My Future Plans

I am going into my first year of University this fall, and I am quite excited to do so because I get to chose my education to an extent. I get to learn what I want where hopefully I am mentally stimulated enough to not be bored with my studies. It feels very refreshing to be out of the small city I have lived my whole life, but I am anxious because I am leaving to a completely brand new place with no people I know. I know I’ll make friends, but there is that time frame that I call limbo, where everything is new and I don’t have any actual friends just friendly acquaintances, and this uncertainty makes me anxious.

When I was accepted into a couple of Universities, I was congratulated by many people, but I was also asked by family members what job I expected to get by the end of University. To be honest, I don’t have a job idea looming at the end of my four years of University, and I think it’s okay to not have one. I think it’s amazing that people have one job goal and they want to work for it, but I think it’s unrealistic to expect everyone to have that. People’s minds change, especially over the course of University. It can also be detrimental to someone who studies a limited area of study and then comes out of University either not wanting to be in that career or see that there aren’t any jobs for them. If you have always wanted to be a doctor or a vet or an architect, then study that, but not everyone has such specific goals. Me, for example, I have changed my mind over my life on what job I wanted when I was older, now, I just accepted that I don’t have a certain job in mind, but I do know what I want to study. I want my major to be East Asian Studies because I am very interested in China, Korea, and Japan, and I would like to have the possibility to work over there. I want to learn as many languages as I can, and I feel like knowing different languages would be much more helpful to me in finding a job that going to college to get a specific job at the end. I want to be what is called a ‘renaissance man/woman”, who excels at many different fields; mainly the arts, athletics, and academics. So I don’t know if I want to work in politics, business, the arts, etc., and that is okay. I think it is better to have a wide array of talents that can be applied to anything rather than a very specific thing. I especially recommend this to people who are similar to me. I recommend this to people who have many different interests, talents, and hobbies. But I also recommend making sure you have some ideas of what jobs could come out of your studies because being a little prepared doesn’t hurt.

It’s Time to Get Out of That Bubble and Learn Something New

Ever since I have gotten into music from other countries that are in languages other than English, I have been asked the same question by so many people: why do you listen to music when you can’t understand the lyrics; how do you enjoy it? Whenever I am asked this question, I get a little annoyed. By asking this question, it implies that you have to know the language to enjoy something that isn’t from the same culture as you. So by this logic, the majority of the things we enjoy in America, we shouldn’t be able to enjoy them at all. If your family is of British origin, you can’t enjoy tea, spices (although the British don’t use them anyway), any music that originated from slavery (i.e. hip hop, R&B, blues, rock n’ roll), etc. Every day we enjoy something that is from a culture that isn’t originally our own. I would’ve expected to hear this question a decade or more ago, but today, in the international mecca we live in, I don’t want to hear these kinds of questions. The questions and the people who ask them are ignorant, even if the person believes they are liberal thinkers. Everyone is ignorant about something, even I am. Ignorance isn’t necessarily a bad thing because it is only a lack of knowledge. You can’t know everything, so ignorance is going to happen eventually. The only reason ignorance becomes bad, is when you think you know everything but you really don’t, and you become hostile when sometimes challenges you. Ignorance is bad when you can’t even entertain an alternate viewpoint or something foreign to your beliefs. I believe you can enjoy something although you aren’t completely familiar with it. I like listening to Korean, Japanese, Scandinavian, Spanish, and any other non-English songs because I like engaging with music from many cultures from around the world. While growing up in America, I didn’t think that there were songs made in other languages; I thought that English was the only language songs were made in because English speaking countries dominated the music industry, but once Gangnam Style by Psy became popular I was proved to be wrong. People around the world make music like musicians in America or Britain but in their own languages; it just isn’t popular like music in English dominant countries. In order to become popular in American media, you have to give up your language and your culture. If you don’t Americanize yourself you won’t make it. That is why I love what is happening right now. Korean music is becoming more and more popular amongst English speakers, and the music is almost all in Korean. So how can I, an English speaker, enjoy music that is almost all in Korean? A song isn’t just the lyrics. Most of the time when I listen to songs in English, I don’t pay attention to the lyrics and sometimes I cannot even understand what the person is saying (I’m calling out American “rap”; i.e. Lil Pump and others). Instead, I listen to the singer’s voice and the music that they are singing along to. When I listen to a song in English, I will look up the lyrics to see what they are saying so I can get a general idea of the meaning of the song. Guess what? You can do that with songs in other languages too. There is this thing called the internet and people will translate the songs so people who don’t speak that language can understand it. So, now, once you read the translated lyrics you can now understand the meaning of the song. No one ever in their native language translates word by word when they listen to something, you listen to the overall meaning. What I am trying to say here is stop being racist and xenophobic. We aren’t living in our own worlds anymore whether you like it or not. America isn’t like how it was in the early 20th century, even though so many people would like to go back. Isolationism isn’t a good thing, and it has never worked. The world is becoming more connected as we speak and if you aren’t with it, you will be left behind whether you like it or not. Go read about a new culture that isn’t your own and maybe learn something new. The world is amazing and filled with so many cool things. It is time to get out of that bubble and explore the world around you.

