<![CDATA[The Johns Hopkins News-Letter]]> Sun, 19 Jan 2020 18:46:16 -0500 Sun, 19 Jan 2020 18:46:16 -0500 SNworks CEO 2020 The Johns Hopkins News-Letter <![CDATA[What I learned from painting my fingernails]]> Unlike Macklemore, when I was in the third grade, I didn't think that I was gay. During my childhood, I was instead a mouthpiece of heteronormativity. While in kindergarten, a friend declared that she would one day marry a woman. I argued to her that this was impossible. Even earlier, when a boy in my preschool class showed me his navy-blue fingernails, I insisted that his hands resembled a girl's.

Lately on campus I've noticed an abundance of queer men sporting painted nails. "I'm not like other gays," I've told myself, straightening out my fingers - literally and figuratively - in front of me.

This semester I haven't been too preoccupied with my sexuality or how others perceive it. Why might this be, you ask? Firstly, I actually had a (somewhat) healthy summer fling to whom I admitted, "Aside from any unrequited love affair, you're the person I've liked the most." No longer being turned off by guys who like me - that's self-growth.

Secondly, upon returning to this hallowed campus, The News-Letter has essentially become my beloved boyfriend. I used to worry about people pigeonholing me as the gay guy; now I worry that people see me only as an overzealous editor and reporter.

I haven't had much time or energy to think of romance, and the closest thing to love that I've encountered so far this semester is when a stranger offered me her phone charger in the Reading Room at 3 a.m. (I don't know how she knew that I needed it. I think she was my soulmate. Should I crawl back into the closet?)

On the eve of fall break, having almost completed a particularly demoralizing week, I confided in my friend Milly - you may know her as Editor-in-Chief Amelia Isaacs - that I desired some sort of change, perhaps a wild haircut.

Ever the voice of reason, Milly suggested painting my fingernails, knowing that I'd been contemplating the idea. A dramatic hair makeover would be unoriginal, I decided, and schlepping to the barber shop seemed like a great deal of effort, whereas Milly could paint my nails that very night. I, ever the advocate of instant gratification, accepted her generous offer.

She presented me with a spectrum of nail polishes. I first chose matte black; I imagined myself myself wearing my cherished pleather jacket, exuding sultry angst from every lacquered fingertip. Alas, I depersonalized a wee bit after Milly applied the coating to the fingernails on my left hand; it didn't feel like my left hand was my own.

Let's gloss over (ha) certain details, like me being compulsive about the order in which Milly painted my nails. Ultimately, she painted my right hand fingers gold and my left hand fingers a dark blue-gray - a melancholic periwinkle, if you will. I was quite pleased. "Is this self-care?" I asked myself.

The next morning, I decided I hated the gold and obtained some nail polish remover from another friend to get rid of it. For one week, I kept the paint on my left hand fingers. At first, I buried my hand in my pocket, but I quickly overcame my internalized homophobia. Contrary to what I'd expected, only a handful (I'm sorry) of people mentioned anything about my painted nails. And the offhand (I hate me, too) comments I received from peers were all positive.

I'd been looking for a change, but having painted nails wasn't doing much for me. It didn't provide me with much attention or somehow help me type more quickly, and it didn't make transcribing interviews any more enjoyable. Shockingly, not one person praised me for deconstructing gender.

Eventually, the polish on my left middle finger chipped, causing my entire hand to become absolutely hideous. I began scraping the polish off all my nails while sitting in A Century of Queer Literature. How apropo! Later that night, I finished the job in the shower and emerged from my bathroom the pinnacle of masculinity once more (In case it isn't abundantly clear, I am entirely kidding).

I feel compelled to write something profound, to proclaim that by painting my fingernails - really by having my fingernails painted (I have no agency) - I unchained myself from the confines of toxic masculinity.

I don't think that I was dismantling the patriarchy, but perhaps I was. My painted nails didn't allow me to better express my gender or sexuality; they just looked nice. I wasn't trying to make a statement. Why should five or even 10 dollops of nail polish have to be political?

Ultimately, though I briefly worried that people would pigeonhole me, no one seemed to really care that my nails were painted. For the most part, we are too busy worrying about ourselves to give a damn about relatively microscopic changes to others' appearances. People didn't see me any differently because my nails were painted; only I did.

For now, I'm relishing in the restored nudity of my fingernails. But who knows? Perhaps I will one day have them painted again. Perhaps I will even paint them myself.

<![CDATA[My definition of home and how it's changed]]> What does it mean to go home? What, and where, is home?

To most, physical roots are important to our identities: where we were born, where we live and where we come from. Sometimes, I've seen people get offended when someone from just outside of New York City say that they are from New York. I understand the indignation; I also have the urge to call out people who claim they are from Seoul when they aren't. But why do we have this urge? Why does it bother us when someone who is not "really" from your hometown claims to be from there?

Growing up, various physical places have continuously gained and lost the title of "home." I spent half of my life away from Seoul, where my family lives and where I was born. This mere fact gets either sad reactions or admiration. However, if you ask me, I don't regret a moment of my upbringing, nor do I think it was a grand act of bravery to be so far from home. Everything was natural to me and I made the decisions. It wasn't about leaving, but about discovering new places and new perspectives.

When I was seven, my mom took me and my sister to Toronto, Canada for a global education. The 14-hour flight felt like forever and I hated plane food. Even while I was on that dreadful plane, I didn't fully realize what it meant to move to a different country. But I knew something was different as we drove to our new home from the Pearson International Airport.

When I stuck my head out the window of the back seat, the evening air that blew against my face was somehow different. After three years of building snow forts during recess and many other amazing memories that I cannot describe all in this one article, we came back to Korea. Then at age 14, I declared to my parents that I'd like to study abroad - again. This was how I ended up in Mercersburg Academy, a boarding school in Pennsylvania, for the next four years of my life.

Looking back, I am surprised at my own certainty of leaving home. Perhaps it was because I had already practiced leaving home when I went to Canada - the second time is always easier. Mercersburg changed everything. I learned to share a room with a stranger, who soon became as dear to me as my own family. I learned to deal with difficult situations by myself: One time, I couldn't figure out how to pay phone bills, and Verizon almost let loose a loan shark on me; I broke down crying on the phone when a Verizon employee couldn't figure out what I should do either. Thankfully, I think the lady felt bad and cleared the record because I didn't get another phone call after that. More importantly, it was the first time I lived in one place for four years straight. Soon, Mercersburg, the 300 acres of land with numerous state-of-the-art buildings, became a dear place to me: another home.

But when I go back now, after having graduated, it's not the Mercersburg I know. A physical place loses meaning without the people there. Sometimes, I envy those who can go back "home" and find their entire family and friends waiting for them in that one place. Those I care about are scattered around the globe, and it takes weeks of planning to meet in one place. Once again, another place has lost the badge of "home," and now I am on another mission to find a new home, here at Hopkins.

Having parted from physical locations several times, I am now wary of planting my roots deep. No matter how strong I pretend to be, it hurts everytime I uproot from a familiar place. So, I adapted: I learned to build stronger ties with people. When someone asks me where home is, I reply, "Seoul." Yet, if my family decides to move to another place one day, it is no longer "home" and what's left are the remnants of memories. Our roots, our home, is not with a physical location; rather it is with the people we love.

I acknowledge that it is difficult to build deep relationships in college because of the fast-paced, goal-oriented life we individually lead. Even though I am still in my third semester at Hopkins, I can feel the end approaching. Already, some of my friends are talking about graduating, eager to move on to the next step in life. I want to remind them it's okay to go slowly. The end is unavoidable anyways; the day we stand on the graduation platform will come much quicker than we think.

More importantly, I value my friends and I want them to really connect with me, with others and with what Hopkins has to offer for the next couple of years. It is easy to think that the meaningful place Hopkins will become by the time we leave will stay the same forever. After all, it has been firmly standing in the center of Baltimore for decades. However, once we leave, it will not be the same. The memory and the connections are all that will be left of Hopkins after 50 years.

<![CDATA[Reconnecting with my Korean heritage in America]]> There is a cemetery in Korea whose name I do not know, far away from Seoul and deep in the mountains, where my maternal ancestors are buried. Apart from my grandfather who passed when I was eight, I do not know their names or faces.

When my grandfather was alive, we visited the cemetery regularly. Each grave consists of a grassy mound framed with stone, a marker bearing hangul and hanmun, a small altar where visitors place food and drink for their dead and a stone vase for flowers.

While living in Korea, I didn't think much about this cemetery. Since coming to the U.S., however, I've been thinking more about it.

I think more about it because I've realized that I have not been there in nearly a decade and may not be there again for a long time. I think more about it because I'm realizing that while I'll continue to visit Korea, I may never live there again. I think more about it because I lived in Korea for 12 years but did not take enough time to understand it.

I call myself Korean, but I have little to no relationship with my family's dead and an increasingly tenuous relationship with those left behind.

Maybe this was all inevitable. My father is American, and I have always been American. My legal first name is Sarah. In Korea I attended a K-12 U.S. college preparatory school for 12 years. I always planned on going to college in the States.

English was always my first language. As a child, I would blather loudly in English in public till my parents scolded me. I could not write or read hangul until I was six. Even then I didn't have the patience to read Korean books; I found them too difficult, and besides, I was apparently too busy with my English homework.

From time to time, my father warned me that I may completely forget my "mother tongue" and roots. To seven-year-old me, this meant nothing.

As I grew older my Korean deteriorated. I began to struggle to make conversation with my extended family. In high school my classmates and I spent holidays at hagwons (cram schools) studying for exams.

I began to regret neglecting my heritage. My poor Korean was a constant source of shame. I was constantly told that I was not a "good Korean," and I wanted to be. But that required time and energy, which I told myself I did not have much of. I could not vote in Korea. I was going to live in America. I rejected blood purity and nationalism, particularly ethnonationalism. I wondered whether "being Korean" was really just a nationalist construct. Did being Korean - let alone a "good Korean" - really matter?

When I came back to the U.S. in 2016, I thought I would experience a sense of homecoming. Instead, I spent my first few months at Hopkins with crippling homesickness and an oncoming Trump presidency. I did not feel like an American or want to be one.

To cope with my homesickness, I watched Korean films. I surfed Youtube for clips of 2000s K-dramas I watched with my family when my maternal grandfather was alive, when family gatherings were larger and more frequent. I kept a book of unfamiliar Korean words.

