The e-Portfolio. Is Done.

It’s been a long time coming, but the time has finally come.

I focused a lot on my writing for the portfolio. I went back and changed just about every essay twenty times through, so that was rather time consuming, but I like to think I’ve made improvements with each edit. I learned a lot from building the site, and I’m feeling surprisingly tech savvy after completing it. I spent some time at the Knowledge Navigation Center in Hatcher (over by the Ref Room), which I had no idea even existed prior to this project. The people there were super helpful though – I had a million questions about WordPress, and they had a million answers!

I can guarantee that the portfolio and I have only begun our journey together. I’m almost certain I’ll be spending quite a bit of time with it over break. In fact, I really don’t even see myself making it through the rest of finals (I don’t finish until the 20th) without playing with it a little more. I’d like to add more short pieces to to my Archive section to make the site more reader-friendly. I know I’m always happy to read a lots of short pieces as opposed to only a few long ones, so I’d like to just add some 500-word-ish essays to it as they come.

For tonight, though, the portfolio and I must part. Check out the site here, and feel free to check back later on as it evolves!

One More Thought

As I was reading through some of the blog posts by people for a last time before the semester closes out, I’ve been piecing together something that I want to explore a just little more before we all leave.

People always say children are the most creative, and that we lose this creativity as we get older.

I used to agree and say, what a pity, and sometimes, actually feel rushed to produce creative results because I felt like I was running out of time.

Now, looking at all the final eportfolios of people in the class, even though I wasn’t able to attend the showcase, I’m going to throw a hypothesis out there and say we don’t lose our creativity. Rather, I think the jewel of creativity is still there for every person, every profession, and every age. It is never warped or changed or corroded, it is merely forgotten, only in our minds, by the constraints of our environment and our time.

Given the circumstances to exercise and uncover it, we are just as creative as we were when we were 5. Just looking at all these portfolios, each one is so unique, so individual, and so creative. There’s something to be said about how we can brainstorm and create when we’re given open prompts, like in this class, and when we’re given the time to develop our own jewel of creativity and wow, would you look at the results.

So maybe that’ll be another theme to grow my portfolio on. Don’t ever be fooled into thinking our creativity is lost because it’s something that can’t disappear, it can only be remembered.

Thank you all for an amazing semester, it’s probably one of the most reflective ones I’ve had, and an eye opening experience all around.

Final Portfolio

3 months after I first started my portfolio, it’s done. http://beixili.wix.com/livelaughloveshare

Looking back, it’s crazy to see how it’s changed. I remember looking through countless templates and trying to figure out which one could possibly represent me. Then I discovered the beauty of completely reinventing a page, of adding my own touch, but above all, of keeping it simple so that a certain tone and message could really be felt throughout the entire portfolio.

As I worked on it, adding artifacts, changing layouts, I found myself including more and more pieces of my life onto this online platform. It started off as writing from school, moving on to include blogs we’ve done for class, and eventually even my  travel pictures from this summer snuck into it. Before I knew it, my internal menu for categorizing my pages was exploding and there were subpages within subpages within pages.

Experimenting with the different technology also became more and more complex. I had buttons linking forwards and backwards, to other parts of the portfolio, and all over the place besides. Checking to make sure all these links worked was an hour long process in itself. But more importantly, it was incredible to see how I could change my writing on the online platform. From changing the layout to mimic a book, to incorporating visuals and collages to tell a story, there were so many possibilities, and for the first time, I was writing with something other than just words.

Although a lot of work, I’ve really enjoyed every step of the way and remember working on my portfolio just to procrastinate on my other homework. Seeing the finished product is very satisfying, and I can’t stop thinking about how I’m going to grow and change it, so that it can continue to capture how I view the world.

Blogging

I’ve never really taken the time to work on a blog for a long period of time, and this semester has been a great introduction into what it’s like to track progress and post constantly on it. I really like how we had a structure to follow and how it paralleled the work we were doing so that looking back, it’s almost like a diary.

In fact, I’ve always regretted not keeping an ongoing diary of places I’ve been and experiences I’ve had. This summer, I had the opportunity to travel to so many places and meet so many people, but I kept putting it off until there were too many memories to try and go back and capture. Part of it, I think, is the daunting nature of writing a diary entry, it seems we have to catalogue everything that happened in a day, and we have to make it artistic, unique, and reflective.

