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Self valuation and reflection

Cathyyy's picture

Dear Anne,


Having chosen and came to this class is one of the luckiest thing I have in the first semester of Brynmawr. I was born and raised in a small town of China until I was 15, then I came to an international high school in Shenzhen alone, an international city, for four years. Now I come to US, a totally different country and culture for me. This is how my story changes. The esem topic “changing our story” is hence an appealing topic for me, I hoped it would help me to understand different cultures and also ourselves. At the end of the semester, it turns out to be true.


We have gone through lots of readings and writings about the relationship between environment and identities, for me, at first I though every reading are irrelevant, as if we just start a new topic every week, but at the end they seem to make a big picture as a whole.To be honest, for those readings in the first month, I finished them on time and would even print out all the reading materials one week ahead, but then I got busier and lazier,maybe 4 out of 10 times I didn’t finish the whole reading, then I would come to the class uneasily and observe what others say, trying to pretend I have read them when I speak. But I found the reading materials in general very interesting and inspiring, compare to other esem class, I’m lucky we got to read novels(even comic books) and readings that brought me so many different thoughts. I also found myself read faster and faster at the end.


For the writing part, I’m sorry I always have to ask for extension, that’s because of my poor time management and I hated it. When I have a clue of what to write about, I just procrastinate and thinking I could finish it very soon; When I don’t have a clue, I just feel reluctant to start. Every time I planned to write a draft, then write the complete essay, then go to writing center before I submit my essay. But every time the reality turns out to be—I rushed my essay in two hours. Every Friday afternoon is never a free time for me, although sometimes I just do nothing under a mood of anxiety. I could still remember how I walk out of my room and run into Morine and our conversation goes like: ‘Cathy how’s your esem paper?’ ‘Haven’t started, you?’ ‘Me too!’ Then we back to our dorms and keep doing nothing. 


During the class, I was firstly very timid to speak out my own thoughts. In China, we don’t speak during the class unless our teacher ask us to do so, then we usually stands up and say something that has to be ‘correct’. But here in US, I feel insecure just sitting among a bunch of students of different races, nationalities and speak the language that I can’t speak fluently. I was pretty careful every time I speak and afraid of making mistakes. At the mean time I observe every one else closely— Everyone except me is so confident and talkative! Sometimes I even couldn’t understand fully their words, but even observing their gestures and how their facial expression changes when they speak means a lot to me. However later on, I just got more involved in the class, especially when I read my reading carefully and I got more things to say. Also I found the pattern of the free talk in class—People don’t talk because they know it perfectly, their speech is not always brilliant, they just feel free to say whatever they want to say. It’s totally different from my former experience, but I’m glad I figured it out and try to behave like domestic students. I was hindered and worried by my international identity for a while, but I got over it and found my own place at the very end.


What I really like about this course is firstly, how we navigate our conversation during the class and how people sit together and really put ourselves in the contact zone. When we call on others name and show our agreement to other’s speeches, we are just more involved and the classroom is just more energetic. It’s a brand new class experience for me and I loved it; Second, the idea of choosing classroom by ourselves, which I’m proud to brag about to my friends. I got to study in different environment and   Third, is how we view  the previous reading or writings ‘through the lens of’ other readings. That make me able to see many details that I haven’t discovered in the readings and new ways to view the old readings. Finding out the truth that ways to comprehend a fixed reading are actually mutable and transformable is an exciting thing about learning. My dad always tell me to view from different angles and be brave to question everything, my esem reading provides me a chance to do so. Finally, one of my favorite thing is the weekly conference. I’m really glad I have you as my esem professor this year, you’re so intelligent and has a charming characteristic, which I really trust and take as someone I can talk to. At the first time I came to your office, I felt so secure and intimate because of the warm atmosphere there and all the unique decorations. I also like the little chitchat about my life before we bump into essay discussion. The only thing that I dislike is that the time is too short—We always run out of time so soon!


So in general, I learned a whole lot of things during this course: ways to comprehend reading materials, time management about writing essays, being more confident to express my own ideas during the class, make friends with classmate, thinking of our own identities and the environment…I’m glad I have experienced the typical american liberal arts education in this course and met a bunch of people that care the same thing like me. But there’s still things I’m not happy with myself, if I have one more semester to go, I wish I could finish every reading and writing on time, or ahead of time, go to writing center for every weekly essays, start my project research earlier, and speak more during the class( and probably take notes for every discussion like Kat did!)


Thanks Anne, at last, for bringing us such a great course!