Leslie Goerner's Website


Mrs. Leslie Goerner, Associate Professor, Humanities Department

Mohawk Valley Community College, 1101 Sherman Drive Utica, NY 13501









EN101 Composition | Handouts

The following essay models and articles are provided for class discussion and written response. A calendar of reading assignments will be distributed in class.


Deciding Where and How to Learn
(Borrowed with thanks to Essay Edge: Editing and Free College and Business School Application Essays)

In 1996, I enrolled in St. John's College. The perfect freshman, I was earnest, intent, hardworking, and optimistic, yet I felt as if my work related trivially to my future goals and would not contribute to my future success. However, I did not have a grasp on what my future plans would be. Sure I had hints and intimations of what kind of work I would enjoy and what kind of life I wanted to lead as an adult; but I did not have a well thought-out plan for my future career. I knew that I wanted to become a writer, but I also knew that, in order to eat, I would have to do something else along the way. Unfortunately, I had no idea of what that something else would be.

St. John's is a liberal arts school devoted much more to theory than to practical reality; it prides itself on this point and on learning the works of history's dead authors. While I did consider my courses there challenging and rewarding, I realized that I would not be able to apply anything I was learning to life after college. Maybe one could argue that I was learning to think and could apply that everywhere, but this is a weak and unclear line of reasoning.

The bottom line was that I was being trained not to be a working professional but to be a masterful thinker. During the first semester of my sophomore year, I grew bored with this formal training and did not want to talk about books anymore. I did not leave because I couldn't handle the work, but because I simply became frustrated with day in and day out rehashing themes and arguments of dead authors. I never intended to join academia and spend a life analyzing others work; I wanted to write fiction. Since my goal defied St. John's standards of teaching impracticality, I decided to leave. It would have been much easier to stay, but people do not become great by making easy decisions. What I wanted, more than a structured academic life, were new experiences, but I also wanted real experiences, experiences books cannot convey. I wanted to go out into the real world and test myself, to explore as much as I possibly could; I did not see how pursuing a classical education would further this goal. In leaving college, I figured that whatever happened to me would be useful and would teach me things I had never known and might constitute the foundations for a future book.

However, in moving from this to that, I found I had little time to write, and I worried that I had made the wrong decision. I experienced bouts of self-doubt ranging in intensity from mild pessimism to utter panic. Yes, I want to be a writer, but I don't want to be a failure. Trying to strike a happy balance until I can determine my future path, I enrolled in three courses at the Harvard Extension School. As I began to see my writing become more accomplished and as I planned a course of study that would enable me to eventually settle on a viable occupation, I became convinced that I could adapt to the real world without abandoning my dream.

I want to broaden my knowledge of the world and to give my dream more definition. At the Extension School, I can improve my writing and, at the same time, learn utilizable skills.

(Credit for this information goes to the instructor at Delta College website, which is no longer posting this material.)

In preschool or kindergarten, did you ever have show and tell? You'd bring in a picture or a favorite toy and tell the class about it. I know for my sons that show and tell was the most important part of their preschool experience. My older boy remembers keenly the disappointment of learning in first grade that show and tell would not be part of his day while my younger son still remembers taking a picture of his new dog and telling all about how she made herself at home with us.

My sons' experiences are not unusual. People by nature are storytellers. We love to tell them; we love to listen to them.

· What is a narrative?

· What is academic writing?

· How do you write for an academic audience?

What is a narrative?

Stories are narratives, usually told in chronological order. All stories have common elements:

· Characters

· Setting

· Plot/Conflict/Resolution

· Theme

The characters are the people that are in the story. I refer to this as the WHO of the story. Who it is about? Who is involved in the conflict? Who helps bring the conflict to resolution?

The setting is place and time period of the story. I refer to this as the WHEN and WHERE of the story. Where is the story happening? When is it happening?

The plot/conflict/resolution is the action of the story that I refer to as the WHAT/HOW of the story. What happened? How did it happen? What order did the action happen in?

The theme of the story is the meaning that the writer is trying to convey, the WHY the author is telling the story.

How do you write a narrative for an academic audience?

Think about the last time you told a story. Why did you tell it? You usually had a reason. You wanted to tell someone something about your life that was important to you.

In the academic writing, the WHY of the story takes central stage in a personal narrative. The author is telling the story mainly make one point. This one point is referred to as the main idea of the story or the thesis.