I think the strength of blogging, as we’ve learned this semester, is the ability to have short spurts of inspiration, to catalogue briefly, but constantly. It could be the shortest blurb or even just a picture, but when taken together, it represents a complete package. It’s also one of the most direct and easily bridged links into the digital medium. Writing our thoughts, after all, isn’t much different between paper and webpage. But what I’ve realized, is that once I’ve started experimenting, there are so many different mediums to use when we’re on the internet that we can link to virtually anything, post anything.

One of the hardest parts of blogging for me throughout this class has been remembering to do it every week. This is another habit that I think can be developed. Gradually, I think I’ve gotten better at it (minus this post since finals week caught up a little with me). What’s really inspiring is that I’m incredibly proud of remembering, and when I look back at all my posts, it’s satisfying and very interesting to see my progress throughout the semester.

And that’s my main takeaway from blogging for this class. Having recorded my progression, I can now view it backwards and see how I’ve changed, and figure out what I really improved and what I still need to work on. So if there was ever a reason to blog, it’s because it’s not just for people who would potentially like to read it, it’s for us. For us to see how we change and how we can use that change to build our futures.

Bye for now!

I really wanted to quickly blog about this semester and specifically about this class quickly before the Friday deadline for posts was over. We can probably all agree that over the last couple months we’ve come really far from the beginning of class when we were all awkward classmates around a table. Although I don’t know everybody in our cohort, I think it’s really awesome that we have this small group of people that we’re basically going to be with for the next year and a half. We’ve come such a long way in writing and probably just personally, too, so congratulations on this semester!

One of my favorite things about this class and about this minor is that now, when we see each other outside of section we wave and smile or say hi. I think that’s honestly great. Even if you just recognize the person from the minor it’s totally okay to smile and wave. We’re kind of a team, right? I feel like we’re a team guys. Everyone always has such nice things to say about each other and each other’s work and that’s what a team is. A group of people put together to encourage one another and help each other reach goals. I definitely think that’s what we do.

Thanks so much for the memories! It’s really been so great getting to know the people in my section. Best of luck to everyone in their last few semesters here. Make ’em count!

Oh and I hope all of the people going abroad next semester will post little things on the community blog with lots of pictures. I’ve always wanted to go abroad, but could never fit it in. We’d love to live vicariously through you while you’re gone!

Revisions

I just realized that I missed the post about revisions for a few weeks back.  I figured any time is a good time to talk about revisions, though, so I figured I’d just post it now anyway.  To be honest, I used to hate having to make revisions.  I think I was pretty stubborn about my writing, so I was unwilling to make changes to what I thought was my best work.  College writing classes really changed the way I think about revisions, and I’m truly lucky for it.  During my first year writing requirement we did a lot of peer workshops.  At first, I was reluctant to take advice on how to change my work, but as the year went on, I became more comfortable talking it out with my peers and taking suggestion.  I realized that revisions are not just important, but they are vital to the writing process.  No piece is going to be perfect the first time, and it more than likely won’t be perfect the second or third time either.  It is always helpful to go back and revise or edit.  It can only help and will most definitely lead to a superior paper.

Detroit City Is The Place To Be

A while back, I went to a presentation by a writer who works for Rolling Stone and recently wrote a book about Detroit, which is the title of this post. It was a recommended event to go to for gamefication points which I never ended up actually writing about… So what better time than now!

The writer was interesting because he was relatively young and knew A LOT about Detroit. The book is a non-fiction I think, that includes interviews of people living in the city. It also talks about some of the history of detroit, how it came to be the way it is, and what makes it unique from other cities. Most of it though, covers what life is like in Detroit now, and how there is so much opportunity on the horizon (which could end up being good or bad).

He mentioned how a once famous baseball diamond was being used by kids in a park now and is totally overgrown, how the police rarely show up in some neighborhoods, and even how some citizens are growing their own food and organizing their own community groups to help support each other. Hearing him talk almost sounded like he was describing the post-apocolypse. But the premise of the book is all about opportunity, and how the long standing history of Detroit makes it a much more interesting place to be compared to a city that is more corporate built and ignores community.

Anyway, I ended up buying a copy for my grandparents since they have lived in Detroit and surrounding areas for nearly their entire life. I might get around to reading it too on break and think it would be worth while for anyone who is interested in Detroit.