I imagined what my life would have been like had I been born in Korea and gone to a Korean school. I had friends from Korea who found community in Korean Student Associations. With my broken Korean, I could not enjoy that same security my high school friends found.

I've spent the past three years trying to learn more about Korea than I have in the 12 years I lived there. That I've been able to learn what I have in the past three years makes me hopeful. But it also makes me realize what I'd taken for granted, what I've lost and what I may have yet to lose.

At times I feel embarrassment and guilt. I've learned much of what I know about Korea not from living there or engaging with family, but from my classes, the internet and (shame) white people. At Hopkins, I've taken courses on the Korean language, literature, art and history. I learned Korean recipes not from my mother, but from the YouTuber Maangchi. I improved my Korean and my understanding of Korean customs watching "Korean Englishman," a YouTube channel where white British men speak better Korean than I do. I learned about han from Anthony Bourdain.

I tell myself that I have ties to my Korean identity. It's where my family is and was born, where I've lived for 12 years. I call myself Korean because I harbor resentment -the han - that many Koreans share for the traumas their families endured generation after generation: Japanese colonial rule, the division of the peninsula, the Korean War, the pain of diaspora and assimilating in places where -no matter how hard you try - you will always be "othered."

Yet I've only read about or imagined most of these traumas, or heard details here and there from my parents. I know more about Baltimore than the community I grew up in. I know little of most of my extended family, of my late grandfathers and my ancestors. I can't remember the last time I partook in jesa.

Can I call myself Korean when I know so little of my family? Can I call myself Korean when I have almost no relationship with my family's dead?

I've spent most of my life working -to excel in my Americanized school in Korea, to get into an American college, to get a job in America. In working, however, I've also been forgetting.

I've had less time for my family. I continue to forget the Korean I have struggled to learn since coming to college. I cannot remember the names of some of my relatives, or the sound of my maternal grandfather's voice. After graduation I will continue to work hard, and I may continue to forget.

In spite of all my confusion, ignorance and distance from my heritage, I cling to my Korean identity. I cling to it because of what generations before mine have endured: colonial rule, the Korean War, totalitarian governments, coming to the U.S. as first-generation immigrants. They were forced to endure these because they were Korean. They endured so that I could have a more privileged life. That, in the end, must mean something.

And while I will never truly know those who have passed, perhaps one day I will resume paying tribute to them. Perhaps, as I grow older, I may learn more about them, find new ways to remember them.

And there is still time with the living.


As a child, Kim wore hanbok for special occasions.

<![CDATA[23andMe, myself and I]]> I just took a DNA test, turns out I'm 100 percent that b-. Well, not quite, but love you Lizzo. I took a DNA test in January, got the results a month later and found out that I'm not 100 percent anything. Don't worry, it wasn't some shocking turn of results - I knew my DNA would prove to be a multicolored pie chart.

For Christmas last year, my lovely mum went against her better judgement and bought me a 23andMe kit (#notspon). After harping on at her for who knows how long about how interesting I thought it would be to see an exact breakdown of my ancestral composition, she got me the kit with health services so that I could see how likely I am to get certain diseases.

I also learned that I'm likely to consume more caffeine (I've never drunk coffee, and yes that is something I am very proud of and yes I do drink tea); I'm likely to be lactose intolerant (dairy is one of my many allergies); I'm unlikely to flush when I drink alcohol (I turned 21 in October so obviously only recently confirmed that one!) and tons of other traits related to diet, exercise, appearance, senses or sleep. Apparently, by looking at over 450 places in my DNA that are associated with being a morning or night person, it was calculated that I'm likely to wake up around 8:53 a.m. The more you know.

Far more interesting though -at least in my opinion, for all I know you're really interested in finding out whether you're likely to have a fear of public speaking (I'm 50/50 just in case you're wondering) -was my ancestry. I wanted to find out who I am, at least from a genetic point of view, not a 24601 Jean Valjean.

I think that any result you get from a DNA test is interesting. If you're 100 percent one thing, that's interesting. And no, that's not because no one is really and truly one ethnicity, but because within that one country, you could be from all over. Yes, you might consider yourself to be fully British, for example, but are you English? Welsh? Cornish? What does that breakdown look like? How interesting is that for hundreds of generations, none of your family has married outside of the country?

If you're 50/50 between two ethnicities, that's interesting. That means that up until your parents, each side of your family was pretty insular and kept within one group and that your parents are the first to break that trend.

If you're a mix of a whole bunch of different things, that's interesting too - and I'm not just saying that because that's what I am, I swear. It means that when you look at the map of where you're from, there are countries all across the world that are colored in. It means that you will have so many different relatives from so many different populations if you look way back. It means that there are traits you've inherited from all over, even if there isn't always an obvious box to tick when you have to share your identity with others.

No matter what your ethnicity, I can guarantee there are a multitude of stories there.

And it all comes from a tube of spit. Crazy.

So before I took the test, I had to tell the website what I expected. I thought this was funny because if I knew what to expect with any certainty, why would I be bothering to pay to find out the results? That being said, I went off of what my parents had told me. For my dad's side: Jewish. For my mom's: some combination of Indian, Portuguese, British and Irish.

There were two main things I wanted to find out from the DNA test: where my Jewish ancestry comes from and exactly what the breakdown of the half of me that comes from my mom looks like.

Growing up I always said I was half Indian. Even though my mum had always told me that I was probably closer to a quarter Indian, with an eighth Portuguese and some mix of British countries thrown in there too, it was far easier to just say "My mum's Indian," or "I'm half Indian." It was the easiest way to explain why I look tanned and to let people feel like they had figured out some secret I wasn't hiding.

When I got my results back, I asked my parents for their predictions before I told them. My mom guessed that I would come up as twenty five percent or less South Asian. When I first checked my results, it told me I was 43.7 percent South Asian. Since then, my results have updated and apparently become more accurate with more and more people sending in their DNA, and I am now 44.4 percent Central and South Asian. My Portuguese, which started off as a measly 0.9 percent, has since disappeared. So it turns out that saying I was half Indian wasn't such a lie, but the results are so far from what any of us expected.

So now I want to look through my family tree and the ancestry timeline on the website, and figure it all out. For example, I am 5.8 percent Southern Indian and Sri Lankan (at least until more data comes in and then it switches again), and there is strong evidence that my ancestors were specifically from Karnataka and Goa, and apparently my most recent generation who was 100 percent from the Southern Indian Subgroup is somewhere between 1880 and 1940. That makes sense and is something I could probably track. Apparently, though, I also had someone between a third-great-grandparent and a seventh-great-grandparent that was 100 percent Filipino and Austronesian which is so interesting and something that I know absolutely nothing about apart from the 0.2 percent trace ancestry that I have that is Filipino and Austronesian.

The one constant has been my 49.9 percent Ashkenazi Jewish. I don't see that changing around any time soon, though I am keeping my fingers crossed that a few years down the line they'll be able to tell at least roughly where in Europe that's coming from. But what's interesting about that is that my siblings and I are the first people in my dad's family line that are not 100 percent Jewish. My dad's brother-in-law is Jewish and so my cousins are still 100 percent Jewish, but my three siblings and I are the only people in his direct line that are not entirely Jewish.

So, like I said, I took a DNA test. I learned about myself. I learned what ice cream flavor I'm likely to like and what diseases I'm likely to inherit, that I'm likely to experience motion sickness but that I likely can't smell asparagus. I learned that I am - at least for now - 54.2 percent European, 44.4 percent Central and South Asian, 0.2 percent Filipino and Austronesian and 0.1 percent Broadly East Asian and one percent undefinable, which is something I will definitely hang on to.

And I know that taking this test means that I'll probably be cloned in the future (cool) and that I'm handing the government all my data (less cool), but Facebook already knows me so well that they prompt me to look at the latest posts from the Cool Dog Group or the Humans of New York page whenever I miss a post. I figure they might as well have my spit too.

<![CDATA[Struggling with validity in the Latinx community]]> I am Laís. I am Latinx, I am Hispanic, I am Brazilian, I am a woman. These are all my "identities," and I accept these identities now, but that wasn't always the case. I know in my heart that I'm a part of the Latinx community. But why do I feel like because I have white skin and European heritage that I'm not a valid member, even when it's the community that I fit into the most?

Let's take it back a few years.

At the beginning of each school year, the teacher stumbled over my name while taking attendance and asked: "Where is it from?"


At that point, the teacher would raise their eyebrows and exclaim, "Oh, very cool!" as if to reassure me that, although difficult to pronounce, my name isn't something to be ashamed of.

For 12 years, I disliked my name so much that I told people to pronounce it like the English word "lies," or "an intentionally false statement." I thought it was a great idea for teachers and coaches to write an English word next to my name so they didn't forget. I seemed more American, even though I'm originally from São Paulo.

My name is actually pronounced with two syllables, an accent on the i, and a fiery delivery: La-ees. I was living a lie, literally and figuratively, with an intentionally false name and persona.

I thought I blended into the American suburbia that surrounded me because I didn't really have opportunities to talk to other Brazilian or Latinx people in elementary or middle school. As a result, I worked to blend into what was around me: a very different culture than what surrounded me in Brazil.

At least I thought I blended in. Thinking back on it, my ideas of what was culturally inappropriate suffocated my Brazilian background: I made myself culturally appropriate, normal.

Returning from trips home in Brazil, I noticed I could never talk about my adventures with my friends because they'd only be confused. How could I explain Rio, Carnaval, butt lifts or bikini waxes to a third-grader without getting called down to the principal's office?

Then, after visiting Rio one summer, seeing millions of people all smiling while living and breathing Brazil, I was a bit stunned and even disappointed at myself. Why did I try to behave like everyone else in the U.S. just because I lived here? Why did I succumb to social norms telling me to act"American"? Why did I hide such a colorful and exotic side to me from everyone around me for 14 years?

I wasn't fake, but I was trying to be.

I then knew that this wasn't who I wanted to be anymore, because my true self was there all along, buried under cultural conditioning, other people's opinions and inaccurate conclusions I drew as a kid that became my beliefs about who I was.

I returned to myself before the world got its hands on me: a Brasileira.

I spent so much time trying to suffocate my voice and culture that now it's taking me so much more time to embrace it. And now, I don't struggle with my Brazilian identity, but with my Latinx one.

