Take a second… think about the word “past.” What does the word “past” mean to you? This is a particularly challenging word and exactly what Gee refers to when he states that one’s experiences determine the meaning that an individual may give to a particular word. In this example, the girl had a terrible past bouncing from foster home to foster home and being abused throughout the process. she refuses to let her past define her. I loved my childhood, and often find myself reliving old memories with my family. I allow and love my past to define myself. But “past” to me means fun, love, happiness, family, lack of worry, and play. I love my “past,” but that is because it is defined by my experiences, just as the woman in the photo is defined by her past (in an obviously negative way).