Summer Reading Suggestion: The Giver by Lois Lowry


A world free of war, fear, hatred, and pain—isn’t that what we all want?

Lois Lowry’s The Giver urges us to reconsider.

 Jonas’s world is perfect. Everything is under control. There is no war or fear of pain. There are no choices. Every person is assigned a role in the community. When Jonas turns 12 he is singled out to receive special training from The Giver. The Giver alone holds the memories of the true pain and pleasure of life. Now, it is time for Jonas to receive the truth. There is no turning back.

I first read The Giver in my seventh grade English class, and to this day, it is still one of my favorite pieces of literature that I’ve read in school. Often I find that the most rewarding reads are those that challenge me to explore a variety of perspectives—the ones that really make me think. A quintessential dystopian novel, Lowry’s The Giver compels its readers to reevaluate the conventions that structure their own societies and communities.

If you haven’t already, I highly suggest that you read this book.

The film adaptation, directed by Phillip Noyce, will be playing in theaters starting next month. To view the trailer, click here.

For more summaries and reviews, click here.

Post submitted by JoAnna 

Ask yourself: What are your safe spaces?


Having been a student at UCLA for two years, I know this campus pretty well. There are certain, physical spaces on this campus that I’ve gravitated towards—the sculpture garden, the Humanities Building, the Student Activities Center. Each space inspires a certain mood or mentality; each space offers me a degree of comfort that other parts of campus do not.

When I began working here at WSP, I found a new space for myself.

In the corner of the office we have here, there’s this window, in front of which there’s a wooden seat (photographed to the right). In between my counseling sessions, staff meetings, and classes, I would sit here, reading, writing—sometimes I would just curl up here and think. Over time, it became my spot: my co-workers and friends began to identify it as “JoAnna’s Nook.”

On such a huge campus, it feels comforting to have such a small, cozy space to retreat to. I can see the grandiose Royce Hall from the window; it reminds me of my Bruinhood. But, looking the other direction, I see the office space I work in—I can see the WSP office. This reminds me of the smaller, much more intimate community that I belong to, the community of student leaders that work every day to connect to and empower their peers. And looking forward, down, up, I remember my own individuality, my independence. My uniqueness. I suppose that’s why I like this small space: in such a grand institution, it is nice to feel like I have a space for myself.

So, readers—what are your safe spaces?

Post submitted by JoAnna 

Current Event: The Age of Unconventional Art

I’ve decided to approach this week’s Current Event Wednesday a bit differently. Rather than share a single article with you all, I’d like to offer a list of fascinating arts stories/photo series that I’ve discovered recently. The following artists remind us through their unconventional work that the world of art encompasses a wide range of mediums; they show us that we can find art in the most unexpected places. The possibilities for art are endless.



1. Sushi rolls turned into art (Artist: Takayo Kiyota)


2. Magical geometric light art: photos (Artist: Martin Kimbell)


3. Art in a Tin Can: Tiny scenes of daily life (Artist: Nathalie Alony)

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4. Photos: Painted bodies on display (Artists: Participants of the annual World Bodypainting Festival )

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5. Makeup artist’s ‘famous faces’ transformations (Artist : Maria Malone-Guerbaa)

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6. Artist recreates iconic art with scrap bike parts (Artist: Jenny Beatty)

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Post submitted by JoAnna

Summer Reading Suggestion: Good Enough by Paula Yoo


Top Five Reasons Why You Have a Bad Violin Audition:

1. Mendelssohn is hard.

2. Cute Trumpet Guy smiled at you!

3. You lose your place in the music and have to start over.

4. Mendelssohn is really, really hard.

5. You wonder if you will ever see Cute Trumpet Guy again.

 Protagonist Patti Yoon is right: Mendelssohn is really, really hard.

Now, you may be wondering how I know this. Well, I, like the main character of Paula Yoo’s YA novel, Good Enough, have played the violin for most of my life. Fourteen years, to be exact.

The world of classical music, like many other fields, is incredibly competitive. You must always practice, practice, practice. You must aim to be better, better, better. No matter how much you practice, practice, practice, your teacher will still tell you that you need to improve your intonation. Your shifts are sloppy. Your dynamic changes are not noticeable enough. Your posture needs work. Those three measures that you spent three hours practicing are still horrendous. So you must return home and continue to practice, practice, practice.