The question I've received so much in the past year, from people and from several college questionnaires: are you Hispanic or Latinx?

I still don't know how to answer that question. Honestly, I think I'm both. Since my body originated in Latin America, in Brazil, I am Latinx regardless of what language I speak.

I'm in college now with a diversity I was never able to experience before. I didn't realize how comfortable I was with my Latin American roots until coming here. However, in my organizing work in the climate justice movement, I wonder if I am the right person to be up there on a stage, speaking to people about an issue that hasn't affected me as much as others, as much as minorities in my new city of Baltimore and around the world.

I worry that I am taking up space that isn't mine and isn't meant for me because yes, I am Latinx, yes, I am a woman.

But I am also white. Not a white American, but a white Brasileira.

I have immense privilege in all aspects of my life because of that. People see my face and my skin color, and they probably don't think that I'm an immigrant and they treat me as they would any other white person. Yet others from the same country, from the same continent that I'm from, do not have the same fortune. They're turned away at American borders, struggle to find safe spaces for their families, face injustices every day of their lives. Mostly because they have darker skin than me.

And I continue to worry that I'm taking up too much space.

Do I have the right to speak for those people who are struggling each day? Do I have the right to speak for indigenous communities in Northern Brazil who are losing their homes, livelihoods and cultures due to white supremacy, greed and lack of human decency? Should I be the one to talk about that?

I don't know. But I'm alive, I'm young, I have a platform and I think I ought to use it. I think speaking up is better than staying silent. I think speaking up helps us learn that basic human rights should exist in this country.

I hope that I can elevate those voices so that in the future, we won't have to speak up for others. Instead, they can speak up for themselves. It was wrong of us to take that right away from them in the first place.

I'm slowly starting to stop worrying about how I should use my privilege. Instead, I'm just using it. Time's running out, the climate crisis is becoming more and more irreversible as we speak and people are dying. Are we going to be complicit in these injustices or are we going to act?

I've been challenged with lots of questions, brought on by myself and society. But isn't the whole point of "living in the present," enjoying our human lives, to not be questioning the future? I'm using my privilege to do what I can today and encouraging others to do the same.

I am Laís. I am Hispanic. I am Latinx. I am Brazilian. I am a woman. I am many things, and human is the best one.


<![CDATA[How I rediscovered pride in my culture by speaking Mandarin]]> I've never really thought myself as a rebel. Stubborn? Sometimes. Difficult? It depends on the person and the situation. But a rebel? Not really.

I was raised by two traditional, strict Asian parents. As a child, everything they said was law. I loved them too much, and I understood that they loved me very much as well. So, no, I never rebelled against my parents.

Regardless, I felt trapped and isolated. In more traditional Asian families, people don't talk about their emotions and issues. Growing up, I dealt with most of my emotional issues by myself. As years passed, I went from trying to survive relentless bullying in elementary and middle school to developing generalized anxiety disorder surmounted by my ever-increasing academic and social pressure. I felt so much guilt; guilt that I couldn't tell my parents what was happening, and that I was hiding so much of my life from them.

I didn't think of myself as a rebel, but I wanted to change myself. So, I rebelled. Before eighth grade, I rebelled against my culture, my heritage, my race. I changed the way I dressed, the way I spoke, the way I presented myself. I thought that fitting more into mainstream culture would help me feel more accepted. Even growing up in a town with a sizable population of Asians, I felt a subliminal need to whitewash myself. American culture is predominantly white, and if you were anything else, you were treated like an outcast. All the cool kids either were white or acted like it, and if you weren't either then you wished you were. The standards of beauty were whitewashed - you either had to be white or act and dress like it in order to be acknowledged as pretty.

I wanted so badly to fit in. And the easiest way was to pretend to be white.

That's when I started trying to erase my culture. I only spoke Mandarin whenever I made my annual visits to Taiwan and I withdrew enrollment from Chinese school. I'd never talk about my culture and looked down on fresh off the boat Asians (recent, unassimilated Asian immigrants). When my classmate told me she thought I was adopted because I acted "white," I grinned and laughed. I glared at my mother for embarrassing us by speaking Mandarin in public - it always drew looks of disgust from others. I stopped wearing the jade necklaces my grandmother gifted me, stopped caring about Chinese holidays and traditions, stopped associating myself with the land that had funny accents that sounded like pots and pans crashing on the ground.

My language skills deteriorated. That was fine with me. To me, Mandarin was the most physical, tangible thing about my culture, the thing that American media made fun of most in movies and TV shows. I wanted to get rid of it. My Mandarin took on an American accent and I forgot how to read and write. Taiwan became less a place where I would visit my relatives and heritage and more so one where I would go to take Instagram photos and eat delicious food.

In America, I wasn't like the other Chinese people; I didn't speak an ugly language. It felt so good to rebel. I finally felt like I fit in with the mainstream American crowd. I was convinced I was no longer isolated and lonely.

Things changed the summer before I started senior year of high school. I was visiting my grandmother on one of my annual Taiwan trips. She looked small as she fumbled to get a bottle of medical pills open. She set the cap aside and just stared blankly ahead. Although the TV's blue hues only illuminated the ends of her frazzled hair, I clearly saw the roots of the dyed brown curls growing in ghostly white. I hadn't remembered her looking so old.

"I don't know why I'm alive anymore," she muttered in Mandarin. "I don't have anyone here. My friends have all passed, my daughter is so far away in America and I hardly see my son."

I was silent. I wish that the reason why I didn't say anything was because I didn't know what to say. But I knew exactly what I wanted to say. I realized - with a crushing, heavy shame - that I just didn't know how to say it in Mandarin.

I couldn't even tell my own grandmother that I loved her very much and that she mattered to me. I didn't even know how to tell her to stay. I desperately wished I could tell her that I should've called more often, and that whenever I did call I was capable of speaking more than broken Mandarin to her; that even though I was in a foreign land an ocean away, I would always be there for her.

But I stayed silent. I remember how intensely my cheeks boiled with guilt and shame. I'd never felt so much pure disgust at myself for spending the past few years purposefully pushing away my culture in order to feed a false sense of happiness, to feel like I was going to be much cooler and a better version of myself. I don't think I fully realized that the only people I was hurting were the ones that loved and cared about me the most. Maybe I did, but it was something I was trying to ignore all that time.

So I began trying. My self resentment helped propel me in the direction of change. I tried desperately to make up for the time lost, the words unspoken. I grasped at every moment I could to reclaim the Chinese part of me: asking for menus at Chinese restaurants in Chinese, speaking Mandarin with my mother, visiting Chinatown in San Francisco for the first time in over a decade after actively avoiding it for years. I began educating myself on the history of Asian immigrants and diaspora in America and I tried to begin reading Chinese again. The despair I felt at my having abandoned my heritage slowly turned into pride. I called my grandmother more often, working to expand my vocabulary every time I spoke.

The next year I returned to Taiwan, I forced myself to interact with others as much as possible. I sounded out words I didn't know repeatedly, trying to spit out the years of American accent that grew on my Mandarin speech. I spoke with everyone around me; aunts, uncles, my mother, my grandmother. I talked as much as I could, telling them about how excited I was for college, how I was going to take Mandarin classes in college. I saw how everyone was brimming with pride. I felt warm. By the time I came to Hopkins, most of my accent had worn away.

When I first came to college, I was afraid of falling into the same trap of attempting to re-whitewash myself. Instead, I met Asian Americans from all over the country, not just from Asian-majority towns like mine. The people I met were so proud of their culture. They embraced festival dancing, traditional foods and ethnic languages. My desire to be reconnected with my language and heritage was reinvigorated; I no longer the need to culturally fit in. I felt pride in my culture, which was something I had barely felt growing up back home. I began working hard learning to write and read Chinese once again, and I took all the classes I could about China in order to learn more about my own history.

I joined Subtle Asian Traits, a Facebook group of over two million people sharing memes about Chinese school, Asian pop media and slipper spankings. People talked about losing - and regaining - their pride in their culture, about mental health in the Asian community, about feeling isolated from the rest of society. I remember realizing that people were like me. I was overjoyed; I finally no longer felt alone.

Maybe the reason I've felt so much pride in my language is because the sounds remind me of my childhood. To me, it was a way of communicating with my history and a reminder of what my parents and the rest of my family sacrificed to get me to where I am today. It's a way of acknowledging and honoring their endurance as immigrants in a strange land to leap over obstacles of discrimination, language barriers and feelings of isolation so I could have a better life. And with that, I finally came to a full realization and acceptance that I can forgive my attempts to erase my cultural identity. My attempted erasure was a product of my whitewashed environment and societal pressure to fit into the mainstream, but I've realized that acceptance never comes by bowing to pressure. Sometimes you need to rebel so you can do right.

So, yeah, maybe I'm not a rebel, but it sure feels damn good when people shoot me looks for speaking Mandarin in public.

<![CDATA[Speaker touts benefits of world language skills]]> Zekeh Gbotokuma, an associate professor of philosophy at Morgan State University, gave a lecture titled "Cosmoportism: 'UniverCity' and International Competency Through Multilingualism" at the Charles Village Bird in Hand on Monday, Nov. 25.

His presentation focused on the question of how multilingualism can increase cross-cultural understanding in a global society.

"If each one of us, after acquiring all kinds of knowledge, could be able… to share that knowledge not only in our native language but also in the language or languages other than our own language, imagine what kind of power you would have with that ability," Gbotokuma said.

The event was co-hosted by Polyglots in Action for Diversity, Inc., a local nonprofit organization that Gbotokuma established in 2005, and the Hopkins Alexander Grass Humanities Institute.

Gbotokuma explained that between living in and traveling through the Congo, where there are over 200 spoken languages and dialects, and Europe, linguistic diversity has been a constant and important factor in his life.

He argued that exposure to such linguistic diversity is one of the factors that helps a person develop what he calls international competency. Gbotokuma stressed the importance of embracing linguistic diversity in the United States.

"It takes many things to develop international competency. For the purpose of tonight, my focus is on languages because of what I have seen as a problem in the U.S. as far as interest in other languages is concerned," Gbotokuma said.

For Gbotokuma, international competency is embodied in his idea of cosmoportism, a portmanteau that he created.

"The use of the words cosmos and port as part of the name is based upon my belief that... world-ready education at the level of higher learning should be students' passport and GPS to navigating our global village," he said.

