Give the gift of inspiration

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Thursday, June 20, 2013

The Never-Ending Story

As I have done my 5 weeks of CEW (Crafting an Effective Writer: Tools of the Trade), I would like to thank CEW team: Prof. Lorrie Ross, M.A., Prof. Lawrence Barkley, M.A., Prof. Ted Blake, M.A., and their crew from Mt. San Jacinto College, California, for their outstanding work.  You are excellent teachers and made this online course easy to understand.  I have learned a lot in the last five weeks.  It was tremendously helpful and highly rewarding.

The most thing I like from this course besides they provided the easy-understand modules, was the explanations of the answers for every question in the quizzes, so the students were able to learn from their mistakes. The video they provided was good and easy to follow, and discussion forum where all peers and CEW team could interact.

The next courses I have enrolled for the next several months are Foundation of Teaching for Learning 1 and 2 by Commonwealth Education Trust.  This would be very helpful as I lead Indonesian Online Writing Course, and I will share my knowledge for all mentors.

As the first class of CEW ended already with around 3000 students finished all assignments, one of the students had an idea to invite all the students to write a story.  I try to record the responses from other students who have contributed crafting the story, including me, even though just several sentences.  This will be long post as I copy and paste them below.  This is so fun. Enjoy our story.
Let's write a story! I'll start it and you continue it. Make it good! 
The town square was packed with people waiting for the new clock tower dedication to begin. Dignitaries took their places. It was a perfect day for the event. The spring sun dominated the land. The sky couldn't be more blue, and the puffy white clouds seemed to hang in place just to make the moment picturesque. The people of Opal Bay were proud and filled with happiness. The mayor stood and walked toward the podium. But before he reached it, the most awful noise sounded from behind the crowd. Every head turned to behold dogs, cats, and goats scurrying in all directions along the cobblestone streets. Something was terribly wrong, and everybody was about to see it. 

From the waterfront a thundering wave was roaring in the direction of the town square. In a matter of minutes a day of celebration for the residents of Opal Bay would be shattered as their town was inundated with a surge of rapidly rising water.
Deafening screams ensued as swift torrents ripped through the streets consuming all in its path. People clamored to find objects they could cling to as the indescribable devastation of wreckage was propelled inland.

There was no time to understand what was happening. Fear consumed people. Every one focused on holding onto what they could find and not getting swept away into oblivion. Mark clung to a lamp post; he was already drenched from the gust of wind. He was quivering in the cold. While people were busy trying to stay alive; the dogs, goats, cats and other animals formed a circle almost as if they knew what was coming and they were ready to face the onslaught. Mark noticed fire in their eyes. It was a surreal sight. 
Vacationing on Opal Bay, Victoria and Ian strolled hand in hand along the shore unaware that five hundred miles away, off the coast of Enclave, a massive under water earth quake had occurred.

Above the deformed sea floor the great volume of ocean, pushed the overlying water into a tsunami. Traveling rapidly through the open ocean at hundreds of miles per hour the tsunami was scarcely noticeable at less than a foot high.

As the tsunami approached the shallow waters near the coast of Opal Bay it began to slow down forming a trough. Victoria and Albert noticed the sea began to recede quickly. They stopped to watch the peculiar event each exclaiming what a fascinating sight this was. After a few minutes Victoria noticed a large wall of water racing towards the shore. She shouts to Ian, run for your life! Go, go, go!

They make a dash towards the hotel scrambling to reach higher ground. Reaching the staircase of the second floor,Ian looks down and sees other people still on the ground, now in waist deep water. Nearby he sees Mark screaming for help, shouldn’t we stop and help him he asked Victoria. No! She said and kept moving as the water continued to chase them up the stairs.
Ian shut his eyes tightly for a second as the desperate screams of people being washed away reached his ears; his feet stopped moving of their own accord as he identified Mark's familiar voice among them. For the briefest moment, the world seemed to stop turning; his brain was trying to process all the chaotic information it was receiving while trying to get the limbs moving again, his eyes were fixated on the window through which he could see what used the be the shore, the street. Victoria tugged his shirt, he could see she was screaming something, but suddenly the sounds didn't make sense anymore. It's something important, he thought, focusing blue eyes on the full lips moving in front of him, a slight frown forming, but still the words drove no meaning home. He blinked once, twice. He needed to remember, but his mind was blank.

Then the salty water, still rising, reached his feet, drenching them as the flip flops he wore offered no protection whatsoever. The mildly cold water seemed to kick start his brain again, and reality cam crushing back. He needed to run or he'd drown; he needed to move immediately. A curt nod was all he spared to Victoria before regaining control of his body and pushing her up, climbing the steps two and three at a time. His muscles began protesting the effort, and he did his best to ignore them. He needed to keep going if he wanted to have a shot at survival.