Usually the reason we write a narrative in the academic community is to reflect more upon the experience, why it was important to us, and why we wanted to tell it, than the story itself. The important part of the telling is the message we are trying to send.

with thanks to Essay Edge: Editing and Free College and Business School Application Essays)

Influence? Through her work with abused children, my mother has shown me the heroism of selfless dedication to a worthy cause. By being an upstanding individual, my playwriting teacher in middle school acted as an inspiring male role model at a time when I needed one most. By being approachable and interesting, my World History teacher in my freshman year of high school opened my eyes to the connections between a society's culture and its history and broadened my view of the world. While these influences mean much to me and contributed greatly to my development, they came too easily to mind.

The fact that I could sit down and write a list of how these people influenced me suggests that I was not altered in any profound way. These people are all my elders, and perhaps I feel distanced from them. The person whose influence shook me to the deepest level is someone nearly impossible to describe. Mike, the best friend I’ve ever had, changed me, and I changed him at one of the most crucial times in our lives: the seventh grade. We developed our personalities, our senses of humor, and our love for girls at the same time and in the same manner. It would cheapen his influence to quantify it; I am what I am because of him; I cannot say that about anybody else.

Mike came to my school in the seventh grade, and we immediately clicked. Before he came, I didn’t feel like an outcast by any means, as I had my friends that I had known since first grade. However, until Mike, I never had anyone my age to identify with completely. Mike made me feel confident in who I was; he reaffirmed my drives and my thoughts and my inspirations. At this awkward stage in our lives, we found uncritical appreciation in each other. We both were obsessed by movies and had a similar sense of humor. We had the same problems and the same thoughts. That was all it took. Halfway through that same year, Mike and I became inseparable. In fact, our yearbook had a section that lists the names of students and what they were never seen without. Under Mike, it read: "Ted, " and under Ted: "Mike." I became a staple at his house and he at mine. We no longer had to ask our parents if it was ok to have a sleepover on weekends, they assumed we would. On weekdays, we usually walked over to his house, which was near school, and hung out there till I had to go home. Our favorite past time on those long afternoons after school was to walk to the nearby food mart and get a bag of chips and two 24 oz. Coca-Colas. Watching a movie, we would sit on his couch with our chips and Coke and talk about our dreams of working together in the movies. Mike wanted to be a director and actor, and I wanted to be an actor and a playwright/ screenwriter. It was the perfect combination. We even tried writing a few scripts together.

Of course, as two seventh grade boys, it wasn’t all skips through the park either. We were extremely competitive and would get into brutal fights for seemingly no reason at all. One time, I pulled out a chunk of his hair, but I don’t remember what started the fight. I think that our connection was so intense that we could not have normal emotions toward each other. As friends, we were best friends, but in an argument, we wanted to fight each other to the death. Still, the Wrestlemania days were rare; ordinarily, the intensity of that connection was a good thing. I was pretty shy about girls, and when I did talk about them with guys, I would usually just say a girl was "hot." With Mike, I could really talk about girls and who they were; with Mike, I didn’t have to put on my public "cool" façade but could really say what I felt about a girl.

Then we went to separate high schools. We tried to maintain the friendship, and you might think we would have been able to since we had been so close, but we drifted apart. Our friendship was based on being near each constantly, of growing up in the same town, under the same conditions, with the same hopes, fears, and dreams. Now we still go to movies occasionally and hang out, but it's not the same, and we both know it. I thought Mike and I would be friends forever, and maybe we will be. But the way things look right now, I doubt we will ever reconnect. Our friendship in the seventh grade was magical, and lightning doesn’t strike twice.

My playwriting teacher from middle school left, but I handled it. I learned a great deal from him, and I appreciate him for the subject he taught and the way that he taught it. I will probably miss my parents when I leave for college, but I doubt the separation will pain me deeply since the connection between parents and children will always be there. With Mike, I lost the best friend I ever had, and I lost that forever. Losing that kind of bond cuts deep, and I know it's the type of wound that doesn't heal. It’s the type of wound you just live with.

But just because we're not friends anymore, it doesn't slight the times we had when we were friends. Those times are what influenced me so deeply. No, Mike did not work some lesson into my heart, he worked himself into my heart, and even if I never see the guy again he changed me forever. I think that finding someone who you truly connect with and feel that you were destined to meet, someone who you feel truly understands you and makes you feel special, I think meeting someone like that is one of the most profound experiences you can have.

