Reflecting on Assignments in English 21001

Reflecting on Assignments in English 21001

In English 21001 with Professor Suzanne Weyn, I was invited to work on a number of different writing assignments, each one emphasizing a particular genre. I was tasked with writing a literacy narrative, a documentary review, an op-ed piece, a sales pitch email, and a profile. For each piece, I was given the freedom to approach any subject that I found engaging provided that my writing adhered to the constraints of the genres. This made thinking critically about the subject matter both approachable and enjoyable. And although I appreciated some assignments more than others, I’m grateful that I was given the opportunity to tackle genres that I otherwise would not have in other academic or professional settings. 

For my first assignment, I was asked to write my first literacy narrative. As a communications major, I was more accustomed to writing impersonal materials that were promotional or informational for corporate communications or advertising. Here, I was encouraged to be emotional and explore my own memories, specifically those of my relationship to reading and writing. This made the work refreshing because I could take a break from trying to give life to a lifeless product, organization, or business. I enjoyed exploring and expressing my connection to the skill of writing as it has a special place in my life. I often turn to it in times of hardship since it’s the most important tool I have for organizing and making sense of my own thoughts and experiences.. This assignment was difficult to approach because it forced me to write about myself for the first time in a while, but it was the most enjoyable one for me. 

The documentary review was admittedly a little taxing on my patience. The examples that we were given of how others have approached this genre were about a shallow celebrity drama – a topic that has no use except to act as fuel for senseless gossip. I personally enjoy viewing documentaries and I will watch them more often than movies, but seeing the same one multiple times in a row was a little tough. The excitement that arises from being introduced to a new idea, historical event, or person can quickly evaporate when it has to be repeatedly revisited in such a small window of time. However, despite this mundane process of rewinding and rewatching, I admit that I was able to better absorb what I was learning. I found this to be a benefit since I was fortunate enough to have found a profoundly inspiring documentary that was a joy to write about. 

As for the Op-ed assignment, it presented me with a moral dilemma: I felt like I had to find a topic that was worth being opinionated about. I don’t believe it’s healthy or productive to share opinions for vanity – the narcissism that fuels people’s amazement with their own thinking is something I find ugly. The last thing I would want to do is misguide someone to think or act in a way that is potentially self-destructive or destructive for others just to stroke my ego. As such, it took me a while to find a topic that I felt would have a beneficial impact if shared. I explored my deeply held belief about the importance of exercising consistently conscious gratitude in order to get the most out of the unique blessings we’ve each been given. It was challenging to write about this persuasively since it was my first time addressing a potentially public audience about my personal convictions. I don’t think I had ever previously attempted to approach such a heavy topic through writing, but it was a wholesome experience. Although I enjoyed the literacy narrative the most, I now think this was the assignment that benefited me the most.  

Writing a sales email was a relatively simple assignment. As a freelancer, I’ve had to write several of these before. Also as a communications major, I’ve been trained to write specifically to produce sales and encourage readership. To complete this assignment, I just needed to do what I had already been doing outside of class. However, I do acknowledge that the skill of designing a succinct, but persuasive email to elicit reactions is not an easy thing to do and it took me a lot of practice, and I experienced a lot of rejection, before I had developed the ability to do it somewhat well. My email was selected as an example for others in the class to use as a reference, so I hope the students who don’t have the experience I have are able to benefit from it in their own academic and professional fields. 

Writing the profile was the most dull of the assignments. It was very similar to writing a press release in the sense that it was purely informational, so I incorporated my own voice to give it a little more personality. Maybe because this assignment was due closer to the end of my last academic semester, my enthusiasm for tackling the assignment may have withered. This made it hard to get into the flow I usually enjoy when working on these papers. Since I was reluctant to do a great deal of research or to interview people, I decided to focus on an event rather than a person – I took guidance from the Norton Field Guide to Writing in this respect. This gave me the opportunity to turn this profile into a more reflective piece about the current situation regarding the education system in New York – how remote learning has become the norm and the repercussions that came from such an abrupt shift into this model of learning. Otherwise, I still feel like I benefited from the practice because more formal writing assignments like these are much more common in the workplace, as opposed to creative writing. 

Overall, I feel like this class reintroduced me to the wonder of writing. As a graphic designer, the majority of my work efforts are spent on visual media, which is a shame sometimes because I truly enjoy the written word. I’m grateful that I was able to take this class in my last semester before graduating, which feels surreal to say. In a way, I feel more prepared for what my personal experience of the real world will be after having taken this class. This is not necessarily because it will help me at work, but more so because I believe having taken the time to reflect, observe and practice expressing myself, I’ve worked on myself as an individual soul. I believe that this kind of work is often more valuable than the paid kind. So to Professor Weyn and the City College of New York, thank you.

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