  • Ian settled on Opal Bay as a quaint spot to celebrate his and Victoria's one year anniversary as a couple. They were not married but were planning for a wedding next year. Ian owned a successful and booming landscaping business faraway in Cape Harbor, the capital city. He was long overdue for a vacation, and making his girlfriend happy was the perfect excuse. Unlike the bustle of Cape Harbor, Opal Bay was small--only 1,500 people--historic, and, above all, quiet. The inhabitants cared well for their town, too. Its condition was pristine, and the long beach was among the best in the nation. The Bay's only drawback was its remoteness, tucked at the foot of the sky-scraping Lattimore Mountains. Then, again, that is what made it special. 
    Ian and Victoria reached the third floor, gasping for breath. The water level was still rising, but more slowly here. They had enough time to plan their escape, until the floor took a sickening tilt to the left as the hotel foundation started to give way. "This is madness!" cried Victoria. Ian noticed an open window in one of the abandoned rooms. He ran to it, desperate for a way out. The tilt of the hotel brought the rushing current of seawater dangerously close to the room he was in. To Ian's right, he noticed the hotel sign "Primrose" had broken loose and was half-floating in the dirty, hellish current. Ian called to Victoria and she followed him out the window and onto the hotel sign. Suddenly, the hotel buckled and continued it's collapse. The sign gave way, and Ian and Victoria found themselves riding on top of the speeding current, floating into the unknown...

    • Ian and Victoria was spotted by a passing ship in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. The ships' captain brought them both on board and offered them water, food and clean clothes, but Ian and Victoria didn't understand the captain, because he was speaking in a different language something they had never heard before. This frighten them both, Victoria got as close as she possibly could to Ian and he held her tight. The captain understood the fear he witnessed on their faces and backed away slowly...
      The Captain, Vladimir, was a kind and gentle man. He had experienced many close calls out on the rough seas in treacherous storms. Vladimir had lost many men to the unforgiving ocean in the peak of its wrath. He sympathized with the the couple, Ian and Victoria, even though he could not speak their language, he understood their terror. He thoughtfully, got the cook, Olga, who spoke broken English to come to their rescue. She was able to reassure them that the Captain and his crew meant them no harm. Eventually, Ian and Victoria, shyly accepted their hospitality and was pleased to have dry clothes and a hardy meal in their tummy. They were relieved to be rescued, but were taunted by the memory of their close call and grieved for their losses.
      It felt as if an important part of their life had been swept away by the water - as if the wave had simply erased their past, possibly even the future! The memory of the opal ring brought tears to Victoria's eyes time and again. "Opals for my girl ... You'll remember Opal Bay," Ian had whispered. She had placed the little box with the ring on the bedside table - where was the ring now?
      Olga patted her hand reassuringly. She didn't know what this foreign lady was thinking about but understood she was grieving.     
      All of a sudden, the opal ring, seemed less important than before, as shock waves roiled the sea into violent waves of angry waters. The waves slapped against the ship as though it was a sea monster trying  to crush it. The sirens blared alerting the crew the battle was on, them against the sea. The sailors took their positions on deck to take on the crusade against the raging waters.

      Olga lost her balance and fell to the floor. Victoria tightly wrapped her arms around Ian. Victoria was too scared to let her tears flow, she pitched back and forth as the ship was tossed around like a toy boat, clutching Ian as though her life depended on him.
      The boat rocked up and down relentlessly. Ian and Victoria held on to a post for dear life. Olga lost her footing and rolled down some stairs. The skies blackened above them, yet in the distance a prism had formed, and on the other side of it was calm and clear. Then the waters around the boat went calm, and the current reversed, pulling the boat toward the strange phenomenon on the sea. Captain Vladimir put his hand on Victoria’s shoulder and helped her and Ian up off the deck floor. He spoke in soft, broken English “Victoria, it’s OK. I’ve returned to this side to see you again. I’m your grandfather, and there’s a place I’d like you to see”.
      "My grandfather?" Victoria responded confusingly and doubtfully. That was the only word come out from her mouth.  They both was so quite in a minute, and then, "Please, take me there?" said her in soft and weak voice he almost could not hear it.  She even didn't know why she had those confident words for someone who had confessed that he was her grandfather.
      “Victoria! You can’t go through with this! You don’t know this guy, we don’t even know what the hell is going on!” shouted Ian. 
      “Ian… I can’t explain it. This feels so familiar, but I don’t know why. When I was little, my father told me that grandfather vanished at sea. I remember only bits and pieces of the day he vanished, there was a major flood… but not much more than that. Father refused to talk about it. Ian, if you want to take a lifeboat back to shore, I’ll understand, but the flood we just survived and the flood from years ago are somehow connected. I need to go to find answers.”
      “Have you lost your mind?! I can’t leave you here alone. Not with this guy.”
      The boat sailed through the watery optic. At one point their view from the deck inverted and everything was upside down, then a moment later right side up, as they drifted to calmer waters. The sky was a brilliant blue, with lush greens of land off in the distance. Capt. Vladimir returned from the wheelhouse.
      “I’m afraid Olga won’t be joining us right now, she wishes to rest.”
      “What is this place?” asked Victoria.
      Capt. Vladimir paused for a moment, then “This is Padua. Very few people can come here, but travel to and from here is relatively simple.”
      “Oh, by hopping on a unicorn and riding over that rainbow? Sounds very exciting.” quipped Ian
      “Our family has passed on the means of getting here from generation to generation” said Capt. Vladimir evenly.
      “And what means is that?” asked Victoria
      “The opal ring on your hand Ian gave to you”
      Victoria slowly looked down to her hand where the ring should be, and then a wave of shock rolled over her as she realized the ring was her and Ian’s only way back. 
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