(Borrowed with thanks to Essay Edge: Editing and Free College and Business School Application Essays)

If I do not remember any other day from my Eastern European trip, I know that the events of April 7th will remain ingrained in my memory for years to come. On that particular date I was in Krackow, or more precisely Auschwitz. It was a cold overcast day, one of those days when the sun refused to share its abundant warmth. Yet, somehow the weather seemed appropriate, not only for the place itself and what it has come to symbolize in the minds of people around the world, but also because it set the mood for what later transpired that day. Although I cannot now clearly envision the different buildings that constitute the former concentration camp, what I can distinctly remember are the words Arbeit Macht Frei (work brings freedom), which cynically adorn the main gate of Auschwitz I. Surely I cannot align myself with the thousands of individuals who lost their lives at Auschwitz. But I remember that as I approached the gate I felt as if I was not just a tourist. Through phrases such as "darky," "chocolate," "nigger," not to mention the plethora of contemptuous looks and non-discreet snickering directed towards me, I felt as if I was yet another victim condemned to the hatred embodied by Auschwitz. These and many other incidents of racism that I encountered in Eastern Europe led me to question why, especially at a place such as Auschwitz, people were judging me solely by the color of my skin. Without taking the opportunity to meet me or get to know me, they failed to see who I really am.

Looking solely at the primary individuals from whom I derive my identity, they could have come to know about people like Papa, for whom I have a great deal of respect. Papa, my dad's father and the only natural grandfather I have ever known, did not receive a high school education. Yet he managed to provide for six children and to see that each of them received the formal training that he was denied. Moreover, by acquiring knowledge about my family members, those racists would have learned about my parents who were influenced by the efforts of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and other civil rights activists.

Although they did not attend the March on Washington, they had to endure many hardships such as obtaining a high school education in a newly-integrated public school. Understanding the importance of possessing a high school diploma and also a college degree, my parents continually encouraged my sister and I to further our education. With their support, I have been inspired to strive for excellence, and to set goals for myself such as becoming the first individual in my entire family to pursue a law degree. In addition, by instilling in me the importance of faith and God, my parents have encouraged me to adopt a life of service, which has manifested itself in the use of my musical talents in church and the use of my intellectual abilities to tutor others. But racist individuals, like those I encountered at Auschwitz, were not aware of these aspects of who I am. Only through speaking with me could they have gained such information.

I realize now that I desire to help promote racial harmony and to protect human rights. What I found most disquieting about my experiences in Eastern Europe was the fact that the voices uttering racial slanders were not those of individuals who are currently in leadership positions, but they were the voices of people who may in the near future assume such positions of power. If the world wants to prevent another holocaust from occurring, it is imperative that individuals begin to understand one another and respect one another's inherent human rights. In an effort to promote such understanding, and in an effort to explore my own African heritage, I have decided to spend this summer either teaching or providing some other form of assistance in East or South Africa. Since I am currently preparing applications for several volunteer programs, I do not know precisely where I will serve. To any extent, I believe that this experience, in addition to my coursework in economics, international relations, and Kiswahili, will provide a firm foundation for the study of international human rights law. This will allow me to embrace my two greatest interests--helping others and promoting the spread of racial harmony and understanding throughout the world.

Why Not Quit?
(Borrowed with thanks to Essay Edge: Editing and Free College and Business School Application Essays)

On the verge of losing consciousness, I asked myself: "Why am I doing this?" Why was I punishing my body? I had no answer; my mind blanked out from exhaustion and terror. I had no time to second guess myself with a terrifying man leaning over my shoulder yelling: "You can break six minutes!" As flecks of spit flew from his mouth landing on the handle bar of the ergometer, I longed to be finished with my first Saturday rowing practice and my first fifteen hundred meter "erg test."

"Get that split under two minutes, now!" the coach screamed, but his voice lost its savage intensity as my brain clouded from exhaustion and pain. While my body begged me to stop, I watched through tears of pain as the five hundred meter split on the ergometer was moving the wrong way: two minutes four seconds; two minutes five. I was never going to get it under two minutes. Finishing the test in an unspectacular six minutes and five seconds, I stumbled off the erg more exhausted than I had ever been. That night, I went home and caught a cold.

That was three seasons ago. Had I followed my survivalist and rationalist instincts, I would have quit rowing then and there; I didn’t need that kind of punishment. Many of my former teammates quit following this test, and I seriously considered joining them. However, day after day I postponed my decision to quit, and now three years later, after having rowed hundreds of practices and millions of meters, the question remains: "Why am I doing this?"

I gave this question a lot of thought over the last few years. I don’t only row to survive practice, be on the varsity boat, or win championships; I row to test and push myself, to force myself to realize my full potential, both as an oarsman and as a human being. If someone had told me my freshman year that I would have the fastest time on the varsity lightweight eight, I would never have believed him. In freshman year, I even had a slower time than people who were smaller than I was, so it seemed unlikely that I could ever be the best, even with hard work and complete devotion. After that first erg test and other disappointing races, I really did not want to go back to practice the next day; I wished the sport would just give me a break.