My Senior Paper

In order to graduate from my high school, you need to complete a senior project. Depending on which school you are in, classic high school or the international high school, the project differs. In classic high school, you need to present your project to a panel of judges where you did an activity. Activities can be related to getting into a college, a mentorship, or painting a mural, but I am in the international high school so my project was different. In the international high school, your project is a paper, called the extended essay, that takes a year or so to complete. In your junior year, you begin deciding what you want your paper to be about; it can be about anything you want, as long as you can find an expert you can get help from. Paper genres range from mathematics to politics to literature to psychology, so you can literally do anything that interests you. Over the course of a year you research, plan, write, and if you don’t pass it the first time then you revise and submit it again. This paper is a requirement for IB, but no matter if you’re doing IB or not you need to do the paper. I am not doing IB so my paper does not have to be sent to the IB gods, so I own my paper and can do anything I want with it. I decided to write my paper on school shootings and how to prevent them, so here is my paper:




In the United States alone there have been 288 shootings within schools since 2009 where at least one person was killed ( This includes gang violence, rampage shootings, accidental firings, and domestic violence. This isn’t the case for other economically-advanced countries. For example, Canada, Japan, and the UK have only have had 2 or fewer shootings with casualties within schools since 2009 (

Another uniquely American concept is a school massacre, or also known as a school rampage (SR) shooting. An SR shooting is different from a “regular” school shooting. SR shootings are “defined by the fact that they involve attacks on multiple parties, selected almost at random” (Schoenfeld), and is “a type of school shooting where no single or specific individual is targeted by the shooter” ( Whereas in “regular” school shootings they are targeted, usually only with a singular person as the target. Prime examples of an SR shooter would be Kip Kinkel, Eric Harris, Seung-Hui Cho, Nikolas Cruz, and Adam Lanza.

America has a very unique gun culture. America is one of three countries with the right to bear arms still in their constitution, but we are the only country without constitutional restrictions on bearing arms ( It is up to individual states to enforce regulations on firearms, and because of this, guns are easily-accessible to children, the mentally ill, and dangerous criminals. Most state’s gun laws are not sufficient and extremely lacking. Every year the Giffords Law Center publishes a scorecard for each state based on how good their gun laws are.

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As you can see above, a lot of states have an ‘F’ rating. For each state, there are six categories Giffords judges: background checks, domestic violence, child access prevention, extreme risk protection order, concealed carry permit, and regulation of military-style weapons. They then base them on whether there is no law, a partial law, or a strong law. The main categories that pertain to SR shootings are the regulation of military-style weapons, extreme risk protection order, and child access prevention. Military-style weapons are “not intended for hunting or self-defense—they are specifically designed to make it easier to efficiently kill high numbers of people in a short amount of time” ( This is exactly what SR shooters want. They want the highest amount of deaths in a short amount of time and military-style weapons can achieve that. Extreme risk protections orders “provides a mechanism for family, household members, or law enforcement to petition a court to temporarily remove guns from people at proven risk of harming themselves or others. These laws can help prevent mass shootings, domestic violence incidents, and suicide, where people frequently demonstrate clear warning signs of dangerous behavior while experiencing a crisis” ( Very little states have a strong law to do this; the only states being Oregon, California, and Washington. And child access prevention laws are important because “Millions of children live in homes with easily accessible guns, which too often leads to unintentional death and injury, teen suicides, and school shootings” (

