Tag: origin

Origins of Us

I was quite fascinated to see and hear many researches related to the theme of “origin” from various approaches today. Especially I was struck by a panel about “Origins of the Somali Immigrant Community in Lewiston Maine”. It made me think more about the origin of us, human beings. The presenter explained me what has been happening in Somalia and I was quite shocked to know the fact that they are still in a confused situation. For instance, the country’s long-running conflicts or lacking of food or water which is resulted by droughts have been affecting numerous people in Somalia and they have no choice but to leave their country and move to a new place in order to survive. This brought a new wave of roughly 6,000 African-born immigrants mainly from Somalia, have arrived and settled in Maine.


This refugee issue reminds me the movie “Human Flow” directed by Ai Weiwei which I watched last month. In this film, Ai Weiwei picked the subject of the 21st century migrants issue in the world. Ai Weiwei traveled around the world (more than 20 countries) throughout a year with his camera crews and they filmed people who were forced from their homes to escape from climate change, famine or conflict.

I got a strong message at the beginning of the movie to think about order and chaos. The film starts with the scene of a migratory bird flying over the ocean and then the scene moves and captures a refugee boat flowing on the ocean. “Migrate” happens in natural laws as an animal move from one region or habitat to another, however, making orders such as laws or borders between countries have prevented people from migrating in human society and brought a chaotic world with people flowing who lost a place to go.


Related to those issues, I found another panel that was describing about a global organization which is called United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). UNHCR is dedicated to saving lives, protecting rights and building a better future for refugees, forcibly displaced communities and stateless people. I have raised in a country where I do not see many immigrants around me, and I was used to refuse to face the reality happening in the world. But I know feel strongly that this is not the issue of someone else but this is the issue we all have to face and involve because this is not the problem of immigrants but this is the crisis of human who is not willing to help others even though we can.


We all have origins and that is one of the elements shape our own ethnicities, nationalities, races, cultures, and identities. Thinking about our origins makes us aware that we are belonging to a community or connecting with people and that build a positive feeling in your core. There is no superior or inferior exist here. Each origins are genuine and precious. Ai Weiwei describes the links between the refugees and anyone else; “It is in our blood, beyond our knowledge, beyond our wisdom. We have the same body temperature. We use eyes to look basically at the same images. When we are hungry and cold, we feel the same” . We are all human beings and we have same origin if we track back to the far past. In our current society, we tend to focus on the differences between each other, refuse others and start fighting, however, if we could think at what we have in common, and if we could respect or accept each other with warmth, I believe that something positive impact would be brought in this world.

Science and Politics

Soviet Union and the West/

History of science

A day passes not here at Colby before I can see people acting superior to others because they are taking a number of science classes per semester, having a number of science labs where they will have to write a report each week on some hardcore science class. You are taking those five science classes, I am taking four social science classes so who is better that the other one? Do we need one without the other? These are the questions that I ask myself while trespassing the Colby’s campus every day. One field can’t be important without the other and all fields needs to be embraced.

This week we had Professor Elena Aronova come to Colby to speak about the history of science in the Soviet Union and the West during the Cold War. She talked about emphasize of science in the East and the West as they try to clinch the lead in scientific revolution and supremacy. Neither the Soviet nor the United States would want to be seen as the lesser one in Science. The Society had communist Academy which was Marxist research and study. By the mid-twenties, the Communist Academy was transformed into the Scientific-methodological center. Later the same institute petition for an establishment of the Institute for History of Science. This was in line of fostering the science culture in the East. The successful testing of hydrogen bomb gained more prestige. This was in some way showed some level of technological advancements in the east.

Professor Elena said that the scientific revolution started around the 17th century. She corroborated what we had been talking about origin that most of the things that we might be looking at is more of like an advancement from what has been there before. Professor Elena considered the Darwinian Theory as not really progress but she call it change. She thinks that the effects of the Second World War, Hiroshima and Nagasaki will never be forgotten in our history where thousands of people died from than Bomb attack.

