All posts by Miguel Urena

Final Portfolio

Reflection Posts:

  1. Writing a first draft in any essay is a somewhat challenging task. For me, once my brain gets flowing its like a flash flooding river. The true problem is how to get it there. My neutral writing position is that between a 5 month drought and a wildfire. I can’t think of any ideas and thus my brain goes into overdrive(wildfire) and starts rushing and trying anything to find one tiny idea to write about. Because of that, the hardest and most timely part of the essay was writing and defining my thesis. As soon as I had put pen to paper or fingers to keyboard on that I took off. I am a very weird writer compared to many. Most I have met like researching first, then writing. I am a staunch contrarian to that. I will write a paragraph, then decide that I need to look something up. That leads me down a rabbit hole and boom, I have a new source. That is one of the reasons I currently have 7 sources, and am planning to expand that. I think that might be the reason why page counts don’t stress me out as much as other people. I know I will be able to extend an essay to or around the page limit when needed.  In this reading James Baldwin said one of the greatest immediate impact quotes I have read in months. “He was defeated long before he died because, at the bottom of his heart, he really
    believed what white people said about him.” As someone who was in a 95% white school I could not comprehend and praise that statement any more. The second you start to believe what others believe of you is the second you start to drown. Even worst, when you are sometimes looked at as an outcast or different because of some aspect you have held since birth and will hold until the reaper decides it is time for you to go.
  2. When reading “The Open Boat” I was struck with an immediate sense of dread. One sentence stood out from the very first reading. “Yet, the belly of this boat dissolves you, precipitates you into a nonworld from which you cry out.” This one sentence perfectly describes Joadson (Morgan Freeman’s character) feeling as he is going into the Amistad with Roger Baldwin in search of evidence. As soon as he steps foot on the deck of the ship, the music, and with it the mood of the scene, changes to a more eerie vibe. We can hear drums that would be often played in African culture. These are accompanied by a wind pipe. Their purpose is to show how he feels connected to his former self. As he was a slave born in a plantation, he might not have been in one of these ships. Despite that, he feels the evil that rots inside ships like these. As he delves deeper into the ship he finds more and more traces of previous men and women on the ship. To accompany that, the drums increase their tempo. He then encounters a labyrinth of chains. Here, a chorus of deep sounding notes is introduced into the scene. These symbolize the men that used to be held here. The many men who perished on this very ship. He was now in the belly of the ship, and it was about to swallow him into the abyss. Mere moments later he trips on these chains and finds himself engulfed in darkness. Thankfully Baldwin was there to light the lamp again. With the lighting of the lamp, Joadson is now pulled out of the abyss. He is then pulled out of the ship by Baldwin. He has now left the ship, yet he was clearly impacted by the ghosts that haunt the Amistad’s past. The feeling of the abyss, of the void, inside a ship like that is undoubtedly strong enough to pull and sink any man or woman who steps in it. 
  3. In Black Butler episode 13, Ciel and Sebastian go to the East End, or “the Indian part of town”. Here they encounter a group of impoverished Indians who try to rob them. Ciel decided to come here to search for who might be committing the recent spree of murders in London. The mere fact that he immediately goes to look for an Indian after the murder speaks volumes of the Indian oppression in London. They are sectioned into the East End. An impoverished and crime stricken part of London. Something that is interesting but might go over some people’s heads is that they are talking the same language as Ciel. In the original anime that would be Japanese, for us watching the English Dub it would be English. They are immigrants, born in India, that later came to England. Their native tongue is Indian. What I am saying is that they were forced to learn English by their colonizers. Now they are here, talking to an English upperclassmen in his native tongue. I am not saying that this was done on purpose by A-1 Pictures and others that worked on the anime. I just feel that it is a “neat” coincidence.One major action caught my attention in Behemoth, Bully, Thief, that being the surgery to “be able to speak better English”. There is no proof that it, in any way, helps the user to speak English. Despite this, parents force their children to have this surgery. That is absurd to me. Not in a thousand years would I think something like that is at all necessary. This is a great example of the coloniality of the English language.