Often, it feels like the underlying message is that you are not good enough.

Paula Yoo’s debut novelreminds me that I am good enough. I, myself, am good enough.

Patti’s parents expect nothing less than the best from their Korean-American daughter. Everything she does affects her chances of getting into an Ivy League school. So winning assistant concertmaster in her All-State violin competition and earning less than 2300 on her SATs is simply not good enough.

But Patti’s discovering that there’s more to life than the Ivy League. To start with, there’s Cute Trumpet Guy. He’s funny, he’s talented, and he looks exactly like the lead singer of Patti’s favorite band. Then, of course, there’s her love of the violin. Not to mention cool rock concerts. And anyway, what if Patti doesn’t want to go to HarvardYalePrinceton after all?

Paula Yoo scores big in her hilarious debut novel about an overachiever who longs to fit in and strives to stand out. The pressure is on!

-from the author’s website

Admittedly, my love for this book is due in great part to my similar experiences as a musician. However, Yoo’s story goes beyond the competitive world of classical music, exploring themes of culture, racism, perseverance, and self-discovery, creating a narrative that will undoubtedly resonate with an array of readers. Although Yoo’s novel raises deep, weighty questions on the aforementioned themes, her narrator tells her story in a fresh, vibrant, and humorous voice, making Good Enough a delightfully entertaining summer read!

Enjoy :)

For more information, click here.

Post submitted by JoAnna 

Ask yourself: What are the sources of positive energy in your life?

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I’ll be honest: I don’t like watching the news.

Another war. Another murder. Another theft. Another rape.

There, on the screen, an anchorman tells us about the tragedy, stone-faced—monotonous, emotionless, strictly informative. Unfazed. It is eerie and disheartening to me, how we are so used to bad news, to the violence and crime. Whether it’s on the television, the newspaper, or the internet, it seems that the only news that most sources deliver is, well, incredibly depressing and demoralizing.

And then there’s the HuffPost Good News page.

On here, you can watch a clip of a hedgehog playing with pine cones. You can read an article about an 11-year-old boy who sells lemonade to buy wheelchairs for the disabled. You can watch a video of a little boy comforting his classmate on her first day of preschool.

Some people may think that the stories showcased on HuffPost Good News are insignificant compared to, for instance, the stories about international relations featured on CNN. However, I think that these little snippets of kindness, love, and compassion are invaluable. These stories remind us of our and everyone else’s humanness. They remind us that among the violence, crime, and immorality, there are good people out there doing incredible things to better this world. The HuffPost Good News promotes and shares this positive energy and inspires its readers to do the same.

The HuffPost Good News page is one of the sources of positive energy that I have in my life.

What are yours?

Post submitted by JoAnna

Current Event: NASA to send 3D Google smartphones for robots to space station

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Google smartphones with next-generation 3D sensing technology are about to blast into orbit, where they will become the brains and eyes of ball-shaped hovering robots on the International Space Station.

In order to improve their Synchronized Position Hold, Engage, Reorient, Experimental Satellites (SPHERES), NASA plans to use handsets, which could ideally take over the astronauts’ daily chores, as well as handle dangerous tasks outside of the vessel.

In 2006, when NASA originally sent its SPHERES to the station, their performance was limited: aside from precise movement, they were not capable of much else. Four years later, in 2010, engineers at the Ames Research Center in Mountain View, California, began looking for ways to make the devices smarter.

“We wanted to add communication, a camera, increase the processing capability, accelerometers and other sensors. As we were scratching our heads thinking about what to do, we realized the answer was in our hands,” Smart SPHERES project manager Chris Provencher told Reuters in an interview last week. “Let’s just use smartphones.”

They began by purchasing phones at Best Buy, which they then altered with extra batteries and shatterproof displays. Although these phones, attached to the SPHERES with Velcro, added new sensing and visual features, they were still a work in progress. So, NASA turned to Google’s experimental smartphones—a part of their Project Tango.

With the help of these experimental smartphones, the handsets have a motion-tracking camera and infrared depth sensors that detect sharp angles and create a 3D map that allow the SPHERES to navigate from one module to another within the station.

The Project Tango phones will be aboard a cargo spacecraft scheduled for July 11, 2014.

To read the full article by Noel Randewich, click here.

Post submitted by JoAnna