The United States needs to end the unique SR shooting trend, but how can we as a society, specifically the government, the media, and parents, prevent SR shootings in the United States? The answer to ending SR shootings isn’t simple. The profiles of SR shooters vary significantly, so it is hard to identify them, but to help prevent SR shootings from happening, the government must implement regulations on firearm ownership, the media must limit what is told about the shooters to prevent copycats, and parents must not blindly protect their children if they have shown signs of violent behavior and mental illness.

Psychology of SR Shooters


In the media, there has been a lot of misconceptions of what to look for when looking for a possible SR shooter; every shooter is a loner, are a part of dysfunctional families, are all the same, and all are committing these acts out revenge. But this is not the case.

Two of the most prolific SR shooters are Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, who were the perpetrators of the 1999 Columbine High School Massacre where they killed a total of 13 of their peers and wounded 21 others (, and then killing themselves after. Harris and Klebold were, and are, often stereotyped as the loners and the victims of bullying. But after a decade of analyzing the event, it has been proven that Harris and Klebold were not the loners they are portrayed as. Though they might have felt lonely, in reality, they were a part of a huge friend group and were not bullied, but instead, they were the bullies. They thought the people around them were inferior and they wanted to exterminate them. “‘Columbine is perceived by many as an uprising of the oppressed,’ said Mr. Langman. ‘But that’s not how [Harris] was looking at the attack. He wrote about wanting to get rid of all the stupid, inferior people, but because of how it was portrayed in the media, about two bullied kids, that perception is still very much alive.’” (

With the case of Harris and Klebold, people want to blame the parents for “turning” them into killers. “‘I wanted people to understand that he was loved. And cuddled. And held. And touched. And I had all kinds of pictures of Dylan on laps and with arms around him.’ There was, she says, ‘an assumption that he was mistreated, or not ‘loved’, one that Klebold knew not to be true, even as she scoured photos looking for external verification. Over and over she asked herself, ‘Did we hug him enough?’” ( This quote is from an interview with Sue Klebold, Dylan Klebold’s mother. It appears like Klebold was cared for and was not from a dysfunctional family.

On the other side of the spectrum is Seung-Hui Cho, the perpetrator of the Virginia Tech Shooting where he killed 32 people ( He fits into the loner stereotype perfectly. “Picked on by other students at a young age, Cho was later described by his college professors as a troubled loner” ( He was mean and disturbing to other students and teachers and clearly was a troubled individual, but he wasn’t from a dysfunctional family. His family were immigrants from South Korea and seem very caring for Seung-Hui. His parents are described as “‘…a very warm, loving and giving family…’” ( Seung-Hui’s mother just wanted him to have friends. “Hyang Im, with her daughter translating, told Sood how she had tried unsuccessfully to find friends for her son. She later turned to psychiatry, despite the stigma——in Korean and American cultures——of mental illness. She and her husband worried when Seung Hui decided, against the advice of a counselor, to go away to Blacksburg” ( His parents only wanted him to live a happy life, but there was nothing they could have done.

There is a clear differentiation between Harris and Klebold and Cho. One side broke all stereotypes while the other fits perfectly into the stereotypical SR shooter portrayed by the media. This is only a small comparison of SR shooters as there are dozens more. With these varied characteristics, it is understandable how it can be hard to determine whether they are an SR shooter, or even blame it on one instance in the shooter’s life.

Motives and Mental Health

The motive for a school shooting is never known until months or even years after the shooting. Psychologists and law enforcement will comb through journal entries, talk to the families, and talk to school officials to come up with a possible reason.

To the common person, the motive of an SR shooter can seem insane. Their motive seems almost insignificant,  but we have to keep in mind that they are mentally ill and don’t have the same sense of right and wrong. Some examples of motives are voices telling them to do it, suicide, revenge, or “because it was Monday”.

