Senior Experience Projects: Insider Perspectives

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B. Yan

Belinda Yan wears her belly dancing costume, complete with a coin skirt and finger symbols.

Karmi Chan and Julia Govan, Staff Writers

Miramonte seniors have the choice of taking traditional English 5, AP English, or the unique WISE class. WISE, or Wise Individualized Senior Experience, gives students the opportunity to work outside of the classroom on a project of their own personal interest. WISE students spend their first semester in an accelerated senior English class and begin their projects second semester. The final requirement for every student who chooses WISE is an end-of-the-year presentation in front of several teachers and advisors. Mirador caught up with four seniors who chose the WISE route.

Wesley Lau

Engineering

Mirador: Why did you choose WISE?

Wesley Lau: It was a pretty easy decision. I’ve never been good at English, and I like working on my own. I get to create my own syllabus and do what I enjoy!

M: Why engineering?

WL: I want to go into civil engineering. I plan on continuing my passion for it at MIT next fall.

M: Mentor?

WL: Ms. Schneider

M: Work you have to do for WISE?

WL: Five hours a week dedicated to third space. One-thousand words every week.

M: Where?

WL: The engineering department at the City of Oakland

M: How often?

WL: Every Tuesday and Thursday from 2:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.

M: How did you find your third space?

WL: I had to do a lot of contacting and be persistent throughout first semester. My uncle works at the City of Oakland and found that they were offering an internship at the transportation department.

M: Experience so far?

WL: I definitely enjoy it. You get a lot of life experience. In a classroom, you don’t get much of a workplace experience. You won’t be reading novels everyday in real life.

M: What is it like?

WL: You actually get to do something. I help re-strip streets and set parking time limits. I’m looking forward to working with construction workers.

M: WISE project end of the year presentation?

WL: Probably some sort of PowerPoint.

M: Funny/Weird Experiences? 

WL: I got off at 12th Street one time and encountered occupy protestors. It was pretty scary!

M: Do you recommend WISE?

WL: Yes! It gives you a much more hands-on learning experience. You’re not just sitting in a classroom. During senior year, most just aren’t as motivated to sit in English. It also prepares you for the actual work world and life.

Belinda Yan

Belly Dancing

Mirador: Why did you choose WISE?

Belinda Yan: I wanted to expand my knowledge of a different culture. My goal in life is to end up doing something I love, so I don’t hate going to work everyday. I love all performing arts, so it was an easy choice!

M: How did you find your third space?

BY: I went online and just searched belly dancing and found the closest place. It was simple.

M: Why belly dancing?

BY: I’ve always wanted to dance, but I can’t do ballet. I wanted to try something different.

M: Mentor?

BY: Mrs. Peterson. I meet with her every week.

M: Work you have to do for WISE?

BY: I write 1,000 words a week and an additional prompt once every two to three weeks.

M: Where?

BY: Walnut Creek Bellydance!

M: How often?

BY: Twice a week. Two classes each time. You pay $100 up front for two months and can go as often as you want.

M: Experience so far? 

BY: It’s been fun. I’m definitely learning and progressing. I love going; it’s like an outlet for stress. It’s just another form of exercise.

M: What is it like?

BY: There are no guys allowed. The teacher is a 60-year-old woman, so she doesn’t wear two piece outfits anymore, but there are pictures of her all over the studio. Most people just wear comfortable clothing like sweats, and our bellies for the most part aren’t exposed. I’m by far the youngest there. It’s mostly middle-aged women.

M: WISE project end of year presentation?

BY: I will eventually perform for the WISE project, and I probably will buy one of the traditional costumes to wear, which is normally a colorful outfit with silver “coins” on the skirts that make the jingling sound when you shimmy.

M: Funny/Weird experience?

BY: We were twirling scarves one day in class and I didn’t realize how long the scarf was, so I tripped and fell on my a** in front of the whole class. It was pretty embarrassing. We also use finger symbols, and whenever we’re moving our arms around and spinning people, we constantly lose them and hit each other. The symbols fly across the room.

M: Do you recommend WISE?

BY: Most definitely. I recommend it to everyone. It’s extremely fun, and you get to experience something new and devote yourself to something you love. I found a passion for belly dancing because of my project. I really want to continue belly dancing as a hobby. WISE is a great experience, and I’m glad I decided to take the class. Plus, you don’t have to go to class 6th period second semester.

Nick Read

Auto Repair 

 

Mirador: Why did you choose WISE?

Nick Read: To get out of English. It’s a chance to do something fun second semester and it keeps you on your game.

M: Why auto-repair?

NR: I’ve always liked cars, and I wanted a chance to learn how to work on them.

M: Mentor?

NR: Ms. Aracic.

M: Where?

NR: In Oakland at an auto repair shop called Torchio’s.

M: How often?

NR: Four hours every Tuesday and Thursday.

M: How did you find your third space?

NR: Ms. Aracic helped me by recommending Torchio’s.

M: Work you have to do for WISE?

NR: I write 1,000 words a week in a journal and turn in the journal every two weeks. At the end, the public can read everything I’ve written, so I have to consider that while writing.

M: Experience so far?

NR: It’s fun and awesome, and it seemed like a good opportunity. It’s a way to keep me interested as a second semester senior.

M: What is it like?

NR: There’s only one guy who speaks English fluently. The rest are all Mexican and Asian. You’re always scared you’re going to break something. I work on people’s cars, so it’s really nerve-wracking and I’m worried I’ll mess something up. A lot of the times I work on oil and tire changes alone. The bigger projects, such as removing a water pump, take a lot of work because you need to move other objects out of the way. There’s a lot of pressure to do everything right.

M: WISE project end of the year presentation?

NR: Honestly, I try not to think about it.

M: Funny/embarrassing experience?

NR: I went to do an oil change, and you have to unscrew a bolt to let all the oil out of the car. But the bolt kept spinning and wouldn’t come out and all the other workers were screaming, “What did you do?!” But it turns out it was all a big joke and there was already something wrong with the car even before I started working on it. It just shows how little experience I had with cars.

M: Do you recommend WISE?

NR: If you have anything you’re interested in, you should pursue it. You might as well try and give it your best shot.