What Did We Discover

For this blog post, I wanted to write an End-Of-Year-Reflection. I feel like this resonates with me the most because whenever I finish a course, I like to reflect on what I have learned. It isn’t really something that I choose to do for myself, it really is something that a lot of teachers have made me do. I feel like this gives me the chance to really think about what I have learned, especially with respect to how I have grown, and how I look at the world based on what I have learned. Image result for learning gif

In this course, I honestly didn’t know what I had signed up for when I chose the course, Genres In Translation. In fact, I think it is kind of sad that I didn’t know what I was getting into, maybe I thought we would be reading different variations of each book. Something like reading several interpretations and then figuring out which one is the real answer as to what the author wanted. Image result for translating  gif

When I first began my college career, I wanted to be a teacher. Through my initial classes in the liberal studies department, I realized where education was going in the aspect of inclusivity. Of course, through this course, I was able to read a lot of books that provided insight to the world, to many worlds that I was not yet aware of. I feel as though this class allowed me to gather a great appreciation for authors from other countries. In fact, after reading Signs Preceding the End of the World by Yuri Herrera first in this class, my Poetry Writing class had a featured poem by the very same author. Normally, I wouldn’t have thought much of it, something that I accept as a slight flaw. However, because I knew his writings previously, I was able to understand a lot of the larger issues that he stood on, and I knew that he was going to utilize humor in some way. 

So, in summation of my year in this class, I would have to say that I really enjoyed the real-life concepts that it brought to my attention, aspects that I can see in my life. An appreciation for writers from other countries has really grown within me and I really hope to venture out and find other authors like the ones that we have read from this year. 


Societal Roles

How is it that gender roles exist? From one place to the other, very similar ideas are placed on the characters of men and women through all sorts of varying societies. In the book, Baho! by Roland Rugero is able to identify a whole slew of issues that exist within societies of today. One of those that he is able to highlight is how women are seen. In this book, these women are seen as objects, things that men can control, when really there are quite a few more aspects that Rugero is trying to help his readers to see. With Roland Rugero’s idea of how the woman is portrayed it is as if the walls are closing in on her and the sorts of opportunities that she should be able to seize, yet is unable to. 

Even more than this, it is only the woman who is capable of disappointing the man. When a young woman is confused with the sort of messages that a man gives her, she is scarred by the message that she thinks he is delivering. It is the women of the village who come to comfort her. 

It is the women who truly do understand the sort of pain that this girl, Kigeme is going through. As the book is able to demonstrate, Kigeme is not the only woman who has felt lost in the world of men. As one woman is detailed within the writing,

“The local women have come to comfort Kigeme. Her mother came running to aid her child. She took little Ki- geme in her arms and clasped the girl against her breast for a long, long time. Breathless. Madly biological. Mother. She murmured calming words to Kigeme, even if she her- self was beset by the greatest of apprehensions. Kigeme’s maternal aunt herded the two entwined women back to- wards their home” (pg. 23).
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I find it interesting how all of the men are going to the Father of Kigeme and expressing their condolences for him. Of course to him, he doesn’t get as much bang for his buck out of his daughter at this point. For the fact that she will no appear as innocent, or as holy in a sense as if she were to be with a man being untouched by another.

The Democratic Republic of Congo

Something that I would really like to discuss for this blog post is the state of the Democratic of Congo. Something that really seems to occur over and over again in Tram 83 is that several objects are really left unfinished. This is the sense that I get when I think of the Democratic Republic of Congo in general. Questions arise several times over what is left unfinished in this novel, but I feel as though a lot of the imagery that we are left with the book, demonstrates an idea for how things really are in the DRC. poverty GIF

“…voice that lacerates you, time had lost all purpose, we were in 2069 or 1735 or 926 or the Paleolithic era, filthy faces, bare feet, wearing loincloths, speaking unknown tongues, that voice, the tourists viewing their past, the diggers yelling that pride would prevent them going to Beach Ngobila and diving into the ocean with vodka and rotten mangoes for provisions, forget your wounds in a chorus of acoustic rails, walk the length of your thoughts and, despite death and the trains that depart and return empty, speak of the cracks within, of joy, joy as a rusty jalopy that carries you to your grave mine where you enter with no hope of leaving, in the beginning was a diva and her freight-train voice, that voice, that voice, that voice, that voice, that voice, that voice, joined by fatwas, angelus bells, the droning of the boxcars on platform 13, that voice, that voice, the Diva, joy means drowning your tears, your failures, your languor in a little music that is simply human, that voice, that voice, that voice …”

Mujila, Fiston Mwanza. Tram 83 (Kindle Locations 2559-2564). Deep Vellum Publishing. Kindle Edition.happy black and white GIF by The Old Stand Studio

For me, this quote really demonstrates the way in which the way of the population is glued to the mines, how they are all set in their ways. Something that I truly think is interesting is how the conductor’s voice really seems to be a large point in this quote, not only this novel, but also the life in the DRC is really driven by the train. In the video that we watched, we were able to see just how necessary the train was for a lot of these people’s lives. We find that even though this train takes multiple days to get from one station to the next people are gladly waiting around for it. The people of this area are well aware of the demand for the train. A lot of vendors will come around and try to sell as many things as they can to many people who are just trying to get a seat on the train. We look at the way that people are trying to get on the train and how desperate they are to get from one place to another and this is where we recognize the sort of living conditions that exist in the DRC. People turn from sitting in seats to eventually sitting on the roof of the train, and from there the bathroom. People eventually resort to instead of using the restroom, using pots for their business.

glass pots GIFI feel as though this is a perfect example of how the author is trying to allow the rest of his audience to understand the true nature of the DRC and therefore create a political stance that alerts the audience.


