Jessica Mondillo’s Blog


Looking for Help with a Project–Survery on the Meaning of Being an American

06 June 2008

As I have made clear in my blog before, I am going to Boston University.  Right now I am taking summer classes and am looking for a few people to volunteer to help me.

I am looking for several people of Portugese decent who have immigrated to America (not necessarily a citizen of the US right now) or are first generation Americans.  This is for my documentary class and I am doing the research as if I were making the documentary (even though I will not be).  I am asking for several people to take a few minutes to do a survery and email it to me at jem@bu.edu  If you are interested, I can either email you the survey or you can copy and paste it from below.  Thank you for anyone willing to help.

Name (first or first and last):
Age:
Would you be willing to be filmed:
What region of Portugal you are from:
What Portugese customs do you participate in:
What American customs do you participate in:
Do you consider yourself an American (regardless of if you are a citizen):
If so, what does being an American mean to you:
When did you come to American and with who:
Why did you come to America:
Are you an American citizen:
If so, since when:
If not, do you want to?  Why or why not:
Do you live in a Portugese community:
Do you go to any Portugese festivals in your area:
Would you be willing to let me contact you again with further questions:

As I said, I would appreciate help from anyone willing.  I will only use this information for my class and questions like age and where in Portugal you came from are only to give me a clearer understanding of any historical factors that may have played a role.  Thank you again.  My email is jem@bu.edu


So Breaking the Law is OK if it Benefits you?

26 March 2008

Back about a month ago on my post about dealer plates, a gentleman named Jim said “i’m a dealer and use my dealer tag on all of my cars, i dont see why you’re making a big deal out of it. think of something that would benefit you in some way.

 According to Jim’s logic, anything that benefits a person should be legal.   Meaning, if someone stole a car from his dealership, he should not be able to press charges against that person because it benefits that person to steal the car.  Also according to this logic, nothing should be illegal.  After all, a criminal only commits a crime because it benefits him or her in some way.

I would also like to comment that it doesn’t make sense to me when Jim says think about something that would benefit you in some way.  There are a lot of things that would benefit me.

I am going to be commuting to and from Boston next year by myself, possibly even during the nighttime.  It would benefit me to be able to carry a handgun for self defense just in case something happens.  But I’m not 21 and thus do not have a concealed carry permit.  According to Jim,  I can carry that handgun because it benefits me even though it is against the law.

It would also benefit me if I had $200,000 to pay for my college.  If I robbed a bank to get the $200,000 according to Jim I have not broken the law because it benefited me.

If I am driving and there is an ambulance or a firetruck behind me, by law I need to pull over to let them pass.  But, say I am in a hurry.  According to Jim, that is okay because it benefits me.  It doesn’t matter that I am putting someone’s life in danger and breaking the law because it benefits me.

A person uses illegal drugs.  If that person is caught buying and possessing the drugs, the police should not be able to place charges against that person, after all he or she was benefited by the drugs.

A man and his wife are about to get divorced and the man will get no money from the settlement.  If she dies prior to the divorce he will get a large sum of money.  According to Jim, this man can commit murder because it benefits the man to kill his wife.

According to Jim, a pervert who will get satisfaction from raping a five year old girl has not committed a crime because it benefited the man.

Now after reading those examples, something should tell you either by morals or by a knowledge of the law that those examples do not make much sense.  Any reasonable person would say that doing those things are WRONG.  Even Jim would most likely say that those other examples are wrong to do.

What I don’t understand is why does Jim feels that he is above the law.  According to his theory, one could argue that there should be no laws because every action benefits the person that does it. 

I have seen Boston police also do similar things.  One of them was in a hurry to get back to the station because it was raining and he was on a motorcycle.  He ran a red light after weaving between cars and around me as I crossed the street.  His sirens were not on at the time nor were they turned on after this.

I feel that society would be better off if people stopped concerning themselves with only their benefit.  People assume that because they are a decent member of society who participates in community service, they should get the benefit of the doubt or that certain crimes should not apply to them because they are an otherwise good person.  Even some criminals, that the majority of people would consider a criminal, think they are a good person except for the one law they broke.