She drew our attention to the scientific revolution and the political evolution that came with this. Each country would want to have power by being technologically advanced by employing a lot of sciences to be seen as advanced. From the scientific supremacy that the two regions wanted to be seen as one which was a head, I was reflecting in the need of people with specific skills in the world today. Countries have different policies on immigrants depending on the kind of skills that the country needs. I was asked the professor Aronova in class if she thought we are still in that state of trying to see who has advanced a lot from the scientific world now between the East and the West. I was thinking of varying amount of time international students taking different courses get to practice here in the US after graduation. The students who graduated from the STEM subjects gets around three years to practice in the stem field, which is mostly Science and computer science and Math which none-stem, international students only have one year to practice what they have learnt. This discrepancy then I think is still the need to advance the country in the scientific field that makes countries to have different policies to meet their needs.

This was an interesting topic to end the lecture series of the year. It has been great getting faculty from different field to come talk to us.


Origin and Evolution Earth


Basic reasons why our planet earth was habitable, presence of liquid water, habitable climate and complex life, and other planets are not, were the main things I knew about earth and other planets. Questions that lingers my mind is that were we lucky that the conditions for life existed in our planet or we are special to some extend that only we have these conditions and do we really have these conditions on earth only or could there be other places where these conditions are but only that we have not found them? The Yale professor David Bercovic, shaded more light on the origin and evolution of the earth to where we are now.

Professor Bercovic introduced us to the Big Bang theory. This theory states that the universe was one thing, expanded and eventually exploded. The singularity was in form of hot dense plasma, which had free electrons. As time passed on, the universe cooled enough to form helium. From the heat, helium formed bigger elements that were needed for complex life.  He shared with us the evidence of the Big Bang. Gallactic “Red Shift”, by Hubble Expansion, that the other galaxies are expanding away from each other. Cosmic microwave background as well remains to be evidence that Big Bang happened. After exploding, clouds collapsed to form stars. Stars as well differ in size, how much light it produced and its life.  Big stars burn faster, produced more light and last for a shorter period while the smaller ones burn slowly, emit less light and last longer. Through this burning of stars is when elements necessary for life were formed. Elements heavier than iron like uranium need external energy to form. Presence of heavy elements which entails everything that we need in life were formed because of the big bang.

This lecture made me think about my religious background about creation. In the Book of Genesis, we are told of God spending six days creating the earth and all that was in it. His words of mouth, creating things like his famous one “let there be light”, which happened and him molding Adam from soil then creating Eve from Adam’s rib while asleep, have been what I believed based on my religion since I was a child. I have never had opportunity to question it. When I think about it now, I ask myself where did he get the soil to create the earth and also how real can it be that he created Adam using soil.  However, I have not seen evidence of God’s universe creation as we have seen evidence from Big Bang theory. Whether or not Genesis way or the Big Bang way was where we have our planet, both still holds a lot that we would like to know. In both cases, we can agree that it is still a mystery that we only have habitable earth and we do not know for certain where all this started.

I might not have one theory that I can cling on now, but I think it was great to have professor Bercovic that I get diverse possible explanations to the origin and the evolution of the earth.

American Origin of Nationalism: An etymological approach.

This past week, Professor Arnout Van Demeer, come to discuss the origins of nationalism in Southeast Asia. While I could summarize the tale of Soemarsono igniting change and deconstruct the analogy of the oil lamp, I feel more compelled to search for our origins of nationalism. Now, to be clear, “our” refers to the American origins of nationalism, and that in itself contains a number of complications. So I care to ask, just as I have scrawled in my notes: can we be nationalistic despite not being a native. Yet, though not a native American (note how I’m not capitalizing native), I am still an American national. This of course, opens a further can of worms, stemming from questions of national identity. Thus, I’ll start at the root: ‘nat’.

‘Nat’, as in nation, nationalism, and native directly means ‘to be born’ or ‘to spring forth’. Yet, the majority of our country has familial roots spanning multiple nations, thus ‘international’ and ‘internationalism’ seem a better. Therefore I question that, unless you are indeed a native American, wouldn’t it be better to refer to your nationalism as internationalism. With such a minute percentage of native Americans, isn’t then nationalism re-branded internationalism under the guise of a unifying umbrella nation? Perhaps the suffix clarifies this ambiguous derivation…

