice dishes. They finished off the meal with the most delicious cake I have ever tasted (not exaggerating) called tres leches cake, a butter cake soaked with three kinds of milk.

Taking pictures to pass time...
Taking pictures to pass time…

3:45 p.m. – Leave Restaurant.

4:00 p.m. – Arrive at Charles Wright African American Museum. Whoever said that museums were boring can fight me. This was an entirely immersive experience, complete with interactive displays and life-size people. We split into our own groups and literally walked through history, starting from Africans taken from their beliefs, culture, and homes to slave ports up until the first black President.

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(Sorry about the quality and if the video is sideways, it should be right-side up on your phones!)

5:00 p.m. – Leave Museum.

7:45 p.m. – Arrive in Holland. 

It’s bittersweet knowing that this was our last trip together as the 2015-2016 Phelps Scholars, but it’s comforting to know that we are always welcomed to come back, year after year, to embark on these trips with future Phelps Scholars.

will be waiting for us, rain or shine.
The bus will be waiting for us, rain or shine.

Behind the Scenes on International Food Day

The annual International Food Day will be held on February 25 in Maas Center Auditorium from 6 to 8 p.m. The public is invited. The food will be available in exchange for tickets that will be sold at the door. Entry is $5 which will pay for 5 tickets; extra tickets cost 50 cents.

This is what everyone else saw. An enjoyable, easy-going evening with a bunch of friends and foods from around the world, courtesy of Hope’s students.

On the other end is a battlefield.

  1. Gather the troops. I was invited by a friend to join the Korean booth to make Korean food. There were five members, give or take two. My friend basically lured me in because those who contribute to the fair get free admission, free tickets and possibly free food from friendly booths. In reality, I had no idea what I was getting myself into.
  2. The Plan. The Korean members called their mothers for tips on what would be the easiest yet most delicious thing to make for roughly 200 to 300 people. After throwing around ideas at a Kletz table late into the night, we decided to go with kimbap, Korean sushi rolls.
  3. Disaster. But alas, we were betrayed by our brethren; two decided to switch over to Kenya [Update: We have found peace over free food]. New members joined.
  4. Let’s go shopping!!! One member went home to Chicago over break and was able to buy a majority of the Korean ingredients that we needed. In the midst of this, we realized that bibimbap, a mixed rice dish, was the better option. We hunted down the remaining ingredients at Meijer (Did you know that one of the ingredients is Sprite? Interesting…)
  5. Chop Chop. I was absent during this period but I heard the other members spent two to three hours chopping vegetables. A lot of vegetables. We also may have stolen a few cutting boards, knives, and bowls from HAPA (bless them).
  6. Pregame Warm-up. Before heading to the kitchen, we met with International Food Fair organizer Habeeb Awad to discuss what we wanted to place on our booth and decide how many tickets our food would cost. We decided on 2 tickets but realized later on that we probably looked like high-end cuisine because only one other booth priced their food 2 tickets; the others offered their food for 1 ticket.
  7. Cutthroat Kitchen. We shared the Scott Hall kitchen with Sweden who was making smörgåstårta, a delicious, sandwich cake dish, along with an assortment of chokladboll, a.k.a. chocolate balls. The strange aroma of chocolate, meat, fried eggs, and fried vegetable filled the entire hall.Lining up the ingredients
  8. Thanks, HAPA. We also may or may not have taken a few rice cookers 🙂
  9. The Poster. Another member and I scratched this up in about two hours —  we are very proud of it.Bibimbap Poster ft Psy
  10. Final Touches. One of the members’ mother came over to help us wrap up. We packed the ingredients into the car and drove over to Maas Auditorium to set up the booth.

    300 people is a lot of people to squish into humble Maas
    300 people is a lot of people to squish into humble Maas.
  11. Feeding Time. Two hours of picking up vegetables with gloved hands and smiling at potential customers and ten minutes of wandering around and looking at the absolutely amazing food the other countries made later, we fell exhausted onto our chairs.

    Fun Fact: Hanguk means Korea in Korean
    Fun Fact: Hanguk means Korea in Korean
  12. Pig Out. Not a scrap of bibimbap survived that night. What a tragic fate for our poor bibimbap as we wolfed the rest of it down and shared it with wandering booth workers.
  13. After Party. The rest of the night was spent cleaning up the carnage that was the International Food Fair and dancing to international music. We carried our dirty dishes back to Scott Hall to wash and sing along to Disney princess songs.

