Even though I am young, I am full of assumptions and preconceptions. I seem to think that I know something, but unexpectedly for myself, I find some piece of information, or discover something new and I become more aware that there is still many things that I need to learn. Writing is one of such unstable things in my life that keeps reminding me that I am in a constant process of studying.
I am somewhat introverted person. So, it is uncommon for me to share personal details with a lot of people. I feel self-conscious to talk about myself in our group. However, it pushes me out of my comfort zone and I like it, because it makes me stronger.
I came to more full realization of the differences between our cultures. I need to remind myself that I should talk here in the class, that it is expected from me and it will improve my grades. However, my upbringing suggests me to keep my thoughts to myself as reticence and respect to the elders is part of my culture. I need to conduct a lot of mental work to tune myself to the requirements of American society and a new mode of living.
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Language is one of the things that I need to conquer. I realize that my pronunciation should be clearer. I look for words when I need to talk. However, writing gives me time and space to think and express my thoughts in a more clear and concise way. When I am able to spend enough time to finish each sentence and perfect my skills, I feel that it did my job right. It empowers me. I think: I wrote it and I did it well. Writing helps me build my muscles of a student and a writer.
My paper assignments show different sides of me: my personal relationships with my mother, my social reality as I come from very paternalistic and communal society, and the educational side of my life that has become more prominent since I came to the US. On the one side, I feel somewhat embarrassed to share it with people. On the other side, I think it is therapeutic and beneficial for me. I learn about others, others learn about me. Together we help each other to find better ways to express ourselves.
I chose these topics to discuss because they seem to shed light on major parts of my life. Talking about my aunt starts the conversation on China. The way Chinese society has existed puzzles me and often I am happy to be far from it. At the same time it left a lasting impression and I am not sure how much time I need to learn living in a different mode even if I want to. Freedom is what women and young people do not have in China and what America is associated with. However, it is such a wide notion and very complicated one. Will I use my freedom in my best interests or I will find myself in some negative outcomes.
Writing helps me put my thoughts in order. It is great to have time to make drafts and I like that you can give me feedback and I can correct and revise my writing. It really teaches me a lot. I can compare my works with my groupmates’ and I benefit from it. I remember that I should not compare myself with others in a sense that I should compete with myself only. I learned to think critically. I used to be very gullible and believe everything I am told or I read. Whereas now I try to look at things through critical lenses and ask myself who will benefit from it and what hidden agenda such an opinion may have.
Besides, writing is one of such activities where it is difficult to say who writes better. Criteria are vague, at least in creative writing. I like creative assignments and reflections where it is not necessary to stick to the mechanics and specify a thesis statement and summarize the paper with a conclusion. Sometimes it is very restrictive. Yet, I understand why we need to learn to do so, too. And it is liberating to know that I get my education and I will be able to write well and write about anything I want. For me, it is also a part of freedom – to be able to do something very well and enjoy it.
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Furthermore, it is very interesting to see how a group of people elaborates the same topic very differently. It teaches me to see different viewpoints and perspectives. Also I learn to use details more precisely and to paint with a word, so to say. It is great to have additional readings; it allows me to connect to a story before starting an essay, and reading different viewpoints gives me a push to begin thinking and generating my ideas. It encourages a flow of thoughts and ideas. Meanwhile, group discussion encourages an exchange of ideas. I would like to share my stories with the group, since I rarely shared my stories with people before and hear feedback or just notice the reaction.
All in all, I find my English classes inspiring and beneficial for me. I have learned a lot and hope to learn even more. The atmosphere is stimulating and I feel encouraged to continue the search for my voice.