All posts by stephc2

Presentation reflection

My topic of my presentation is about lowering the minimum drinking age in the United States of America. The minimum legal drinking age in US now is 21 years old. I strongly believe that the minimum legal drinking age in America should be lowered. When I was doing the position paper goes alone with the presentation, I researched all the proponents’ and opponent’s opinions about lowering the drinking age. At first, I was on the opponents’ side. Because I thought government’s policy was still doing the positive effect to the society, prevent alcohol doing harm to the young adults. My presentation also went alone it. I was going to do a presentation that if we lowered the drinking age, we would do more harm to the society. But after doing some further research and readings, I found out that I was wrong, age has absolutely nothing to do with alcohol related harms and crimes. Immaturity and irresponsibility are the real reasons. Lowering drinking age may actually lower the chance of harming young adults. So after all these, I change my stand and changed my paper and presentation.

I’ve already talked about my paper in my revision. For the presentation, I feel myself much unprepared. Right before the presentation was due, like a day before, I just realized that the presentation should not contain a lot of words like normal presentations. It should be made of all images. So I delete my presentation and started over from the beginning. This was the stupidest mistake I’ve ever made during the whole process. Within my presentation, I put a slide called “My personal experience” in there. I think this is a very nice touch. I used my own experience to prove and strength my point.

I didn’t really practice much, so I didn’t do really well when I was presenting to my audience. I forgot a lot of materials I meant to cover. Couple times, I just stood there without saying anything, because I forgot what I meant to say. The biggest issue is that I forgot to mention Virginia tech.

So I guess I didn’t do really well on my presentation.

Course reflection

I cannot believe it has been a half year already since I walked into this university. Time goes so fast that I didn’t notice. Among all of my courses, I really enjoy this English 1105 at nine o’clock on every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. I like this class because it’s a small class, around 15-20 people. This is the perfect amount, just like high school. Professor and always interact with the students. Unlike English 1105, most of my courses are huge ones, about 300-350 people listening to one people, there is no way that professor and interact with everyone in the lecture hall, and answer everyone’s question. This is the first reason I really like my English class.

When I was in high school, I didn’t really like my English class, because there were always research paper to do. We didn’t do much in my English class in high school. We just read a couple of novels, simply discuss what’s about it. Then we wrote a research paper about it. I didn’t like it, not that I had trouble doing my assignment. It’s because I did the some assignment all the time, I want to do something new. This all changed after I walked into college.

The first day of class, professor talked about the things we were about to learn for the whole semester. I thought I was going to repeat everything again just like high school. But after I heard we were going to learn how to write narrative, position papers and learn to think rhetorically, I picked up my interest again.

During the process of learning and writing these new kinds of papers, I think I learned a lot from this course. Before this English class, I didn’t know how to write. My normal technique of writing is just google resource online then began writing. Now, if I’m a paper, I would sit for a few minutes, think about the things and facts I want to include in my paper, brainstorming. Then research the resources I want to use online. After that, I will do some free writing which I never tried before. Then I will begin writing.

Another thing that I really like in the class is the peer workshop. English is my second language, so I definitely had some grammar issues and wording problems in my papers. Most of the mistakes I can correct right after I finish my paper, by going through it. But there is some problem I cannot not find. My peers in the peer workshop are able to see them, and tell me the mistakes.

This course helped me a lot, I really appreciate my professor and this course.

Learned from Gun Control article

Among all the topics, I decided to talk about gun control. In my china, there is no such a thing called “gun control”. Not that we can own as many firearm as we want, but we don’t have any rights to own firearms. Because of that, there won’t be gun control act. After I came to the United States and had my American History Class, I knew second amendment addresses that every citizen has the right to own firearm, to defend himself/herself, to overrun government if necessary.

There are more and more news about shooting appeared on the newspaper, like the shooting happened on Monday, September 16, 2013. Thirteen people were killed, including shooter in that morning. According to what Mayor Vincent Gray said: “It doesn’t get much more serious that this.”

Because of many incidents like this, people get scared. Some of them believe that gun control act will help prevent gun related violence like this. But many of the other say that gun control is not the solution. One of these people is LZ Granderson. In his article” Gun control is not the answer” on CNN Opinion, he addressed his point very clearly. He pointed out that many cities have banned both assault weapons and high capacity magazines. And yet each week people continue to die. This is his main point that gun control won’t help prevent shooting happens.

