Erin Gruwell
“Everything I was told not to do, I did. They told me not to smile. I smiled. They told me never to show emotion. How could I not be a person, though? How could I not be compassionate and give a student a hug when they were hurting? I changed the most. I became the student."- Erin Gruwell

Erin Gruwell landed her first teaching job at Woodrow Wilson High School in 1994, which is where and when her inspirational story begins. She was given a group of students the educational system had labeled as "unteachable and irrational individuals." These students were being exposed to drugs, gang violence, and racial discrimination at a very young age. Most of her students never thought they would make it through high school, let alone make it to college. With Erin Gruwell's help, all of her students had graduated high school and most continued onto college. She encouraged them to look at others with a different perspective, and eliminate the stereotypes that had been made. She had to change her curriculum because many of her students did not understand the things she was hoping to teach them. One day students had passed a note depicting a student with huge lips, Erin explained to the students the Nazis had done this to the Jews which caused the Holocaust. Little did she know, only one of her students had known what the Holocaust even was. This inspired her to teach them the history of the Holocaust, but she could not get the funding from the school for books and other materials needed to teach them. Erin then used her own money to buy books and wrote letters to inspirational people, asking them to come speak to her class.freedom_writers.gifShe also gave each of her students a journal to write in so she could learn about their everyday lives, and all of the struggles they have been through. Students felt as if they now had a voice, to tell their own stories and hopefully inspire others. In Erin Gruwell's class students felt as though they were all family, and felt as it was a safe place to express themselves without being judged on their race, gender, or where they came from. These journals were then collected and put together into a book called The Freedom Writers Diary, which would be published in 1999. The greatest thing about this 150 of her students (The Freedom Writers), graduated from high school and are all attending college. Most have even continued telling their stories around the United States, having fund-raisers, and winning awards for their inspiring stories. Now there is a movie out called Freedom Writers to tell Erin Gruwell's inspirational story of transforming a classroom full of students into a family. I think that she is a modern transcendentalist because her ideas are similar to Emerson's ideas on Nonconformity and self-reliance. Emerson states "Imitation is suicide" in Self Reliance, and I think she displays this by creating a "family" in her classroom. She didn't give up on the so called "unteachable" students of Wilson High School like many other teachers did. Emerson states "Trust thyself" in self reliance which indeed displays self-reliance. She had to buy her students the materials they needed to learn, she did this because she was trying to be a good teacher, and she trusted that she was doing the right thing.

Link to a video of Erin Gruwell's opinion on her first year of teaching:

Nonviolent Protests in West Bank

Anti-Wall protests were organized in the villages of Bil’in, Nil’in and an-Nabi Saleh, in the central West Bank, as well as al-Ma’sara in the south. Palestinians have been advocates for non-violent protesting for a long time. Eyad Burnat convinced the men of Bil'in that this was the best way to stay resistant. Mustafa Barghouti hopes this will be the start of a bigger movement throughout Palestinian society. He states, "It is a spark that is spreading." which is very similar to Emerson's idea on nonconformity. Emerson believed that one person could be tnonviolent.jpghe spark to change others' ideas and beliefs. Many men of the village state that they want to follow in their ancestors footsteps. Back in 2004, many villagers of Bil'in were arrested and put in jail for standing up for what they believe in. This kind of resistance is very similar to Thoreau's idea on nonviolent reistance, in Resistance to Civil Goverment Thoreau states, "Jail my body, not my mind." which is what many of the villagers believe in. The protestors do not resort to violence even when they are being whacked with cudgels and attacked with tear gas. Nonviolent, civil disobedience is not new to the Palestinian territories, in fact it was used back in the early 1920's. Many Palestinians still believe that nonviolence is the best way to make a change in society. Many protests suffered from extreme tear gas inhalation. "If everyone moves forward toward that objective it will be most effective," says Abdel Hajajreh, a demonstrator. "Don't forget, Gandhi liberated an entire country."International and Israeli supporters will join their Palestinians at the 6th Annual Bil’in Conference on the Palestinian Popular Struggle in Bil'in to discuss strategy and plan next steps by the non-violent anti-Wall movement.

