I developed a bad habit during high school English class that whenever I had an idea to present, I would have it fully planned out as how I would express it, detailed down to what’s my word choices or the tense I would use. The good ideas that popped up in my brain were always not well-phrased or as comprehensive as a mature thought. Gradually, I decided to have a fully planned out arguments in my head before I present them to someone else. I would think about my main point, reasoning, possible examples every time before I have a formal opinion I wanted to express. That wasn’t corrected in my high school, because by the time I wanted to talk about my opinions, teachers would move on to the next topic, and I was just considered as a shy student who doesn’t speak for herself very well. That’s why this class is special to me as a English course: I had to adapt to the assignments and classes that either persuade or force me to have my thoughts shown to my peers and professor, still with some sort of structure, but not as a fully planned out speech before I present them, providing others opportunities to listen or read what I have, and also strengthen my ability to improvise along the way.
The first time I felt words can just flow out as it goes was when I was writing for my second “side quest”
I have always been passionate about horses. Being able to compete in college level was extremely exciting for me, until I found out riders are not allowed to show in the rings without formal dressings. By formal dressing I mean usually uncommonly expensive. I have never thought about expressing about this on my social media or to my friends, as I thought they would not understand it, and it would be a waste of time to spend a whole paragraph to explain this to them, so I had a lot to talk about. I took my picture of the assignments and started to just write without having an outline or specific structure in my head. It was surprising to me that I could start writing arguments without having any concrete ideas of it. It was similar when I was writing for another side quest, the combo photo. The assignment was posted when coronavirus was first appeared in China, and I suddenly saw a New York Times journal making fun of China being the “real sick man of Asia” because of the virus, I became so furious and I decided to talk about it in my post. Again, I did not have a concrete plan for the blog, but words flowed out. I created the picture combing the virus with a picture of a planet, stating virus could be a planet in another world, and our planet could be a virus in a bigger “world”, and no one should make fun or blame anyone for their present. I then started to correct my flaws and became more confident at myself: If I can make deep arguments without running through it thoroughly ahead, I could probably do that in my future blogs and in classes as well.
If the side quests allowed me to improvise and write as my mind is thinking, creating a podcast suggested me to have a structure, but also improvise on top of it. I decided to do the first episode of the class, mainly because I had a rough idea formulated in my head, and I thought it wouldn’t take me long to produce a ten-minute long essay to read. My partner Jessica and I soon decided a full reading off of pages is too monotone and boring for a podcast. We wanted to have fun with it, so added conversations were important in this podcast. Since I had to reply to her arguments in the recording, I wasn’t given any time to formulate ideas, I had to follow my gut to say whatever came to my mind. I turned out not perfect, but I considered it as a huge improvement of myself that I could come out with neat arguments right away under the stress that I am being recorded and a small population is going to listen to it carefully, because it was the first episode. In the second podcast episode, I was the assistant producer of George. This time I wasn’t offered a ton of information beforehand, and I had to listen what he got to say, and either accompany his idea or present my own theory and back up for my theory. It wasn’t easy for me at first, we were playing a trial run trying to gather snips for what we’ve said in the game and possibly put it in our episode. Although these snips weren’t used the final episode because of technical difficulties, it was almost a training for me in a sense that I had to improvise along with the process of game play and this experience laid foundation to our actual recording. I was certainly better at coming up with analogies and explanations that I would praise myself after I have said it, and the confidence boosted other interesting ideas.
Playing the game “Fiasco” was a next-level challenge for me to come up with not only ideas, but random stories that would fit the logic. I was nervous watching videos of other people playing the game, as I knew my disadvantages. There was no way I could prepare my story, even though after the characters were decided according to the rule book. I had a rough draft of where the story was going and made a good starting. Within minutes other players would completely altered the story line into a new progression that I have never thought of. Or sometimes I could react a little faster and as the player before me was elaborating his novel, I would have a small setting planned out in my head. However, in the middle of my storytelling, I still had to change the ending of this chapter depending on what dice others gave me that determined whether it was a happy ending or a bad ending. It was definitely challenging. However, since I had some confidence regarding improvising arguments, I treated the game almost as an assessment of myself for whether I improved on coming up with sentences instantly. This gameplaying experience along with some of the home tasking and podcast production also redefined collaboration in college courses from my point of view. Generally speaking, Emory students do a terrific job working as a group and not depending on only one member of the group. However, most of the “collaboration assignments” given by other courses are split up and every group member accomplishes a certain chunk of the work individually, without actual collaboration. However, in this course, students are contributing while interacting with other group members in order to reach the common goal while enjoying the process, which was a novel experience for me. We would criticize, praise or evolve through each other’s ideas, and progressing toward the fourth learning outcome, “Collaboration”.
It is a significant skill and confidence I acquired in this class that I am able to think critically while I am presenting my arguments without everything planned out. Not only because I am able to present them in a timelier manner, but I am able to incorporate others’ idea and enrich my opinions through reading, evaluating or having conversations with others’ comments including my friends, classmates and professors. Overall, I have enjoyed progress and satisfied with what I have accomplished in this learning process.