Gbotokuma argued that people today are increasingly living in what he termed univer-cities, or universal cities, characterized by the residence in one city of people from many different nations residing together.

Gbotokuma said that universities like Morgan State and Hopkins are excellent microcosms of the univer-city phenomenon, which he calls co-presence, and are well positioned to capitalize on the benefits it can provide.

"If we use very well this co-presence of people from the four corners of the universe, if we use very well the presence of international students especially," Gbotokuma said, "that alone can be a wonderful recipe for international education and competency."

He argued that such international education and competency can result in new experiences, different perspectives, and fresh academic and economic opportunities that otherwise would not be available to people.

To reinforce his point, Gbotokuma shared how knowing Italian helped him secure a job in Germany for six summers which helped him pay for his education after he lost a scholarship he had been relying upon.

To conclude, Gbotokuma doubled back to insist again on his belief in the power of language. People should realize that being monolingual is actually a hazard, he argued.

"We are speaking animals. The ability to communicate through language is one of the essential things about being a human being," he said. "There are so many languages and you cannot know all of them, but there should be no excuse for anybody to graduate from university without that communication ability."

Morgan State junior Eugene Kong explained that he highly valued Gbotokuma's main argument.

"Cosmoportism is very important to me," Kong said.

Emma Snyder, the owner of the Ivy Bookshop, said that she was particularly happy to see Gbotokuma start a conversation around how language, culture and citizenship can all influence one another.

"Having access to multiple languages and communication across cultures and being a citizen of a culture that is broader than your immediate proximate surroundings is an essential thing in the world," she said.

<![CDATA[Fandoms can be like family. They can also be toxic.]]> Thanksgiving Day was marked by a rare occurrence this year - a Lil Uzi Vert tweet storm. Addressing his long delayed sophomore album Eternal Atake, Uzi began: "I wanna let My Family know… and I say Family because all the fans left a long time ago. Only Family Stays so if you stayed I'm Thankful for U."

In thanking his fans for sticking by him through familial struggles, label drama and unusually long gaps between projects, Uzi touches on something we all can relate to: fandom as a form of family.

In the internet age, people everywhere are able to rally around the things they love in ways previously unimaginable, whether that be a sports team, a TV show or a musician. I can still remember the first time I lined up at an Adidas store to buy Yeezy 350s (they sold out before I got them) and being ecstatic not just by the prospect of buying shoes, but by being surrounded by people who cared about the same things as me.

But this type of fan base interaction can be rare; people mainly express their loyalty to their fandom by talking with others online or broadcasting their interests through what they wear. In examining these things, we can diagnose the size and relative health of a fandom.

In 2016 and 2017, Chance the Rapper became a craze. High off the success and critical acclaim of his third project Coloring Book, Chance had secured headlining slots at nearly all major music festivals in the U.S. and a slew of televised performances from Saturday Night Live to Ellen, even going on to perform at the White House.

Throughout all of this, the branding of the number "3" central to Coloring Book's marketing was ever-present, a symbol that his growing fan base could rally around through hats, laptop stickers and t-shirts. This made it possible to see his fandom grow, as well as deteriorate.

Following the poor critical reception of his debut album The Big Day this past summer, the disappointment among fans was perceptible not necessarily in a spirit of vitriol but rather as a lack of enthusiasm - a community that had been thriving just two years earlier now seeming all but abandoned.

While the type of family that Uzi referred to still surely exists for Chance, it can be disheartening to watch a fan base you once cherished shrink in size with fewer people openly excited about the things you care about.

While engaging with the things we love is a large part of the fan experience, fandoms also tend to take on a life of their own, leading to awkward or toxic situations. In early November of this year, Odd Future fans at Tyler, the Creator's Camp Flog Gnaw Carnival were so dismayed that the surprise headliner was Drake rather than Frank Ocean, that they booed one of the biggest musicians on the planet off stage.

I found myself asking if being a Frank fan was now going to be considered embarrassing, a titanic feat for a fandom united by phrases like "yea I cried in the shower to this song last night."

The next day, Tyler tweeted out his dismay with those in attendance, but this is only the latest chapter for someone who seems to be constantly struggling with an unruly fan base. At all the Tyler shows I've been to supporting his last two albums, which were clear departures from his earlier works, he has said something along the lines of "don't let anybody here give you shit if you've only heard my newest album."

While in these instances it may be easier to brush off what could be considered radical fans and just enjoy the things we like, in other times vocal support of a fandom may carry an unintended double meaning that fans need to be wary of.

The premiere of the fourth season of the popular Adult Swim show Rick and Morty brought with it an uncomfortable reckoning for me; I actually enjoy that show.

While that may have been a harmless thing to publicly project in past, recent years have seen Rick and Morty fans angrily mobbing McDonalds for special sauces tied to the show as well as constantly harassing the show's female writers on social media.

To me, this represents a clear shift from embarrassing to toxic behavior that ultimately changes my perception of anyone who calls themselves a fan of the show. I remember hanging out with one of my new roommates (who, I must note, is a totally regular guy) and launching a compulsory character reassessment when he suggested we turn the show on. Was he one of those fans?

Now of course none of this stops me from watching the show, but it makes navigating the fan experience far more difficult. Unable to openly broadcast my fandom, I instead have to delicately scout out those who share the same just-casual fervor for the show. Is this how Chance the Rapper fans who enjoyed The Big Day feel, having had their fandom circle shrink immensely in a matter of years?

Decades of toxicity in fandoms for franchises like Star Wars can also bring counter fan cultures celebrating things that were once invisible or attacked. Would the diversity of newer Star Wars films exist if the franchise hadn't been viewed as a toxic boy's club for so many years?

While the same will surely occur for Rick and Morty, looking at how older fan bases handled their toxicity problem may help us find solutions in the present day. The creative team behind the show has already taken steps in hiring their first female staff writers for season four - why don't fans help bolster this same diversity?

Passively participating in toxic fandom may play a role here. I still cringe thinking about the time I told a friend not to come with us to see Avengers: Endgame because she hadn't seen the other 20 something Marvel movies. What I felt was a way of protecting myself from embarrassment (I wanted to nerd out free of judgement!) was at best gatekeeping and at worst being a dick.

If we don't actively examine why we enjoy the things that we do, we risk turning fandoms into exclusive communities that monger over intellectual properties rather than celebrate them.

Marvel movies are fun to watch and therefore we should take our friends to see them; Tyler, the Creator's discography has rapidly evolved and his concerts celebrate exactly that; Rick and Morty, for a show about two white guys, explores diversity and popular media in surprising ways.

When we fail to consider why things appeal to us, we and our fandoms risk falling into toxic ranks. Not only this, but we also lose out on the opportunity to share what excites us and to expand our communities. After all, if a fan base doesn't have any people in it, what's the point?

<![CDATA[Knives Out is a fresh and riveting murder mystery]]> I'll just start off this review by saying that there was very little possibility that I was not going to enjoy Knives Out. I've been in love with the murder mysteries ever since I stayed up all night reading Agatha Christie's And Then There Were None in sixth grade, so a film based around the key motifs of her style - an eccentric detective, an ornate mansion, a web of lies and an overly-complicated murder plot - was almost certainly going to be a hit in my eyes.

Still, Knives Out is a fantastic film because it goes beyond the core features of the genre and finds a surprising amount of comedy and heart at the center of its narrative. It is an excellent mystery - one that would surely make Christie proud - and it never loses sight of the camp and utter absurdity at the core of the genre. At the same time, Knives Out is more than happy to break away from convention and use the trappings of the genre to say something deeper about its characters and the impact that the murder has on their lives. It is all at once a parody, deconstruction and homage, and the resulting combination is both wickedly smart and hilarious.

The film opens with the death of mystery writer Harlan Thrombey, found with his throat slashed in his study on the morning after his 85th birthday. Although all the components of a classic murder mystery are present - the greedy family with plenty of motives for wanting their patriarch dead, the mansion full of secret passageways and dark corners, a series of vague alibis and half-obscured clues - the death is clearly a suicide. However, renowned detective Benoit Blanc (Daniel Craig) believes that something sinister is afoot in the Thrombey mansion and enlists the aid of Marta (Ana de Armas) - Harlan's nurse and confidant who vomits every time that she lies - to uncover the truth.

I have to start off by addressing the film's amazingly talented cast, all of whom did a fantastic job of bringing the conniving cast of characters to life. Daniel Craig created a fantastic send-up of Hercule Poirot, walking the razor-thin line between ace detective and eccentric buffoon with confidence and poise. De Armas, on the other hand, imbibed the perfect amount of confidence and fear into Marta, a reluctant participant in the investigation with secrets of her own to protect. Together, the two made for compelling protagonists, and it was always enjoyable to see them play off (or against) one another.

On the other side of the table, the suspect list was plucked straight from genre conventions, yet given a modern twist. There was the elder daughter (Jamie Lee Curtis), a successful businesswoman who used her sharp tongue and blunt persona to protect the family at all costs; the hippie daughter-in-law (Toni Collette) who leeched off of the family fortune in order to start her own Gwyneth Paltrow-esque lifestyle brand; the grandson and black sheep of the family (Chris Evans), disliked by every member of his family except his grandfather. Every character was wildly entertaining and terrible in their own unique way, and the film was at its best when it put all of the suspects in a room and let them snipe at one another.

Although the filmmakers never forgot about the death at the center of the film, they were also more than willing to poke fun at the eccentric personalities of the cast of characters. From the running gag about the family members not remembering Marta's country of origin to the obvious discrepancies between the family members' accounts of their relationship with the victim, Knives Out was almost brutal in its comedic stylings. Still, it all felt appropriate for the characters, and the transition between dramatic and comedic moments never felt jarring or out-of-place.

Finally, the movie is visually satisfying. Most of it takes place in the Thrombey estate, and the creepily ornate decorations, hidden passageways and twisting corridors convey an overwhelming sense of isolation and unease. Almost every room has a statue or figure of some kind, and it almost always feels like the characters are being watched somehow.

Likewise, the editing was very clever, used just as often to set up a punchline as it was to emphasize an emotional moment or create a dramatic scene. In particular, the opening scenes - which jump between interviews with each of the suspects - juxtaposed the response of one family member with another, creating a hilariously obvious disconnect between their accounts and setting the tone for the entire rest of the film.