The suffix ‘al’ is simple, meaning “of a kind or pertaining to”; therefore ‘national’ means ‘concerned with or pertaining to a nation’.1(<<apparently I cannot superscript) Does that not therefore deem my previous assessment of nationalism invalid? The final suffix, ‘ism’, is merely means “the distinctive doctrine or theory of”. Therefore, nationalism is the doctrine pertaining to a nation, and I care to argue that my previous logic is actually backwards. Instead of nationalism being exclusive to those tied to the nation from birth, perhaps nationalism, in a way, ties those who share the unifying ideals of a nation regardless of birthplace as ‘nat’ suggests. Of course, this is only an etymological view of nationalism, but it seems to suggest that anyone — immigrant, national, or otherwise — is as much as an American as those born in America*.2

Now where does this fit in with the larger theme of origins? I’m not sure if it does…yet

With such a large uprising in nationalism” surrounding the recent elections, it’s hard not to notice the hypocritical rhetoric that helped our president into Washington. Threats of deportation and slogans of “make America great again” don’t exactly mix with the idea that Americans are any people who agree with core “American values” (and yes I do put this in quotations because, I believe, ideals of equality and freedom aren’t exclusively American). However, I do believe that we, as Americans, in the upcoming years must bring this issue of inclusive nationalism to light, and find order in our self-referential chaos.

* The fine print here being: as long as they share the ideals of the nation as a whole.

  1. Sidenote: Notice how ‘foreign national’ is one who does not belong to the nation where they preside. Yet, when taking the root ‘nat’ literally, every immigrant, citizen or not, is a foreign national.
  2. Revisiting the preceding footnote: With the understanding of national and nationalism I have just derived and ignoring legal classifications, a ‘foreign national’,  is not so different from ‘immigrant’. More reading here: https://medium.com/reportedly/the-language-we-use-foreign-vs-immigrant-4e70f955f56b

Unexpected Connection between Origins

“Origins of the Royal Society and Origins of the Novel”, how would people imagine that there might be a connection between them. It looks like they have not much to do with each other, however, the Royal Society emerged in mid-late 17th century supported by Charles II and this was also the period as we began to see the emergence of another thing, which was the Novel. Is this a coincidence or is there some sense of relationship between these two that they were happening around the same time?  


Royal Society was interested in doing experiment of science as a way of knowing. What further those people holded up is shown as the motto from Latin word, nulliun in verba, which means take nobody’s word for it. This makes me aware that the Royal Society always stands on perceiving science or natural world as distrust and pursues the facts with real data or figures by experiments and observations.   


This stance was also didactic for me because I did not realize that there is the novel before the famous book Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe until today which I thought that it was the oldest British novel. In fact, in 1666 there was a publication of The Blazing World by Margaret Cavendish and it might be considered as one the first novels. What made me surprise was that it was written by a woman and she was also the first woman to visit the Royal Society in 1667. She was representing gender-wise as the only woman in 17th century who accomplished great deeds in science and natural philosophy.


It was interesting to see how this Royal Society ideas of experiments and making efforts to explain the improbable to public reflected in novels. The novels from 17th century through early 19th century had gained some characteristics to create realistic and rational explanations in order to make people understand, for instance they focused on more ordinary people, day-to-day things and produce more minds and particulars. As prof. Hanlon argued, the all of these elements of the novels are related or influenced by the object of experimental science.


Although the characteristics or genres of novels have been changing with societies’, authors’ and readers’ diverse values, the basic forms of novels which origin in 17th century are still living in the novels as essential components. Kazuo Ishiguro is one of the examples who is British writer and has won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2017. He wrote a book “Never Let Me Go”(2005) which is considered as a scientific novel. The story goes on with the narrator Kathy who is a protagonist and was born as a clone who donates her vital organs when she reaches a young adult. I think it is interesting experimental novel because we may have peculiar experiences that we see ourself in a position of Kathy and have empathy on her, but also we might create a sense of feeling of shudder that we are the one of the majority of humans who pretends to be a ignorant about clones through Kathy’s eyes. The world with clones describing in the book may sounds improbable but it makes us enable to feel realistic and drags us into the story because Ishiguro provides detail-oriented delineation and describing real life events such as focusing on school life, friendship and love.


It is interesting to get an idea that origins could trigger to the others and they might be influenced and related each other even though it looks nothing to do with like origins of the Royal Society and the novel. It made me aware that what is important is not just satisfied with knowing origins superficially but try digging deeply by knowing the backgrounds the period those origins happened and extend to other fields and keep exploring so that we might be able to discover unexpected connections.