Still, I never missed a practice. Crew is a lesson in commitment and constancy; I would never have been successful without a strong work ethic. Crew, more than academics, has helped me to realize how much potential I have. As a natural student, academics comes somewhat easy for me, and thus I did not find school challenging until I began crew. After having practiced through pain, nausea, and numbness, I know exactly what dedication and hard work is. I now set my goals higher academically and in all aspects of life, refusing to settle for anything less than my best effort.

In this my fourth year of rowing, I can truly say that I am a good rower. More importantly, I can say that no goal lies beyond my reach, so long as I show the same hard work and perseverance as I do in crew. Everyday, from late February to early June, I practice, fully aware that I will probably feel more pain than I have ever felt in my life. Without much natural talent or skill, I have come unimaginably far both athletically and personally through just hard work. With the ability to persevere through pain, I believe I am limited by nothing and can achieve anything I am willing to work for.

(Borrowed with thanks to Essay Edge: Editing and Free College and Business School Application Essays)

Propelled forward by my surging leg muscles, sweat gushing down my face, the harsh reality of this 3-mile cross-country race has begun to invade my body. My eyes remain intensely focused straight ahead: Grinding away at the dirt along the racecourse, I see three girls from a different team about 100 yards ahead of me. My team needs a contribution from me, I realize, and I make the decision to pass all three of them. Through a cloud of dust I can finally see the distant white line proclaiming the finish. My mind propels my legs to their maximum ability. In these last few seconds of exertion, the months of hard work are paying off. Soaring through the finish, I have achieved flight.

Running is a pure sport, requiring only a pair of shoes and a brain ready to conquer pain. It is a sport that calls for commitment and mental toughness. Through testing myself, I increase my resilience and grow stronger. I unleash the power of my mind, and I run. Some people are born with great running ability, and others, like myself, are born with the desire to excel at every challenge. I've become the best runner I can through hard work and dedication. Challenging myself with new goals every day, I run against the forces of gravity and inertia. I love the thrill of competition -- the euphoric feeling I get when mind overcomes pain.

As a four-year member of my high school cross-country team, I have experienced just about every physical infirmity that comes from running. I have dealt with shin splints, runner's knee, broken toes, and pulled calf mussels. My orthopedic surgeon took one look at my legs and admitted that I'm "not built to be a runner." Yet, I chose to continue running because of its daily challenges and rewards. I've learned from this sport that by focusing single-mindedly on achieving a goal, I can make any obstacle trivial. I still hear my coach's voice in my head: "If you sacrifice yourself, good things will happen."

As much as a cross-country race requires individual strength physically and mentally, it also requires a team effort to succeed. Like sisters in a family, the girls I run with understand and respect one another. We remind each other to work harder, eat right, and to accomplish the most we can. Each girl has individual qualities that together produce one spirited body. I provide the determination and inspiration for my team. I set an example for rookie runners, showing them that success comes only from hard work and a positive attitude.

Through my dedication to running, I have become more dedicated in school. Many of my accomplishments can somehow be traced back to running: The endurance from running helped me survive my six-hour black belt test in Shaolin Kenpo Karate. My ability to utilize biofeedback made it easier for me to prepare and relax for my piano recitals. And the endorphins kicking in after my daily practice keep my spirits lifted throughout the day. My determination and commitment to achieving goals has prepared me for my next challenge: college. I intend to apply my abilities to my individual studies, as well as to the enrichment of the University community as a whole. Success in life will come from the same dedication to be the best I can be.

A Normal Life
(Borrowed with thanks to Essay Edge: Editing and Free College and Business School Application Essays)

It is a truth universally acknowledged that weird things happen at hospitals. From the moment the automatic doors open, are enveloped in a different world. A world of beeps, humming radiators, humming nurses, ID badges, IV bags, gift shops, shift stops, PNs, PAs, MDs, and RNs. Simply being in a hospital usually means you are experiencing a crisis of some sort. Naturally, this association makes people wary. However, I have had the unusual experience of being in a hospital without being sick.

In May, 1995 I began working once a week at Massachusetts General Hospital. I imagined myself passing the scalpel to a doctor performing open heart surgery, or better yet stumbling upon the cure for cancer. It turned out, however, that those under age eighteen are not allowed to work directly with patients or doctors. I joined a lone receptionist, Mrs. Penn, had the imposing title of medical and informational technician. My title was patient discharge personnel. Mrs. Penn had her own computer and possessed vast knowledge of the hospital. I had my own personal wheelchair. Manning the corner of the information desk, my wheelchair and I would be called on to fetch newly discharged patients from their rooms.

