Archive for November, 2009

Research Blog 5 (11/17/09)

Nolan W.    
Research Blog 5

    This week, I completely finished my research paper and have moved on to the multigenre elements of the project. I am really excited about these elements, because they will hopefully let my creativity show. I have always been intrigued by collages that are comprised of hundreds of different images when separated, but one completely different image when together, and I hope to find a way to generate one of those. Along with the multigenre elements, I have been organizing my research portfolio hosted by Google Sites. All of the Google programs have been incredibly helpful and a breeze to use. One of my favorite programs has been Google Docs. It Has been a major resource for me because one of the computers my family owns is loaded with a cheap knock-off version of Microsoft Word, and the other computer is incredibly slow and very hard to get work done on. Another on e of my favorite programs by Google has been, Google Sites. It has been very helpful in that it has allowed me to broadcast all of my work in one place. The program itself is very well organized, and easy to swap between sites when working. I am currently managing three different sites through Google Sites, and I have had very little trouble with any of them thus far. This week has been very enjoyable so far, because most of the work has been fun, and in no way stressful. I am looking forward to seeing this project once completed.

Nolan W.    
Research Blog 4

    This week in my research, I have completed the shaping sheet for my research paper, and written a rough draft. Later this week I will write a second rough draft, and later, a final draft. Along with working on the actual paper, I have finished the memoir: Shake Hands With the Devil written by Roméo Dallaire. For the most part, I am finished with pre-writing, and have moved into editing. This entire project has been surprisingly time consuming, as it has used the better part of October, and now moving into November, and it will be finished in December. Don’t get me wrong, I am certainly not complaining, in fact I have been quite enjoying this project all the way from the start. I have enjoyed the reading, and enjoyed the blog posts for the most part (until the end when they were hard to write and seemed to be every day). The true research process was fun, and I enjoyed getting to use Noodle Tools for the note card feature, as well as learning to create many MLA documents, among them being headers, works cited pages, and other related materials. I am not sure if the purpose of the project is to prepare us for the senior project, as it does seem to be closely modeled after the much bigger senior project, but it may just be intended to be a normal project for honors students. Overall it has been one of the better experiences I have had in a literature class (or any English class for that matter), and for once has provided a good challenge as compared to every other English class I have ever taken.

Reader Response 10 (11/5/09)

450-522 November 5, 2009
Shake Hands With the Devil, Roméo Dallaire.

I have now completed the Novel, and this is the last reader response. Since the last response, things finally settled down, and eventually ended when enough force had been brought in, the “belligerents” as Dallaire calls them ran out of money, food, potable water, and ammunition. The clean up process then began, and Dalliare with his crew were finally able to relax. Naturally, since UNAMIR was primarily comprised of Canadians, they started a small game of hockey (it was actually field hockey) during some peaceful downtime to relieve some stress that had heavily built up on the troops. Once the violence had been declared over, and that UNAMIR had finally won the battle to restore peace in Rwanda, Roméo had a party for the first time in over a year. The combination of UNAMIR, UNAMIR 2, and Operation Turquoise had brought peace back to the warring nation, and their mission was complete there. The party must have been somewhat bittersweet because of the hundreds upon hundreds of lives that had been lost in the battles, and how the entire operation had been considered a failure halfway through, but they turned it around once they gathered enough attention from powerful countries, and in the very end returned with exponentially more power than they had begun with. After the party, and after Roméo ensured that the clean-up and healing processes had begun, and that Rwandans could handle the rest themselves, they were able to leave Africa. They finally departed on August 20, 1994. The whole thing had lasted nearly a year.

The book has come a long way from the beginning, starting from a small group of under armed, under funded, under powered, untried, battle fresh recruits. Those very soldiers used what they had and turned themselves into battle ready, hardened, powerful individuals, that were ready for anything. It took time, and sadly, the lives of many military operatives, as well as the lives of many innocent civilians in Rwanda. One of the saddest parts about reading this book has been the realization that this issue, many previous incidents, and a lot of current issues have been out of the light of the media. Nobody wants to have anything to do with it. The only time any attention is brought to these issues is when a celebrity or someone similar visits one of these countries, and calls attention to a small, seemingly bad area. The only problem with this is that in truth, those areas are nowhere near as bad as many others in the country, and even after all the attention the individual may call to the seemingly bad area, the light shed on the subject quickly dissipates back into nothing. There were times in the book when I was sure that the operation was doomed, and that there was nothing that could be done to save them aside from pulling out and leaving Rwanda to its own vices. I am extremely grateful that this did not happen as it would have lead to the deaths of many more innocent lives in Rwanda, and it would have made for a very uninteresting disappointing read.