In the end, Knives Out is a fantastic film that will appeal to even those who are not fans of the mystery genre. It takes everything that makes the genre great and pushes it one step further, resulting in a story that is funny, intelligent and an utter delight to watch.

<![CDATA[Coldplay's new album takes a political stance]]> We've all grown up with Coldplay. From their saddest songs like "The Scientist" or "Yellow," to their jubilant hit, "Hymn For the Weekend," their artistic and instrumental style of music has an almost universal appeal. Not to mention that from their seven studio albums released between 2000 and 2017, they've managed to rack up 29 Grammy nominations and six wins.

But it's been a while since we last heard from them. Their last performance dates back to the end of their global tour in November of 2017. Their last album, A Head Full of Dreams, was released four years ago in 2015. In that year, they also performed at the Super Bowl 50 Halftime show (way back when my beloved Denver Broncos claimed the title of the best football team in the NFL).

However, just recently, on Nov. 22, Coldplay made a reappearance as they released their eighth studio album, Everyday Life. More technically, it is a "double-album" split into two portions - "Sunrise" and "Sunset" - which, one after the other, outline difficult, real-world issues. And, while it still holds true to their traditional instrumental style, the album has a few surprises and deviations from their prior releases, all of which highlight the ability music has to contribute to the greater good.

To start out, the band has advertised that, for the first time, they will not be touring their album. They plan to postpone their Everyday Life tour until something is done to resolve unsustainable touring practices that leave large carbon footprints.

Instead of touring, Coldplay performed the album for the first time in Amman, Jordan (a location right in the middle of a region that they had never been able to perform at in the past) on the date of the album release, playing "Sunrise" and "Sunset" at corresponding times of the day. Still, they made sure both concerts were available to the world by streaming and releasing both concerts on YouTube.

Specific to the actual songs and lyrics in Everyday Life, in an interview with YouTube, lead singer Chris Martin expanded upon the purpose of the album relative to current world events.

"There's a portion of the world that is fed this terrifying image of otherness… I think that, in our own small way, we are rallying against that viewpoint. Every human is precious and every human has magic," he said.

To point to the beauty in all people, Everyday Life includes music from all different cultures. The song, "Arabesque," is, as the song suggests, Arab-esque, as it merges western musical styles with Middle Eastern rhythms. The song is almost entirely instrumental: with a heavy beat underlying a saxophone solo and the harmonious bursting of horns, it easily compels your head and foot to tap to the rhythm. The song's chorus, "And we share the same blood" is repeatedly sung in both English and French in order to emphasize the fact that, regardless of culture, we are all part of the same family.

Another song on the album titled in Persian and translated as, "Children of Adam," is inspired by Iranian poet Saadi Shirazi's piece, "Bani Adam." The poem itself contends that, in order to be recognized as a human being, you must feel empathy toward others. The song contains a beautiful classical piano piece which reflects the tranquil message.

Several songs on the album are not afraid of delving into controversial topics. "Trouble in Town," comments on the racist treatment of non-white people in western countries. The music builds tension by sampling a voice tape from a 2013 incident in which two men of color were racially profiled in Philadelphia.

Another song, "Guns," also takes a political stance, as it criticizes lack of gun control by illustrating a chaotic setting with a few fitting swear words. The inclusion of explicit language is remarkably new for Coldplay. According to the band, drummer Will Champion was previously adamantly against the use of profanity.

The songs range from energetic peaks to mournful and beautiful lows. The transitions between these songs take place all over the album. "BrokEn," a loud and spirited gospel song, is immediately followed by "Daddy," a tear-inducing soft piano song sung from the perspective of a child who longs to see their neglectful father. As such, the album truthfully addresses the shifting nature of human life. As Chris Martin put it during an interview with BBC, "Every day is great and every day is terrible and every day is a blessing."

Artists in the past have used their voice in their music to comment on their perspective of the state of the world. Not only did Coldplay shift the style of their content in order to comment on issues they've observed while touring the world, but they've also taken action on a whole new level: halting the touring of their music to make their desired comments even more pronounced.

And, since they managed to still produce the same high-quality instrumental music that I've loved to both dance and cry to, I am proud of the choices the band has made and look forward to seeing the impact of their album on other artists and listeners.

<![CDATA[The Broad revisits the work of Shirin Neshat]]> I first became familiar with Shirin Neshat during my senior year of high school. Her piece "Rebellious Silence," a black and white photograph of a woman's face bisected by a gun barrel and written over with Farsi poetry from her "Women of Allah" series, was a standout work in the Global Contemporary section of the AP Art History exam's 250 works.

The themes of this piece - the complex reality regarding the world's perception of relationships between Islam and women, women and institutions of power, women and the west, Islam and the west, nature and civilization, violence and femininity and autonomy and social constraints - stood out as striking and direct. They also permeate Neshat's entire career, from the early 1990s to the present, a collection of which is currently on display at The Broad museum in Los Angeles.

The Broad, a frequent destination for art enthusiasts and Instagram connoisseurs alike, boasts both an impressive permanent collection (with Kara Walker, Murakami and Basquiat to name a few), as well as a rotation of extensive and captivating artist showcases in the gallery spaces on the first floor. It is here that I reencountered Neshat.

Neshat's exhibit, titled "I Will Greet the Sun Again," explores the artist's photography and surrealist films from over 25 years of extensive work. It begins where I, too, began my understanding of Neshat's work with her "Women of Allah" photography cycle. Poetry written in Farsi by women on differing sides of the Iranian revolution, exploring topics like feminism or martyrdom, is embossed over black and white photos of women, sometimes accompanied by men, some with children, some alone and some reduced to just their hands or profile.

Often, the women address the camera directly, and many of the photos, especially those exploring martyrdom and sacrifice, are accompanied by a gun that at once overwhelms the image and translates as almost unrecognizable to the viewer. These photographs and the accompanying surrealist videos that explore relations between men and women, as well as between the city and nature in a clearly Islamic society, set the foundation for the rest of Neshat's work.

It also provides context, as for much of the rest of her artistic career Neshat has lived in exile in the United States due to increasingly hostile circumstances in her homeland and the Islamic Republic's denouncement of her work.

In fact, the end of the "Women of Allah" series - a group of photographs depicting women posed within a staged garden - were taken on one of her last trips to Iran, during which she was detained by airport security.

Neshat's work continues to explore recurrent themes from her early work, while also taking on considerations about exile and political engagement. Her next series of photographs, "Soliloquy," which were the only color photographs on display, explores the psychology of architecture and ritual from East to West, often with Neshat as the subject.

The work was accompanied by two films: one depicting sanctuary and invasion in a walled garden in Mexico; one exploring burial practices and gender roles in the desert. Neshat then turned her attention to portraiture, photographing first activists with Persian story elements drawn on them, then Egyptians who had lost their homes and loved ones during the Arab Spring. In this series, "Our House is On Fire," Neshat again inscribes miniscule Farsi text across the faces of the subjects.

The rest of the exhibit includes photographs that focus on the people of Azerbaijan and the American West displayed in salon style, and four movies that depart from her previous work, which focused primarily on group movement. One stars Natalie Portman chasing a figure along a beach and through an old mansion, another is a surreal encounter with a mother and shame, while two more document a dream collector in the American Southwest.

While the last movie could not exist in a more different world than the first photographs, the museum tangibly threads Neshat's growth as an artist throughout the exhibit, making it coherent and digestible.

However, while breadth and evolution of the work is impressive it is, at times, exhausting. The monochrome palette assists the eye in moving through the extensive exhibit, but my one critique would be that often the faces and individual pieces blur together because of the sheer scope of work one is trying to assess.

I would suggest a tip for tackling Neshat's handiwork - clear your head, give yourself an entire day and let the pieces breathe. An artist that continues to address themes related to Islam that are often too uncomfortable to confront in a graceful and nuanced manner, especially in a post 9/11 world, deserves that much.

<![CDATA[Freer Gallery honors Hokusai's enduring artistry ]]> Located in the heart of the National Mall is the Freer Gallery of Art and the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery. Part of the Smithsonian Institution, the two galleries are adjacent and attached to one another, forming a joint museum that focuses on Asian art. Currently on display at the Freer Gallery for the next year is the exhibit "Hokusai: Mad about Painting," which I went to view over this Thanksgiving break.

The exhibit premiered on Nov. 23 and presents a stunning collection of work by Japanese artist Katsushika Hokusai, who lived during the years 1760-1849. The Japanese ambassador was in attendance for the opening day of this exhibit, pointing to the immense cultural significance of showcasing Hokusai's work.

To this day, many people call Hokusai the "cultural ambassador of Japan" for his contributions as an artist. In fact, I learned during my visit that his most well-known piece, "The Great Wave off Kanagawa" will be featured on new Japanese banknotes soon.

On Nov. 27, the Freer Gallery held free walk-in tours all day for the Hokusai exhibit. Without needing prior booking, at every hour, visitors had the opportunity to join a docent-led tour of "Hokusai: Mad about Painting." I participated in one of these tours and learned about Hokusai's life and art and Japanese culture.

Hokusi was an incredibly prolific artist. He was extremely self-critical and believed he would perfect his art only when he lived to be 110 years old. Unfortunately, he only lived to be 88 years old.

Even though Hokusai did not reach his personal goal of 110, the artwork he did produce in his 88 years of life remains universally appreciated.

Many of Hokusai's works are characterized by his whimsical portrayal of daily Japanese life as he knew it. There is also an intense reverence for nature present in his work, and the Japanese mindset that humans should not strive to conquer nature but rather to exist in harmony with nature. For example, in the scroll piece "Gazing into the Distance," on display as part of "Mad about Painting," Hokusai depicts a small figure of a boy playing the flute while perched on a tree, staring off into the vastness of nature before him. In the background of this piece is a powerful and scenic mountain, which we can assume is Mount Fuji.

In much of Hokusai's art, he includes depictions of Mount Fuji. Sometimes the references to Mount Fuji can almost be missed, as they are hiding in a corner or in a reflection.

Additionally there were several of Hokusai's collections of manga doodles on display. While his collection Hokusai Manga is not necessarily the contemporary manga as we know it, his doodles showcase his wide range of artistic breadth and ability.

Adding to the complexity of Hokusai as an artist is the art community's inability to come to a full consensus on which pieces Hokusai actually created himself. Out of the 90 or so Hokusai pieces in the Freer Gallery, only about 50 of them are definitely considered to be authentic.

