Amanda P.X. Sim
Judge/Host QuestionsWhat have you learned from this competition?
- Well, first of all I have learned that I should work on providing more comprehensive answers to questions, as that has been commented about for a few times. In the beginning I intended my answers to be more brief and precise like in a real-life face-to-face interview, so I kept things fun and simple, but eventually I learned that people were interested in finding out more about the candidates' responses since it is all written responses, so I am trying to work on that, especially in this round. The second thing I learnt, or rather, observed from this competition is that everyone is so talented and unique in their very own way, I myself find it tough to decide on who is the best sometimes. Each of us has our own set of qualities and skills, although there may be times when we find ourselves lacking in certain aspects, I think it's important to understand that there will always be room for improvement, and just because we aren't the best in certain areas, doesn't mean that we aren't better in other things. Ultimately I feel that those who are really dedicated and put in a lot of hard work deserve to earn the crown.
What is your favorite personal belonging?
- My favourite personal belonging would be my piano. The secondhand instrument is the most expensive physical thing that my parents have ever gotten for me (not including the piano lessons that I took throughout my childhood) and they worked really hard to save up enough for this gift which I received when I was about five years old. I can still vividly remember the day the piano arrived at my house - it was probably in the morning and I had just woken up when my mum told me to go downstairs to see a surprise. So I stood at the staircase looking down at the living room below, where the piano guys carefully placed the big black instrument against the white wall. Since then, I had my very own instrument and a musical skill too, which I am really grateful to my parents for. When I was young my parents would accompany me during my daily piano practices at night, I would have a notebook with a list of songs to practice, and they would help me count the number of times I practised a single song to make it perfect. As I grew older, I took piano examinations, and this piano assisted me in passing my exams as I practised my pieces on it all the time. There were also family gatherings when my cousins and I would take turns to perform a song or two for the entire family, and share our favourite music sheets with each other. During the last year of my high school, my best friend and I even composed a song on this piano together. This piano followed my entire family when we moved house twice, and it's still standing in the living room today, with an old metronome on top. Even though it is just a physical item, my piano sure holds a lot of fond memories throughout the course of my life, hence to me, it is a treasure of a lifetime.What item from the HP universe would you most like to have and why?
- I would definitely most like to have the time turner. I understand the fact that everyone on earth has 24 hours a day, it just depends on how we use it, but I've always struggled with trying to make the most out of the time I have, and yet constantly feel that time is running by too quickly and I don't have enough of it. Perhaps it is because I have so many to-do things on my list, so many interests and hobbies and things to learn which I have not been able to achieve yet, and I'm striving to do that in order to live a fulfilling life with no regrets. I've always imagined myself balancing real life and HOL as "time-turning" in between both worlds, so if I had a real time turner, I would be able to have extra time to learn various skills, languages, and enjoy all sorts of different activities, just like how Hermione managed to study extra subjects during her Third Year at Hogwarts. Time travel is a mind-boggling concept and is considered impossible in real life now, which is also why I chose this item among many other magical items from the HP universe.Which is the importance of studying History of Magic? Or is it not important? Why?
- I personally believe that studying History of Magic is just as important as muggles studying world history. People usually live in the present and are concerned about the future, so why should people study about the past when things have already happened and are over? As the saying goes, studying history is important because it allows us to understand our past, which in turn allows us to understand our present. In the context of History of Magic, during the time when Harry was studying there, Hogwarts students in the other three houses seemed to have a bad impression on Slytherin students. This behaviour of the present can be explained by the fact that a number of wizards and witches who "turned bad" or used dark magic in the past happened to originate from Slytherin house, but in actual fact, that does not mean that every member of Slytherin is doomed to be evil. In history there is an abundance of information on people, societies, and culture that can help us understand change, and learn how occurences and experiences of the past form the society we live in today. An example in History of Magic would be the creation of MACUSA. It was after the famous Salem Witch Trials of 1962-63, which caused a tragic loss of life among innocent witches and No-Majs alike, and led to variations in the magical population of North America, that the North American wizarding community finally came together to create laws and establish a wizarding government of their own. Without all the detailed information about these events in history, we would not be able to clearly understand the purpose of MACUSA's establishment and how the peaceful relationship between No-Majs and the wizarding community today came about. History also allows us to learn about our own identity. For example, Harry learns more about his own identity after obtaining knowledge of how his parents (especially his mother) died protecting him, how he got his scar, and how he is somehow destined to defeat Lord Voldemort. All of that is considered as history, even if it is not read from Bathilda Bagshot's book. Last but not least, the stories of individuals and situations in history allows us to hone our own moral values. These tales of the past describe real life complexities individuals have faced in difficult settings. It is through these historical circumstances that we can gain inspiration from the great men and women of history who have successfully worked through moral dilemmas and struggled through adversity, and learn from them when facing our own challenges in the future.Please describe your wand(s) and why it is (they are) suited to you.
