REFLECTION

             When I enrolled in English 2010 I knew I was going to have to put in a lot of time and effort to make it through the course.  Several years ago, I had taken this course and received a C- . . . the lowest grade I’d ever received while at Salt Lake Community College.  Following the end of that semester I quit college.  I hesitantly returned to college after a two-year break, and then put off retaking English 2010 for another three semesters.  When I finally decided to retake English, I knew I didn’t want to repeat the same mistakes I had made before.  I wanted to build my skills as a writer. I wanted to feel excited rather than afraid when told to, “be creative.”  I wanted to know the different genres intimately, being able to decipher one from another.  I didn’t want to second guess my work and worry about whether I would “sound stupid.”  I wanted to learn how to research a topic rather than relying on the first three options that popped up with Google.  I wanted to be a writer, and in this class, that is exactly what I was able to become.

            In this course, Prof. Solomon gave us the opportunity to explore several different genres of writing, my favorites being the flash memoir and persuasive genres.  The flash memoir was our first major writing assignment of the semester, and it was immediately before this assignment that I was required to decide upon my social justice issue.  With the flash memoir assignment in mind, I thought about the issues of the world and what I was most interested in, what I could work toward changing, and what I, personally, had experience with.  This helped me in deciding on food-insecurity as my social justice issue and gave birth to my first flash memoir—a short narrative about an experience I had with hunger and food insecurity.

Food-insecurity is a topic that is all around us, constantly.  We see it in advertisements on the television asking us to donate.  We see it pamphlets and flyers from our churches and community organizations telling us to make 72-hour kits that contain three days’ worth of food for each member in our families in case of emergency.  We see it in the food pantries around town, the soup kitchens that provide meals, and in our government issued EBT cards that are used to purchase food.  Food-insecurity is to blame for reduced price lunches at elementary, middle, and high schools.  It is to thank for the food assistance plans and the student body food pantries in our colleges.  It affects over 47 million Americans and nearly 800 million individuals worldwide.  It is a serious and dangerous problem that steals lives every day.

            At the beginning of the course, all my writing had fueling it were my personal dealings and experiences with food-insecurity, which was especially true for my Flash Memoir.  I didn’t know statistics, nor current events surrounding the issue.  I had done no research, and besides what I had picked up here and there, I knew little to nothing about the issue of food-insecurity.  It was through research and many hours spent reading that I was able to uncover the information that I now know.  My best research being the first-hand experience that I gained through my time volunteering with a local food pantry, REACH Salt Lake.  It was through this that I moved from an individual who was close to completely uninformed to someone who knows quite a bit about the topic.

            Through my online research, which was a major challenge for me at first.  I was able to understand what food-insecurity is: inconsistent access to adequate food.  Sounds simple, right?  Not really.  Food insecurity comes in many different forms.  It can be so severe that you’re literally dying due to its effects or it can mean that a person has to skip a meal once a week.  It looks different for everyone suffering from it.  But I would have never known any of this had I not first learned how to research.

            My research began by googling, “scholarly articles on food-insecurity.”  They then evolved to using Google Scholar and searching for many different topics.  This made things easier, seeing as thought I didn’t know that Google even offered Google Scholar, among many other useful tools such as Google News and Google Blogger that can be used to search for articles of different types on your topic.  On top of that I learned that I was able to access SLCC’s Library Database from my home computer.  I found a wealth of information in data bases such as EBSCO Host, JSTOR, and AGRICOLA—the USDA’s database which would be especially useful for me.  I also found video databases such as Kanopy and Films on Demand.  These would be two of my favorite discoveries this semester.  I spent time in films databases researching my social justice issue as well as many more hours browsing numerous topics for my own pleaser.  It was here that I found a source for countless hours of documentary films.

            Some of the more interesting research discoveries regarding food-insecurity I made were those related to current events.  I researched statistics about poverty and how that relates to food-insecurity.  It’s no surprise that nearly all documented cases of food-insecurity go hand in hand with poverty.  According to statistics found in AGRICOLA, the USDA states that 100% of individuals taking part in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)—the leading governmental program in the US created for the purpose of combating food-insecurity—fall under the US poverty line.  It also gave way to research regarding SNAP itself.  I began to learn things about food-insecurity that changed my mind completely on what I believe to be sustainable solutions.