The tour that the Freer Gallery offered was very entertaining and interactive. At one point, we centered around Hokusai's "Thunder God" and entered into an emphatic discussion of whether or not the Thunder God painted before us was meant to be a portrayal of Hokusai himself. The visitors in my tour group were captivated by the expression on the Thunder God's face, with some tour attendees finding the expression to be mischievous and playful while others felt that the Thunder God looked haggard and exhausted.

What makes this exhibit a must-see event is the fact that when it will eventually go off display, in about a year, it truly will be off display. This is because Charles Lang Freer, founder of the Freer Gallery, did not believe in loans. The pieces in the Freer Gallery, for the most part, do not get loaned out to any other museums or galleries. They simply get put into careful storage (This is not true for the Sackler Gallery). For the well-being and preservation of Hokusai's works, the pieces cannot be on display for longer than about a year.

I personally have not seen enough of Hokusai's work and hope to take a few more trips over to the Freer Gallery. The great peace and calm that underlies Hokusai's art transcends centuries and reaches us even today, inviting repeated viewing.

<![CDATA[For a history on etching, visit the Met in New York ]]> Over Thanksgiving break, I had the privilege of visiting the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. Unfortunately, their collection of European painting from the years 1200-1800 are mostly not on display due to ongoing renovations. There was, however, a new and different exhibit I had the opportunity to see, and it was absolutely fascinating.

The exhibit was on the history of etching across Europe. Opposed to painting, which is a relatively straightforward artistic process all things considered, etching is far more complicated. According to the exhibit, "etching was first used as a printmaking technique in the mid-1490's by the Augsburg printmaker and armor decorator Daniel Hopfer." The interaction between drawing and etching pictures onto armor allowed artists to begin using the etching technique to help them widely disseminate their works.

Printmaking had already revolutionized the way people were able to spread information on paper, so replacing words with art on paper proved another huge step in the history of this medium.

Etching, described by the museum as a process "which involves drawing freely on a wax-covered metal plate," simplified the previous model of printing art known as engraving, a far more difficult and taxing process. Etching, therefore became a far more democratic and accessible form of artistic expression. Though some of these pieces were colored after being printed, most of them are made with black ink on white paper.

The exhibition explored the first 60 or so years of the history of etching in Europe. There were a lot of remarkable pieces on display, including some of the actual metal plates that had been carved or drawn upon and then used to print etchings.

The highlight of the exhibit was, without question, the works of Albrecht Dürer. The Met had six different pieces from the German artist, and each of them were exceptional. His Abduction on a Unicorn from 1516 was fierce, capturing the drama of the ridiculous scene heightened by the intense use of light and shadow effects created by the lines. The unicorn itself was incredible, almost grotesque in its features with a horn that looked more like a scythe.

Dürer is known for his portrayals of hair (I would recommend you to view his self-portrait from 1500 for some glorious locks), and his etchings didn't disappoint on that front. Even when constrained to just using black ink, the wild and flowing hair of his characters seems to go all over the piece of art, almost blending into the parallel lines he used to make the sky. Despite the colorless medium, the detail brings the characters and subjects to life.

Another piece of his was The Desperate Man from 1515. The events in this etching are very hard to understand, although scholars have hypothesized the scene to be anything from a bath, to a dying man or even a festival celebrating the Roman god Saturn. Unlike the rest of Dürer's works, this piece has no explicitly recorded date, nor does it have Dürer's signature monogram. The intense muscular figures in the etching seem to be in a state of deep remorse or grief, and as a viewer you can't help but be pulled into the work.

As great as some of the other artists on display were, it was impossible not to gravitate back to Dürer's etchings. It just felt like nobody on display could ever really duplicate the things Dürer managed to do.

The Renaissance of Etching was a worthwhile experience overall without question, and I highly recommend it. That being said, if I had walked in and the only things in the entire three-room were those six etchings of Dürer, I would've been fully satisfied. With Dürer, even if I didn't fully understand what was being depicted, I was enthralled by his remarkable mastery of the unique technique.

<![CDATA[Artist Spotlight: Dylan Kwang, an artistic satirist]]> From a young age, Hopkins junior, Dylan Kwang has immersed himself in the arts. Having taken painting and illustration classes all throughout elementary, middle and high school, art is something that has always been an influence in his life.

While working on art projects and taking classes in the Center for Visual Arts, Kwang also balances his studies in Biomedical Engineering. But when he first matriculated, he wasn't entirely sure if continuing art would be a possibility.

"When I came here, doing engineering, I didn't think I would have time for it," he said. "Fortunately enough, when I started doing art again sophomore year, I had forgotten how sitting in a room for three hours working on something not related to numbers felt. It was nice to have something separate from my major, so that's why I decided to declare a Visual Arts minor as well."

Although he used to work with oil paints and acrylics, he now primarily does photography and works on digital projects in Adobe Photoshop. Regardless of the medium, however, he's always been interested in the satirical possibilities of art.

"I used to take old paintings and put my own personality on them. I made the people in American Gothic into zombies and lit their house on fire; it was like a Walking Dead spin-off. And then for Edward Munch's The Scream, I put earphones and an ipod in the painting so it looks like he's rocking out on one of those Apple commercials," he said.

He admits that using Photoshop makes the process of making parodies or incorporating humorous elements into his art easier. For one, he said that manipulating photographs can be an easier time than painting an entire canvas of what he's imagining.

Given his interest in the ways that satire can be used in art, it's not surprising that Kwang draws inspiration from artists such as Roy Lichtenstein and Andy Warhol, who were known for parodying abstract works of art throughout art history. He also looks up to English artist David Hockney, who, alongside Warhol, was an important influence in the pop art movement. At the heart of Kwang's interest in these artists, however, is a belief that there are many ways of appreciating art and that differences in taste don't dictate an artwork's quality.

"At this time, abstract expressionism was at the forefront, and it was getting really bougie. But then Lichtenstein and these pop artists wanted to show that there were more forms of art than abstract expressionist art, so they started making comics and commercial art and exhibiting them in these fine arts spaces," he said.

Kwang is also interested in dispelling the stereotype that engineers aren't capable of art or other creative pursuits. In some ways, studying the sciences or engineering in tandem with the visual arts can seem like a paradoxical choice. Yet, for Kwang, his dual interests fit nicely with his career goal of going into product development and design.

"I kind of want to go into product development as a career. You don't really associate engineering with art, but I think that the aesthetics of a product is very important to its design. It's really important to be able to visualize something in order to create it," Kwang said.

Next year, Kwang will be taking a class on life art, continuing to explore the link between the sciences and the arts.

"Next year I'm taking life art, so it's a lot of figures. It's anatomy, so you get to draw skeletal and muscular systems. I also didn't know this, but Hopkins also offers a master's degree in medical art. There are only a few accredited courses in the nation or the world or something like that," he said.

Regardless of if you're young or old, trained or untrained, an English major or an engineering major, Kwang argues that everyone has the capability of producing art and enjoying the process.

"People who say they're not artistic - I don't believe that, necessarily. I just don't think they've been exposed to it enough. Anyone can be an artist," he said.




Dylan Kwang is a junior studying biomedical engineering and visual arts.

<![CDATA[Heaven Belongs to You Tour marks a new era of BROCKHAMPTON ]]> This Thanksgiving break, my stuck-on-campus self and a friend who lives half an hour away hopped on the MARC train at our respective stops to reunite in D.C. for an evening we had planned in August - a concert part of BROCKHAMPTON's Heaven Belongs to You Tour, which was happening on Monday, Nov. 25.

I bought the tickets in the middle of the very first Physics lecture of my junior year and had been excited about attending ever since, with the band's new album, GINGER, having grown on me as the semester went on. Within my social circle, it is customary to occasionally monitor each other's Spotify activity, and I had received several comments about how I "always just listen to GINGER" as if being in a BROCKHAMPTON mood for three months was a crime.

Doors were set to open at 6:30 p.m., so we arrived at The Anthem at 5 p.m. - a reasonable time, or so we thought. The general admission line already curved around the block and down a long pier, and an equally long priority admission line stretched in the opposite direction. It was hard to believe that just three years ago all 13 members of BROCKHAMPTON lived in the same house and worked minimum-wage jobs while making music on the side.

The self-proclaimed "boyband" originated on a Kanye West forum in 2012, while several of the members were high-school students in The Woodlands, Texas. After high school, the members serious about being in the band moved to San Marcos, Texas and later to South Central Los Angeles. Now, with five studio albums, BROCKHAMPTON is performing at sold out shows.

After two hours of waiting in line, we were inside the venue. Another hour passed, and it was time for the opening acts - experimental duo 100 Gecs and British rapper Slowthai each performed a 30-minute set. Much of the crowd, myself included, was thoroughly confused by the arcade-machine-like sound of 100 Gecs. Slowthai was a more generic opening act and ended his set with the tour's title song: "Heaven Belongs to You," on which he is the only vocalist.

At 9:30 p.m. on the dot, the members of BROCKHAMPTON were on stage. The show started off with "ST. PERCY," a song that starts quietly with a verse by Kevin Abstract and eventually escalates to what I can best describe as energetic screaming by hype-man member Merlyn Wood.

Kevin Abstract, the founder and self-proclaimed leader of the band, introduced the five other vocalists one by one before their first song. The setlist was equally split between the new album GINGER and older songs from the SATURATION trilogy of albums and IRIDESCENCE. The crowd's energy was at its high during "GOLD," "QUEER" and "BOOGIE," fan favorites from each of the SATURATION albums that represented the classic sounds of BROCKHAMPTON. The band did a good job of ordering their songs to keep the crowd's energy levels just right. They interspersed the more energetic songs with calmer beats to avoid an outright rave, which I appreciated, since being a small woman in a mosh pit is not the best experience.

The band also chose to include a couple tracks from IRIDESCENCE, the 2018 album released following Ameer Vann's departure.

I personally appreciate the album, but I've read and heard negative reviews due to its odd sound and eclectic storyline. Regardless, everyone at the venue seemed to know the lyrics to the songs, which were performed with minimal sound effects and therefore sounded much more typical of the band.