All SR shooters have some kind of mental disorder, the severity differing between shooters. It plays a major role in why shooters will shoot people they know with little to no remorse. In Peter F. Langman’s book Why Kids Kill: Inside the Mind’s of School Shooters, he puts shooters in three categories: the traumatized shooter, the psychopathic shooter, and the psychotic shooter. A traumatized shooter’s motive would either be suicide or revenge. Sometimes the revenge would be on the students but sometimes it would be displacing their angry on someone not responsible for their pain; either a family member or someone who has caused them trauma. A psychopathic shooter would shoot their peers “because it was Monday”. They don’t have any remorse or empathy and are extremely sadistic. They don’t care who they are hurting and most likely don’t place names or faces to those around them. Then lastly, a psychotic shooter who kills because the voices told them to. Because most psychotic shooters display signs of schizophrenia, they hallucinate and become disillusioned.

An example of a traumatized shooter is Mitchell Johnson, who committed a school shooting in Arkansas with classmate Andrew Golden. His father was a violent drunk and Mitchell was sexually abused by an older boy, who then threatened to kill Mitchell’s grandmother if he told anyone about it. “Though Mitchell had problems with his temper and got into some minor trouble at school, there is no indication that he had the features of a psychopath. Neither is there any indication that he ever experienced psychotic symptoms. He was a physically and sexually abused boy from an unstable family who was talked into being part of a school shooting by a friend” (Langman).

Examples of psychotic shooters would be Kip Kinkel. They both showed signs of severe mental disorders. “A psychologist for the defense reported that Kip had a psychotic disorder with major paranoid symptoms that may have been severe enough to indicate early-onset schizophrenia” (Langman). Langman then goes on to list the many delusions Kinkel had. “Kip was convinced that the Chinese were going to invade the United States…Kip also believed that Disney was taking over the world…Kip thought that perhaps the government had placed a computer chip in his head, and this chip broadcast the voices he heard. He also believed there was a man in the neighborhood who wanted to harm him; Kip was so afraid of him that he reportedly bought a gun to defend himself” (Langman).

Lastly, an example of a psychopathic shooter would be Eric Harris. He was an unempathetic, sadistic, and unremorseful, while also a charismatic individual. “Eric was an expert in impression management. He took pleasure in lying to people and getting away with things. He wrote, ‘I could convince them [school administrators] that I’m going to climb Mount Everest, or that I have a twin brother growing out of my back…I can make you believe anything’” (Langman). He was a classic psychopath with no regard to the law or the safety of others.

Whether they’re traumatized, psychotic, or psychopathic, the mental health of the shooter plays right into their motive. Without it, the shooting would have never happened.



Government Regulation

Currently, gun control is a hot topic throughout America, especially after the SR shooting at Stoneman Douglas High School. Students across the country are wanting stricter regulations on buying and possessing firearms to make it more difficult for the shootings to happen, but the federal government is slow to implement regulations. So, instead, some states are making stricter regulations, but how will putting stricter regulations on firearm ownership prevent SR shootings?

In certain states, the minimum age for buying firearms is 18 years old, but in most, it is 21 years old. The laws are less strict for gun ownership though. “Federal law prohibits handgun ownership by any person under the age 18, with a handful of exceptions. But there is no minimum age for long gun (i.e. rifle and shotgun) ownership. Twenty states and the District of Columbia have set their own minimum age laws ranging from 14 in Montana to 21 in Illinois, but in the remaining 30 states it’s technically legal for a child to possess a long gun” (

Many countries around the world had major massacres involving firearms, but after setting tight restrictions on gun ownership and purchasing, the number of gun-related incidents, not just massacres went down a lot and no more massacres have ever happened since. The prime example of a lot of anti-gun people use is Australia. After the massacre of dozens of tourists, the Australian government made it extremely hard for adults to buy guns. Other countries with extremely restrictive gun laws such as Japan has not seen any massacres in any workplace or school or public area that wasn’t related to the mafia.