- I got a wand from the wand shop in HOL Hogsmeade, which is a 9.75" Vine and Chimaera Scale wand, but I'm not too sure about that wand myself. So instead of that, I would like to talk about the Ollivander's wand I purchased from Diagon Alley during the year I entered Hogwarts. My wand is made of hazel wood, unicorn tail hair core and is 11’5’’ inches long. I always believe that ‘the wand chooses the wizard’, and I think my wand suits my inner-self pretty well. Now, to analyse the properties of my wand wood: hazel is a Celtic wood, believed to have feminine energy and is associated with the elements of Fire, Air and Water. Artistic ability, magical knowledge and optimism are provided by the enchanting use of Hazel. Hazel is a wood renowned for its knowledge and wisdom, as well as creativeness and inspiration. Wisdom of Hazel is the wisdom of wide perspective. A person with a wand of Hazel wood likes both abstract theories and practical knowledge, using them appropriately for the purpose of finding the truth. This is quite true, as the Sorting Hat was trying to decide between Ravenclaw and Gryffindor for me in my first year. Having a calm and well-balanced nature, Hazel wood is, however, quite strong in character. The deep feeling of justice in Hazel usually sets the balance and solves various complicated situations. Hazel also has a distinct protective quality, though it will protect only those whom it considers to be 'good'. Being a Gryffindor, I tend to be very protective of my loved ones, and I do have a strong character when it comes to fighting for justice. In magic, Hazel can be used almost for all purposes, especially for workings that involve seeking the truth and gaining information. Hazel also promotes creative expression, eloquence, and art of all types. It is also used in magic spells for wisdom, creativity, intelligence, navigation, inspiration, and wrath. I find all these properties quite similar to myself, as I am one who loves anything to do with art of all types, and I would count myself as a creative person too. As for my wand core, unicorn tail hair cores are said to be best for those with the pure of heart; that is because unicorns are usually seen as a symbol of immortality, grace, purity, love and the magic of working miracles. Unicorn tail hair wands are also good for charm work, and I do believe I excel best in Charms. The length of my wand is basically determined by my average height, build and structure I guess. In conclusion, this wand certainly fits my personality and has served me well throughout my years of learning magic.Since Harry was a Gryffindor, Gryffindor tends to get a lot of attention compared to the other houses. In terms of the books, who do you think is the most over-rated Gryffindor and who is the must under-rated Gryffindor? Why?
- The first overrated Gryffindor that comes to my mind is Harry Potter himself, but to be honest it wouldn't be entirely fair to say that because the whole series is written with a focus on Harry himself, and is described from his perspective in third person. Harry as the main character has been overrated since the very beginning, because of the way he was brought into the world with a prophecy, and that he was destined to fight the Dark Lord in order to survive himself and keep the wizarding world safe and peaceful. He certainly had a lot to handle, his responsibilities were thrust into his hands by fate, and with that came all the fame that he didn't want for himself. Ultimately he is just a very normal and humble guy who was forced into difficult circumstances, but was celebrated as a hero simply by trying his best to do what is right. Harry may not have had the most fortunate childhood at first, but since attending Hogwarts, most of the time he had luck on his side. Harry is an honourable person, with good values and strength in his character, but he also has quite a number of flaws, which makes him very human although he is the main character and the hero of the story. Harry is also kind of overrated in the sense that a lot of his achievements and success throughout the series aren't really his own. If he did not receive help from the many other characters who were so willing to give him a hand, lend their support, and apply their talents and skills to assist him, he probably would have died early in the stories. Of course, that counts as one of his strengths as well, whereby people are able to see his sincerity and put trust in being his friend or acquaintance. Speaking of which, we can move on to the most underrated Gryffindor, who, in my opinion, should be Ron Weasley. I actually sympathise with Ron in many parts of the story, because he always seems to be the shadow behind others. Since befriending Harry, his life has taken an interesting turn, but he is still always known to everyone as Harry's best friend. In his family, he was the youngest boy to arrive when his family had been waiting for a baby girl for so long, and he seemed to be overshadowed by his brothers because he didn't really have any outstanding talents of his own except Wizard's Chess. In his love life and relationship, he ended up with his best friend Hermione, but still there are many others