I can learn a lot from the article he wrote. He provide real incident and example to prove his point. And address point very clearly. He also talked about both prop and con side about the gun control. He used comparison to bring out the disadvantage and advantage of gun control, let the reader decide which is better.

I think in my essay, I’m going to do the similar organization. I’m going to talk about the history of minimum legal drinking age act. Then provide both pro and con side of lowering minimum legal drinking age to 18, 19 or 20. Then point out my own opinion, which is against lowering legal drinking age. I will include some real life examples (one outside the campus and one in Virginia Tech) to strength my point.

Position essay.

Position paper is an essay that presents an opinion about an issue or a thing. Not like in the analysis and narrative essay, in position, you can pick the side upon one incident or subject, either pro or con. Position paper is usually about political policy, political party or social issues. Position paper is one of the most useful ways to help reader to realize an issue or a thing.

I think writing a position essay will be a little bit easier than analysis essay. Because I’ve done the similar work before in high school. When I was doing the precious assignment, I spent hours and hours sitting in front of the computer, thinking about what kind of topic I wanna analysis. This time, I just spent less than half an hour. Last Friday we went to the library, looking for the topics we wanna talk about. I’ve been going through some newspapers. Suddenly, I was a news writing about “whether alcohol should be legalized after 18 or 21”. I pick this topic to write about in my work without doubt. This is why position is pretty easy to write: you check some news happened in your community, you pick a side, and then you talk about it. I feel very confident doing this essay assignment, because I have a lot of things and facts to talk about. As you know, other countries’ legal drinking age is 18. But why the United States set their drinking age to 21? Is it a bad thing a good thing? (Especially in college, lot of student got in trouble because of underage drinking). I picked my side already, I basically agree with the law now, prohibit under age 21 drinking. (Although I’m from other country, I can legally drink after 18.) I still feel 18 is not a good drinking age in the United States. Because it is not like other country, kids get their first car at their age around 22 or above. In the United States, pretty much, every kid knows how to drive when he or she is 15 or 16. Pretty much, everyone gets his or her license at age of 16 or 17. Here comes the problem, kids around 18 are stilling learning how to deal with social pressure and peer pressure. They don’t really how to be responsible. If we set the drinking age at 18. I assure there will be more driving under influence and the car accident triggered by alcohol.

So this is my topic. My concern about this assignment is that I need to cover a lot of facts to prove my point. Base on the previous assignments, I need to focus a lot of more on the topic, rather than spending too much words on those things, which are not very important.

My discourse community map reflection

Everyone lives within many different kinds of communities. Among all the communities I live in, I picked six of them: School (In Class), School (Out of Class), Internet, Host family, Family and Dorm room.

First of all, let’s talk about internet. In this community, language maybe vary, mostly English, sometimes Chinese (while I’m using Chinese IM software). Texts are informal, mostly insider text like: LOL, Ty, WTF (why the face). Common platform is Facebook, twitter and a Chinese IM software called QQ. There aren’t many conventions in this community, because most identities online are hidden. As long as you follow the rules on the internet (no offensive language, no racism, etc.), you can fit in perfectly.

Family, this is the community you are born in. Most of the time, you are speaking in your native language. Greetings to all family members are obligated. In my culture, you may speak informal language with the family member you are familiar with, or the younger members. If you are talking to elder members, especially you are not familiar with, you have to talk formally along with proper greetings. In my family, we always talk about daily interesting things and holiday plans during each meal.

Host family, this kind of community is kind of unique to me, because most people doesn’t experience living in a local family outside of your homeland. Language depends on what country are you going, in my case: English. Just like my family, greetings are obligated. In an American family, language is more casual. Like I can talk to everyone in the family like a friend. Topics are the same, we talk about funny things happened during the day, foods, and future plans. Within this community, we usually “write “to each other in form of cellphone text messages. Sometimes, if I get on a field trip, I will send some postcards back.

In class, it kind of different from the other community. In the other communities, there is no power relations, even in family. But in class, I think professors have higher authority, their words and suggestions are more important. If you can fully adopt disciplines and standards of classes, you can fit in with no problem. Within class, most text includes essays, research paper, lab report and all other forms of formal writing.

On the contrary, outside the classroom is very casual, has very few limitations. We use a lot of informal terms and language when I’m talking to my friends. Topics are about interesting facts, funny stories, or jokes. Most of the time, we literately “text” with each other, cellphone is major way to communicate.