Restricting gun ownership and purchasing not only can stop massacres, but it can prevent suicides by guns too. “Firearm suicides represent the largest component cause of total firearm deaths in Australia (more than three in four of all firearm deaths). In the 18 years (1979–96), there were 8850 firearm suicides (annual average 491.7). In the 7 years for which reliable data are available after the announcement of the new gun laws, there were 1726 firearm suicides, an annual average of 246.6” (

Not only can restricting gun purchasing and ownership help prevent the deadly school massacres in America, but it can also help prevent other problems in the country.

Is it the Parents’ Fault?

It is both not the parents’ fault and is their fault. On one hand, you can’t blame the parents in most cases because they cannot make their child into a psychopath or turn them psychotic, it is something they are born with; the only exception would be with traumatic shooters with dysfunctional families. But on the other hand, parents don’t act on the warning signs they see in their children. It is a result of overprotection, which isn’t uncommon for a parent to do because all a parent wants is to protect their children. Parents should learn the limits of privacy with their children. A parent shouldn’t investigate every little thing going on in their child’s life and always believe their child is going to be a killer if their child is a little “weird”, but if a parent notices something even a little bit off with their child they should investigate.

For example, Kip Kinkel’s and Eric Harris’ parents both knew about their fascination with violence and weapons, and in one instance hid the knowledge of a history of severe mental illness.  “For example, Eric Harris’s parents knew he had built a pipe bomb” (Langman 178). The author mentions that this would usually raise a bunch of red flags in our minds and result in us investigating further. The author says that in order to help prevent school shootings parents need to be alert to any warning signs, such as rage and love of violence and weapons, and be able to report it and investigate further if it warrants it, no matter what their child says about the topic. A parent should also not lie to protect their child. In the instance of Kip Kinkel, his mother lied about the family’s long history of mental illness to Kinkel’s psychiatrist. “Long before the murders, Mrs. Kinkel also told a lie that may have had damaging consequences. She was concerned enough about Kip to take him to a psychologist. When the psychologist asked her if there was any family history of mental illness, however, she said no. Serious mental illness was rampant on both sides of Kip’s family; relatives had been dangerous, and numerous relatives had been hospitalized” (Langman 180). Kinkel’s father also lied that ended up being a big part in the cause of the shooting. “The day before Kip’s rampage at school, he was suspended for having a gun at school and was taken to the police station. When Mr. Kinkel went to the police station, he told the officer that his son would be safe at home. He assured the officer that there were no guns in the house” (Langman 180). This was a complete lie. Kinkel’s father had bought him a multitude of firearms under his bed, and Kinkel even had some weaponry unknown to his parents. That was the night that Kinkel murdered his parents. Parents should also listen to their kid’s school when the school had expressed worry with their children. Both Eric Harris’s school and Kip Kinkel’s school called their parents about suspicious violent behavior in writing to try and get their children professional help, but both their parents were almost offended and ignored everything the teachers and counselors said and warned. Another thing that parent can help is to eliminate access to guns because most school shooters get the guns directly from home, or a close relative’s or person’s house. Kids, if they want them hard enough, know and will do everything to get a gun. Guns need an extremely safe spot that is extremely hard for children to access.

A parent shouldn’t take all the blame when their child is the perpetrator of an SR shooting. It isn’t their fault that their child has a mental disorder that causes them to not be able to process their surrounding and the difference between right vs. wrong and the real vs. the fake. But parents should be more attentive to their children and shouldn’t feel as if they should protect them from everything. Sometimes protecting can do more wrong than good.

The Responsibility of the Media

In the aftermath of an SR shooting, many copycats come up through the cracks; it is inevitable. But the reason why many shooters do what they do is for recognition and fame. So, to use that hubris against the perpetrators, or possible perpetrators, the media needs to limit what is told to the public about the shooters themselves. By limiting media coverage, the perpetrators wouldn’t get what they want; fame and glory. “Media coverage of mass shooters rewards them by making them famous, and provides a clear incentive for future offenders to attack. Many of these at-risk individuals recognize that murdering large numbers of men, women, or children will guarantee them fame. They believe their names and faces will adorn newspapers, television, magazines, and the internet—and unfortunately, they are right…” (Lankford).