who think that Hermione shouldn't have been his wife. Ron was also often portrayed as insensitive, insecure, and immature, and although those were indeed his flaws, he did grow up and change for the better over time. What people didn't quite notice throughout the books was that Ron had many redeeming qualities aside from his weaknesses that were more subtly shown to the readers in little moments here and there. Occasionally Ron got a little bit of spotlight, such as when he led the Gryffindor Quidditch Team to victory and gained some confidence for himself, but most of the time he was underestimated and underrated standing next to both Harry and Hermione. He also made a bad impression when he left Harry and Hermione during their hunt for horcruxes, simply because he was ruled by his anger and frustration. However, Ron has many qualities that make him a character that should be loved just as much as Harry and Hermione. He is a loyal and faithful friend, and the Golden Trio actually needs his humour and silliness to complete their friendship. He may not be as smart as Hermione, but he proves to have a strategic mind in solving problems in different ways. He may not seem to be as brave as Harry, but in actual fact he is, it's just that Harry was born to associate with heroism whereas Ron journeyed to find it.What specific steps would you take to ensure that plagiarism is totally not an option on HOL Virtual Hogwarts?
- To be honest, I think to ensure that plagiarism is totally not an option on HOL Virtual Hogwarts is not quite possible. That's because we are a community that creates various types of content in classes and activities, which include a lot of graphics, illustrations, and artwork. Most of the time even if those images are put together by ourselves and not for commercial purposes, the elements used in the designs are probably derived from other people's work of art. I think there is a lot of blurred lines in what is considered as plagiarism especially in this context, because we often take inspiration from other people's creations, and sometimes even modify or edit them, which kind of takes away credit from the original artists if they are not mentioned. Looking at it from a legal perspective, copyright infringement laws vary in different places, but the basic principle and logic is that if you don't exploit other people's work for profit or to claim the fame for yourself, it is still considered acceptable. So I tried reading up more on what is considered as plagiarism when it comes to art on the internet, and came across this journal which I felt was quite helpful in allowing me to understand what is acceptable and what is not, as well as how to prevent or avoid art plagiarism. On the internet, patent and copyright for intellectual property (literature, art, film) is more about a common understanding of ownership - if it's not originally yours, don't say it is. Applying this to HOL, I think that even if we can't totally eliminate plagiarism and solely produce original artwork on the site, what we can do to reduce and prevent/avoid this issue is to give credit where it is due. When using other people's artwork, it would be good to have disclaimers, credits, or reference links that provide others information on the original sources. I think it would be a good idea to also apply this to our classes, whereby class websites are properly referenced and sources are cited, and if there is any extra research done on the homework portion, referencing and citing should be a requirement for the student as well.
(This is the journal that I found to be helpful, if you would like to read more about art plagiarism: https://sacredflamingheart.deviantart.com/journal/What-Is-Art-Plagiarism-READ-THIS-234951828Fashion
Since the beginning of this contest, I had the idea of showcasing my fashion inspiration based on my house, Gryffindor. I'm glad that this part of the contest provides the perfect opportunity to do it, and I thoroughly enjoyed the entire process of putting together the outfits below.
Instead of just three, I created nine outfits altogether, as I feel that I don't have one specific type of style, in fact I have a few different styles that I change up from time to time based on my mood. I'll explain my outfits from left to right:
The Hogwarts Student - I have to say, even though this is just a school uniform, I honestly like this outfit very much, and would gladly wear it out on any normal day (house pride, that is!).
The Vintage Chic - I love vintage stuff, and this is a casual daily look that I would wear to attend classes, go on dates, or travel outings. I really like soft pastel colours, and I think that the colours of this outfit offer an alternative palette to the usual bright and bold red and gold. It still represents Gryffindor nevertheless, just in a more subtle way. I imagine the top to be made of comfortable silk because of the slight iridescent shimmer of the fabric, whereas the skirt looks like it's made of chiffon, creating a light and breezy look. I matched the outfit with a vintage leather messenger bag and brown brogues, which are also my favourites. If only one outfit is allowed, this would be my outfit of choice.