The Syllabus: The Most Important Handout in College

As a freshman, you’ll make yourself a lot of promises like “I’ll sleep early, get up at 5 a.m., and work out at the Dow every day,” or “I’ll eat healthy every single day and never waste money on a pizza delivery,” or better yet “I’ll keep my work area organized and never lose a single paper!” I’m sorry to break it to you, but most of the promises you’ll make in the beginning of fall semester will never see the light of day passed the first week.

However, one exception should be religiously made, and that is keeping your classes’ syllabi in a nice, warm, dry place where you can tuck it in bed and sing it to sleep every night. Seriously, this paper is your lifeline for all deadlines, all assignments, all labs, all projects, and all quizzes and tests; a syllabus is essentially an outline of everything you’ll do in class for the semester or half semester. If you like keeping a planner or using your Google Calendar (it is recommended that you have some way to keep track of your to-dos), sit yourself down, lay out your syllabi in front of you, and write down all of the dates listed. Occasionally something will come up and the teacher will push a few dates around, but even so it is better to be safe and write it down for the sake of your future, panicky, forgetful self.

In addition to all of these dates, your syllabus could also contain your professor’s office hours, absence policies, and so on:

I used to have a version of a syllabus in high school called a green sheet that was handed out in the first day of class and sometimes the teachers had a small quiz on it, but that was it; most students never referred to the paper again. However, college is a completely different story. That paper that you used to shun will soon become the Sam to your Frodo, the Patrick to your Spongebob, and the Chewbacca to your Han Solo (too soon?).

The Omnipresent Anchor Phenomenon

A semester and a half into Hope and I noticed something very peculiar. It seems that wherever I look now, I see the Anchor, Hope’s emblem and an important piece of Hope’s history.

The Anchor that rests in front of Graves Hall.

According to Hope’s official website:

“Our name and seal are drawn from our founder, the Rev. Albertus C. Van Raalte, who said of the school that would become Hope: “This is my anchor of hope for this people in the future.”

This symbolism follows the language of Hebrews 6:19: “We have this hope, a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul.” Our motto, taken from Psalm 42:5, echoes the sentiment: Spera in Deo (Hope in God).”

While this is beautiful and inspirational and everything, the anchor has become somewhat of both a nuisance and a craving. I see it everywhere. I feel like fashion has taken a liking to the anchor and, as a result, I’m surrounded by tops, jackets, and jewelry with the Hope symbol. I see little anchors in home decor, tattoos, and even carved into the architecture of local buildings. At least once a week, an anchor makes itself known. And the more I see it, the more I want it. Yesterday, while online (window) shopping I found myself subconsciously liking anything with or in the shape of an anchor…

Perhaps it really is the current trend leaning towards the aesthetics of the anchor, or perhaps I’ve just been more sensitive to it like when you’ve just learned a new word and start hearing it everywhere. I must state, however, that my friends have also been infected by the same bug. It also doesn’t help when their relatives point out or gift them things anchor-related because they know they go to Hope (which isn’t entirely a bad thing, keep ’em coming).

For those thinking of attending Hope or who have already been accepted, you have been warned: The Omnipresent Anchor Phenomenon is real.

The Hypnotist Visits Hope

This past Friday, Chris Jones, the Hypnotist who was a contestant on America’s Got Talent, performed for Hope College in the Maas Auditorium. It was absolutely insane and I, along with the rest of the audience, enjoyed every second of it. Although I didn’t get hypnotized (I tried) many others did, suddenly dropping their heads at the sound of his voice. It was difficult to believe than any part of it was scripted since students I knew kept eerily blank facial expressions throughout the entire event, completely unaffected by the uproarious laughter around them.

The Highlights:

  1. Hypnotistland: Strapped to their seats by their arms and screaming for their lives, we watched as those who were hypnotize convulse in their chairs, believing they were being thrown around by an awesome rollercoaster. At one point, Chris Jones suggested that the seatbelt broke so they held onto each other for dear life.
  2. Thriller Night: The Hypnotist made them believe they were zombies… and released them out into the audience to hunt for a meal. One of the supposed zombies decided that a friend to my right had the most delicious brains.
  3. Dancing in the Moonlight: After the zombies found their meal and had a little nibble, they were hypnotized into believing their meal was in fact their prom date. Slow dancing ensued.
  4. It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s: Mashed potato gal (she shoots mashed potatos from her hands). Buns (she can only heal baby bunnies). Fisherman (he catches fish). Gene man (he alters people’s genes, not their jeans). Kip (he can jump, for good or evil). One thing we realized is that people can be really creative under hypnosis. Chris Jones prompted them to pick an unconventional superhero name who had an unconventional power and save people who were “in danger” in the audience.
  5. Professor X: A superpower they all had in common later that night was mind reading. They picked another partner from the audience and told the rest of us what his or her happy and naughty thoughts were. My favorite naughty thought was throwing grass at prospective students (only at Hope, kids).

