Final Self-Assessment Essay


I’m not sure how I would do an abstract on a self-assessment essay, especially considering that a self-assessment essay is sort of an abstract for the whole semester. Though I am still willing to give it a shot! This writing piece is a reflection of how each assignment made me feel and my thought processes during them. I wrote about when I wanted to quit and how I overcame any struggles that I faced. I wrote about strengths I gained and weaknesses I removed. Lastly, I wrote about the most important thing that this class taught me, don’t worry, I won’t spoil it!

Curtains Closed

Throughout this semester I started and completed multiple projects for my English course. Each project was vastly different from the one prior to it and focused on building and experimenting with literary skills. Even the skills taught were varied; from interviewing a peer to interviewing someone of a differing culture. From picking a location and observing the interactions that occur in it to finding an online community and silently observing it from afar. The course mainly focused on helping achieve the “course outcomes” alongside teaching students the fundamentals of becoming a social scientist and the values said scientists hold.

I very vividly remember the first handful of lectures I attended, I remember the professor informing us on what a social scientist was. I remember watching a TEDTalk and reading an article about Martin Luther King Jr. Throughout this entire period of time I came to the conclusion that this would be a basic and boring class that focused on the obvious issues that society has; that all I would hear would be regurgitated information as if I was a foreigner who didn’t grow up in the heart of New York. However, directly after these assignments, the course took a hard left. We started doing projects that we ourselves had control over, projects that required us to venture into new territories that also had a focus on ourselves. An example of this would be the “introduction letter” assignment. I never understood why, but I have a hard time complimenting myself. All of my achievements are due to me “not being lazy”, instead of “being persistent” or “working harder than before”. Even though it’s hard for me to compliment myself, it’s uncomfortably easier to critique myself. This all came to head in the assignment. I made the decision to write about a ring of mine that I hold dearly, and how it represented the unnecessary anxiety or nervousness I feel at times. For the sake of transparency, I rewrote the letter twice; the first draft was too gloomy, all I wrote about was negativity and how I almost “relied” on the ring. Even reading the draft that I wrote made me have feelings of somberness. Eventually, I chose to represent the opposite side of the ring, how it led me to triumph and why it wasn’t a weakness, but rather a short-term aid. This was one of the very few times I wrote about myself and it made me realize that as writers we have complete control of the narrative, “evil isn’t where I see it, it’s where I CHOOSE to see it”. This applied to every aspect of what we wrote, whether it be about failure or success or even corruption. This was my first lesson in the power and responsibility social scientists held; the power to write the narrative comes with the responsibility to be a blank slate, one unwaived by oneself’s biases or the biases of society.

Eventually we moved on towards our first major assignment, a peer interview. We simply had to interview a peer with the goal of identifying their identity and choosing an aspect of their life to build a story on. My interviewee’s name was Ishrat and the foundation of my story was built on her relationship with her culture. This branched outwards towards her beliefs on cultural problems, familial relationships, and her passions. This assignment was the most difficult for me. Interviewing someone for the first time was hard enough, but to write their words on paper and formulate a story that they don’t have any say or control in, is downright scary. This assignment ultimately ended up coming out very nicely and helped me work towards two writing goals. The first is to “acknowledge your and others’ range of linguistic differences as resources, and draw on those resources to develop rhetorical sensibility”. My partner and I did have a lot of linguistic differences, she had a relatively strong accent and English was her second language. Even though English is technically the second language I learned, I speak it moons better than Urdu, which is my first language. This is simply due to my embracement of American culture over my own, alongside being around it from a very young age. The interview I had with Ishrat wasn’t difficult due to the linguistic differences, but they were obvious and helped me add to my story. It helped me contextualize where she placed herself between the two cultures she was involved in. The second-course learning outcome completed is very self-explanatory, to “develop and engage in the collaborative and social aspects of writing processes”. Not only is interviewing someone a collaborative experience, I was also given feedback on my early drafts and ideas from my peers which helped lead my paper in the right direction.

The next two assignments I want to write about were by far my favorite. These assignments are the “Field Site Observation” and “Sense of Place Observation” essays. The focus of both assignments was to observe a community or a sub-culture and jot down the interactions that occurred in said communities. Afterward, we had to contextualize those interactions and create a writing piece out of our observations. The Sense of Place essay holds a special place in my heart due to it being the first time I’ve ever done any sort of observation on society. I chose to go into a Popeyes restaurant and just write down everything that happened around me; it ultimately wasn’t the most enjoyable experience but the novelty of it made it very interesting. However, the Field Site Observation assignment went completely differently. For this assignment, we were allowed to choose an online community and do exactly what we did for the sense of place assignment. I thoroughly enjoyed this assignment and it was by far the most enjoyable out of all the assignments. I had complete creative control and chose to focus on a topic I loved, speedrunning. While I did have doubts about my community choice, my decision to stick with it was the right one. This assignment helped me reach three more course learning outcomes. I was able to strengthen my source use practices, practice locating appropriate sources for my writing projects, and I was able to negotiate my own writing goals and audience expectations. To give clarity, I doubted my project but wanted to do it nonetheless, this led me to find a perfect balance between reaching my own goals and creating a project that would satiate my audience.

The last assignment I want to talk about was the one that tore me apart; the transcultural interview. I made the unwise decision to interview someone who held hyper traditional views. The man I interviewed is the embodiment of everything I never want to become. My interviewee was a man named “Alex”. Without going into too much detail, my interview focused on his abusive history, his lack of responsibility, and his overabundance of self-pity. As you can imagine, while this interview was eye-opening, it was also heart-wrenching to sit through. Putting the words said to me on paper and trying to contextualize them was something I didn’t want to do. I’ve always been a “lazy student” when it comes to writing. I hate starting essays and projects but when I do start them, it’s hard for me to stop until they are completed. However, the entire team I was writing this essay all I wanted to do was just leave. Leave my computer and go somewhere else, at one point I even opened my Math textbook which I have only done twice this semester. Overall, not a great experience but a great lesson. This project did help me reach another course learning outcome, the ability to formulate and articulate a stance through and in my writing. Even though “Alex’s” statements went completely against my beliefs, I was still able to give them a place in my writing whilst also articulating my stances in relation to them.

To end off this essay I am going to answer one more question, “In what ways have my perceptions on what writing is and does  evolved this semester?” This question is almost impossible to answer, how I feel about writing and its power will continuously change as I move throughout my life. One thing is certain though, writing has the power to create a narrative, and that power can only be used correctly by those who understand the responsibility that comes with it. The time we live in is infested with falsities and hidden agendas, but it is our responsibility to be steadfast and true to ourselves. Writing is a very powerful tool that can expose and shape society, whether it be for better or for worse depends entirely on those that write.