The Occasional Hipster - Sometimes I enjoy dressing up a bit differently than the usual stuff people wear on the streets. This is an autumn outfit for the cold but not freezing days when skirts and stockings can still keep me warm. I usually like matching large oversized sweaters with short pleated skirts, but in this case the red sweater isn't that oversized, so I decided to add on a khaki trench coat for a layered effect. I also put on fishnet stockings and comfortable socks and shoes, as well as a soft beret to complete the look.
The Dark and Bold - There are also times when I'm in the mood for grunge and edgy fashion, and would wear black on black to express myself. For this outfit, I have my favourite dark purple hair curled and braided to one side, a raspberry coloured strapless top tucked into leather leggings, my trusted boots, and a studded sling bag. I'm also wearing a necklace with a statement pendant to add some gold shine.
The Swimsuit - This is a very simple swimsuit, a red strapless bikini top and a black bottom piece. There's not much to explain about this outfit, except that red represents my house, and I think that bright colours are lovely for photos at the beach!
The Traditional Costume - This red dress is a cheongsam, which represents my family roots, as I am of Chinese descent. The cheongsam (or qipao in Mandarin Chinese) is a body-hugging traditional dress often tailor-made for women, and it comes in different styles, materials, and colours (although red is the most classic and popular colour). I wanted to showcase this outfit as well because it is what I wear for Chinese New Year, and since it fits the Gryffindor theme I thought it would be nice to share. I matched the dress with lovely red heels, and a fun sparkler which is also commonly played among kids during the festive celebration.
The Party Princess - This dark red short dress with tulle trimmings looks like a fun and pretty party outfit. I really love the red of this outfit as it is the exact shade of Gryffindor red, and it's a vibrant colour for a lively party. The outfit also looks a bit like a ballet dress, which is why I matched it with golden ballet flats that would be comfortable for dancing as well.
The Elegant One - I picked this pale red gown as my evening wear for a ball. I like wearing off-shoulder outfits as I feel that it flatters my shoulders, and this gown has nice lace patterns around the neckline too, which adds a touch of elegance to it. I matched this long gown with a gold necklace, and braided a crown in my hair as well.
The Wizarding Gown - This outfit is what I would imagine myself to wear during a formal wizarding event which requires guests to wear classic robes (such as the one Professor McGonagall wore during the Yule Ball). Of course, I chose a scarlet robe with gold detailing to represent my house.
Other QuestionsWhat potion would you most like to swim in and why?
- I would most like to swim in Felix Felicis! Honestly, who wouldn't want to swim in a pool of Liquid Luck? Not to mention that it looks like liquid gold, and that is so gorgeous. The potion grants whomever that drinks it unusually good luck, so I'll definitely be sipping some of it during my swim session, then I can have a really good day ahead with loads of confidence, just for the fun of it.You are trapped in a room with a niffler, a crystal ball, and a quick quotes quill. How do you escape?
- I would use the crystal ball to foresee the future of how I am going to escape. If that doesn't work very well, I would probably try persuading the niffler to burrow into the ground, then perhaps with time and patience, it may be able to dig an escape pathway out of the room. Or, assuming that there is a locked door in the room, I could use the tip of the quick quotes quill as a lock pick and get myself out.true or false: hot chocolate is the best winter beverage.
- Absolutely true for me. I love curling up in a cosy couch with a book and a huge mug of hot chocolate as the outside is blanketed in falling white snow. During cold days, hot chocolate is the comfort drink that warms my heart and soul. Moreover I am a sweet tooth, and hot chocolate is a yummy drink that makes my tastebuds happy.Which Hogsmeade shop has the best holiday sales?
- I am guessing that Honeydukes has the best holiday sales, simply because sweet treats make lovely presents, and wonderful little stocking stuffers for Christmas. I would imagine a colourful poster with the huge word SALE hanging at the display window of the shop, and I can also imagine the ever-crowded shop filled with Hogwarts students shopping for all types of sweets, cakes, lollipops, gum, and chocolate. Honeydukes may also offer candy packages in gift boxes that are magically wrapped at the counter, which makes holiday shopping easier for the wizarding folk.What was the best thing that happened to you today?
- The best thing that happened to me today was family dinner. I know that family dinners may be an everyday occasion and not a super significant event of the day, but I still treasure every family dinner as it allows me to spend time with my loved ones as we bond over good food. Today my family and I had homecooked honey chicken, mashed potatoes, and salad for dinner. It was a fairly simple meal, but satisfying enough for us after a long day's work. It was the best thing for me today because we shared some good laughs and fun talk throughout our meal, and family for me is always the best thing ever.