This discharge experience taught me lessons both comical and sad about hospital life. On one of my first days, I was wheeling out a woman when I noticed an IV needle still pressed in the back of her hand. I returned her to the nurse’s station where the needle was removed without comment or apology. Another time, an elderly man approached the information desk and threatened that if I didn’t let him see his wife, he would take a grenade out of his pocket and detonate it. I didn’t really believe he had a grenade, but who could be sure? When the man repeated his words to Mrs. Penn, she knew exactly what to do. An immediate call for security was sounded. Sad to say, that man was not the first or last unbalanced individual to frequent Mass General while I worked there.

Nor would this be the last time I relied on Mrs. Penn. Some months later, a thirty-something man came to the desk asking for his father’s room. When I looked up his computer entry, the father’s name came up with the code for the morgue deceased. Not knowing what to do, I told him my computer was down and directed him to Mrs. Penn’s terminal. She broke the news and directed him to the attending physician.

Last spring, I handled the discharge of Oliver, a twelve-year old boy undergoing chemotherapy. When I asked how he would be going home, he replied, “How do I get to the nearest subway station?” Apparently, Oliver’s parents were busy and couldn’t bring him home from the hospital. I gave Oliver 85 cents and walked him to the Charles/MGH subway stop. After explaining what inbound and outbound meant, I watched a frightened little boy board the train. Teenagers in my town have one thing in common our parents lavish us with attention, even spoil many of us. But what I saw that day opened my eyes to a life wholly different from my own.

Then life changed. On a beautiful, hot, August day, my lung collapsed. I was at a basketball camp in Cambridge when I felt a searing pain through my upper back and chest. Anyone who has had a pitchfork driven through his shoulder knows exactly how I felt. The camp trainer said not to worry; at worst, I might have an enlarged spleen, a tell-tale sign of mono. The trainer had no idea what he was talking about. Next stop, the hospital.

I spent one night at Mass General, sleeping with an oxygen mask to pump my lung back up. The doctors sent me home the next morning with a sore back and no sleep This collapsed lung was just a singular event, a one-hit wonder. Wrong. In October, my lung collapsed again. This time I spent two nights with the oxygen mask. This time when I left I was scheduled for surgery a week later. The day of the surgery I saw Mrs. Penn behind the desk, but she didn’t wave. I realized that with my oxygen mask I was about as recognizable as the face behind Darth Vader’s mask.

Though I knew I was in good hands, my main feeling as a patient was helplessness. Nonetheless, I experienced one small triumph near the end of my stay. On the way to the CT scan, my wheelchair attendant had no clue where we were going. Not only did I know the way, I knew a shortcut. The attendant was impressed. For a moment, I was not a patient, but again part of the invisible fraternity of hospital workers. The most consistent component of my life during that year was the hospital. When I see someone with an oxygen mask wheeled by my desk, I don’t assume an attitude of indifference. I know what it is to push and be pushed in the wheelchair. An extended stay at the hospital helped me realize and appreciate what a normal life is.

The Benefits of Challenge
(Borrowed with thanks to Essay Edge: Editing and Free College and Business School Application Essays)

One of the greatest challenges I've had to overcome was moving from Iran to the United States. Iran was in deep political turmoil, as it is today. After long thought and discussion, my parents decided that we should move to America, where my sister and I would have better opportunities for success in life. My dad had moved to America to establish residency for us, and now we were to move there too.

It was late May when we went to Turkey to apply for a Visa. We took a 20-hour bus trip from Urmia, Iran to Istanbul, Turkey. It was quite different from Urmia, the city that I had been raised in. To begin with, it was an enormous city compared to the small town that had always been my home. My mom had an enormous load on her shoulders in taking care of me and my four-year-old sister. It was very awkward for all of us to be in a new country, and we felt alone and vulnerable.

When we arrived in Turkey, we didn't know anyone and had to stay in a hotel. Early the next morning we got up and headed to the embassy to apply for a US Visa. Everyone there told us that we were definitely going to be rejected. To our amazement, however, we were approved. With our last few dollars we booked a flight, and the next morning we were headed to America. We arrived in Los Angeles at 6:00 P.M. Then my dad arrived. He took us to his house and we slept, all of us exhausted from the long trip. My parents now had to decide what to do so that we could live in America and be financially stable. We decided to move to Illinois so that my mom could get her PhD.

This is where I endured my biggest challenge, one that overshadowed all the other things I'd struggled through. We moved to Champaign, Illinois. My parents registered me for first grade, even though I hadn't even completed kindergarten. Only later did I learn that this decision was to my benefit. I spoke no English and I had no friends in America. It was very hard for me to cope with this, but I managed to do so. My first day in first grade was probably the hardest day of my entire elementary school career. It was agonizing to sit among a roomful of strangers speaking a strange language for six hours. As the days went on, I sought to listen to the students and try to learn something. I realized that I wasn't going to go back to Iran, so I had no choice but to face my challenge and resolve it. And sure enough, I did overcome this obstacle: I soon learned English and found some friends.