            When I began this project, I believed that safety-net programs such as SNAP and food pantries across the country were making a real difference in the lives of those they serve.  And what I found surprised me.  While this isn’t Untrue, it isn’t exactly true either.  These programs do wonders in combatting short term or situational food-insecurity, such as that suffered by individuals who are going through major life events such as divorce, job loss, and natural disaster.  However, in cases of chronic food-insecurity such as that experienced by members of the homeless community, individuals who suffer from generational poverty, or those suffering from chronic poverty, food safety-net programs do very little to improve their likelihood of moving from a food-insecure individual to what is known as a food-secure individual.  This information made me realize that the current system, while absolutely essential, is not a permanent solution.

            The time I spent volunteering at REACH Salt Lake only reinforced these beliefs.  While there, I translated for the Spanish speaking clients.  I spent most of my time in the office of one of REACH’s board members helping he and the Spanish speaking clients communicate and navigate through the intake process.  This meant that I had a knowledgeable and experienced person in the field of food-insecurity to talk to when things were slow.  I took the opportunity to ask every imaginable question related to food-insecurity that I could think of.  I found out that the majority of the clients at REACH have been coming there for years with no sign of moving on to self-sufficiency when it comes to providing their own food.  He explained that programs such as REACH do little to solve the problem.  He even toyed with the idea that they help to perpetuate the problem by not motivating or supporting people in becoming self-reliant.  He explained that what these programs lack is job search assistance, English classes, and mentoring that could help guide and support those who strive to make it out of poverty, and thus, become food-secure.

            Now armed with all of this information, I was able to write informed and motivating essays.  I saw my work improve and progress with each new writing project. I slowly saw new ideas immerge in my writing and took new paths in each paper.  I started as an advocate writing in defense of food safety-net programs and then became an advocate for change within these programs.  I began to write about the shortcomings of food safety-net programs and gave possible improvements that could be made.  I was able to incorporate better research more efficiently.  I became comfortable with citing sources and finding new information.  I began as a writer who relied solely on emotional appeal to a more balanced writer who was able to take advantage of logic and research, implementing them into my work.  This made me a more credible writer overall.  It gave my audience reason to listen to what I had to say, trusting that it wasn’t just the beliefs of one person they were relying on, but instead, it was the documented studies of sociologists and scientists that agreed with these points as well.  This semester’s research helped show me that with some research and practice my writing could be balanced, logical, easy to understand, clear, and most importantly, meaningful.  It showed me that I am able to promote change through many different avenues, writing being one of the most efficient.

PROJECTS

            Each genre of writing gave me a new challenge that helped to improve my writing.  As I stated earlier, I started with the flash memoir.  I was fairly comfortable with this genre, relying on emotional appeal to get me through it.  However, in case it isn’t obvious already, I’m a pretty longwinded writer, which made grasping the meaning of flash in flash memoir a fairly difficult task for me.  I had to go through cutting out entire paragraphs at a time to get to the word count assigned to us.  In the end, while there was much I had wanted to say that I wasn’t able to, the words I did use were meaningful.  This showed me that length doesn’t necessarily equal quality, although I still struggle with overdoing now and again.

            My next assignment as a part of The Narrative Project was a profile.  This may have been my biggest struggle.  I didn’t start the assignment with a good understanding of my paper’s layout.  I had no plan, and I suffered because of it.  I took this assignment into the writing lab and was offered quite a bit of constructive criticism.  I saw the assignment as a report on a person to promote an idea, what I learned was that a profile is a narrative, a story about an event in a person’s life that is meaningful to the social justice issue I had chosen to explore.  Because my issue was food-insecurity, I chose to write a profile about the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.  I believe that choosing to write on an entity, instead of a person, made this assignment all the more difficult for me.  My rough draft ended up looking more like a history of SNAP rather than a narrative about an event.  To attempt to save the pape without completely re-doing it, I added in my own opinions and tweaked it here and there to try and focus it on a centralized issue.  What I learned most from this assignment was that preparing is important.  My “wing-it” approach that I had grown accustomed to no longer cut it.  After this assignment, I began to outline the approach I would take in my writing assignment.  I studied the genre I was writing on and I started to print out examples, highlighting the moves they made.  This just went to show me that even my biggest failures could help me become a more successful writer.