One of my favorite parts was that at the end of the show the Hypnotist led his victims to believe that they had been at a Drake concert the entire time. Additionally, none of them could pronounce or remember their names for the rest of the night.

After the show Student 1: "How was the Drake concert?" Student 2: "It was great!!!" Student 1: "HAHA. there was no Drake concert" *proceeds to show video of friend* Student 2: *silence* No way.
After the show
Student 1: “How was the Drake concert?”
Student 2: “It was great!!!”
Student 1: “HAHA. there was no Drake concert” *proceeds to show video of friend*
Student 2: *silence* No way.

While hypnotism shows are loads of fun, Chris Jones wants to also use his talent to help others overcome their stutters, decrease the pain for a soon-to-be mother giving birth, increase the energy and confidence in everyday people, and so on. I pray for the Hypnotist’s success in his endeavors and hope he comes back to perform for us again!

#JustPhelpsScholarsThings: The Research Project

Phelps Scholars Research Presentations
There were more people than I expected.

This is the last post I will be doing for the #JustPhelpsScholarsThings since last Friday (December 4) was the last event: the Phelps Scholars Research Presentations. It is essentially a symposium held in the Maas Auditorium in which students present the research posters they’ve been working on throughout the semester that highlights a current, global issue, their analysis of it, and a suggested plan of action against it.

According to Professor Vega, here are a few of the comments our advisors and professors were told over the course of the evening:

  • “Being here was the best part of my day.”
  • “Great posters!”
  • “It was neat to see such a variety of topics.”
  • “Passionate and informed students.”
  • “Outstanding and so creative!”
  • “I was super impressed with their communication style.”

For us, the students, it was tiring, exhilarating, and enlightening. These are just a few of the topics we researched:

Students presenting project
My partners’ and my presentation on the suicide rate gap between men and women

“We focused on how nations’ gender stereotypes and expectations of masculinity cause men suicide rates to be significantly higher than female suicide rates. This is because in cultures where men are expected to take control of their families, businesses, and lives and where it is not socially acceptable to express sadness or depression, men often turn to suicide. We presented the statistics and studied how this is prevalent in certain countries such as Japan, South Korea, Scotland, South Africa, and Guyana.” – Frina Redoloza, Ryann Felton, and Surrey Valdez

Cyberbullying Research
There was almost no time for the presenters to look around because people came to ask questions one after the other

“Our project was about the psychological impact of cyberbullying on youth (like middle school and high school) around the world. Cyberbullying can cause symptoms of anxiety, depression, and suicide. Rates of cyberbullying are directly related to rates of internet access, so as technology spreads, it is becoming a serious global problem.” – Julia Fulton, Leonel Hernandez and Jin Cheng Yang

Preventing Sex Trafficking
Their research project was actually inspired by a book we read in class called “Half the Sky” by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn.

“We researched how we can help to actively prevent sex trafficking, inspired from “Half The Sky.” Throughout the research, it became evident that the first step might not even be targeting trafficking itself, but gender discriminations and social norms that harm women. Unfortunately, there is so much more than needs to be done before the trafficking industry can really be struck with force.” – Catherine Dustrude, Isayah Ramirez, and Brittany Alarcon

Here are more pictures of the event.

A Review of Hope’s Introduction to Poetry Class

Quote from the Dead Poet's Society

The second half of the semester, I started my Introduction to Poetry class, taught by the respectable oddity that is Prof. Greg Rappleye. I love this class so much, and there is a certain aching building in the hollow of my chest knowing that next semester I won’t be able to sit around in a circle of fifteen kids discussing whether to save a horse a student wrote about in her poem, listening listlessly to the professor speak on the history of Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes for the umpteenth time, turning in a poem or two about not knowing what to write, and spilling hot blood on paper, sitting quietly as the rest of us critiqued your poem on workshop days.

This class is everything you would never think it would be. The common misconception about poetry is that it is suffocating, restricting, boring, and only for the pretentious whose noses are lifted high enough to touch the ceiling. The fact of the matter is that I have never felt more free. Prof. Rappleye does a peerless job of finding the silver lining in every student’s poem while giving solid, constructive criticism. When writing comments on our poems, he jots down “Great poem!” or “Great start!” and underlines it at least four times. We often hear him ask, “Is this wrong?” to which we’d give the resounding, “No.” Even formal poetry with strict guidelines feels more empowering than restricting. We are taught that the poem is not the slave of the form but the form a slave to the poem. And although the assignments are specified as in turning a Persona poem one day and a Poem of Address the other, the professor will always choose the poem even if it doesn’t necessarily write to the assignment.