The show ended with "NO HALO," the first track from GINGER, which contains Deb Never's (a collaborator) vocals on the chorus. This made sense as a choice of exit - it's the kind of song that calls for phone flashlights and is one of the more popular ones on the album. Afterward, Abstract once again called all the vocalists out by name and thanked the audience, and the huge crowd began to disperse.

This tour marks a new era of BROCKHAMPTON. Following the scandalous departure of member Ameer Vann due to assault allegations, the band has partially shifted away from their loud rebellious sound, incorporating a more vulnerable sound in the form of softer vocals and choruses that almost resemble pop songs.

While IRIDESCENCE was also released after the scandal, it comes off as louder and less polished than GINGER. Both albums reflect the members' process of coping with betrayal and conflict while being closely watched by the public, but GINGER sounds like it comes from a calmer place of acceptance. BROCKHAMPTON's sound is still more boisterous than what you would normally expect from a boyband, but there's a new element of vulnerability that both resonates with their longtime followers and attracts more of a mainstream crowd.

The band's wide appeal was represented in the audience. The crowd was comically diverse, including middle-schoolers, adults, college students and even parent chaperones. It is hard to deny that the band is currently unique in the music industry. BROCKHAMPTON is more successful as a collective than as individual artists, which comes in stark contrast to other hip-hop collectives such as Odd Future, formerly including solo artists Tyler the Creator and Frank Ocean.

With their unique sound, wide appeal and impressive rise to fame, BROCKHAMPTON is a collective to keep an eye on. While attending a general admission rap concert is slightly terrifying, their live performance did not disappoint, and I would highly recommend grabbing tickets the next time the band comes around.

<![CDATA[M. Basketball dominates at home against Moravian]]> The No. 22 Hopkins men's basketball team put their undefeated season on the line when they welcomed the Moravian College Greyhounds to the Goldfarb Gym this past Sunday.

Junior guard Joey Kern felt confident in his team's chances of winning going into the matchup. He explained that the team had a great series of practices leading up to their game.

"We've done a great job preparing every day for our next opponents," Kern said.

Sophomore forward Tom Quarry made the first points in the game. He started the scoring with a three-pointer and a layup.

Kern was also able to drill a three-point shot of his own to put the Blue Jays up 8-0 less than two minutes into the game.

However, a layup in the paint by Moravian stopped the bleeding and gave the Greyhounds some much needed momentum, which they promptly turned into a 7-2 run.

The next few minutes were intense as points were traded back and forth between the two squads while the Blue Jays battled against the Greyhounds to maintain their lead.

Near the midpoint of the first half, the Blue Jays began to stake their claim for control with a pair of three-point buckets to go ahead 21-13.

A trio of points from Moravian cut the lead to five, but that would be as narrow as the deficit would be for the rest of the half as Hopkins poured on eight straight points to extend the lead to 13.

Following some more back and forth baskets, the score sat at 33-25 in favor of Hopkins with 3:42 left.

Looking to gather some momentum before heading into the locker room, junior guard Conner Delaney led the Blue Jays on a 15-6 run, scoring eight of the 15 to give the Blue Jays a convincing 48-31 lead to end the first half.

Just as they had done to start the first half, Hopkins got off to a hot start in the second half.

Quarry once again got the scoring party started with a layup just 11 seconds into the half. This fired up the Jays as they continued to score point after point.

Three of his teammates would combine for another 10 points to put the Blue Jays ahead 60-31.

Now behind by 29, the Greyhounds were able to acquire some life after a three-point basket kicked off seven straight points for them.

Delaney hit a free throw to end the scoreless streak and kick off another back and forth scoring affair.

After a pair of free throws and a made jump shot from Moravian, Kern buried back-to-back three-pointers with the help of a pair of assists from Delaney.

A steal by sophomore forward Braeden Johnson allowed Delaney to hit a shot inside the paint to put the score at 72-44.

Moravian nailed a two-point basket to try and get some energy back, but a couple of free throws and an additional five points from Delaney gave Hopkins a 33-point advantage with 8:29 left on the clock.

The Greyhounds managed to cut the lead to 25 but failed to do much damage to the commanding Hopkins lead.

With the game firmly in hand, Hopkins continued to pour it on their opponents and went as far ahead as 35 points.

As the horn sounded to mark the end of the second half of play, the Blue Jays emerged victorious by a score of 92-62.

With such an impressive offensive performance came equally impressive offensive statistics on the Hopkins stat sheet.

Delaney led the way with 29 points on the day as the junior shot 11-12 from the floor and was 4-4 from behind the three-point arc.

Quarry also turned in a quality performance with 18 points of his own to go along with his seven rebounds and his perfect 9-9 free throw shooting.

Rounding out the double-digit scorers was Kern, who ended with 12 points, all coming from three-pointers.

Hopkins ended the day shooting 29-54 from the field, 15-30 from three and 19-23 from the free throw line.

They also out rebounded the Greyhounds 41-25 as Hopkins displayed their dominance on both ends of the court.

Kern explained that he feels that the attitude and chemistry on the team is something special, adding that he's excited to see what the team is capable of as they move forward in the season and closer to the final few games.

"We're working hard night in and night out with championships on our mind," Kern said. "This is a hungry group, and I'm excited for the rest of the year."

The victory improves the Blue Jays' record to 6-0 on the season while the Greyhounds fall to 4-3.

Hopkins will next be in action this Saturday as they take on the Muhlenberg College Mules in a Centennial Conference matchup.

<![CDATA[Why there is no need to worry about Duke]]>

DUKE, from B12

bench has options in Joey Baker and Alex O'Connell to step up. They will be just fine.

I am able to see why someone would be skeptical to see me call Duke, Michigan State and Kentucky serious Final Four contenders this early in the season, given that the college basketball season is as long as it is. This season has also been particularly unpredictable overall so far.

But I stand by these claims because these losses have occurred so early in the season. These losses have been wake-up calls to the major programs, and it's better to have these wake-up calls early in the season rather than in the tournament. With elite coaching like these teams have, results like these won't be seen again this year.

As we have seen over the past several years, it is difficult to count out a team of Duke's caliber from making a deep tournament run. The past two years, Duke has been stopped just short of the Final Four with an overtime loss to Kansas in 2018 and a one-point loss to Michigan State in 2019. Coach Mike Krzyzewski is one of the best at what he does, year in and year out.

I should note that the makeup of Duke is much different now than it was even last year with the loss of RJ Barrett, Zion Williamson and Cameron Reddish. After landing the top three high-school recruits last year with an unprecedented freshman class, Duke's recruiters had a tough act to follow. And while Vernon Carey has been great, the team has not been on the same level.

However, the attitude and leadership haven't changed. Obviously the coaching staff has been the strong constant for Duke for decades. But sophomore Tre Jones manning the point guard spot is also a source of leadership and consistency for the team.

Krzyzewski shared his thoughts for this point in the season in a press conference with the media following the team's recent win over Winthrop.

"We're going to have to work through a bunch of things like that with this group," he said. "It'll take time and we're going to try to muck it out and we know we're not a top five team - maybe not even a top-25 team in the country right now."

If anybody knows where a team is at, it is the head coach. Especially when you're dealing with a coach with as much experience as Mike Krzyzewski. As the season progresses, I believe that the Blue Devils will be able to "muck it out" and find a rhythm.

So let's all relax and enjoy Stephen F. Austin's victory, because Duke will surely be a team to watch for a deep tournament run.

The unranked Steven F. Austin State University Lumberjacks did the unthinkable last Tuesday in taking down the No. 1 ranked Duke University Blue Devils basketball team in an overtime thriller, resulting in Duke's first non-Conference home loss in nearly 20 years.

At one point, the Lumberjacks were down as many as 15 points. For much of the first half, it looked like Duke would be able to cover its 27.5 point spread. But the Lumberjacks were eventually able to claw back and tie the score at 62 points apiece with eight minutes to play.

With less than 10 seconds on the clock, junior forward Gavin Kensmil dove for a loose ball and found senior forward Nathan Bain for the game winning fast-break layup.

Showing grit, passion and all of the other qualities NCAA fans have come to love in an underdog, the Lumberjacks pulled off an incredible victory, undoubtedly one of the biggest wins in the program's history.

As glorious as the victory is for Steven F. Austin, all is seemingly dark for the Duke fanbase. The talking heads in the sports world have posed multiple questions surrounding the confidence of the players and their ability to bounce back, especially with the loss of freshman star Cassius Stanley to injury.

But as demoralizing as the loss may be to Duke, it ultimately means very little to the Blue Devils.

The first few weeks have shown that this NCAA season holds no clear favorites. Already three different teams (Michigan State, Kansas and Duke) have held the crown of the number one spot.

The Michigan State Spartans have already dropped two games, including one to the unranked Virginia Tech Hokies.

Earlier this month, the University of Evansville Purple Aces were able to upset the University of Kentucky Wildcats. And, of course, the Blue Devils lost to the Lumberjacks.

Despite the albeit embarrassing losses to mid-major programs, nobody should count out these powerhouse programs from bouncing back to a deep postseason run.

We fans have a tendency to over-sensationalize these upset victories from unranked opponents.

Especially when they happen in the NCAA Tournament, it is a treat to see your friends' brackets busted and also a feel-good story.

The No. 11 ranked Butler University Bulldogs were able to make a run for the National Championship game, literally inches from winning the title off of Gordon Hayward's half-court heave in 2010.

The following year as an eight seed, the Bulldogs made another run for the title game, losing to the University of Connecticut Huskies in a hard-fought game.

The Loyola University Chicago Ramblers made a run all the way to the Final Four as an 11 seed in 2018.

These teams are just a few of the underdogs that happened in my lifetime out of the many in NCAA tournament history.

However, these underdog stories unfolded in the postseason, which is still four months away this season.

The underdog upsets that have occurred so far carry little weight because it's so early in the season, which means nothing is truly lost for the powerhouse programs who have lost as a number one seed.

This year, senior guard Cassius Winston and junior forward Xavier Tillman lead Michigan State. Tom Izzo, arguably one of the best college coaches today, is their coach. They will be just fine.

Kentucky has a solid squad with freshman Tyrese Maxey and junior Nick Richards leading the way alongside the great head coach John Calipari. They will also be just fine.

Duke is bringing back veterans in Tre Jones and Jack White with a strong freshman frontcourt of Vernon Carey Jr. and Matthew Hurt and the legendary Mike Krzyzewski is coaching them. Although Cassius Stanley is ruled out due to injury, the Duke bench has options in Joey Baker and Alex O'Connell to step up. They will be just fine.

