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Tuesday, June 2, 2020

Western student teaches physics through poetry

By Alisha Dixon

At the age of 14, Sanai Anang had an idea. He was passionate about the worlds described in movies, anime series and comic books, but became frustrated when there were plot holes or logical errors in a narrative. His desire to keep the magic of these stories logically consistent sparked his interest in the different laws and rules of various fictional worlds. Wanting to explore and create his own, he turned to science.

“As a fan of fiction, I wanted to create laws and rules for how the world works,” he said.

Anang began to study biology and euclidean geometry, curious to learn about the world around him. For five years he immersed himself in studies.

“When I looked up, I had three quantum physical manuscripts in my hand and a wish to make the best world that I could,” Anang said.

Anang is now a Junior at Fairhaven College and the CEO of a company that combines teaching, quantum physics and storytelling through a variety of art mediums.

Sanai Anang poses after winning Western’s Got Talent 2018 for poetry he wrote for Quantum Up. // Photo courtesy of Sanai Anang

Quantum Up officially launched on April 4, 2016, when Anang was a freshman. He assembled a team of other young people who were passionate about teaching and learning in nontraditional ways. This group has formed what is now Quantum Up. The team includes an animation specialist, a graphic artist and a music director. They currently offer readings, poetry, music, catering, short stories and private and public education lessons to the public for paid events.

“We’re using the music and art and visuals to draw them in,” Rahman Barika, media and visual producer for Quantum Up, said. Barika met Anang while attending Western and as a visual learner, he wanted to be a part of creating a nontraditional learning model. His tasks within the company include making content that is visually appealing and intriguing for the audience.

Using the concepts from quantum physical manuscripts, Anang and Quantum Up wrote and published “Snapshots,” a fictional book divided into chapters and poems that are meant to intrigue readers about quantum physics while immersing them in a fictional world.

Ehren Berger, Anang’s seventh grade English teacher, served as an ally to him throughout the writing process.  They had formed a close relationship throughout the years. Three years ago, Anang approached Berger wanting to meet up.

“He wanted to talk about an idea that he had been brewing for years,” said Berger.

Berger said in the beginning,  Anang had many thoughts about physics and his story line for “Snapshots,” but they were incomplete and not entirely, or easily, relating to each other.

Anang and Berger met throughout that summer to discuss ideas, ask questions and ultimately have Anang come to an answer. These meetings helped develop his ideas for what would become Snapshots, Anang said.

Once at Fairhaven College, professor Stan Tag encouraged Anang to take the jargon out of quantum physics and make it accessible to the average person, Anang said. Tag was a key mentor to Anang at Fairhaven, where these ideas have led Anang to study educational reconstruction.

Quantum Up is continuing to publish chapters of “Snapshots” on Wattpad and plans to produce more content, as well as present at more events.

Starting the company did not come easy to Anang, and it has been a long road to get where Quantum Up is now. The struggles he has faced have pushed him to work hard at what he is passionate about, he said.

“When I was growing up, it was very much a lawless place,” Anang said about growing up in the Central District of Seattle. “You have all these temptations in terms of drugs and alcohol. Every day you have to make the decision to walk past all of that and go to class,” Anang said.

Cover art for “Snapshots,” a book written for the Quantum Up company, which aims to teach complex scientific concepts through art and poetry. // Photo courtesy of Sanai Anang

Berger recalls having Anang as a student.

“Sanai was a precocious 12-year -old. The first thing I remember noticing about him was his enthusiasm, energy, curiosity and inability to disregard an opinion he disagreed with,” Berger said in an email.

He was picked on in school for being a kid who wanted to read and learn. Anang also became ill his senior year of high school. After many excruciating months of being treated for an illness that was misdiagnosed, he was finally properly diagnosed with Lyme disease and is now almost recovered, he said.

Having been through so much, the creation and growth of Quantum Up is an important step for Anang and the Quantum Up team. One memorable event for Quantum Up was presenting at the WWU African Caribbean Club Heritage Dinner in April.

“This work is about empathy for me. This work is about connection for me,” Anang said. “I built this to help educate and empower people.”

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