After an SR shooting, people and the families want to know why the shooter did what they did; it is only natural as humans are curious creatures. Because the public wants to know about the shooter, people think it isn’t bad to publicize about the shooter, but it is not the case. “The notion that this is all okay, because we are giving mass shooters negative attention, not positive attention, no longer appears credible. After all, the basic premise that ‘there is no such thing as bad publicity’” (Lankford). The shooters use the publicity for their own selfish goals; to send their message across the nation. And if media outlets don’t give into the shooter’s goals, it can prevent their ideas to be spread across other equally-disturbed individuals.

Along with media coverage bringing fame to the shooter and spreading their ideas, it can make shooters want to compete with each other. Making future shooters trying to increase the body count from the last and causing a contagion of SR shootings. The popular example of this is the “Columbine Legacy” (Larkin).

Columbine was the turning point of the American SR shooting trend. It was the first high-publicized school shooting in America, but because of its heavy media coverage, it has left a lasting imprint on society. A lot of shooters post-Columbine reference Columbine in their manifestos or research of Columbine is found on their computers. Before Columbine, the motivations for SR shootings weren’t very known, the only main reason was revenge, but post-Columbine the number of motives increased; including wanting revenge they wanted notoriety, to celebrate Columbine, surpass Columbine, and gain attention.



SR shootings are extremely complex. A lot of factors go into why someone so young would kill so many people they know with so little remorse. It is a mixture of mental health, the American gun culture, overprotecting dangerous children, and people not looking out for warning signs. The prevention of SR shootings needs to happen because of the lasting effect shootings have on society. To help prevent SR shootings from happening the American federal government needs to implement gun restrictions because not only will it prevent SR shootings, it will help with other gun problems in America. Parents also need to look out for warning signs and not overprotect their child, because in many instances with past shooters, not pursuing suspicion of the children helped cause the shootings. But after Columbine, it has been hard to prevent similar events from happening, mainly because of the heavy media coverage of Columbine. This is helping and inspiring future shooters in pursuing their demented and disturbing thoughts. Though not one thing or all of the possible preventative measures can completely stop SR shootings from happening, they can help lessen the amount of shooting the youth see themselves, or through the news, in their lifetime for the current youth and the future generations of America.


Works Cited

Brockes, Emma. “My Son, the Columbine High School Shooter: ‘a Mother Is Supposed to Know’.” The Guardian, Guardian News and Media, 14 Feb. 2016,

Chapman, S, et al. “Australia’s 1996 Gun Law Reforms: Faster Falls in Firearm Deaths, Firearm Suicides, and a Decade without Mass Shootings.” Injury Prevention, BMJ Group, Dec. 2006,

Ferdman, Roberto A, and Christopher Ingraham. “In 30 States, a Child Can Still Legally Own a Rifle or Shotgun.” The Washington Post, WP Company, 27 Aug. 2014,

Grabow, Chip, and Lisa Rose. “The US Has Had 57 Times as Many School Shootings as the Other Major Industrialized Nations Combined.” CNN, Cable News Network, 21 May 2018,

Greathouse, Tanya, and Joanne Belknap. “School Shooting.” Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., 11 May 2016,

Langman, Peter. “Rampage School Shooters: A Typology.” Aggression and Violent Behavior, vol. 14, no. 1, 2009, pp. 79–86., doi:10.1016/j.avb.2008.10.003.

Lankford, Adam, and Eric Madfis. “Don’t Name Them, Don’t Show Them, But Report Everything Else: A Pragmatic Proposal for Denying Mass Killers the Attention They Seek and Deterring Future Offenders.” American Behavioral Scientist, vol. 62, no. 2, 2017, pp. 260–279., doi:10.1177/0002764217730854.

Larkin, Ralph W. “The Columbine Legacy.” American Behavioral Scientist, vol. 52, no. 9, 2009, pp. 1309–1326., doi:10.1177/0002764209332548.