            I then moved on to the Information Effect Project.  I focused in on the topic I had begun writing on in my profile.  I researched different aspects of the SNAP program and decided on a current event related to SNAP: the one-million participant cuts from SNAP happening in 2016.  I began delving into articles on successes and failures of SNAP.  I wanted to know what SNAP officials had to say and what independent researchers had to say.  I compared the two and learned that was quite a difference.  This is when I became aware that safety-net programs weren’t as successful as I once thought, however, that wasn’t the only perspective that I had to present.  Because the Information Effect Project required me to present information, not take a side, I had to become familiar with both sides of the argument.  It was difficult for me to not make my own opinions known throughout this assignment.  However, in the end I learned that you could still make a point even when presenting both sides of the story.  It was difficult, but I was able to make people aware of the problems with SNAP and the one-million cuts without actually stating my opinion.  I think this genre is especially useful because it allows your audience to come to their own conclusions without feeling pushed one way or the other, which might actually be more effective than trying to openly persuade them.

It was also in this project that I began experimenting with visual media in my writing.  I added tables, charts, and graphics to back up my claims.  I was able to continue experimenting with the use of multiple medias in my next project as well, which was the Persuasion Effect Project.  It was in this project that I was able to refine my writing in purpose, direction, and organization.  I had become fairly comfortable with research and logic, and I had some practice with a multimedia project at this point as well, but I wanted to be more organized.  I wanted my audience to be able to read through the paper smoothly, without any major bumps or diversions getting in the way of the main topic.  I stated my thesis, that SNAP’s newly imposed three-month time limit is morally wrong and detrimental to those the program was designed to help, and went on to back that up clearly.  I also enjoyed that I was able to argue a specific opinion in this paper, unlike in the information effect project where I had to remain unbiased—a challenge for any opinionated person!

VOLUNTEERING

Volunteering at REACH Salt Lake, a food pantry here in Salt Lake City, was an educational and rewarding experience.  Through my time translating for Spanish speaking clients I got to see the real life people behind my “issue.”  I saw the needs and help that we were able to help by providing food.  But I also saw the same people every week.  While there, I learned about a English as a Second Language course that those working at REACH Salt Lake were going to attend.  It was because of this course that I was able to learn about how to go about starting an English class for those needing to learn it, and it was because of this that the idea for my Final Project was born.

As I learned from those I worked with at REACH, it takes more than handing out free food to help a person free themselves from food-insecurity.  One of the most logical routes one can take to free themselves from food-insecurity is to find stable employment that earns enough to buy what you need, including food.  One of the biggest obstacles in finding gainful employment is not being able to speak with those you hope will hire you.  This is why ESL classes make so much sense.  I was at REACH for the purpose of translating because around 50% of the clients there are not able to speak English.  So, I went to my supervisor, Javan Payne, at REACH and proposed my idea: that I would create the curriculum for the first two weeks of the beginner ESL class that REACH recently started advertising as, “coming soon.”

With the course on starting ESL classes, I was able to bring my ideas to fruition.  I worked closely with Javan and was able to come up with a curriculum that would benefit REACH.  Because it is for the beginner class, grammer and sentences were not our focus.  Our focus was on teaching the students words associated with practical, everyday situations that they would likely find themselves in, and teaching them how to communicate in order to get their needs met.  I proposed several different scenarios we could use teach in the form of storyboards.  I considered scenarios like doctor visits, school registration, grocery shopping, going to the park, traveling and learning direction, and many more.  In the end Javan and I decided upon two different types of scenarios to focus on.  The first being a grocery shopping, the second being navigation.

With the grocery shopping scene, I used Creative Commons’ website to find clipart and photos I could use in storyboards that could teach the students the words associated with the pictures and how to communicate when paying for items.  I got images of many different fruits, vegetables, and meats, along with the cashier, checkout stand, grocery cart, and money.  The students will be able to create stories using these images, and associate the image with the English word for it.  The teachers, which I will be one of, will also be able to create scenes that focus on the words they want to teach the class that week.  I also made money that can be used to learn to pay, count, and say the numbers in English.  All of these images will be reusable.  They’re laminated and I provided sticky putty so that they can be put on a board for the whole class to see.

