Today, I watched Cara give her honors presentation. She was the last speaker in a group of five. It is not just maternal pride that makes me say that her presentation was very good. The others spoke, one about social media, praising it, offering the expert opinions of a professor and a student that, by her own admission, she grabbed in the hall a half hour before she filmed the discussion that she based her presentation on. There was no discussion about the negatives of it, and in one case her slide made no sense, the question being "Do we use social media well?" and the answer being, from the student expert 65% and the professor's response, slightly lower.
Another girl presented on library programs for young adults and how they theoretically could foster positive behaviors. But the question was put to her: did she look at demographics? Well-heeled communities with a lot of money to pour into library programs might appear to be helpful, but those areas might not have the drug problems of an inner city demographic, where poorer communities mean more limited budgets. She foundered there, and the holes in her presentation soon became apparent.
A third girl got up to speak on the I-pad vs. dynavox technology, and at the end of it, the question was put to her: why did she only examine I-pads? What about other even cheaper 'tablets'. A professor pointed out that what she had done was a commercial for Apple.
The lone boy in our group got up to examine the role of the 'trickster' charactor in literature, talking about Loki and Odin and Lancelot, who he deemed a 'heroic trickster.' I personally did not see how it all tied together, but granted, I am not an expert in this, to be sure. A professor questioned him intensely about his assertion that the thread of commonality was a Freudian issue: creation vs. destruction. Freud? I didn't remember that stage either, but he had danced right on, and I tried to follow his thinking as best I could.
Cara got up and did her presentation. I'd watched the other kids get ripped apart, and I was nervous for her, because she did not have notes. She discussed the Republic of Korea's Truth and Reconciliation Commission and their historical innaccuracy. It amazed me to hear her pulling Korean names out of her memory, dates, massacres, quotes. She was good, although her voice was quavery. At the end of her talk, she took questions. She did not falter. She answered them. In one case, a girl misunderstood a point. Cara quickly took her power point to the quote, and pointed out her mistake, which brought an apology. A judge questioned her passion, and she explained it. There were probably four questions, difficult questions, but she never wavered, she was clear and convincing. In the end, two people came up to her for further discussion.
In the car back to her apartment, I praised her and she said what I did not know. There was a scholarship involved. She was sure that she would not get it. The professor who moderated was not fond of her. But she said, "I know that I was good. I know that my presentation was solid."
Where did it come from, that clear view of her own abilities, despite what others thought of them?
I drove the hour and a half back home, and I marveled at that nearly the entire way. I still do not have an answer to that question.