Richardson, Valerie. “Columbine Effect: Mass Shooters Seek Fame, Vengeance by Emulating Teenage Killers.” The Washington Times, The Washington Times, 22 Feb. 2018,

“Seung-Hui Cho.”, A&E Networks Television, 14 Oct. 2014,

Somashekhar, Sandhya, and Sari Horwitz. “A Year After Massacre, Family Lives ‘in Darkness’.” The Washington Post, WP Company, 12 Apr. 2008,

Weiss, Brennan. “Only 3 Countries in the World Protect the Right to Bear Arms in Their Constitutions.” Business Insider, Business Insider, 5 Nov. 2017,

Why Kids Kill: Inside the Minds of School Shooters, by Peter F. Langman, 1st ed., Palgrave Macmillan, 2010.  

Works Consulted

Bowers, Elizabeth Shimer. “School Shooters – Inside Their Minds.” Inside the Mind of School Shooters – Theory to Practice | Lehigh University College of Education,

Brooks, David. “The Columbine Killers.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 24 Apr. 2004,

“Minimum Age to Purchase & Possess.” Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence,   

The School Shooter: A Threat Assessment Perspective. M. E. O’Toole. Federal Bureau of Investigation, 1999

Richardson, Valerie. “Columbine Effect: Mass Shooters Seek Fame, Vengeance by Emulating Teenage Killers.” The Washington Times, The Washington Times, 22 Feb. 2


For anyone writing their own extended essay, or a graduation requirement similar to it, do not take exactly the same ideas that were presented; I worked a very long time on this and you should do your own work. Feel free to get inspiration for what you would want to do though. And yes I know there are a lot of grammar mistakes.

If you are beginning to write your own extended essay, some tips for making it less of a chore is choose a topic that is actually interesting and compelling to you, and also make sure there is a lot of research available online or in a library.

Teaching Myself Korean

Last year I took a beginner’s Japanese class offered at my high school, and luckily I did because it gave me the opportunity to travel to Japan and South Korea. Currently, I am not taking another Japanese class–or any language class matter of fact–because of scheduling difficulties, and because of this, I decided to teach myself Korean.

In my opinion, Korean is harder to learn than Japanese as a native-English speaker. While in Japanese, there are three different alphabets–Hiragana, Katakana, Kanji–it may seem like a harder language to learn, but that isn’t the case. The Korean language only has one–Hangul. Though Korean only has one alphabet, it is more difficult to learn because Japanese characters are easy to romanize while Korean characters are not. There is no universal romanization of Hangul characters, so depending on what source you use you’ll get mixed results for the romanization. For me, it is hard to learn Hangul without the ease of romanization because a lot of the Hangul characters are extremely similar sounding and it is hard to find an English equivalent. The differences are easy for native-speakers, but as someone learning them, it can be extremely frustrating and confusing.

I don’t regret trying to teach myself Korean, but I do need to get better tools to learn Hangul and the rest of the Korean language. As I try to search for good tools to learn Korean without a teacher, I am becoming fairly knowledgeable about the programs offered on the internet.

Here are is what I think of different programs and how well they can teach a language. I talk broadly about the abilities of these programs, but my reviews are based on how well they can teach a language that doesn’t use Latin-based characters.

