Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Fiddler on the Roof, Snow and IASAS MUN

Wow, this first semester was pretty intense.  Even though I am a senior and should have been focusing on my college applications, I participated in my usual, drama production as well as added the dance production and MUN to the list.  It was a really fun semester because it was my last year in participating in either of the events so I truly felt I worked hard and enjoyed my experiences during those times.

I will begin with IASAS because I knew I was going to be working on IASAS MUN since junior year.  I knew I would not have time to be a delegate at IASAS MUN even though it would be at our school, instead, I knew the best way I could help was helping as Head of Tech.  However, back in junior year, I did not realize how much work it would've been.  When the school year began, and I had the first meeting with Emily Sun (who was helping me) and Ms. Sinclair, Ms. Sohn and Ms. Cutler, I realized that it would be a long three months.

My first job was to redesigned the website; when Mr. Gray copied everything from the ISM site to a new one that we had, my first thought was, goodness, this is atrocious.  The colors, while they were our school colors, were visually jarring and was painful to my eyes.  The sidebar looked complicated and unappealing.  While I initially tried to plead the teachers for the ability to change the site, the first reaction was no.  I realized then, that the easiest way was to work with Emily and together we would create a new site and present it to them hoping that it would change their minds.  So, we went through the old site, picking and choosing what was necessary for the new site, and what should be ignored.  After that, we created a new site, with better colors, added a banner on the top, and had dropdown menus.  In my opinion, it looked cleaner and a lot more slick.  This process took about 2.5 months, as there was quite a bit of last minute information that still needed to go up sometimes.

My other task was to create a system that would make our conference virtually paperless.  I immediately knew that the system I used for MSTAIMUN that previous year would work.  However, because IASAS MUN was more prestigious in a sense, I had to adjust the system to make it even more streamline, as well as document every single step to ensure that the next school hosting could use the same system.  In the end, the system was a success because of the previous testing through MSTAIMUN, but also because the system itself was quite intuitive.  The only thing that wasn't paperless was the note system, but that was kept because  many believed that the skype system from the previous year didn't work.

Finally, as Head of Tech, I knew I would have to be at the conference as onsite Technical Support.  Thus, on the day, as well as the day before, I was helping delegates connect to the internet while also solving minor technical issues in both audio and visual.  The experience was quite relaxing and fun because there were points in time where there wasn't much to do, and then the next moment, a flood of issues.  It was fun because I was given a walkie-talkie with a headset that I thought, was really cool to use.  While some felt it was unnecessary or intrusive, I just thought it was cool and made me feel more important.  In the end, it was tiring, but still something I was glad to be a part of. While, I wasn't a delegate, I still made some really cool friends working, and got to know some other people better.

Drama Production
This year's drama production was the Broadway Musical, Fiddler on the Roof, an amazing musical that I saw as a movie.  We began work for the musical right away, inside the small dressing rooms in the back of the theatre.  We  had envisioned working in the extra science room across the auditorium, however we were told by Mr. P that we couldn't.  Then I decided to personally ask him for the room, and right after that, we got the room.  That was exciting, now we could easily build props and tons of other stuff inside the bigger room.  This year, working on the tech crew, were myself, Tasha, Emma, Jasmine, Sandra, Hansen, Nicole and Eric.  While there were others, they weren't always around and did not directly work with me during the process.  I was the Master Carpenter (only because I know how to use the tools), Running Crew Head (only because I'm strong) and an extra (they ran out of people).  The show heavily relied on props, so most of us spent our time building large stage props or smaller hand props.  Things I helped build this year, included the benches, kitchen table, stools, cabinet, bed, tombstones and many other props.

As the Running Crew Head, I was in charge of the Running Crew, making sure they knew what was expected of them as part of the running crew.  Last year, the running crew did  not have the same group of people each time and therefore felt very unorganized.  This year, I stressed the need for the running crew being present for all the rehearsals unless there were exigent circumstances.  The show this year had many elaborate scene changes and special features.  One of the features was Frumah Sarah's levitation which was executed through the use of a harness and a rising batten.  As a member of the running crew we were given costumes similar to the other peasants in the show.

As an extra, I had to walk across the stage dressed as a Russian Orthodox priest.  I had a robe, a hat that had a beard attached and a staff.  Later, I had to dress up as a Russian soldier and destroy a wedding.  One of the coolest things that I had to do was rip a pillow case open that was stuffed with feathers.  It's a pretty cool moment because it's right at the beginning of the scene where the soldiers destroy the wedding.  While the feathers float down, myself and another soldier throw down the table, and I attack groom.  Sadly, the scene is followed with intermission, in which I, changed back into a Russian peasant, cleans up the feathers by vacuuming the stage.

In my opinion, this year's show was very grand in a sense that it was the most complicated show I personally have done as a backstage manager.  I initially was disappointed to be backstage manager because I had envisioned myself as the Stage Manager for once, however, I still worked as hard as I could and did the best as always.  There were times when I was very annoyed, especially at some of the teachers because they didn't understand that I had more experience as a techie than they did and that everything I did was for the benefit of the show.  In the end, I was pleased with the final outcome and was glad that I participated in it.