This was an incredibly difficult challenge for me to be faced with as a 7 year old boy. It took perseverance, patience, and discipline for me to accomplish my goal. I will use this as an example in my future years in college. Going to college is like moving to a new place; like my move from Iran, I will again find myself in an unfamiliar environment with new people. With the experience I've gained from the challenges I have faced, though, I have no doubt that I'll be able to overcome this one, too.

No Limits
(Borrowed with thanks to Essay Edge: Editing and Free College and Business School Application Essays)

Have you ever been slapped in front of all your high school classmates? Unfortunately, in the archaic, authoritarian Turkish schools, my high school teacher deliberately humiliated me by slapping me hard across the face. As the president of my class, one of my responsibilities was to list on the blackboard the names of everyone who talked when the teacher was not in the room. When the teacher returned, the teacher would slap the students who talked across the face.

Ordinarily, I took my responsibility seriously and obediently wrote down my classmates' names to preserve the silence and decorum of the school environment. However, when a different teacher walked in, a teacher known to punish too hard and painfully, I decided to save my friends from his hard strokes, and I erased all the names. I had to take their punishment myself.

Yes, this practice will seem ridiculous and excessively harsh to American readers, but the incident typifies the stagnation and backwardness of Turkish schools. Not only is talking not permitted, even asking questions in class is not allowed. High school teachers and college professors both perceive questioning as criticism of their teaching abilities. Yet many teachers fear questioning since they may have to admit a lack of knowledge on certain issues. A Turkish school is not a place to ask questions; instead, it is a place to absorb knowledge from lectures and aged textbooks. However, I need more from my learning environment than senseless silence and minds afraid of questioning arbitrary rules and old theories.

As the daughter of relatively liberal parents, I was encouraged to become involved in discussions, which led made me to understand that questioning cultural guidelines is not inherently wrong but absolutely necessary. In contrast to other Turkish females, I refused to allow the narrow boundaries of my society's cultural mores to force me to follow the traditional path of earning respectability exclusively as housewife and mother. Defying the cultural guidelines of the bulk of the Turkish people, I decided to sacrifice the acceptance of my traditional female friends and the traditional parts of my family to build a successful future. Senseless laws will not push me down, as I am dedicated to achieving my goal of becoming a neurosurgeon.

However, not only would I have to struggle against archaic, male-dominated laws, I would also have to tolerate the low technological standards of even reputable Turkish universities, which do not have the resources to train excellent physicians in modern methods. Unfortunately, political bloodshed is also a fact of Turkish student life, and I hope to leave Turkey to pursue in the United States an excellent education, characterized by academic freedom and an absence of civil strife.

While my personal identity is in many ways a reaction against Turkish culture, there are some attributes of Turkish culture that I have incorporated into my identity, like having respect for one's elders, having self-discipline in both religious and educational life, and believing in a religion that gives me the confidence and determination to achieve my goals. With these personal qualities combined with my personal determination and my questioning nature, I am certain that I can find success in Western Culture. Moreover, because the

United States has far fewer gender-based restrictions than Turkey and has a much better developed educational system equipped with state-of-the-art technology, I believe the United States will give me the opportunity to achieve my full potential, to speak out against injustice, and to seek the truth. I prize my freedoms in this country very much, and I would never dishonor them by not being active.

Although I am a member of the Turkish culture, my identity grew out of my desires for freedoms unique to Western culture. Therefore, I believe my identity is not a result of either Turkish or American cultures but out of a personal desire for setting my own limits.

Kool-Aid, Oh Yeah
(Borrowed with thanks to the author, Heidi Everett, and to Judith Kilborn, who revised it for LEO for The Write Place, St. Cloud State University)

It has been said that Kool-Aid makes the world go 'round. Let it be advised, however, that without the proper tools and directions, the great American beverage is nothing more than an envelope of unsweetened powder. There are five simple steps to create this candy-tasting concoction.

Picking the proper packet of flavoring is the first step in making Kool-Aid. Check the grocer's shelf for a wide variety, ranging from Mountain Berry Punch to Tropical Blue Hawaiian. If it is a difficult decision for you, knock yourself out and buy two. The packets usually run under 65 cents.

After choosing the flavor that best suits your taste buds, the second step is making sure that your kitchen houses some necessary equipment for making the Kool-Aid. Find a two-quart pitcher. Plastic is nice, but glass pitchers allow the liquid to shine through and add festive coloration to any refrigerator shelf. Next, find a long-handled wooden spoon, a one-cup measuring cup, a water faucet that spouts drinkable water, usable white sugar, and an ice cube tray full of ice. Then, you are ready to mix.