  • Duolingo: I like how the apps looks and all the different languages they offer. It does teach you Hangul, but not in a good way for someone just starting out. I like how many free lessons there are with very little advertisements you have to look at, and I like that you can earn achievements and join clubs to talk to people in your target language. I also like that it focuses on the idea of repetition for memorizing words and concepts of a language, but the constant notifications are kind of annoying. I think it is a very good app if you’ve already begun learning a language and want to build upon your knowledge. (Rating: 4 stars)
  • Memrise: I like the interface and how you are traveling through space. They do teach you the alphabet, but it’s similar to Duolingo for me. It isn’t good for someone just starting out, but it’s good for review. A lot of features are free, but the videos of real people speaking the language are not free so I don’t like that. You do have to pay for a good part of the app and they ask you a lot about upgrading, so that is annoying. They do offer a lot of languages, so there is a lot you can learn besides Korean. (Rating: 3 stars)
  • Mango Languages: I don’t like that it doesn’t teach you Hangul, and it doesn’t have a great organization of the vocab words. I do like that when learning the vocab words you learn the meaning, the literal meaning, and then the pronunciation. It also tells you when or how you use those words and the cultural meaning of different words. Not great for learning a language, but good for learning the culture behind the words. (Rating: 2 stars)
  • Lingo Deer: One of my favorites. I like that they give you an introduction to Hangul in note form with audio on pronunciation and shows how you position each character. Then it goes into lessons teaching you the vowels and consonants with flashcards that tell you the pronunciation and how to write them. It also has a lot of good lessons such as determiners, possession, greeting, negation, questions, etc. This app is fun, free, and easy to use, especially when trying to learn Korean from scratch. Besides Korean, they also offer Japanese, French, Spanish, Chinese, German, Portuguese, and Vietnamese. (Rating: 4 Stars)
  • Eggbun: Things I like about this app is that you learn while chatting with a bot, so it is a different way of learning a new language. It is also cute and easy to use, and the infographics on their blog are fun and teach you a lot of vocabulary and cultural facts. Things I don’t like about this app are that it is only for Japanese, Korean, and Chinese, and there aren’t a lot of courses on the app. I would recommend as a secondary app for learning Korean to review vocabulary and such, not as an app to teach you Korean alone.  (Rating: 3 Stars)
  • Babbel: Not good for learning Korean because they don’t offer it, but they do offer Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, Swedish, Turkish, Danish, Dutch, French, German, Indonesian, Italian, Norwegian, and Polish. I did test it out with Russian and it is okay, but only as a learning app for traveling. It does teach you the alphabet, but the way they do so is not great. (Rating: 2 stars)
  • Rosetta Stone: I like how the app looks and they offer a lot of different languages. For learning Korean, or any other non-latin based languages, it’s not great. It automatically starts with teaching you vocabulary words and never really teaches you the alphabet. I also don’t like how you only get a few lessons for free before you have to start paying. It is great to learn a couple vocab words before traveling to Korea, but as an app to actually learn the language it’s not great. It could actually be a good app, but I don’t want to pay to find out if it’s good or not. (Rating: 1 Star)
  • Mondly: Wouldn’t recommend this app for learning a language. You only get a few lessons for free, and even if you’re willing to pay the monthly fees, it’s only good for learning a language for a vacation. They do offer a lot of languages which is nice and the interface isn’t bad. (Rating: 1 Star)

(this list will update as I use more programs)

Don’t Be Afraid

People are afraid of traveling. It originates from the behavior of being afraid to try new things, and people need to stop being afraid.

Each society makes up stereotypes of other cultures to prevent people from traveling more and experiencing the world. This doesn’t protect us. It just makes us ignorant, racist, nationalistic, and it halts progression. Though nationalism isn’t inherently bad, in the past, it has been the cause for many atrocities, for example, World War 2.

The government warns the public about the “dangers” of a country to put fear into the general public, causing hatred and fear of that country and whoever comes from that country. This fear doesn’t apply just to traveling, it applies to immigration too.

A prime example is the group of people coming up from Central America. The president of the US uses certain negative words when talking about the group. Illegal; Crisis; Gang members; Invasion; Illegal aliens. These are some of the words and phrases that Trump uses to describe the people coming from Central America. People can be very impressionable, no matter what age they are. So when someone hears these negative words, especially from a person in power, they’ll believe them.

Before I went to Japan and South Korea, people in my life warned me about the dangers of the countries. The people who warned me of the dangers of Japan and South Korea have never been to Japan and South Korea. I didn’t listen to them because I already knew that fearing other countries is unwarranted. I felt safer in Japan and South Korea than I do in America; Everyone there is so kind. From my experiences, people are afraid to travel to Japan because of the stigma Americans still have from World War 2 and Pearl Harbor, and people are afraid to travel to South Korea because of the fear of nuclear war.

People are also afraid of traveling outside their comfort zone because supposed gang activity within a city. I’ve heard people tell me they are afraid to travel to New York City because they heard that a new gang is in the city and is making the city “dangerous”. I’ve heard this about every major city; Tokyo, Beijing, Moscow, Seoul, Los Angeles, etc.

People shouldn’t be afraid to travel outside of their comfort zone, both figuratively and literally. We as a collective need to stop isolating ourselves and fearing each other. We’re all the same, but we are also different. We need to connect with our similarities and accept that we are different to become a more global community.