I am able to see why someone would be skeptical to see me call Duke, Michigan State and Kentucky serious Final Four contenders this early in the season, given that the college basketball season is as long as it is. This season has also been particularly unpredictable overall so far.

But I stand by these claims because these losses have occurred so early in the season. These losses have been wake-up calls to the major programs, and it's better to have these wake-up calls early in the season rather than in the tournament. With elite coaching like these teams have, results like these won't be seen again this year.

As we have seen over the past several years, it is difficult to count out a team of Duke's caliber from making a deep tournament run. The past two years, Duke has been stopped just short of the Final Four with an overtime loss to Kansas in 2018 and a one-point loss to Michigan State in 2019. Coach Mike Krzyzewski is one of the best at what he does, year in and year out.

I should note that the makeup of Duke is much different now than it was even last year with the loss of RJ Barrett, Zion Williamson and Cameron Reddish. After landing the top three high-school recruits last year with an unprecedented freshman class, Duke's recruiters had a tough act to follow. And while Vernon Carey has been great, the team has not been on the same level.

However, the attitude and leadership haven't changed. Obviously the coaching staff has been the strong constant for Duke for decades. But sophomore Tre Jones manning the point guard spot is also a source of leadership and consistency for the team.

Krzyzewski shared his thoughts for this point in the season in a press conference with the media following the team's recent win over Winthrop.

"We're going to have to work through a bunch of things like that with this group," he said. "It'll take time and we're going to try to muck it out and we know we're not a top five team - maybe not even a top-25 team in the country right now."

If anybody knows where a team is at, it is the head coach. Especially when you're dealing with a coach with as much experience as Mike Krzyzewski. As the season progresses, I believe that the Blue Devils will be able to "muck it out" and find a rhythm.

So let's all relax and enjoy Stephen F. Austin's victory, because Duke will surely be a team to watch for a deep tournament run.


Duke's 150-game home winning streak against non-ACC teams ended.

<![CDATA[Women's basketball wins pair of games over Thanksgiving break]]> Hopkins women's basketball won both of their games over Thanksgiving break to move to 4-2 on the year. The Jays beat Bryn Mawr University 76-36 and McDaniel 51-42. Both wins came against conference rivals, so the Jays earned a 2-0 start in conference play.

Saturday began the team's five-game streak of Centennial Conference games to end the semester. Hopkins came into the game 3-2 facing an 0-3 Bryn Mawr squad in Goldfarb Gymnasium.

The Jays started fast and outpaced Bryn Mawr the whole game. There was not a single moment in the game where the Jays didn't have the lead. They simply overwhelmed the Owls. The Jays shot a Stephen Curry-like 48.4 percent from the floor.

On the other end they also played great defense, holding Bryn Mawr to a 31.7-percent clip shooting. Freshman forward Halie Egan stood out, leading all scorers with 13 points and adding seven rebounds for good measure.

Sophomore forward Erin Walsh also had a good game, leading the team in rebounds with nine boards, while contributing seven points on the offensive end.

However, it was a true team effort, as nine Jays scored more than five points in the win. Even the players that didn't score contributed with rebounds, assists and solid defense. The Jays will play the Owls again in February at Bryn Mawr.

Tuesday presented a tougher challenge for the Jays - there were seven lead changes throughout the game against McDaniel. Any time the Jays looked to put McDaniel away, the Green Terror would inch back into it. Going into halftime, the Jays were looking to extend the lead to double digits, but McDaniel cut the lead to five.

And, again with five minutes left in the game, the Jays were up by 11. But there was no quitting for McDaniel as they kept scoring point for point with Hopkins. It was a hard-fought game, and in hard-fought games you need leaders, such as sophomore guard Diarra Oden, who led the Jays in points (20), rebounds (eight) and assists (three). This was her first game back after dealing with an ankle injury. She was the biggest offensive piece for the Jays.

This year has been one of transition for the Hopkins women's basketball team. Six seniors left last year, two of whom were First-Team All-Centennial caliber players. The team now looks for a leader in Oden, who has been excelling this year.

She explained how she has taken on a bigger leadership role with the team in an interview with The News-Letter.

"It's still pretty much a big challenge every day learning how I can be a leader and how I can best help my teammates through anything on or off court," she said. "In terms of games, it's been really different in comparison to last year considering I mostly played with the seniors. But since everyone this year is so dedicated and looking to get better every day. Our team chemistry grows daily and it's just as fun and competitive."

On the other side of the ball, freshman guard Emily Howie contributed five steals. The overall defense was impressive as McDaniel was held to a 28 percent shooting percentage.

Hopkins won the game for two reasons: Oden could get a bucket when she needed to, and the entire Jays team clamped down on McDaniel. The defense was particularly crucial in the third quarter when McDaniel was held to only four points. So, even though the stat sheet was a one-woman show, this win was a team effort. The next time Hopkins plays McDaniel is Jan. 29 in Goldfarb Gym.

The Jays' next game is here at Hopkins against Gettysburg University who are undefeated thus far in the season. Kick-off is at 6 p.m. in Goldfarb.

<![CDATA[Volleyball finishes perfect season, wins national championship]]> The Hopkins volleyball team left Baltimore with one thing in mind: a national championship. The Jays swept their way through the regional tournament and arrived in Cedar Rapids, Iowa as the second overall seed in the Elite Eight, looking to continue their historic season.

Senior outside hitter Louisa Kishton shared the team's attitude as they arrived at the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Quarterfinals.

"When we got to Iowa, I think a lot of us had a feeling of gratitude," she said. "Especially for me and [senior middle blocker] Hannah Korslund, having our volleyball careers extended by one more week was really awesome."

The Jays started their trek to the finals against the College of Saint Benedict Bennies with the same intensity as they'd had all season.

They opened the first set with a dominant run, giving them a 13-7 lead off the strength of three huge blocks at the net.

The Bennies clawed their way back to even the set at 19, but the Jays shut the door on them, closing down the set with a kill by Kishton, giving them the 25-22 victory.

The next set began with the same type of control, as the Jays jumped out to a 13-5 lead, featuring an ace from sophomore middle blocker Eleni Panagopoulos and two kills from junior setter Natalie Aston. Saint Benedict crawled back once again, but a kill from junior outside hitter Simone Bliss pushed the set out of reach, and they eventually won it 25-17.

The third set was as straightforward as can be, with the Jays dominating from start to finish. They won the set 25-14, with five kills from Bliss and two aces from junior libero Nicole Hada. The sweep punched the Jays' ticket to their first ever Final Four appearance, where they faced Trinity College (Texas).

The match began with an unusual start, with the Jays committing a rotation error that put them in an early hole. However, unbothered and unconcerned, they stormed back, continuing with the same quality performance they have shown all season. They went point for point with Trinity, eventually capturing the first set 25-22.

Hopkins settled in from there, controlling the second set, just as they had all season. They took the second set 25-16, then took a 12-6 lead in the third set. At this point, they looked well on their way to advancing to the national championship match.

Then, the unthinkable happened.

Hada dove to return the ball, as she did all season. Once she hit the ground, she let out a cry that broke the hearts of her teammates and fans alike. She was helped off the court with an injury to her shoulder, which was the same injury that kept her out of 15 matches earlier in the season.

The injury was devastating, not only because the team lost Hada, but because the Blue Jay roster only consists of 10 players, and needs everyone at full strength. With their minds on Hada, they had to continue the match, with junior opposite hitter Morgan Wu stepping into the libero role, as she'd done earlier in the season.

The Jays, in shock following the injury, dropped the third set 25-21, their first lost set in three weeks. However, that was the wake up call that they needed. Hopkins snapped back into form, and dominated the fourth set.

Bliss and Kishton poured in 13 combined kills in the fourth set, and sophomore middle blocker Lauren Anthony added two aces as the Jays won the set 25-17, punching their ticket into the Division-III National Championship game.

But with the loss of Hada, there was the question of how the Jays would move forward without their on-court leader. However, Korslund quelled any fears of a drop-off in performance.

"Hada played such a key role in our championship run and we knew it would be tough without her," she said. "But, we all had complete faith in Morgan and felt comfortable going back to the original lineup, even though we were missing Hada."

The Jays entered the championship game against the No. 1-ranked, defending champion Emory University Eagles, who had topped the rankings for the entire season. A normal team would be worried or nervous for the match, considering the circumstances. But Kishton made it clear that she had no concerns heading into the final showdown.

"It was just time to ball out," she said. "Last game of the season, nothing to lose."

Korslund echoed the sentiment, saying that the team had a feeling of excitement, rather than nervousness.

In what had the potential to be their toughest match of the season, the Jays went about like it was business as usual. Aston opened the match with an ace, as she had done all season, and gave Hopkins a comfortable 5-0 lead.

The Eagles scratched their way back into the game, bringing the score to 14-13. Then, in a manner reminiscent of a prizefight, the two teams went blow-for-blow the rest of the game, with the first set resting on a match point for the Jays. The set culminated in a wild rally, with Bliss digging a ball from the hardwood and placing it right into the back line to give the Jays the opening set.

The second set was just as tightly contested, but the Jays were able to capture the pivotal game in the same manner as they had all season. They capitalized on their opponents' misses and minimized their own, winning the set 25-22.

It seemed as though the match became easier and easier for Hopkins. In what ended up being the final set, the Jays hit at an ultra-efficient 0.500 clip, and only committed one error. They secured the championship point off of a textbook dig-set-kill, punctuated by Kishton. The final kill of her career gave them the third set 25-18, the program's first National Championship and a perfect 35-0 season.

The team as a whole performed at the highest level they possibly could, and Bliss was named the Most Outstanding Player of the NCAA Championship after notching a ridiculous 21 kills in the championship match.

As the only two seniors on the team, Kishton and Korslund shared their thoughts on what it felt like cap their illustrious careers off with a National Championship.

"It was cool seeing it all come together with the National Championship, but there was also so much more to this season and our careers than that," Kishton said.

"It was definitely a cool feeling to see all the confetti and know that we'd won it all," Korslund said. "I'm proud of my career for more than just winning it all though, and am really grateful for all my coaches and teammates over the past four years."

In a magical season, the 2019 Blue Jay volleyball team showed themselves to be what we all knew they were: flawless.