Sunday, February 28, 2010

Warning: Don't Read! Super-long freewrite to jump start my personal statement...

Currently, I am a middle school reading and grammar teacher at a small, international school in Taiwan. Although, I have entertained a desire to be a teacher since third grade (when I had my absolutely magical teacher Mrs. Beck), it has been difficult adjusting to the reality of teaching. I do thrive on social interaction and I enjoy elucidating concepts in order to coax a love of learning, but when it came down to it, I was reluctant to start working right away. In fact, I was a reluctant college graduate, and the first few months of trying to inspire intelligent conversation among students whose level of English ability and interest ranged between tolerable and deplorable only made me miss my idealized days of being a student even more. Furthermore, despite desiring to continue school, I felt that I was not adequately prepared to pursue the doctorate programs that interested me. All the while as I researched programs, I was discouraged by what seemed to be a lack of intelligent conversation among my students, and I sorely missed the days of poring over texts and engaging in active dialogue with my professors and my peers. However, as I accustomed myself to teaching and learned to adjust my ideals to find ways to inspire my students, I realized that through being an educator, I was learning so much about the heart of literature. With a skeptical, teenage audience who already has their eyes set on financial success, I was challenged to prove the importance of this branch of humanities beyond the singular value of speaking fluent English. Although my students may not be impressed by philosophical pursuits, they were eager to debate the importance of an acclaimed novel, and began to see how themes were not isolated to the readings but also closely coincided with their own lives. This was but just a taste of what I was sure would be the rewards of this career choice, but I also believed that professionally, I had much room for improvement, and not only that but personally, I still missed being a student. The assurance that my desire to continue school would wane as I experienced the freedom of working life did not come true. Although I do enjoy the freedom to curl up with a book instead of alertly keeping a pencil in handy to jot down notes for the next discussion, I still feel like I have yet to be satisfied with what I have learned. Especially as I remember my latter years of college when I was able to concentrate on specific books, movements, and authors, I long to go back and learn some more while I still have the freedom to do so. Thus, when I stumbled upon U. C. Irvine’s Summer Master’s Program, I was excited to find a program that seemed custom-made for my current stage in life. It appeared to be an ideal means in which I could both pursue academia and continue teaching without isolating one area from the other, nor have the added distraction of balancing one with another. Having intimate and intense seminars over the summers while teaching and applying new ideas during the school year seems like such an intelligent way to go about improving myself. Not only will I be able to remain financially stable and responsible during an economically rocky time, but I will be demonstrating the ideals that I present to my students. Professionally, it fulfills the need for teachers to be well-versed in their area of supposed expertise and also provides me a respite from teaching while also fulfilling my desires for added knowledge! As a student, I would gain the means to a wider pool of knowledge and I would be able to empathize with the students that I teach and show them that how there is not one cut and dry way to fulfill your life’s dreams. In addition to the attractive design of the program, I also am excited to work with UC Irvine’s English Department. Its strength in critical theory and abundance of acclaimed professors provides another reason for my attraction to this program. I would love to work with English Literature professors, a calculated decision on my part, since in the future, if I choose to continue in my studies, I would like to study modern American Literature. I believe that American Literature in the present has embodied much of the philosophy behind the study of Comparative Literature. Especially as a teacher at an international school, I witnessed firsthand how as new cultures meld and new bilingual authors joining the writing scene, how American literature especially is gaining a literature that combines multiple cultures and languages. American Literature now encompasses authors for whom English was a second language, in which there are phrases and thoughts and ideas of a different country and yet is still defined as a book in the American literature curriculum. The definition of this canon (if there ever was) is changing and I would love to pursue how literature reflects the break of culture isolation and embraces the current events of this era. I believe the Summer M.A. in English program will help me cement my plans for the future by allowing me to learn and research in an area for which I have a passion while also allowing me to experiment in the teaching arena is well. By honing my abilities in the areas of learning while implementing teaching techniques, I would be able to have larger options for the future while simultaneously satiating my own desires to learn.

... now, how to cut this down to 1/3 of its size. ;-P EXCITEd! hahaha

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