Finally is the dorm room, this is the type of community I haven’t had before. It’s like with friends outside the classroom, but with more restrictions, as known as roommate agreement. This roommate agreement limits the things can be done and cannot be done inside the dorm room. Usually, I don’t really need to text to my roommate, we just talk to each other directly.

My Writing Process

When I was in kindergarten, I started learning how to write in English. In my country, we start learning English as our second language at our first grade. Our English teaching process is way different from America, Britain, or the other English-speaking countries. We don’t really teach much about speaking and writing, but a lot about reading and grammar. I remember I had weekly writing assignment in my middle school. Guess what my assignment was? It’s like giving you a topic or picture, you have to write 150 to 250 words (can you believe that, in middle school, they only ask you to write 150 words). This kind of assignment didn’t change a bit throughout my entire middle school year. English in my country is not really for people to know or learn another language, but to learn how to get prefect grades on those foreign language tests which are required by the ministry of Education in order to get in to higher level of education, like high school and college. So, pretty much I didn’t learn anything valuable in how to write when I was in my homeland.

Back to America, after getting into a new environment. I started pushing myself into the way English-speaking people write. It was quite difficult for me (you know the reason why). When I got my first writing assignment, I was truly shocked. I have to write a 3 pages paper about an article we read about in class. I had no clue at all, because I had never write so many words before. After struggling about couple days. I finally gave up, I turned in my paper in, short about one and a half pages. My teacher realized that, and started giving me some extra tutoring after school. She really gave me tons of good advice about writing. She asked me not to start writing right away. I have to sit and brainstorm about the possible things, topics or facts I want to talk about in my writing. Then draw a diagram or make a list about rough ideas about the topic. After all that, you may begin writing. After adopting all the methods she taught me about, I started having my own ideas about how to write. At first, I couldn’t reach the assignment requirement yet. But after very short of time, I can not only write the amount I was asked, but also write with my own critical thinking.

After four years of American high school, I improved a lot, but still not enough. Like I spend too much time think about what I want to write, usually I can sit in front of my computer for an hour without typing anything. And I have trouble organize my work more logically.

I think I will try doing some free writings to widen my thoughts a little bit. And also go to writing center to seek for advice from professionals. I believe I can overcome those problems I have eventually.

Something I learned from these works

After reading all these narrative essays we discussed throughout the class, I actually learn a lot. I haven’t really read any essays like these before. Usually I read long, continuous articles like Thrill, Friction, Exciting novels or short articles like reports, research papers, etc. They have some differences and commons. Comparing to essays,  novel usually starts with detailed background and pre-scene story( usually takes about one whole chapter) instead of brief  background information about the narrator. And narrative essays tell one or more things ( not a  lot ) happened in narrator’s past. Usually use first person to write throughout the entire article, and the audiences are readers interested in narrator or his/her life. For example, in “The Chase“, narrator was telling readers about her youth life on one weekday after Christmas, playing snow balls with other kids. “The Chase” focused one memorable incident  happened in her youth, unlike the other articles spread on several continuous stories.

Graduating from an American high school, I still have a lot of trouble writing all kinds of articles. Sometimes, I got  nothing in mind after thinking about it for an hour. Research paper is okay to me. I just need to find the facts to support the topic, then explain in detail what it is. That’s it. But for the other articles, I haven’t practice much. Honestly, I never write a formal narrative essay (over three pages) in my high school. I really don’t what to begin with. But after talking a lot in class about how to write narratives. I start having some ideas and clues to write a narrative. First of all, you have to know what kinds of narrative you want to write, and in which person you want to begin with. Second, to what group of audiences are you writing to, if you are writing to your friends, classmates, or people at your age, you can choose to use some ” easy-going ” ways of writing to make people feel close to you. After thinking about these, you should try to do some free-writing to open your mind with. This is really a good way to organize your story line and things you want to include in the narrative. Then you may begin your master piece.

When writing, you should always consider using some rhetoric to improve your article like describing smell, color, temperature, taste and so on. Those things will really bring reader into your work, make they feel they actually live in you r story. For instance, in the”In The early morning rain”   from Jennifer Finney BoyLane, it says: Then I leaned of the edge of the cliff at a sharp angel, my arms held outward like wings, my body sustained only by the fierce wind. Behind those words, we can picture what kind of situation narrator has. In this case, she wanted to end her life with a jump off the cliff.