Writing FAST

Okay so the ironic thing here is that I have five minutes to write this- well actually four now before I am being forced out of my apartment and won’t be able to return until the deadline for gamification submissions has passed. And that means that I don’t have a lot of time to carefully craft my sentences like usual, and be politically correct, so I’m going to be brutally honest. I need to get this one in, well, for points, but also because I have an important message to share. A message about something I have learned to do quite well this semester in Writing 220: write fast. I’ll be blunt. This semester I was swamped most of the time, and, in combination with my unique knack for procrastination, this led to me rushing to meet some already generous deadlines. So I was forced to adapt. I had to hurry, but I had to do good work. I wasn’t about to compromise. So I forced myself to do both! It was a struggle at first. I fell back into old habits, like reading through my work a billion times, or leaving critical proofreading errors. I shouldn’t say much more in case I’m guilty of that here. But I definitely think that I have improved, mainly, because I’ve been forced to. It’s been a really valuable skill. And I thank Writing 220 for teaching me.

Lyric Analysis??

I’ve been meaning to blog about this idea for most of the semester, and now thats its crunch time I remembered! It has to do with my interest in music lyrics. First off, I play music and I write songs, so I find the idea of lyric writing very interesting. Some things I’ve noticed are, there really is no full proof, great method for writing lyrics. People have been doing it differently for years. And another thing is, some great songs don’t really have good lyrics. Now what I mean by good lyrics is hard to define, and I don’t mean some high in the sky amazing poem with tons of metaphors. Even LMFAO could be considered good lyricists in my book.

But some songs have such simple lyrics, with very little coherence that it almost sounds like a young child wrote it.. But the song is good! So in some ways lyrics aren’t that important, as long as they capture the mood of the song and have a good melody. But then I think , well if lyrics are so easy to write, why do I have such a hard time writing them? And why do some songs sound good when sung, but lyrically they are meaningless? These questions are what started my interest in reading tons of song lyrics by relatively well known artists as well as some I’ve never heard of.

A lot of times people will say, “write what is real and true to you,” but it seems that is not even close to enough advise. What’s interesting is that some songs are catchy, but lyrically fail (ex: Friday, by Rebecca Black). That is a clear example of bad song writing. Whether that was the goal or not, people laugh at the song because of the lyrics. But if they are true life lyrics for Rebecca Black, than wouldn’t that relate to a lot of people? Anyway I could rant on this for hours, but maybe next time you like a song, try looking up the lyrics. Try to forget what the melody is and just read it. You may find it surprising how simple or odd some lyrics are when you aren’t listening to the song.

#GenreChallenge 2

One of the summer internships I recently applied for asked me to write a personal statement to accompany my resume, so I decided to do another Genre Challenge and earn some gameified , like I did for my resume.

After some research, one of the first things I realized is that the personal statement can be the critical factor in distinguishing you from the other applicants.  It is for this reason that the statement should attempt to entertain and entice the reader, rather than bore him/her.   Structure and writing style is also very important.  Just because the statement is meant to be “personal” does not mean that all formal writing conventions should be left by the wayside.  The personal statement falls under the category of professional writing; therefore, conciseness and preciseness are of the utmost importance.  Although certain experiences you choose to share may be complex, they must be presented clearly and effectively.  While the grades and test scores will highlight intellectualism, the personal statement will underscore one’s ability to communicate.

In order to begin the writing process for a personal statement, the statement instructions must first be carefully read and understood.  Different companies may call for different types of statements, which is why one cannot just reproduce the same one and send it out to multiple employers.  When getting started, it is helps to gather information about yourself in the form of past experiences, activities, personal challenges, and unique talents.  It is then easier to recall more specifics from this broad list of occurrences and capabilities.  When researching the resume, an important theme was showing the company how you would be able to benefit them.  The same goes for the personal statement, as most employers  are interested in what unique qualities applicants will be able to contribute.  The personal statement is the opportunity to showcase deeper qualities than those on the resume.

An extremely important aspect of the personal statement is to keep the focus on you.  The personal statement is all about you.  While there may have been people or experiences that have been influential in your life, it is vital that the focus is kept on you and not on that special person or experience.  An admissions board is not going to care about the accomplishment of someone else in your life, unless you focus on how that accomplishment influenced and affected you.  Most importantly, be truthful.  Readers can tell when someone is not being genuine, or simply exaggerating the truth.

As with any piece of writing, proofreading is always important and writing several drafts can always help.  Just like any other piece of professional writing, the personal statement should be A+ work.  One strategy I read about was writing a first draft, then waiting to review it until a little time has passed so that you essentially have a fresh pair of eyes.  It also helps to have the statement reviewed by as many people as possible, including friends, family members, and letter of recommendation writers.  Either way, it is essential that the statement be free of grammar, syntax, and spelling errors.  While the statement may be personal, the tone and structure must remain professional.