Next I made several reuseable images of street signs.  We will use these to teach the students, many of which are from the Middle East and other countries, the meaning of the sign, how that translates to driving, and also how to say the associated words in English.  We also have a large map of Salt Lake County.  This will be used to help the students learn to navigate the valley.  It is essential to get to know your new environment in order to meet your needs, get to the grocery store, get your kids to school, get to work, go to the movies, or go to a Christmas party.  Many of these individuals use public transit, so knowing the roads, where they go, and how to navigate them will be very important.  Getting on the wrong bus and getting lost could be a very scary event for someone who can’t speak the language and ask for directions or help.

Learning these skills and the English language will be absolutely essential for the students at REACH.  These skills will open potential doors to employment, friendship, and comfortability that they would not otherwise have.  I should also add that I created the intake forms along with the placement test.  The placement test is a series of questions that are asked of the student upon enrolling in the ESL classes.  It determines whether they should be in the beginner, intermediate or advanced class and is an important part of the process.  Having students either overwhelmed or bored is not good and it is important to them and also to the teachers and classmates that each person is where they should be.  This will not only help the student get everything possible out of the classes, but will also help the class run more smoothly.  The following are some of the images I used for the storyboards and placement test.  I also included some of the images I’ve been working on for future classes that I will also be creating lessons for, with Javan’s help, such as learning the various body parts and facial features, which could be useful for doctors’ visits and general conversation.  On top of that I will be including images of the advertisement we will be using to advertise the classes and the signup sheet for placement exams.

 

This is the Placement Exam I created and the photos that will be used with it.

Placement Exam

Students Name:

Interviewer’s Name:

Date:

Placement Level:

COMPREHENSION: GREETINGS

NOTE TO INTERVIEWER:  NO HELP SHOULD BE GIVEN during this placement exam.  This is to determine where the student is at.  If the student is unable to answer two questions in a row, stop test and place them in the beginner class.

Greeting:  Hello, how are you?

Did they answer correctly:  yes/no

My name is _________, what’s yours?

Did they answer correctly:  yes/no

What country are you from?

Did they answer correctly:  yes/no

How long have you lived in the US?

Did they answer correctly:  yes/no

Have you studied English before?

Did they answer correctly:  yes/no

            If yes, how long?

NOTE: If student is unable to respond to the above greetings, move on to the reading section.

COMPREHENSION: PHOTOS 

NOTE TO INTERVIEWER:  Point to photo one and ask the student to tell you what the image is of.  Wait for the student to say the word that describes the photo.  No help should be given in this or any of the sections.  Circle yes or no depending on whether they were able to answer correctly or not.

House                          yes/no

Woman buying food         yes/no

Clock                           yes/no

Mother                                    yes/no

Number 4                    yes/no

Number 2                    yes/no

Number 1                    yes/no

How many children are in this photo?            yes/no

Why is this man running?           yes/no

COMPREHENSION: SPEAKING

Using two photos that depict easily recognizable scenes, ask the student the following questions.

Photo One:

What is happening in the photo?

What will happen next?

Did student use a few basic words and phrases when answering questions? yes/no

Did student use full sentences when answering questions? Yes/no

Did student use correct grammar? Yes/no

Photo Two:

What is the man and children doing?

What will they do next?

Did student use a few basic words and phrases when answering questions? yes/no

Did student use full sentences when answering questions? Yes/no

Did student use correct grammar? Yes/no

For these photos, I will use photos of people in the grocery store or preparing food.  The photos will have to do with food in some way.

DETERMINING PLACEMENT

TOTAL THE NUMBER OF “YESES” CIRCLED:__________

BEGINNER: 0-10

INTERMEDIATE: 10-20

ADVANCED: 20 OR MORE

 

REGISTRATION/INFORMATION

NAME:

MALE/FEMALE

NATIVE LANGUAGE:

NATIVE COUNTRY:

ADDRESS:

CITY:

ZIP:

TELEPHONE:

DATE OF BIRTH:

Here is a sample of the images we will be using for the grocery scene/storyboard. These images have been laminated and will be reused class after class.  Over time, as the students' vocabularies expand images can be added.

