Unlearning Essay Reflection

Evidence About Evidence

This is a picture of some of my friends from other countries and me in the homecoming parade. Senior year was judgment free!
This is a picture of some of my friends from other countries and me in the homecoming parade. Senior year was judgment free!

For our first essay, we were asked to think about an experience, or collections of experiences that led us to change the way we thought about something. The goal of this assignment was for us to use specific evidence and be able to analyze it to convey how we changed to the reader. I chose to talk about stereotypes, and how meeting exchange students from other countries made me realize that I was a very judgmental person, and a lot of what I “knew” about other people came from preconceived notions and stereotypes that I had grown up familiar with. As I wrote my essay, I analyzed how getting to know the exchange students really helped develop my understanding of other cultures, and the importance of getting to know an individual based upon who they truly are, instead of what others led me to believe about these exchange students, which was usually based on hearsay.

Although I felt pretty confident in my essay, initially it was difficult for me to notice my lack of evidence. After a peer review session though, I realized that I had written some parts of my essay as though I expected the reader to already understand what I was talking about.

For example, near the end of my first essay when I am describing how I unlearned, I simply included these two sentences, “The more I learned about my new friends from Exchange Club, the less tied down I felt due to having stereotypes. Every day I met new people, and although it was hard for me at first to not have prejudgments about them, it felt really freeing to have absolutely no expectations about their personalities or cultures” (RD).  Instead of expanding on how I got to know them, or what I learned about my friends, I only wrote, “every day I met new people”. This is a basic sentence, and in my writing process I learned that in order to make it more personal to my life I needed to explain exactly how I got to know people, and provide some examples of what I learned so that my peers would be able to better connect with my essay.

This was after our first soccer game together as a team! Adding this example to my essay of how I better connected with the exchange students is really a great way to show how much I learned about getting to know others.
This was after our first soccer game together as a team! Adding this example to my essay of how I better connected with the exchange students is really a great way to show how much I learned about getting to know others.

Although my next paragraph is a bit longer, it is exactly what I needed in order to pull this part of my essay together to enhance how far I had come as a person who is trying to learn about others before making up opinions about them. In my revised paragraph, I include more sentences about what I learned and how.

“Over the course of my senior year in Exchange Club, I found that as a club we were doing so much more together. The exchange students and I hung out every weekend, and started having a really great time just by being ourselves. We went to movies, played card games and soccer, went out to eat, and after a while we were completely open with each other, and I learned a lot of positive things about my new friends from around the World. I learned that in Switzerland students attend school longer in order to enhance their education. My friends from Brazil were some of the smartest teenagers that I had ever met. I got to know the one German girl who I expected to be rude, I felt absolutely awful when I learned about what a sweetheart she was after actually spending time with her and getting to know her” (FD).

As you can see, I was a lot more specific in detailing the process of how I got to know the exchange students better. I wrote that “we went to movies, played card games and soccer…” which are strong, detailed pieces of evidence that actually demonstrate how I spent my time getting to know the students better. In my final draft it is easy to see how I progressed from stranger to friend due to my examples. In my first draft though the reader simply needed to trust that I did indeed do activities with the exchange students in order to get to know them. I have learned that it is much better to provide more evidence to engage the reader, instead of leaving something that may initially seem insignificant to the writer out. People say that less is more, but in my case I will have to say that including more evidence in my paper was key to having a well developed paper.

Rereading my two papers myself, I feel a lot more confident in my final draft. I enjoy reading it more, as with the specific examples I can exactly picture the times we spent together as friends. My first draft lacked this personal connection, and description of how exactly I was able to unlearn my stereotypes. It’s more fun to read a paper that provides personal details, and I know now that the more evidence a paper has, the more potential it has to take a reader in a specific direction, or help to prove a claim. I learned a lot when I saw how positively I changed my essay by adding analysis.

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This is a place for me to keep all of my work from my Writing 100 class that I took with Professor Jennifer Metsker.

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