The passage that struck me this last time around was one of the more surprising things that I have read in the book. The passage was, “By this point I wasn’t bothering to make excuses any more to disguise my quest for solitude. I would just sneak away and then drive around, thinking all manner of black thoughts that I couldn’t permit myself to say to anyone for fear of the effect on the morale of my troops. Without my marking the moment, death became a desired option. I hoped I would hit a mine or run into an ambush and just end it all. I think some part of me wanted to join the legions of dead, whom I felt I had failed. I could not face the thought of leaving Rwanda alive after so many people had died. On my travels around the country, whole roads and villages were empty, as if they’d been hit by a nuclear bomb or the bubonic plague. You could drive for miles without seeing a single human being or a single living creature. Everything seemed so dead.” (Dallaire 500). This passage was surprising because it was the first time I can recall that Roméo has given up. He has showed courage and power throughout the book up until this point, and it gives me as the reader a small peek into the softer side of the iron hard Roméo Dallaire that I have been reading about. I very much enjoyed reading Shake Hands With the Devil. If I had the chance to choose it again, I probably would. It was an entertaining, emotionally wrenching, informative, work of literature, and deserves more recognition than it has.

Nolan W.
Research Blog 3

This week I have completely solidified my topic, and I can (and have) begin doing the prewriting steps of my research paper. I now know exactly how to go about doing this project, and am now completely comfortable with it. The research question is,”How has Genocide affected countries that it occurs in?”  My research question has not changed since my last post, as I have decided that it is completely appropriate for the subject matter, closely related to the assigned book, and a broad enough question that can be answered and written about in great detail in a research paper. In my last post I made the comment that civil war is not being publicized or documented well, but I found as a rather large surprise to me, that genocide is not being well documented either, and is being horribly publicized. I am currently working on the shaping sheet for the research paper, and it is coming along quite smoothly, and surprisingly easy to organize. In the last paper I wrote, I actually drafted the paper before I used the shaping sheet (I later wrote a second paper after using the sheet), and now that I have done it in the correct order, I can see how much easier this paper is going to be to write if I utilize this sheet. I have realized since my last post just how much of a blessing Google docs has been to me. I do not have any Microsoft programs on my dad’s company laptop, (the company president does not like Microsoft, as he was part of a team that attempted to make a competing set of programs) and my home computer is from the early 90’s and is QUITE slow, so using Microsoft Word, and the Internet at the same time is a stretch for it. With Google Docs I can use either computer, or really any computer with Internet access for that matter, and not have to worry about programs, and as an added bonus I have most of the material I need already contained in my Google Docs portfolio.

SHWTD Response 9 (11/1/09)

400-450 November 1, 2009
Shake Hands With the Devil, Roméo Dallaire.

In this section of pages, Dallaire has been working to reduce the violence in Rwanda. Very little of it has dissipated, but it has been slowed down a degree. Sadly I do not feel that it will stay this way very long, because it is such a small sudden change, and in this book nothing lasts unless it is a big change. Either way, I am excited to see what happens next.Roméo has recieved more vehicles from the United States, and though UNAMIR had to pay a rather large sum of four million dollars to lease the vehicles, they were a much needed tactical resource and advantage. I have noticed thatRoméo’s troops obey him much more than they did earlier in the book. This has lead to more power in UNAMIR , and no troops, guns, vehicles, or bombs were obtained to have this power gain, it was simply the troops listening to him. It is amazing how many unsung heroes are in this book, any yet how little they have been praised and brought to public attention.

Lately the violence in the book has been reduced, but it was by a minimal degree. UNAMIR troops are still dying, and Rwandans are still being massacred. It pains me to read this, and realize just how belittled Dallaire must have felt when he was in many of these situations. He certainly must have been affected for many years by the memories of dead bodies piled up and rotting in a ditch beside the road. The worst part it that he saw not one or two bodies, but thousands of bodiesduring his efforts in Rwanda, and could only hope for relief. I believe Dallaire has become desensitized to some fears lately. In one scene in this book, a Mortar exploded 10 meters away from him and his troops, they all instinctively dropped to the ground, confirmed that no one was hurt, and ran to take cover in some of their armored vehicles.Dallaire on the other hand did not take cover in the vehicle, but simply put his flack jacket on and walked over to the crater the mortar had created so that he could determine some facts about it.

The passage that caught my attention this time was actually on the very first page. the passage was, “… I found out that Captain Diagne Mbaye of Sengal had been git by mortar fragments fired bu the RPF at an RGF roadblock while he was bringing back a message for me from Bizimungu. Diagne was dead before he hit the dashboard. He was the Military observer who had saved Prime Minister Agathe’s children, and in the weeks since he had personally saved the lives of dozens upon dozens of Rwandans. Braving direct and indirect fire, mines, mobs, disease and any number of other threats, he eagerly accepted any mission that would save lives.” It makes me sad to realize that the hero in this passage will go unknown to many, and even to those he saved who might not have a name to go with the face that saved them. This is not the first time a hero has died in the book,in fact , many have died, and none have been publicized for their great deeds. Shake Hands With the Devil is still a great book despite the pain it contains. I am very excited to see what happens next.