This is a sample of the images I've made for the navigation lesson.  As with all scenes, images can easily be added as the students become comfortable using the words associated with the images we have.  There is also a map of Salt Lake County that will be used to help the students learn to navigate.  All images, including these, can be combined with images from other storyboards that we will be creating for the other lessons at REACH Salt Lake to make fun and interesting stories.  Not only will these aid in learning the street signs in the US for those who have immigrated and are unfamiliar with the system, but will also be useful in expanding their vocabulary further.

This is the information we have on the flyer we have out advertising our ESL classes.  It is not being advertised in the community yet, and will only be hung around the REACH building.  It is written in Spanish, and Arabic, the two main languages spoken among REACH's clients. 

Clase para aprender Inglés

تعلماللغةالإنجليزيةالفئة

Pregunte para más información

تسألعنمزيدمنالمعلومات

El locación: REACH Salt Lake

دروس في الوصول سولت لايك البناء

This is the sign up sheets we will be using for the clients that wish to attend classes.   This will be used to set up the appointment for their placement exam, which my supervisor will be administering.

Spanish Version

·        Tiempo para la reunión de la introducción de la clase (Schedule a time for your introduction)

o   lunes (Monday)

§  11:00

§  11:15

§  11:30

§  11:45

§  12:00

o   martes (Tuesday)

§  11:00

§  11:15

§  11:30

§  11:45

§  12:00

o   jueves (Thursday)

§  11:00

§  11:15

§  11:30

§  11:45

§  12:00

 Arabic Version

·        الوقت المناسب لاجتماع مقدمة من الدرجة (Schedule a time for your introduction)

o   الإثنين (Monday)

§  11:00

§  11:15

§  11:30

§  11:45

§  12:00

o   الثلاثاء (Tuesday)

§  11:00

§  11:15

§  11:30

§  11:45

§  12:00

o   الخميس (Thursday)

§  11:00

§  11:15

§  11:30

§  11:45

§  12:00

·       

In creating my Final Project, I was able to use many skills I had gained as a writer.  I had to think about how this project would come across to those who would be taught by it.  I had to take into consideration the different cultural customs of those we aim to have in our classes, namely, our Arabic speaking clients.  I had to consider how the images I used could come across, making sure to take extra care in what I chose to include.  This is no different than when a writer considers their audience.  We have to make rhetorical choices with our words, our sources, and what we do or do not discuss.  This project was no different.  I had to consider who would use it, what they would be able to relate to or find meaningful, and what I did or did no include.

It was important to me that my project be meaningful, and while it may not seem like a lot of work here, it was.  A lot of time and consideration was taken in making the placement exam.  A lot of reading on how to teach an ESL class was done in the workbook provided by those that taught the course on how to teach ESL.  I had to consider what would be most useful for the students.  I had to put myself in the place of those I was teaching.  The same was done in my writing through my research and time spent reading other similar works.

I wanted my writing to do something for someone, they way I hope this project will benefit those attending the ESL class.  In my writing I had to consider my audience, what they would be receptive to and what I wanted tell them.  With this project I had to think about the scenarios I was going to present to them, what images would be best in teaching them English words and phrases.  I had to consider what situations the students would likely encounter and what were the most important words to teach them first.  In my writing, I wanted to promote change, which is exactly what I hope to do with my project.  It is important to use meaningful rhetoric, research, and have a meaningful topic that you care about.  Without those, it would be very difficult to be a successful writer, or make a successful project.  Making this project, and the process of putting it together has made me realize the work that can be accomplished when you have the right tools, like those I gained in English 2010.  Tools like knowing how to time my writing in correspondence with current events or what is most important to people at the time.  I learned how to use other's work to build on, like I did with this project and the work of those that taught us about teaching ESL. Due to all the knowledgeI've gained in this class, I believe that my time in English 2010 will be some of the best spent of my college career, especially in terms of my volunteer work.  I'm glad I got the chance to help Reach Salt Lake put together this ESL class.  And I hope, like in my writing, it will be able to make a change in the lives of those that it touches.

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