Third, grab the left edge of the Kool-Aid packet between your thumb and index finger. With your other hand, begin peeling the upper-left corner until the entire top of the envelope is removed. Next, dump the contents of the envelope into the pitcher. Notice how the powder floats before settling on the bottom of the pitcher. Then, take the measuring cup and scoop two cups of sugar into the pitcher as well.

At this point, adding the water is a crucial step. Place the pitcher under the water faucet and slowly turn on the cold water. If the water is turned on too quickly, powder will fly all over when the initial gusts of water hit. After the pitcher is filled within two inches of the top, turn the water off and get prepared to stir. With the wooden spoon submersed three-quarters of the way in the liquid, vigorously stir in a clockwise motion until all of the powder is dissolved. Taste it. If the Kool-Aid is not sweet enough, feel free to add more sugar.

When you are finished seasoning the Kool-Aid to your liking, rinse off the spoon and the measuring cup. Take a glass from the cupboard. An eight-ounce glass is usually sufficient. But stronger thirsts might prefer a 32-ounce mug. Add ice and then fill the glass with Kool-Aid.

Finally, find a comfortable chair, put your feet up, and drink away. After all, Kool-Aid makes the world go 'round.

The Rink

(Borrowed with thanks to Essay Edge: Editing and Free College and Business School Application Essays)

On a cold, cloudy morning I stepped out onto the porch. A faint scent of snow permeated the brisk dawn air. My tired eyes passed over the old lawn furniture tucked away in the shed, protected against the coming winter. While most of our neighbors took shelter in the warmth of their homes, I eagerly awaited the snow and cold weather. My family piled into the car to drive north. I packed the hockey sticks in the car and placed the sharpened skates at my feet. My dad thought this road trip would take about five hours. I immediately began fantasizing about the storied ice rink. Even though I had never visited Lake Placid, I knew everything about it from the consistency of the ice to the chants of the fans. Throughout my entire childhood, I listened intently to my dad, uncle and brother retell how they watched the 1980 United States Olympic Hockey team defeat the Russians on the smooth Lake Placid ice. During every story, I imagined myself front row behind the glass.

As we drove in silence, I imagined myself as a child. I heard the puck hitting the backboard in my own backyard. My father patiently said, "Brian, hold onto the chair and keep pushing." The metallic green chair prevented my four-year old body from slipping on the ice. "Hold on BJ and push off with your right skate and then your left, " my father repeated. In this way, I learned to sail on the ice clutching to an old rocking chair and listening to my father’s advice.

Each night, after the first winter snow, my father would go outside every two hours throughout the night to "water the lawn" and prepare the ice. Incredible as it sounds, for a month each year, I had my own personal rink in the backyard. Mom, relieved that my brother and I could not fall through a freezing waterhole while skating on the lawn, encouraged my father and sometimes helped him. At the age of four, I learned to skate in my back yard homemade ice rink.

"Do you think we will skate in the 1980 rink?" I asked my father as I broke out of my daydream. My dad thought for a minute and said, "Why not, you are a champ too!" At twelve, I never really thought of myself that way. We pulled up to the entrance of the rink, and I suddenly remembered the green metallic chair. "Hold on to the chair BJ and keep moving."

Soon, I found myself on the 1980 rink, stick in hand, skates laced tight. I stood on the blue line waiting for the referee to drop the puck. The game was starting and I was there. Here it comes. "Push off with your right skate BJ!" With the Olympic rink under my feet and memories of my "backyard rink" in my mind, I skated down the Lake Placid ice to victory.

Evaluating Information Sources
(This excerpt is borrowed with thanks to Library Research at Cornell and edited for use in this class)


A. Author
What are the author's credentials--educational background, past writings, or experience--in this area? Is the book or article written on a topic in the author's area of expertise?

B.Year of Publication
1.When was the source published? The date may be found on the title page below the author’s name.

2.Is the source current or out-of-date for your topic? Topic areas of continuing rapid development, such as sports medicine, demand more current information. On the other hand, research that presents a topic through historical perspective may require material written many years ago.

C. Publisher
Note the publisher. If published by a university press, the source is likely to be scholarly. Although the fact that the publisher is reputable does not necessarily guarantee quality, it does show that the publisher may have high regard for the source being published.

D. Title of Journal
Is this a scholarly or a popular journal? This indicates different levels of complexity.

Having made an initial appraisal, you should now examine the body of the source. If your source is a book, read the preface to determine the author's intentions for the book. Scan the table of contents and the index to get a broad overview of the material it covers. Read chapters that address your topic.

