Friday, July 3, 2009

The Countdown Begins...

Wow, how time flies by. I really cannot believe that we are only 20 days away from leaving to Yale. It has been a pleasure reading the blogs from Colombia, Brown, and Cornell University as well as viewing the pictures that people have posted. I am well determined to put many pictures of us and the Yale campus once we arrive. (I aim to bring two blank memory cards with me on our trip, and hope to upload pictures often). I am also eager to see Connecticut College AND Wesleyan College before we arrive at Yale. Our two weeks in Connecticut will change our lives and open us to the many opportunities calling for us in the East Coast. This is our chance to shine for the WCCUSD and I am sure that the four of us (Matt, Stephanie, Yohanna, and myself) will make a good impression at Yale…especially because of how we are managing to finish the list of books!

I am currently on my sixth book (out of 10), and I must say that I did not think I would be so interested in the material. As a quick recap, the last time I blogged, I had just finished my third book, The Prince, by Machiavelli. The next book that I chose to read was the smallest book of all, The Return of History and the End of Dreams, by Robert Kagan, who went “back in time” to evaluate the post-Cold War Era. Throughout the book, Kagan reviews each of the great powers of the world, such as the United States, Russia, Japan, Iran, India, and Europe. His overall emphasis is the competition between these great powers and the race between the rising ideologies of liberalism and autocracy.

Next, I captured the essence of Genghis Khan, in the descriptive book, Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World, by Jack Weatherford. Similar to Stephanie’s impression of the book, I too enjoyed the storytelling and amazing facts (however some stories were very violent, with gruesome descriptions that I would never have imagined anyone would have done). Weatherford starts off with a historical introduction about the young Genghis Khan and his impact on the Mongol empire, and in actual, summarizes most of his “findings” in the introduction. This book was actually written after Weatherford and a group of others went to the childhood places of Genghis Khan, where they set off on their mission “to understand Genghis Khan and his impact on world history”. Throughout this book, I found that Genghis Khan resembled the Sage Commander mentioned in The Art of War. His actions, especially during combat, showed courage, great tactics, and the use of advantages to lead to victory. I realized that besides highlighting main ideas, I was also writing down which specific sentences related to the previous books. For instance, Never Eat Alone made several appearances, such as the need to work together and build connections. As the author personally states, “No single scholar could complete the task [of decoding an important source of information, known as the Secret History], but working together with a team from different backgrounds, we could begin to find the answers." This book was magnificent in all these ways, and I loved it from beginning to the end (though the ending was sort of slow).

The current book I am reading is called The Post-American War, by Fareed Zakaria. Its main message is the fact that we are currently living in a world where power is shifting from America to those of other countries. He has tagged the name “the rise of the rest”, where countries have been experiencing tremendous rates of economic growth. He goes around the world, talking about many countries (especially China and India) and their amazing development in the modern era. Looking at the published date, this book is pretty recent (2008), though much has already occurred during the New Year. I am actually very curious about his views considering today’s news on the war in Iraq, our new president, and the economy. What I realized was that some of his information came from Paul Kennedy, the author of The Rise and Fall of Great Powers, a book I still have to read.

I hope this post has served its purpose and is informational and enjoyable to read. Once again, the countdown begins with only 20 more days left! P.S. Mr. Gosney, thank you for your valuable e-mails, about how to post blogs. They have definitely helped me, and I have already began taking your advice. Well, that's all for now. Thanks for reading, everyone!


  1. It has served its purpose. Thanks for taking us through your last few weeks with the reading. I know that you are excited about the upcoming journey and I look forward to our visit to Connecticut College and Wesleyan.

    Hope all else is well.

    It sounds like you are getting a big jump on your reading. I hope the other three students are also doing the same prior to our departure to Yale.

    Take care.

    Charles T. Ramsey

  2. Jessica,

    The best part about reading the magnificent blogs from the Yalies is that I don’t have to read those ten books that you all did, Your synopsis and analysis have all been so good that you’ve given us the “cliff’s Notes” versions and saved us a tremendous amount of time.

    It was truly enjoyable reading your blog, Jessica. It was very well written, thought out and without typos or misspellings. After reading nearly 300 blogs in the past two weeks it’s a relief to read one such as yours.

    One thing they often ignore when referring to Genghis Khan and his conquering of his world was just how truly violent things were. (John Wayne actually played him in a movie and I don’t recall the wholesale slaughter of entire villages in that movie.)

    The violence was used as a strategic tactic to frighten other villages into submission (just as some of the tactics used by the Taliban and even the wholesale rape of Muslim men and women in the Baltic States during the ‘90’s. It was an effective tool. It also helped to set the scene for when the Mongols had to rule their empire after the bloodletting had ceased. People tend to go along with the new regime much easier when they fear for their lives.

    It sounds like you’re well on your way to being prepared for your adventure in New Haven. We’ll all be in touch with you individually to discuss your preparations to make sure you have everything you need for your trip.

    In the next 20 days, though, have some fun. Read the rest of your books but have some fun.