Reflective Portfolio

A reflection on Katherine Pereira's writing process during the
English Composition: Research and Writing course

About Me

Known for their rather odd sense of humor and love of most things musical and mythology. Also rather eclectic on interest.

How I Work

Known for being a multi-tasker by nature. Is typically listening to documentaries while working, or music while cooking. Cannot sleep with any noise in the room, ironically enough.

My Ethos

A firm believer of treating others as one wants to be treated. Also a believer of the "hopepunk" subculture, meaning that the best rebellion is kindness in the face a cold, indifferent universe.

Get in Touch

Is not great at technology nor using any form of social media. Private to a fault.

2-10 prewriting activity 2: Ingredient Matrix

A specific problem I came across was my own lack of passion in the subject I was writing. While I adored pupusas and the cultural significance of the recipe, I did not care much about why cook books were important and thought that the project was a little boring as a result. And I believe my lack of passion really showed up in full force with my final project. I did well in this specific assignment, but the actual project was lackluster and extremely boring as a result. It did look like I did not put care into what was asked, and I will be honest, I did not. And it is only in hindsight and reflection can I see where I could have done better.
I truly think had I thought about making the project a bit more challenging or even made the more complex version of pupusas, I could have done better. The black beans and cheese variation of pupusas are one of the simplest forms the pupusas can take, and even my own family likes to make versions with meat and some vegetables in them. I could have talked about the chicharron and the importance of that pork had in our culture. Since most farm animals were better alive and working the field, pigs are one of the few that are raised for their meat. It is common to buy pigs for big celebrations and use the meat for filling in pupusas and tamales for Easter and Christmas. As a result, the pork filling is a popular one for big family events. In this I could have talked more about my own family and why we always ate these together during be events. Why pupusas are the national dish of El Salvador, even though it is a humble and readily available recipe.
I am grateful for having talked about the dish. And from what I saw in the class discussion, it inspired someone to want to seek it out and try it for themselves. I am proud to have talked about a dish that connects me to my grandmother and to my culture. I just wished I showcased that passion better. In reflections, I felt that I had to fit into a mold that I believed academic writing had to be impersonal and it is something I still am struggling with even towards the end of this course. I will not lie. I think that my writing could improve if I allowed myself to be passionate about the topic. Even though I know the course encourages writing with purpose, it is difficult to believe that academic writing can be personal. It almost feels wrong to talk about personal feelings in what should be academic writing and that it is best to be almost clinical about the topic at hand. So my question would be “How to allow ourselves to be passionate about their writing in an Academic sense?”
Photo by Kristian Thomas on Pexels

3-5 prewriting activity #1: annotated map and field notes

The problem I encountered with Annotated Map and Field Notes was that I was coming off the fresh disappointment I felt with the Cookbook assignment. Since I failed to grasp the passion needed for the first project, I was left unsure with the second. I could not seem to get out of my own rut and I almost made the same mistake I made with the Cookbook project by trying to use an “easy” landmark that I felt I could find information on as quickly as possible. While the public library is important to a community, I did not feel much of a connection with the building, nor did I think it was that unique. In my opinion, one public library does not differ too broadly from another. However, it was only when I talked to my friend did I even consider the Elizabeth train station. And I believe my original apprehension was seen with my original draft. I was not sure who to annotate the map, and while I talked a bit about the importance of the station in daily life, I know I could have gone into more details about the residents that still use the station and how little people know about its history.
My original problem with finding a topic I genuinely wanted to talk about only was solved when I talked to someone about the fact that I even had trouble with the project. In the Cookbook project, I had assumed that it was easy and that I any problem I had been only because I was a good enough writer. It was only in allowing others into my process to help guide me did I seem to truly find what I wanted to do. And I think if I allow myself to talk to others, it will improve my capacity to be a better academic writer. In have that initial conversation with friends, it allowed me to see what I wanted to write about and even have a better understanding of the audience. Mostly since all the new information I found was being relayed to my friends and for every interesting fact they seemed to like, I made sure to include in the final project. Even the YouTube videos only came about when they suggested an audio component would help the project be even more appealing. And they reviewed the final webpage before submission just to make sure give me a good idea of what an audience might say about the webpage.
I also understand that I was in a privilege position to be able to have peers be able to give their free time to help and not anyone could to do same. However, having someone to talk to gave me valuable insight into how to go about the project. Since they were willing to act as an audience, it allowed the final project to be one of the best I made. It feels rather silly to realize the importance of having discussions with peers is to the writing process, but I truly believe that now. Having a peer group discussion allowed creativity and passion to flow a bit easier and it made the project all the better.
Photo by Jenny Mavimiro on Pexels

3-8 prewriting activity 2: Research Questions and Strategy

With the Research Question and Strategy assignment, the problem I noticed I faced was that at time I don’t fully grasp what is being asked of me. I tend to either ignore a portion of the question or I overlook things like word count. Either way I tend to just write what I believed was being asked of me, and I am sure I still continue with such even towards the end of the course. And in reflections, I understand that a big problem for myself seems to be in not knowing how to ask research questions and my lack of confidence in my writing. I have problems asking why I am writing, or even why this topic is important. As a result, I tend to get in my own head and am less confident in my abilities and get anxious. I noticed this in many of my written assignments, where I just write around what I think is being asked of me and not think about the whys since I never really understood it well myself. While I did well getting information on the Elizabeth train station, I was not sure what to ask and so I ignored thinking of a good research question.
Growing confidence to become a better academic writer is not something that happens overnight and it takes practice to become better in anything. This is something that I have to be cognizant about as an issue I have and I see it even when I write for my personal life. I have to be aware that I do know what is being asked of me, and not being scared of being wrong or looking foolish. As I noted before, a good why for that specific project could have been “Is it okay to gentrify an old build if its original purpose is not being put to use?” Or perhaps, “Does something need to be in use in order to benefit the community?” there were many possibilities I could have gone that would have allowed for move to look deeper into the paper that I did not do. Maybe I felt that the task was asking more of me, or maybe I was not confident in my abilities to answer the questions I raised, but it is something I must work on continuously. And it is something that I must work on in order to better myself as an academic writer.

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