About Agha Haider

Camp WeCanDu Counselor, DASA Volunteer

Being Legendary Through Helping Others by Agha

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American Born Chinese written by Gene Luen Yang, is about characters finding their true identity. This book uses three different parallel times in order to explain the story. Ultimately, all the three stories combined into one at the end of the book. Wong-Lai Tsao, a monk in American Born Chinese, receives “legendary” status. Through this character, Gene Luen Yang, tells readers that in order to receive “legendary” status you must have a heart to give to others. On page 135, Gene Yang shows that Wong-Lai Tsao could not meditate for more that twenty days, he couldn’t fast for more than half a day, and when he preached he did not make sense, but Wong-Lai Tsao is still very remarkable. What makes him remarkable is that he gathered fruit in a nearby orchard just to share it with the vagrants who lived outside of town. This really helped the people because they were always very hungry. He also fixed and changed people’s wounds which is a very kind thing for him to do. Wong-Lai Tsao really could not do anything that other monks could do, but what made him remarkable is the he helped others which is something different then other monks did. Wong-Lai Tsao was chosen by Tze-Yo-Tzuh in to go on a quest to help others. Wong-Lai Tsao helped the Monkey King find his true self. The author introduces the Monkey King as a self-proclaimed sage, but he is not. After, Wong-Lai Tsao helps the Monkey King find his true self, the Monkey King becomes enlightened and also become a true sage. All in all, you must have the heart to give to others in order to receive “legendary” status.

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American Born Chinese, page 135

Autism Misconceptions By Agha

People have misconceptions about people with autism. Often, neurotypical people perceive autistic people as strange. While Rosie King was at school when she was younger, people would think of her as strange whenever she screamed. In the book Rules, when Kristi first met David she asked if he was okay. She thought that David was strange by the way he acted. Occasionally, neurotypical people assume that people with autism are unable to understand things because they can’t communicate. The speech therapist in Rules assumed that Jason was deaf just because Jason was non-verbal. She always spoke very loudly to Jason. Hannah’s parents from the book, Movement, assumed that Hannah didn’t understand or know what they were talking about, although she actually does. Unfortunately, many neurotypical people feel that people with autism don’t have many values. Ryan from the book, Rules, hinted that people with autism had no values by the way Ryan treated David. For example, Ryan demanded David to jump in order to have a stick of gum. Hannah’s parents didn’t think Hannah had much value because they wanted to change who Hannah is. Most people have negative perceptions about people with autism, but they still have feelings and aren’t much different from neurotypical people.

Banned Books By Agha

Banning books limits access to diverse books. According to an article by ALA, in 2015 about 6 of the top 10 most challenged book titles were diverse. “Banning books by diverse authors, or books dealing with people or situations that are unfamiliar or strange to the majority of Americans, creates fear rather than promoting understanding,” said Judith Platt, the director of free expression advocacy at the Association of American Publishers. Many challenged books represent what goes on in the world. In 2015, 3 books that were challenged were a about LGBT characters. Six were with religious viewpoints. A Separate Peace, by John Knowles was a book that was challenged multiple time during the 1980’s and 1990’s mainly because of offensive language. The main plot of, A Separate Peace, is about two boys that overcome their differences and become very good friends. Parents are mostly the only ones that challenge books, although others challenge books as well. According to a study by Butler University, about 2500 parents challenged books from 2000-2009. In 1973, an English teacher decided to use Slaughterhouse-five as a teaching aid in his classroom. A month or so after, Charles McCarthy, a school board member, demanded all copies to be burned because of “obscene language”. In conclusion, books should not be banned. Banned books represent and celebrate uniqueness and issues going on in the world.