Tear gas being thrown at protestors

Miley Cyrus- "The Climb"
I can almost see it
That dream I am dreaming
But there's a voice inside my head saying
"You'll never reach it"

Every step I'm taking
Every move I make feels
Lost with no direction
My faith is shaking

But I gotta keep trying
Gotta keep my head held high

There's always gonna be another mountain
I'm always gonna wanna make it move
Always gonna be a uphill battle
Sometimes I'm gonna have to lose

Ain't about how fast I get there
Ain't about what's waiting on the other side
It's the climb

The struggles I'm facing
The chances I'm taking
Sometimes might knock me down
But no, I'm not breaking

I may not know it
But these are the moments that
I'm gonna remember most, yeah
Just gotta keep going
And I, I got to be strong
Just keep pushing on

'Cause there's always gonna be another mountain
I'm always gonna wanna make it move
Always gonna be a uphill battle
Sometimes I'm gonna have to lose

Ain't about how fast I get there
Ain't about what's waiting on the other side
It's the climb, yeah!

There's always gonna be another mountain
I'm always gonna wanna make it move
Always gonna be an uphill battle
Somebody's gonna have to lose

Ain't about how fast I get there
Ain't about what's waiting on the other side
It's the climb, yeah!

Keep on moving, keep climbing
Keep the faith, baby
It's all about, it's all about the climb
Keep the faith, keep your faith, whoa

I chose this song because it includes many transcendentalist ideas. Emerson states "Society everywhere is in conspiracy against the manhood of every one of its members" which represents nonconformity, and is displayed in this song when she says, "The struggles I'm facing, the chances I'm taking, sometimes might knock me down, but no I'm not breaking." Nonconformity is displayed because she is basically saying through all the struggles in her life she wont give up what she believes in, no matter how difficult things get. Self-reliance is represented when she says, "I gotta be strong, just keep pushing on." Self-reliance is displayed because she is saying that she has to depend on herself to get through the struggles in her life.

Intentions- We Came As Romans

The intent. I intend. the intentions of one will guide.gheg.jpg
I strive to speak what I have learned and learn from those I see.
To step out of this life is my ambition.
To speak out and show you what I have seen.

I am one voice amidst the shouts of many.
I cry for those without a voice.
For those who don't know that they have a choice.

Open your eyes and see what it means to feel compassion and live in love.
Be my strength to tear away this blindness.
That makes us unable to see what is standing beside us.
I'll be your strength, follow my lead.
I will show you what it is to love.
What it means to care.
How to end this war.

For we are nothing without brotherhood.
And brotherhood is nothing without your brothers.

Stand with me and see what my eyes have seen.
Take my hand and let me show you what it is to love.
The intent. I intend. the intentions of one will guide.
For you cannot love one until you have learned to love all

I chose this song because it includes many ideas of transcendentalism. This song expresses nonconformity and self-reliance. The lyrics "I am one voice amidst the shouts of many, I cry for those without a voice." has a similar theory to Thoreau who states "If one honest man...were actually to withdraw from this copartnership, and be jail." These quotes are similar because they both are saying one person can make a difference in society if they stand up for what they believe in. It is also similar to Thoreau's ideas on nonconformity when it states, "I'll be your strength, follow my lead." This is also stating if one person speaks up for what they believe in then more people in society will follow their lead, and do the same. This song is also similar to Emerson's ideas on self-reliance. Emerson states, "Speak what you think today in words as cannon balls." in Self-Reliance, which is what this band is doing in this song.

Works Cited

“About Erin Gruwell.” . 2006. Freedom Writers Foundation. Web. 9 Mar. 2011. <>
“About Freedom Writers.” . 2006. Freedom Writers Foundation. Web. 9 Mar. 2011. < >
“Erin Gruwell.” nd. np. Web. 9 Mar. 2011. <> Emerson, Waldo. "Self-Reliance." Elements of Literature. Austin: Holt, Reinhart, and Winston, Inc.: 1989. Print.
“Freedom Writers (2007).” nd. np. Web. 9 Mar. 2011. IMEMC and PNN. " Non-violent anti-wall protests held in four West Bank villages on Friday." 05 Mar. 2011. np. Web. 17.Mar. 2011.<> "Intentions Lyrics" nd. np. Web. 12 Mar. 2011. <> McCarthy. Rory. "Non-violent protests against West Bank barrier turn increasingly dangerous." 27 Apr. 2009. np. 17. Mar. 2011. <>
Thoreau, Henry David. "Thoreau's Civil Disobedience - with Annotated Text." The Thoreau Reader. Richard Lenat. Web. 15 Mar. 2011. <>
"To Plant A Seed." Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Wikipedia, 7 Mar. 2011. np. Web. 14 Mar. 2011.<>