Within today’s society, there are several borders that are being uncovered. With all of the events in the news, even in commercials, it is easy to see borders everywhere.

But what are these borders that are around us? How do we know about them?

Based on the sort of things that we are seeing in the news today, we can understand that race, class, sex,  age, religion, culture, and so many more. All of these can be traced back to essentially the beginning of civilization.

However, as Signs Preceding the End of the World by Herrera demonstrates, there are several borders that are still applicable today as they were hundreds and hundreds of years ago.

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We can clearly see the obvious border that is being discussed in the novel: the border between Mexico and The United States. However, the main border that I wish to discuss is the idea of separation based on gender.

I know, it is silly to go to THAT place. Women are strong and they have a place in the world and SPOILER ALERT they have voices. However, as this book suggests, both men and women are expected to behave in certain ways that fit with certain stereotypes.

For instance, there is a scene in the bathroom when this girl takes Makina’s lipstick and begins to use it. Now normally, if a person were to take something of Makina’s or disrespect her in any way, she would have gone absolutely mental. However, there seems to be some sort of respect between Makina and this woman.

The part that I find is a little wonky is how Herrera portrays this woman. His protagonist in the novel is a little badass girl who will defend herself against any person who goes against her (this mostly includes men who are larger than her which just adds to her total level of badassery), and yet he features a woman who seems to play a role in the old-fashioned stereotype of women.


“She did it slowly and confidently, slid the stick from one side to the other of each lip and then swooped it up as if she’d come to the edge of a cliff, smacked her lips together to even out the color, puckered them for an air kiss. When she was done, still staring into the mirror, the woman said Me? I tell you, I’m gonna start off on the right foot; don’t know if makeup will help but at least no one can say I showed up scruffy, you know?”


Herrera, ri. Signs Preceding the End of the World (Kindle Locations 268-271). And Other Stories Publishing. Kindle Edition.


Now let’s take a look at the roles given to the men in the novel. Some of them are misogynistic, some are respectful, some feel as though they can take advantage of women as objects and get away with it, and some are like Makina’s brother.

We can see through his accounts of the war that he felt out of place when he arrived. How seeing his friends die and not understanding how it happened never really was something that he could get used to (can we blame him?).  However, similarly to the Vietnam War, the women expected the men to go to war and do the “masculine” thing, while the women waited at home for their heroes. Unfortunately, while going to war may have elevated their sense of manliness, war in all aspects is not considered an amazing opportunity for the sake of sanity.


“And suddenly you hear your homie died that morning and no one saw where the bullet came from, or you come across a bomb nobody saw get thrown, but there it was, waiting for you. So you gotta go look for them. But when you find them they’re not doing jack and you just gotta believe it was them, they were the ones, otherwise you go nuts”


Herrera, ri. Signs Preceding the End of the World (Kindle Locations 692-695). And Other Stories Publishing. Kindle Edition.


I believe that Herrera does an amazing job in noting the sort of borders that occur in today’s world and providing his readers with a protagonist that is unlike most. She serves as an inspiration for women all over the world and sets forth the idea that no matter one’s sex, fighting against stereotypes is all in a day’s work. 


The Juxtaposition Between Two People

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When looking at the creation of a book, there is much thought that goes into the setting, the plot, as well as the characters. In the book, Utopia by Ahmed Khaled Towfik, there is a specific set of characters that require much thought for the readers. As the reader delves into the book, we come across two characters, one from a world of animalistic culture, while the other comes from a world of the prey.

The book opens up with the writings of the Narrator. In the first few pages, the reader is able to see the sort of morals that this person lives by. We are able to understand that the Narrator acts with animalistic and primitive behaviors. The Narrator speaks about his sort sexual fantasies in which he overpowers women in a manner that is similar to rape. In fact, in the majority of his writings, we can see that a lot of his actions are inspired by the yearning to appear more manly. His aesthetic is similar to the twenty-first-century idea of a “bad boy”. With all of the “scars” and colored hair, we get an idea of who this person is fairly quickly.


Next, the reader gets to meet the character, Gaber. This person, in contrast, seems like a likable person. Solely in the way that he seems to describe women, he has many recounts, that feature women in fond memories. Different to the Narrator, Gaber is a person who is afraid to die. He has the soul that yearns to live while the Narrator seems fearless when meeting death. While there is one sickening similarity when there comes a time with somewhat rape-like idea crossing Gaber’s mind.


This begs the question, how has the author chosen between these two completely contrasting characters. Is it to highlight the differing features that one character has compared to the other? Is it to expose the two separate universes that this book contains?

Is it to highlight the differing features that one character has compared to the other? Is it to expose the two separate universes that this book contains? Why has the author chosen these two characters of all the possible creations?