I personally like drawing and painting (studio), but for those who don’t like that or performing arts and are looking for something to fulfill the Art II general education requirement, I highly recommend taking the Intro to Poetry class.

To send you off, here’s one of my favorite poems which we have read in this class: This is Just to Say by William Carlos Williams.

“so sweet / and so cold”

First Encounter with Snow Vlog!

Two kids in the snow
This is me and my brother chillin’ in the snow when we used to live in Baltimore, Maryland.

It’s been an exciting few days for me, especially since it started snowing! I grew up mostly in California and never really had any experience with snow. Of course I see snow in movies and online but other West Coasters may agree that we actually have no idea what this wet fluff is. If we haven’t been to Yosemite National Park or Lake Tahoe, then the closest one could ever get to snow is shredded styrofoam decor in a department store.

comic strip of snowmen
Calvin and Hobbes knew how to snowman

I made a short vlog documenting my first experience and a stroll downtown. Didn’t have time to make snowmen or snow angels or have a snowball fight, but I decided it’s better to take it slow and try them throughout the winter. Sorry about the video and audio quality, I know it’s distracting, but I hope you can still enjoy it!

#JustPhelpsScholarsThings: The Indianapolis Trip!

Map of Hope College, Michigan to Indianapolis
“Fasten your safety belts, clench your buttocks! It’s going to be a bumpy ride!” —Shrunken Head from Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (2004)

Sorry for bombarding the blog with a bunch of #JustPhelpsScholarsThings posts, but this one I just have to add. The Indianapolis Trip takes the scholars to lunch at Jiallo’s African Caribbean Cuisine and to the highlight of the evening: the Conner Prairie Interactive Historic Park. While the museum has a variety of interesting, interactive exhibits like hot air ballooning and animal zoos, the attraction that we are participating in is called “Follow the North Star”, a living drama in which guests are taken on a trailer to somewhere in the forest and act out the part of runaway slaves in the Underground Railroad. It’s not a mandatory trip, but I genuinely recommend prospective Scholars to try it out.

The bus ride is a four-hour trip with a pitstop after the second hour, so bring homework or a soft pillow. They also play movies for those who have nothing better to do; “Big Hero 6” and “Totoro” premiered on my bus’s little screens but after the first movie I chose to spend my time sleeping in awkward angles.

African/Caribbean Cuisine at Jiallo's
I see the guy in the far left had the same idea as me…

When we finally arrived at Conner Prairie after lunch, night was falling and the sky was darkening rapidly. They told us multiple times to bring layers (which I had done), but don’t forget to bring a pair of gloves too or else you’ll spend most of the time jamming your hands into your pockets.

I don’t want to give too much away but it’s so intense that the visiting group goes through a debriefing session right after the experience. It’s probably my favorite Phelps Scholars field trip so far not only because we dug into African American history but because it turned the slaves’ experiences from something we read in a book into something we smelled, heard, saw, and felt. We made the choices and decided if the chances of dying or, worse, being caught and punished was worth our freedom (don’t worry, they’re not allowed to physically harm you). It’s difficult not to empathize with them when a slave trader treats you like cattle and screams in your face, or when you hear a gun clicking somewhere to your right as you’re forced to kneel in the wet dirt.

A close encounter with a gunned man
This isn’t us because we were told to turn off our phones thus all picturing privileges were gone, BUT, boy, was this part an especially knee-knocking encounter D:

The thing is once the experience ends and we’re led into the warmth of the building, the fear and the hope that we felt fades into memory. That was until the employee that led the debriefing session asked us whether we supported slavery. Of course the answer was no, but she retaliated by asking us, “Who makes your shoes?” The discussion and the experience made us realize that slavery has yet to become a thing of the past; while we don’t hear it screaming bloody murder in our ears every day, somewhere out there, slavery is a very present, living hell for a young girl or boy. In other words, they don’t get a debriefing and a fun retelling of events with friends.

We did a mental “I see what you did there” nod to our FYS professors because the trip was related to our current reading of Half the Sky by Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn. The book addresses the issue of women oppression in the developing world and how that led to underaged prostitution and rape as a weapon of war, delegated by a culture of power that takes advantage of the idea of honor and a woman’s social standing.

Again, I love, love, love this trip and I recommend anyone to try it out. Really, just join PSP for this because 1) you get to go on a road trip with your friends and 2) Follow the Star is normally $20 per person and, unless you live in Indiana, there’s a small chance you’ll ever be able to do this in your life.