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Credentialed Teachers are not Necessary for a Good Education

11 March 2008

In California home schooling is being threatened due to a law saying that a credentialed teacher must teach home schooled students. The Supreme Court of California will be looking into the case after the appeal court ruled against the families. According to a AOL article, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger will fight the courts ruling in favor of parents’ rights.

Now personally I don’t understand what parents’ rights actually are or where they are guaranteed. I think this might fall under one of the rights that people assume they have, when really they don’t (i.e. right to privacy).

But honestly, I believe that it does not matter if a parent is “credentialed” to home school their children. I know two families who have home schooled all of their children.

One of the families has four daughters. Part of their method of teaching was to join a group of home schooled students so that the girls would meet people their age and also learn from other people who may be more knowledgeable than the mother was. They go on hands on field trips at least once a month, but usually more often than that, in which they learn more on subjects like history and biology in a few hours than I learned in a few months. The oldest daughter spent her last two years of “high school” taking classes at the local community college and graduated the top in her class before going to Northeastern. The second oldest daughter has a tutor for Spanish but her mother teaches her most of her other subjects.

Both families have been highly successful home schooling their children, and all of their older children have proven to be upstanding members of society, even without credentialed instructors for all of their classes.

My parents and I considered home schooling me as well. In a way I wish I had been because it allows a personal relationship between instructor and student and also allows for a more focused education. My favorite subjects have always been math, science and history. If I had been home schooled I would have been able to focus on those subjects and been able to go on many hands on “field trips” to national parks and museums—where I learned the majority of my history and science anyway.

I don’t think a credentialed teacher is any benefit or requirement for a home schooled child. By using the many resources available to home schooling families, children can get as good, if not BETTER, education being home schooled without a credentialed teacher than being in a classroom with at least one credentialed teacher.

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Recession? Yes, But Technically No

03 March 2008

According to an article on AOL News, Warren Buffet claims the US is in recession, even though the conditions of a recession are not met. Buffet commented that, “by any commonsense definition, we are in a recession.”

Although the US had not had two consecutive quarters with negative growth, most companies’ sales have been slowly declining. Companies like Ford, Toyota and GM have all had a decrease in car sales recently.

I agree with Buffet that by a commonsense definition, the economy is in a recession.

Last semester I had to read the Wall Street Journal everyday. After a few weeks, or even days, of that you know the state of the US economy. One article near Christmas time told of a family that would not be buying any Christmas gifts (even though they normally did) in order to keep a roof over their head. More articles focused on the price of oil and how that would effect heating a home and the price to travel. The majority of articles talked about the sub prime mortgage crisis and the number of houses being foreclosed.

AOL also has recently had some economic related articles. One discussed how more people were cutting back on luxury spending and opting to cut costs out of their everyday routine.

With all of that information, I’d say the US is in a recession, or at least the start of one. People will stop buying luxuries, because they cannot afford them. People will stick onto old cars longer, because new ones are expensive and their old ones still work.

I go to gun shows with my dad, and when I was younger the amount of sales was much higher than it is now. Fewer people come to the show and even fewer have money to spend. My dad also sells on eBay. When he started two or three years ago the number of orders he received was higher than the number of orders he currently receives.

Using a strict economic definition, the US is not in a recession. But my commonsense says that the US is in the beginning of a recession regardless of what the numbers says.

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101 Dalmatians Being Re-Released Makes me Nostalgic

03 March 2008

Everyone has something that reminds them of childhood. Mine come in the form of Disney’s 101 Dalmatians (the animated version).

I’m thrilled that the two disc platinum edition is coming out tomorrow. After finding out about it through a TV commercial, I became very excited and asked my parents to get it for me for Easter.

In a way it is funny that I can still get this excited about a Disney movie. I very rarely watch them any more, yet for some reason the older ones still excite me.

Maybe it’s because I am reminded of simpler days when everything was fun, there was little work to do and every time was play time.

The only thing that scares me about this new edition is if they made any changes. I watched parts of The Lion King in my 12th grade English class. Being the new version they had added scenes and songs that, at least in my mind, killed the movie. Even though I remember the plotline, I lost track of the story pretty quickly because the new scenes did not make sense to me.