Dance Production
This year, would mark the second time I would have tech for dance production.  This year's dance production was called Snow, a production that took Snow White and changed the story and replacing the seven dwarfs for the seven deadly sins.  Unlike the year before, we only had three days to prepare the theatre for a dance production.  That included striking the set from Fiddler and setting up the light trees.

Because I was the backstage manager for drama, I knew there wouldn't be a chance to be stage manager because Tasha would be given that role, I really wanted to be lightboard operator.  I haven't had a chance to  be officially on the lightboard since last year during the dance production.  However, because I was told that the scene changes would be elaborate, I became the backstage manager again.

In reality, the most difficult aspect about the show was the actual snow.  The snow was basically two battens with a special drop system using ropes.  Initially, we were told that it was only going to snow once or twice in the show.  However, by the time the show came around, we ended up having to snow four to five times.  As a result, because we didn't have that much snow, and we ended up having to recycle the snow after rehearsals and shows.  Basically, we had to go sweep up all the snow and pick through the plastic removing hair, scabs, threads and other random things that was in there.  It was disgusting.

The show itself was pretty easy to do.  There weren't exactly that many hard things to do, just the snow.  I personally was a bit disappointed when I wasn't chosen to do lightboard operator but, I knew that regardless of what I did, I would put in my best work and I did.  It was officially my last show, and I was glad that I had participated.

Anyways, so there you have it, a long and stressful semester.  It was the only semester that I actually participated in all three events at the same time.  What made it very tiring was, IASAS MUN and Dance Production were on the same day.  So I would do IASAS MUN during the day, and then run the Dance Production Tech at night.  I had a lot of fun with both so it was quite worth it.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Positive, Encouraging (Summer 2012)

Wow. That was a long and eventful summer.  11 weeks.  Now that look back at my summer, I would say that this year's summer was all about discovery and rediscovery.  My summer was broken up in about 3 sections.  Tennis, Church and Colleges.  Each of these sections played a key part in my summer.

During my 11 weeks of summer, I spent a lot of time playing and coaching tennis as well as working at a tennis tournament.  As a full time coach this year, I earned approximately 12 $/hr working about 14 hours a week.  I learned a lot from my from coaching tennis, mainly how to interact with kids, how to motivate them to play or to work.  I really enjoyed working with my fellow coaches as well as Barbara, Claire and Alita.  Not only did I coach, I also played tennis as well.  I was part of the High School Clinic that went on Mondays and Thursdays from 4:30 to 6. I learned a lot this summer from Jerry, Claire and Mark.  (Side note, I was glad that I met Jerry this year)  I also made some really good friends during the clinic.  I played some matches, except all of them were against kids that were 13-15 years old, which was extremely sad.  On top of coaching and playing, on the first week of August, I worked with a group of people to help run our annual tennis tournament at MCC.  I was the de facto leader of the group, and we accomplished a lot of things during the 13 hours a day work for a week.

In the mornings, we would arrive at MCC at around 8:30-8:45 to begin set up.  We would first wipe down the cars, put up scorecards and singles sticks.  After which we would just wait and hang out until people started playing matches.  Before matches, we would help the players by bringing their balls and name cards down to the court. Then during the day, we would clean up courts, clear courts, help set-up things, do miscellaneous jobs. At the end, we would clean up and return home at around 8-9.  That went on for about 4 days, until the finale on Sunday.

Sunday was the big finale with all the finals matching.  Most of the helpers as well as a separate group of  ballkids would ballkid the matches.  This year's team was trained by myself, and Barbara.  This year, our group was really good, and the kids worked really hard.  I was so proud of them after the whole tournament.

During the summer, I also had the chance to go the Bank of the West Classic in Stanford.  We were lucky enough to watch players such as Pete Sampras, Michael Chang, Jelena Jankovic, Serena Williams, Marion Bartoli, and a few others.  I took plenty of pictures which was fun.

This summer, I decided to go back to the Contra Costa Gospel Church, in Walnut Creek to check out the Youth.  To my surprise, I had a lot of fun and met a lot of fun people.  These people would become my really good friends over the summer.  When I first went back to the church, I was immediately invited to a bonding event where we went to Great America.  Realizing that I would have tons of fun at this church and with this youth group, I began to attend the church as well as their youth fellowships on Saturday nights.  Some of the things they did such as the games, became additions to Paradyme's games and such.  Some of the people I met that would be really good friends were Chris Wang, Joby Zhang, Rachel Hua, Bob Zhou, Everett Tsang, Matt and Melvin Lai, and so many others.  For some reason, that church reminded me of Paradyme back at home.

This summer, in preparation for my college applications, we visited Santa Clara University, Claremont McKenna College and Occidental College.  I really enjoyed my visits their because I learned a lot more about there school than I did online.  While we visited Occidental and Claremont, I had the chance to have an interview at Occidental which I believed help solidify my decision to apply there.

Yeah, I know this is really late which is why I didn't write as much for the latter two paragraphs.  Sigh, Senior year is stressful.