A. Intended Audience
What type of audience is the author addressing? Is the publication aimed at a specialized or a general audience? Is this source too elementary, too technical, too advanced, or just right for your needs?

B. Objective Reasoning
Is the information covered fact, opinion, or propaganda? It is not always easy to separate fact from opinion. Facts can usually be verified; opinions, though perhaps based on factual information, evolve from the interpretation of facts. Skilled writers can make you think their interpretations are facts. Does the information appear to be valid and well-researched, or is it questionable and unsupported by evidence? Assumptions should be reasonable. Note errors or omissions. Is the author's point of view objective and impartial? Is the language free of emotion-rousing words and bias?

C. Coverage
1. Does the work update other sources, substantiate other materials read, or add new information? Does it extensively or marginally cover your topic? Explore enough sources to obtain a variety of viewpoints.

2. Is the material primary or secondary in nature? Primary sources are the raw material of the research process. Secondary sources are based on primary sources.

D. Writing Style
Is the publication organized logically? Are the main points clearly presented? Do you find the text easy to read, or is it stilted or choppy? Is the author's argument repetitive?

It is particularly important to keep the criteria for evaluating a resource in mind when you are looking at information gained from the Internet. The World Wide Web in particular poses unique problems to keep in mind. Some of these are:

1.Ease of publication. Absolutely anybody with a computer and a modem can publish and post a Web page. No publishing criteria need to met, there are no reviewers or editors, and the page can be posted as fast as the person can write it.

2.No expertise needed. A Web publisher does not need to have any expertise in a field to post a page; all that is needed is interest in the subject. Facts don't need to be correct to be posted nor does the information have to be current.

3.Lack of reviewing sources. There are reviewing sources on the Web, but most of them tend to review a page more for its presentation than its content. Since the Web is all about graphics, reviewers, so far, are looking at how well a page presents its content rather than at its intellectual depth.

Since it is so easy to post information to the Internet, checking the source of that information is
even more important than with printed material. You can tell the type of institution a web site
originates from by looking at an Internet address.

1.edu. Addresses that end in edu, such as www.sport.ussa.edu, represent educational institutions. Universities are more likely to control the quality of information posted to their sites as well as to control who can post to their sites.

2.com. This represents a commercial site,a business, such as www.cnn.com.

3.gov. Addresses that end in gov are affiliated with the government.

4.org. This is an organization or an association; the lines sometimes blur between organizational and commercial sites.

How to Choose a Topic for the Process Essay

Process essays explain how to do something. They are often written in the second person, addressing the reader as “you.”

First, make a shopping list of processes you feel qualified to teach. You might do some mental research in the areas of home, school, workplace, and community.

Second, as you examine possible topics for your process essay, consider the following:

-Do you have stories about this process that tell about a time when…?

-What is your background with this process? When did you first become interested in watching or learning it? How long have you been practicing this process?

-Why is this process important to you? How might it be of value to the reader?

-Who are your readers?

-What knowledge do they need before they can follow this process?

-What skills, materials, and equipment are needed for this process?

-How long does the process take? Is the outcome always the same?

-How many steps are in the process?

-Why is each step important?

-What difficulties are involved in each step? How can they be overcome?

-Do any cautions need to be given?

-Does the process have definitions that need to be clarified?

-Can the process be done in different ways? If so, what are they?

-Could other familiar processes help illustrate the process that you are writing about?

Third, consider which topic will be most informative and entertaining.

Finally, write out 4-5 main steps in your process and prepare to develop each step with tips, cautions, and memorable stories!

What Are Academics Looking For in Persuasive Writing?

(Borrowed and edited with thanks to the Victoria University Homepage, Wellington, New Zealand)

What are academics looking for in persuasive writing?

The answer is: reasoned argument and supporting evidence!

-relevance - an ability to focus on a particular area and sift relevant information.

-structure - relates to question asked, logical organisation related to argument.

-some analysis - well-organised thoughts, clearly expressed i.e. analyse and comment not just repeat what you have read on the subject.

-refer and document evidence or sources - referencing, bibliography etc.

-clear, well-written (relatively error free!) English (formal or academic style.


-original ideas or approach
-neat presentation!
-evidence of wide reading

Common faults:

-missing the point of the question.

-failure to deal with part of a question, or limited coverage of an important issue.

-too much narrative at the expense of analysis.

-poor organization or argument.

-insufficient supporting evidence.

-irrelevant material.

-conflicting ideas or evidence poorly explained.


-heavy dependence on quotes - a "cut and paste" essay.

Others include: waffle, padding, generalisations, oversimplification, complex sentences that lose the reader, jargon, clichés.