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Self Evaluation and Reflection

rppatel's picture

When I first came into Esem I was not sure about it at all. I remember many upperclassman telling me that Esem will help you decide if Bryn Mawr is the school for you. To be honest I had only previously heard about Jody Cohen and seen amazing reviews for her on Rate my Professor. I was not sure what to expect from Anne Dalke at all. But as cheesy as this sounds, Esem did really set the stage for me for the rest of my time at Bryn Mawr. I really did enjoy this class.

I however am upset I didn't get to expereience it the way I wanted to. For a significant chunk in the middle of the semester I was in class but I wasn't really "present". I had a rough semester and I'm quite upset it affected my class expereince a lot. There were many days of discussion that I wish I could have fully participated in but as I was not caught up on the reading and could only really observe. For example the day we met in the cloisters I really wish I had done more than skim Ravens at Play because that discussion looked so much fun, my classmates were all impersanating the characters and having a lively debate. Looking at how I had participated in class towards the begining of the semester and towards the end though I do think I did improve with my level of participation. The first few classes, I was really shy and feared judgement of what I was going to say. But the last few classes I really did share and contribute to the discussion and responded to my peers. It made me even more sad because I had lost out of experiencing that earlier in th semester.

In terms of my writing, my journey was very different than my peers. Because of that gross middle chunk of the semester, my papers came in out of order and weren't written during the weeks the topics were relevant in class. I did notice that my writing became a lot more geniune. My first 3 papers I noticed I'm trying so hard to have this "academic" voice. In trying to sound proper I lost my own voice in my writing. I saw I tried really hard to avoid first person but in my later papers I embrace having my own opinion in the argument. I was able to become a lot more concise and to the point. I lost the academic ramblyness of my papers. I also learned it's okay to not have a thesis explicitly though out before hand. It does help to have the main points outlined though. With one of the last papers I wrote, The world is a Puzzle, I "figured out" my arguemnt in the last paragraphs. Before writing that paper I had known that i was going to discuss globalization and Elizabeth Kolbert and discuss consequences of human travel. I think that Paper came together quite nicely and I wasn't so anxious about knowing the end argument while writing it. Earlier this semester with Eli Clare, I had a huge panic because I was so caught up with figuring out the "point" of the paper. But sometimes it takes writing the paper and outlining the main ideas before seeing the "main point". I also learned papers don't need to have an answer. By trying to be the voice that gives an answer the writer becomes "god". That was something I used to have a big problem with in my writing. I remeber when I was writing paper 8 I learned that you can leave a paper off with a preview of what you would explore with a following paper. I wasn't sure about tying in the idea of memory with plants and the contact zone, but Anne had suggested weaving it in at the end to preview a paper exploring explictly that. I ended up going a different direction with paper 8 but I learned that you don't need to answer everything in one paper.

Overall I grew a lot in this class. I had come from a AP curiculum that has enforced just write down everything in your head and make sure the argument is claer. But now I learned how to write a paper over a longer period of time and to think about what is being said. In AP I would have maybe an hour at most to write an essay and I wouldn't get a chance to edit or rethink it. In this class I would take a break from a paper, re order paragraphs talk my arguments through with my peers and end up witha  better quality product.

I also loved my class and the discussion we had. I loved Anne so much too and gained a lot from the individual writing conferences.

Thank you so much for a great semester.