I’m hoping the platinum edition of 101 Dalmatians has no alterations. To me that changes the movie from being re-released to being remade. That’s how I saw the new version of The Lion King. Although it had old scenes, it was remade for a younger audience by adding new scenes and for me was not one of the childhood movies I watched.

I can’t wait to watch 101 Dalmatians on DVD. Hopefully they didn’t change it or I will be sad. 😦

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The Big Dig-It Keeps Going… And Going… And Going…

03 March 2008

Over a year ago the Big Dig (I-93) opened and I thought the project was FINALLY over, years over due and well over budget. Apparently, I was wrong. Today the Boston Globe announced that there is a to-do list of over 2,000 items left to finish and no completion date set.

In addition to the to-do list, the US government filed charges against McCourt Construction Company for over billing. This is the second time charges have been brought against McCourt for conspiracy to defraud the government during highway projects.

In my opinion this has been going on way too long. Both the US and Massachusetts governments have been paying for this project for years and nothing was done properly. Tax payers in Massachusetts do not even seem concerned that their money has been thrown away—a sign that the project has been going on for far too long.

The Big Dig may have been completed but it has never been safe. First it flooded. Then part of the roof collapsed. Both of these things happened around the time the tunnel was opened. If you buy a product and it is damaged from the time you get it, you return it and don’t have to pay for it.

Why were billions spent on a failure? Pumps often have to be running in the tunnel to keep it from flooding and who is paying for the problem? Taxpayers. Not the people who built the faulty tunnel.

If the tunnel collapses from all the outside pressure, who would people blame? Most likely, the state.

Taxpayers, especially those in Massachusetts, got stuck with a faulty product and an inflated bill but almost nothing is being done to rectify that. This problem has been going on for more than 10 years and looks like it could continue for another five. Why aren’t the government and taxpayers taking more of a stand for their rights as a consumer?

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How do People Have MORE TIME in College?

03 March 2008

Before I came to college I would always hear about how much more time you have in college than in high school. I would like to contradict that statement.

If you have more time in college, it may be because you have fewer classes and do no extra curricular activities including working.

I go to BU, which has a four class system. I have class for 16 hours a week. Yes, this is less than when I was in high school and had approximately 35 hours of class a week (including lunch time and passing periods). But I also have a lot more down time where very little can actually get done. If you have a 15 minute or half an hour break by the time you find someplace to sit and get your books out to do work, you have to pack them up. In reality, it is sometimes the same with an hour break as well. If you have to walk a mile to your next class, you kill most of your half hour walking to class.

In addition to my 16 hours of class (which increases as you become an upper classman), I have 10 hours of work per week. For extra curricular activities (which in reality are a lot like specialists or electives in high school or middle school), I work with the TV station and participate in the shows for 6-7 hours a week. This does not include homework time, which often includes more work in less time.

I really wish I knew where this claim that you have more time in college comes from. I can’t see it coming from commuting colleges, because you need to consider travel time into your day. Maybe I had a lot of down time in high school, but from my observations I had been fairly active.

Personally, if a person is even remotely active at their college AND attends classes, they have less time than they did in high school. I know I do.

For people in college can you please tell me if you feel you have more or less time than you did in high school and why?

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Affordable Education: Congress, Endowments and Colleges

29 February 2008

Congress recently collected a list of 136 colleges and universities who received more than $500 million dollars in endowments. The colleges were asked to disclose their financial information so Congress could review it. This is part of Congress’s plan to lower the cost of high education for students and their families.

The committee looking into endowment sizes has noted an increase in endowments, tuition, and deans’ salaries in recent years. One of the plans the committee is considering would require universities to pay 5% of their assets to a charitable organization.

As a college student who is paying for her own education, I would rather the college use 5% of their assets to increase the availability and amount of financial aid for students. I know that according to the Internal Revenue Code the government cannot require colleges to give a certain amount of money to financial aid. So why don’t they change that law?

I know colleges get other benefits and tax breaks because they are a school. If the government can give a school benefits, it should also be able to demand increased financial aid. The government intervenes in everything else so why not give the colleges a choice: get benefits and get told a minimum for the amount of aid given or do not receive benefits and have freedom to charge as much as they want for tuition.

