A blog advocating autism through my own personal experiences and insights.

Archive for June, 2012

The IB Program

I thought I would take this opportunity to share with you a letter. Back when I was in high school I took a challenging opportunity to pursue the IB program (International Baccalaureate). In case you don’t know what that is, it is a special international high school program that really prepares one for university and is recognised by many universities in the world. Sadly, however, the IB program at my high school Sydney Academy is considering closing it. My fellow IB alumni and me are rallying together and have created a facebook group dedicated to keeping the IB program at Sydney Academy. We are also sending out letters. I have sent out the following letter to various people: including the CBVRSB (Cape Breton Victoria Regional School Board), the principal at Sydney Academy, the CBC radio station, various MLAs and the local newspaper there the Cape Breton Post. I’d just like to share it on here to express my dedication to this wonderful program.

Dear CBVRSB Board Members,

My name is J.C. Saunders and as a Sydney Academy High School Alumnus, I have been informed that you are seriously considering cutting out the IB program at Sydney Academy. I was very disappointed to hear this and think this is a bad idea for a variety of reasons. I graduated from Sydney Academy in June 2007 from the IB program and have since moved on and have completed a joint honours degree in mathematics and philosophy at Acadia University, which I graduated from last spring. I feel that the experience that I’ve gained from the IB program has made a huge positive impact on me.

Let me explain. I found the IB program to be incredibly tough and competitive. I will admit it wasn’t all fun. My grades suffered a bit, and I was often overwhelmed with work. I count myself very lucky that Sydney Academy has such great teachers who actually helped me through it. In particular, I would like to draw your attention to Ms. Janet Beaton and Mr. Barry Halloran who I took IB history and theory of knowledge from respectively. Even though he is no longer teaching there, I would also like to mention Mr. Bob Crane who taught IB math and calculus at Sydney Academy until a few years ago who recognised my strengths and potential. These teachers were full of energy and always managed to keep me motivated. I owe a lot to such fine instructors.

Ever since graduating from the IB program, it has contributed to my successes tremendously. In particular, when I entered Acadia University, I quickly saw how such a challenge as the IB program was paying off. While I saw other students struggling to get at least descent marks in some of their courses, I saw a great improvement in my own marks. After a mere first semester at Acadia, my average went up by at least 12% and it stayed that way throughout the rest of my time there. From being a Sydney Academy IB student who got mediocre marks, I became one of Acadia’s top math students. Professors in other departments also took notice of me when I was still in first year. Due to the number of essays that the IB program required me to write, I had really honed in on my writing skills, which very much pleased a philosophy professor I had in first year. I even managed to write all ten essays that were assigned in an English course I took, even though I was only required to write four and really gained respect from my English professor because of my work ethic. In short, the IB program really prepared me for going to university.

If you take away the IB program, you will not be allowing other students the opportunity to rise to the challenge that it poses. More students will be come to university ill-prepared. On the other hand, if you keep it in place, more students will gain a valuable work ethic and find university not such a huge transition. I leave it up to you to decide how you want to proceed. I just want you to be aware that whatever action you decide to take, you will be sending a message to students. If you keep the IB program in place, you will be saying that taking on a challenge is good and helps to improve oneself. If you take IB away from Sydney Academy, your message will be that taking extra challenges in education and in life in general is unnecessary and too much of a bother. I wish you luck in making your decision.

Yours sincerely, J.C. Saunders.

BSC (Honours) Mathematics with Philosophy 2011 Acadia University

MMath Pure Mathematics 2013 (Expected) University of Waterloo

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A Second Level of Freedom

This weekend that just passed, I’ve had another epiphany (I just love having those!). It deals with my feelings toward finding a girl to date, wanting romance in my life, and putting an end to my sexual frustration. I must admit that during the past few months, my sexual frustration has rather increased than where it has been over the last few years. And after all my fruitless attempts at trying to find someone, it’s starting to really exhaust me. And so I have done the only thing I can do. I’ve just let it go. I’ve decided to stop looking.

This is rather analogous to how I was feeling about my studies last fall. Last fall, my academic perfectionism gave me such a painful experience that I did the only thing I could do then. I let go of it. And it let to a wonderful new sense of freedom, which I’ve illustrated this experience in a previous post Freedom. Now we can replace academic perfectionism with sexual frustration and that pretty much sums up how I’d describe what went through me this weekend. Letting go has indeed led to a whole new sense of freedom, much like how my school experiences last fall did for me. Now instead of experiencing freedom in the academic sense, I can now experience it in the human relationship sense as well.

In stopping looking for a girlfriend, I don’t mean I stop talking to girls entirely. In order to have romantic success that’s certainly a requirement. It’s basically my approach and attitude that’s changed. Whenever I meet a girl, I no longer look at her as a potential girlfriend. I don’t care how beautiful she is, whether she loves math, philosophy, writing, or has autism, etc. If she has or is none of these things, some of these things, or all of these things it really doesn’t matter at the start because there are millions of girls on this planet and it’s not like the Earth’s population is decreasing. Chances are there’s another girl out there that I would be just as compatible or incompatible with (and I don’t think I’d want a girl who was to too much like me. We’d probably get bored of each other). If I find I enjoy talking with this girl, then I see her as a friend. I’d probably only consider her as something more if things developed in a natural way. Like if it became obvious that she liked me romantically. And if she started flirting with me and I was interested, then I’d definitely flirt back and so we’d develop something.

And just because I’ve stopped looking, also doesn’t mean that I’m not pursuing a social life just as rigorously as before. Indeed, if I’m to meet someone then having an expanded network of friends will certainly help with that. My strategy will simply to be to get involved in things I like, meeting potential friends, and go on from there. And then simply let the girl follow. Such a strategy I think is beneficial in a lot of ways. It avoids feelings of depression and helplessness if I don’t find someone very soon. It also avoids feelings of obsession over a particular girl and will allow me more control over the crushes that I might find I’m developing for a particular girl. I can also be myself when I’m talking to girls. I can relax and not worry about rejection because I find a girl incredibly beautiful or perfect in some way. As my Aunt Linda pointed out, it’s good to be a “me” before I become a “we”. Finally, I feel more complete by myself. My feelings of inadequacy of never having a girlfriend are vanishing and I’m left with a peaceful feeling of being single. The trite phrase “you complete me” makes absolutely no sense. You have to feel complete before you enter into a particular relationship in order for it to be successful and to not have your happiness or adequacy be dependent on the actions of another person.

Another thing I like doing (as long as it doesn’t become an obsession though I don’t think it will) is to imagine what the girl who I will eventually end up with is doing at any particular moment. What is she doing now as I type these words down? Is she brushing her hair, enjoying some delicious meal, reading a novel, or enjoying a movie with some friends? I love to speculate and it keeps me excited.

I’ve wanted a girlfriend for 11 years now and have been trying to get one for the last 9 years (If you want full details see Figuring Out the Dating Game Part 1 and Figuring Out the Dating Game Part 2). That’s nearly half the time I’ve been here. And unless it takes me until I’m 34 to find one, I think it’s safe to assume that I’m most of the way through the journey by now anyway. But I think I’ll give the world a chance to work its magic, instead of me trying to do it all myself. Whether it’ll take a month, a year, or 10 years, the right girl will eventually come my way.