My Education

“I’ve never let school interfere with my education.”
-Mark Twain
1.
I’ve always found comfort within the soft covers
and the strength needed when I lean on the hard ones.
They each add a vertebrae, lengthening my spine,
allowing me to stand taller and look further.
I believe it’s a symbiotic relationship:
I grew and they get used, but never used up.
I owe these cornucopia much more than they can offer,
so much that I would need a new word for infinity.

2.
How an issue is framed in school curriculums
is a reflection of society’s attitudes towards it,
Which is why I never completely trusted the contents page,
the lecture overview or the summary notes.
Life, even a section of it, cannot be compressed
in a year, in a semester, in the days before exams.
They only offer brief descriptions, general contents,
rough overviews and a summary of a summary.

3.
May be I should be more grateful,
and offer great praise for its contributions.
May be I should not credit its tools as much,
especially with the word’s attached connotation.
May be there is and yet no difference,
like the question of the chicken and the egg.
And yet I’m convinced there is, because
I would never curl up in bed, with an institution.

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My Education by Cheyenne Alexandria Phillips is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

Antrophology

7 children
5 boys
2 girls
1 dream:
Education.
Mum Basita is the wife of a barangay captain in Bohol, Philippines.
She used to work in Singapore because being a maid for a day paid more than being a farmer for a week.
Now, she makes 80 pesos for one kilo of brinjal.
That’s $2.40 SGD.
We were there to visit her barangay,
To understand their efforts of reforesting their land
To understand their reasons, their benefits, their personal stories.
But still, I didn’t expect to meet Mum Basita.
She walked us to her farm
And pulled out a stack of paper from her pocket
She had written her whole speech to us out, all seven pages
So that she wouldn’t forget.
She trembled. She couldn’t face us.
She didn’t want her tears analysed by foreign students
She didn’t want her feelings explained in academic language.
I held back any questions I originally had.
I forgot them all.
But my peers were still curious, still studious
Insisted she tell us more.
They scribbled her broken English down.
Her rough voice hit my ear drums in the same way
their pencils scratched at their note pads, desperately.
I’ve never had science fail me before.
Anthropology, I realised might be the study of people
But it is meaningless if we do not realise
that Anthropology is really the study
of people.

 

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Anthropology by Cheyenne Alexandria Phillips is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

Two Sisters

Once, there were two sisters: Tradition and Technology. Tradition was quiet and patient; her beauty was subtle enough to be ignored. Technology, on the other hand, was outgoing and exciting; she was known to be everyone’s best friend.

I visit the sisters often in their quaint HDB 3 bedroom apartment. Their living room is an interesting mix of wooden furniture housing up-to-date appliances, neon-coloured cushions Tradition made on the ratan sofa frame that Technology helped pick out. They always served me funky fruit teas in chipped porcelain cups.

Sometimes Technology gets called out for an event. She picks up the house phone, the one that attaches to the wall, with the long chord springing to life. She speaks enthusiastically, says ‘We’ll be there’, hangs up and rushes to her sister’s side to tell her all about the party. I watch her try to convince Tradition to come out for a night, just one night. She can borrow her clothes, her shoes, and they will never be out of each other’s sight but Tradition merely shakes her head. She kisses Technology’s cheek, wishes her a fun time and reminds her that she will leave the light on.

Technology hesitates before leaving, lingering at the door, commenting on how the new trendy heels she bought are too complicated to put on. Tradition offers her pair of flats knowing that her sister will never accept the offer. Technology promises she won’t be home late and disappears from the doorway.

Tradition puts her cup down and smiles softly at me. She apologises for her sister’s abrupt exit but I tell her to think nothing of it. She goes to the kitchen to make more tea, while mine is still steaming.

 

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Two Sisters by Cheyenne Alexandria Phillips is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.