Friday, March 18, 2011

How Far Are You Willing to Challenge Your Weakness?


Trust me, I know I will usually address an undermining of passion towards scientific research, but this time it has nothing to do with science – at least, no directly. This week had been a really fearful week for me as I think it was my first time putting so much effort in putting things right, especially on something which in the past I had not done well. Age of the Mediterranean, is a module of Hellenization, Christianization and Islamization, and Europeanization. Not to go into detail, I will just highlight the main topic in this post. I mentioned I had a very bad experience in the midterm, but the symposium work happened to be as stressful. Looking back, why did I think when I take this module? First, it was a total accident. I planned to take another EU module: Empires, Colonies and Imperialism. At least the title sounds something related to my country’s history and it’s cool to learn it from a different perspective. And planned for that since the first semester of 3rd year since it was my last year and I would like to make sure I can fit my timetable. However, it appears that, the website made a last minute update right before 2nd semester and my whole timetable was messed up – plus, this particular module was not even in the list. I would have been shouting , “WHAT?!” but instead, ended up with several e-mail bombardments between me and the European Studies academic convenor and CORS office. In the end, I was of course forced to find a solution by changing my direction. Not thinking I can handle philosophy or literature, I ruled out political science as the module description was not really appealing (was expecting more drama Rire), and decided to went back to history instead, a subject I had not been very well in, with a certain of despise and bad experience during high school – but a new found interest back in NUS. There were only three EU history modules: Why History, Age of the Mediterranean and Cold War. I need only two but I took three – but back to the point –why didn’t I throw Mediterranean out of my choice bucket?

It contains really things that is related to science and learning; something like I will be deepening my knowledge back to its roots. And second, it contains Islamization – one of the weakest subject I was in. Although I realized what we learned in SPM is totally irrelevant to this, the initial idea was that I would like to give myself another chance – to prove or to fix my weakness. I wish I will change my view about Islamic studies under different education system. And I think this is sort of the time I should challenge myself, an ‘enemy’ many could not conquer. And this week is the symposium for ‘Is Islamic Europe an Oxymoron?’. To left with a total independent research on a topic I don’t even have basic on, is cruel at time – but I tried my best. Working as a group, again, has its pros and cons. I was to face with people who weigh their individual essay more than anything, walked out of discussion, not discussing, not replying emails – but yet, because of knowledge and social skills, got to be in better position during the whole symposium. I see people who were so experience in this topic that not only they have background in this but also external sources to help them in their study. Seriously, when I was facing all these and comparing them to me, I felt extremely helpless as it’s a year 2 module and the teacher obviously will not tell you answers. In the end, I read a lot, find a lot and spent almost every second on this – dumping my research aside (because the machine broke down as well la) – and I found factual stuff about my piece – but what’s its significance? What’s the hidden message? What’s it going to do with Islamic Europe? How to link it back to my argument? In this, due to lack of background about its historical context and the religion context – I am really miserable. What’s more was I thought at least I could sort things out during the symposium, by knowing more about this piece – things I don’t know. Due to time constraint, I was not able to dig information out of it and even left with an unfinished group essay!

And when I say group essay – it is supposed to be done by the group. But what happened? Because of obvious slanting grading towards individual essay, no one cares about group essay! Although there are one or two who did helped out but we didn’t manage to finish it by symposium and as the symposiarch, I was subjected to the embarrassment of asking the teacher if we could pass up on the same day but at a later time. If this is the case, fine! But no one really make any special changes to the essay until few of us busy editing at the last hours of that day! Being not really an English person or History person, I am really lack of confidence in editing the essay – especially those not by me! However, in the end, we still make it. I was so exhausted and miserable that I decided to just click send and it just sent! I understand it was not up to the teacher to cause many of us unable to discuss about our pieces but what can I do, this I guess is when we can just look up to the sky and say, “Ini adalah takdir Tuhan”.

Anyway, the tessera I was working on is this:

Tessera 10


Symposium Group Essay – Islamic Europe: Clash or Continuity?

Tessera Essay – Islamic and Western Civilization: A Covalent Bond?

Tessera Handout

* Information about their authors were removed to protect their privacies.

* Please note that these are just for reference as they are licensed. Other than that, opinion produced in the work is purely our interpretation and do take note it was just a product of minds from undergraduates consists of student who are of history and non-history disciplines.

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