First few days in Virginia Tech.

About two weeks ago, I came to Virginia polytechnic institute and state university to get on the path to become a engineer. Before that, I was in Florida, the sunshine State, ready to get my first car in my life.

Keep convincing my parents for 2 whole months, they finally give up. I’m officially getting my first car. but following these conditions: has to be used car, has to be american car (really don’t know why). So that is it. After two days checking and test driving all kinds of car, I landed myself on a 2012 Chevy Cruze.

Maybe you think I’m crazy, which I really am. You are not going to believe this, I drove myself to Virginia from Florida. Bang ! Amazing, right? Not over yet, I actually drove all the way to Washington, D.C. to pick up my best friend, Simon, who is doing business major in Indiana University. After I picked him up, I drove him to Indiana, spent couple days there( fun time ! ). Then, drove back to my new home, Virginia tech in Blacksburg. That’s really a hell of a trip ! This is really the first time I’ve done this, driving  across the nation.

After 2 days on road, I finally got here. I was concerning how the heck can I put all loads of stuff away by myself. but, after seeing all those blue shirts walking around helping people moving in, i got released. Those Hokie helpers were really friendly and helpful, I felt very welcome. Suddenly, all my nerves were gone. Basically, I didn’t do much, they are the ones move me in actually.

As soon as I finally got settled down in my new home, the school was about to start. I was so nervous the first day of school. I barely knew anyone there. First morning, I woke up very early, because I knew I would definitely have trouble finding my first classroom. Later it proved I was right, I’m not kidding, I was like a crazy person, running around with a GPS on my hand, still I didn’t find it. After asking about 3 people, I finally got there  on time. Seriously, I have been to a lot of universities like University of Florida,   Georgia Tech, Florida Tech, Miami University, etc. None of them has the giant, enormous campus like Virginia Tech.

Speaking of living on campus, no one can stop talking about the food here. When I was reading reports on Princeton’s, I saw Virginia Tech got number one in on campus dinning service.  I was wondering is it really that good, or just bananas. ( you know, food on campus is usually not very good).  On the day of my orientation, I got to eat at D2 the first time. Oh my God, I got my mind blowed. What is it, a freaking buffet with all kinds of food from different culture. It even has an separate  dessert section. Are you kidding me ! And someone told me they even serve Maine lobster here. What is this place ? I think food is definitely the top reason made me felt in love with this school.

A little bit about myself

Hey, everyone!

This is Stephen Chen. I’m originally from Shanghai, China. When I was 17, I came to U.S. I went to a Catholic high school in Fort Pierce, Florida. ( gorgeous place btw, if anyone want to go somewhere for vacation, Florida is definitely the best place to be). So,I guess you can call me a Half-American now. About my interests, let’s see. I love all kinds of video games( Battlefield, COD, World of Warcraft,etc), I also play Lacrosse, pretty competitive game, I like it. 

  When I first came to States, I was alone and didn’t know much about Americans. The first day of my sophomore year in high school, I was so nervous, I almost fainted out. But after talking with some of my classmates for a while, I realized how friendly and easy-going american people are.  Then, not for very long, we became good friends. Outside of school, I lived with my local host family, the Ageebs, which happened to be my math teacher’s family. That’s pretty good actually. You got to get free tutoring a lot. Because of that, I passed AP Calculus AB and BC easily. They have six children in their family. You will probably think that I’m crazy to live in a zoo like this. At first, I thought the same way , but after living for a while. I started to know how adorable those children are, especially that new-born little baby, Annie- Marie. This was the first time I saw a kid growing from birth to  be able to walk and talk. I’m telling you, that was amazing. During these years with them, we did loads of fun stuffs together, like movie nights every Saturday, going jet skiing, or getting on a fishing trip. I had some beautiful memories with my host family, I love them so much, they are like my second family to me.

Why would I decide to go to Virginia Tech?

When I was a junior, I took a AP class called environmental science, which related to civil engineering stuff.  In this class, I was fascinated by all kinds of cool things engineer does. Then, I decided to go to a Tech school. Then I’m here at Virginia Tech.

Ice breaker.

My 15 minutes of fame is probably the time I won 3rd place in a state level math competition. This was the first time I came up to the stage to receive reward in front of many people. That was definitely  my Glory moment. The prize was very crappy though, 15 dollars Walmart  gift card and a math tutoring book.