According to a Daily Free Press article, Boston University received $1.1 BILLION dollars in 2007. BU spokesperson Colin Riley told the paper, “[BU] has a modest endowment for a school of its size. BU is a tuition dependent school. Tuition pays about half of our $1.5 billion budget.”

To me that math does not add up. A budget includes ALL expenses. If the school has a $1.5 billion dollar budget and a $1.1 billion dollar endowment, only $400 million would come from tuition. According to BU, though, $750 million comes from tuition for the budget.

That means $350 million dollars is going somewhere. Instead of using $350 million dollars of endowment money for some unnecessary fixture or putting it into savings, BU should be decreasing tuition (or increasing aid) and offering an explanation to students and parents where the money is going.

College affordability is a major problem. Harvard, Yale, Dartmouth College, and Stanford all have plans to help low income families. I think more colleges need to do this.

As a young adult and student, I am trying to get an education so I can get a decent paying job in the future. I should not be leaving school with almost $200,000 in debt (before interest) that I have to pay off. Schools need to help middle class families, not penalize people like myself for wanting to be a productive member of society.

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Make the Most of College Visits: Talk to REAL Students!

27 February 2008

FACT: High school students go on college visits.

FACT: They usually have a tour guide to tell them all the great qualities of the school.

FACT: Most students on college visits never talk to the current students of the college.

FACT: I went on one college visit, it didn’t effect my decision now was it extremely helpful.

I walk down Commonwealth Ave everyday and at least once a week I see a group of parents and high school students with a tour guide. As important as it is to listen to your guide, I have yet to see even one of those students talk to the college students.

Honestly, the most important thing you can do on a college visit is talk to the students. No college is going to introduce you to a student who hates the school or the curriculum. That would be detrimental on the sale of their product—4 years at their fine institution.

Although not every college student is friendly, a lot of us would love to talk to you. There are two reasons for this: either we love the school so much that we think everyone should come here or (the more likely reason) we think you should know the truth about our school. Just because a college student does not approach you, does not mean they do not want to talk to you.

I did talk to students when I came to visit BU. They loved the school. Unfortunately I did not find someone from my school (COM) to give me their opinion until afterwards.

Now the tour guides and students will tell you how much they love the school. For BU, specifically they tell you about the great dorms they have. I promise you if the dorm they show you is a pretty brownstone on Bay State Road, you are seeing one of the best dorms in the school, not the “typical” dorm like they claim.

They will tell you how many concerts the school has for free through BU Central and how many people go there. Honestly very few people go there, nor are the band names always as big as they claim. I have yet to see a poster for one “mainstream” band. Granted Agganis Arena has tons of concerts, all of which you have to pay for.

My advice for high school students visiting colleges: Don’t trust the tour guides and the people they want you to meet. Walk up to a few students on the street and ask their opinion. Try to find someone majoring in the same thing you are and find out more about your specific major instead of a general student so you can find out about the classes you will be taking.

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Last Year Kerry Made an Unfair Assesment on College Students being Politically Active

25 February 2008

There’s something that has been bothering me for several months. Last semester John Kerry came to BU and basically scolded the student population for not being politically active. The way I had interpreted his words, it was a reprimand for not voting.

Honestly, I though Boston University was relatively politically active, especially compared to other colleges and universities (i.e. state schools). Almost everywhere you go on campus you will either see political signs or hear political discussions.

I also think it is not fair to claim that this group of college students is not politically active. Although some of us may have gone through smaller local elections or even Senate elections, unless the student is either a grad student or a senior, the majority have not had the opportunity to vote in a presidential election.

I personally was politically active, even before I could vote. It is not fair to assess that I am not politically active or not fulfilling my civic duty because I have voted once in my life. I haven’t even been 18 for 6 months. Many of the students I go to school with are in a similar situation as I am; they have NEVER been able to vote before.

I believe that before Kerry, or any ‘older’ adult for the matter, says that college students need to vote and be more politically active they need to think. Yes, there are many reasons college students do not vote—absentee ballots are difficult to fill out or they are not informed and do not feel that they should vote. Yet at the same time, saying that we are not politically active is not a fair assessment. This is our first chance to vote in a major election (or in some cases at all), not our 2nd, 5th or 10th time. If the majority of new voters do not vote in their first presidential election then you can accuse of us of not being politically active or caring enough to vote.

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