Podcast Reflection:

In this podcast I discussed a bit about my unique relationship with language. I go into some of my past and why I know two languages. Then talk about my struggles with one and my overall happiness with my status and relationship with language. I found it very refreshing to do something like a short form podcast. Talking is something so deeply ingrained in my blood that it comes totally naturally to talk for minutes on end. I feel that I could have talked more, but it would have most likely turned into a lot of gibberish.

Peer Review Form:

Diagnostic Essay:

Paper Proposal:

Final Essay First Draft:

Final Essay Second Draft:

Final Porfolio Cover

            Before I start, I would like to state some things about myself. I am an extremely flawed human and even more of a flawed student. When looked through from a writing lens, I roughly resemble swiss cheese. You will certainly be able to see that from this letter.

This semester I took English 101. In this course I learnt many things, not only about the topics at hand, also about myself. I came into the course not being particularly confident in my writing abilities. To this day that has not changed. I am 100% at fault for this. What I can say has changed was my understanding of my writing process. In high school I was never able to write and work as myself. Here, I was highly encouraged to use the same process I was told to use in high school. I am sorry to say, I did not use the process. The process which I am talking about is first researching your topic, then writing a draft, followed by revising it until you believe it to be good enough. I find that it leaves many holes in your knowledge and gives you a very limited number of sources of which to educate your opinion on and write about. What I did for the Diagnostic and Final essays was to start off with a very small amount of research, enough to get my feet wet. Then I write as many body paragraphs as I can. After I finish those, I take some time to think what would be good for this essay. This step leads me fully plunge myself into the pool of research. I believe this is much better because it allows me to know what I want to know about. At the start all you look is your topic. Now I can look for specific questions which I have had whilst writing. After I find some more sources, I write more paragraphs. I then continue this process until I reach X number of pages, X being the minimum number of pages -1. Then I write my introduction and conclusion. I hardly ever go back to an essay after I write it. I know it is not the correct thing to do. But my mind cannot go back to something I have done and find how to make it better. It just is not made like that. If I submitted a piece of work, it means I believe it to be as good as I can write it. It often turns out to be not by best work. Despite that I have not changed my process because it is comfortable for me and works with decent to good results. This can all be seen in my writings from this semester. I truly believe that that process infiltrates its way into everything I do. From the Diagnostic Essay, into a weekly Reflection Post.

Something Which I have changed due to this course is how I look at evidence and other’s writings. This course has made me learn how to analyze a writing and try to understand the author’s point of view. Sometimes, I have absolutely no clue what they are saying or why they are even writing in the first place. That happened with the poem African Majesty by Nourbese Phillips and I expressed my feelings on it in my reflection post. Apart from Phillips, the only other writer who truly stumped me was Martin Heidegger with his text Introduction to Metaphysics. Most of the time, I could understand the writings and make my own take on what they were trying to get across with their, at times, cryptic way of writing. That is of course my opinion. Before this class I was able to analyze texts at around a 9th grade level, mostly because of English being my second language. Now I can say that has at least improved by a couple of grades. I also learnt how to take these texts, extract their information, and write about them in a form as to inform the reader on these topics. When writing my Final Essay, I took hours to read and truly analyze my sources to make sure I could squeeze every drop of water I thought was available. Across the span of this course’s writings, I have been able to explore my own writing style. The weekly reflections are a great example of how my brain truly works and thinks about writing. Through my work, my use of vocabulary can can shift depending on the audience to which I am writing for. For example, in one of my reflection posts I wrote “For me, once my brain gets flowing it’s like a flash flooding river. The true problem is how to get it there. My neutral writing position is that between a 5-month drought and a wildfire.” In this, I write extremely calmly yet at the same time remain a formal sense of respect for all who might read my post. My Final Essay was meant to be a touch more formal, yet still accessible to people of my age and general lexicon. In it I wrote “we cannot underestimate the consequences that could have on the human brain. Since the dawn of the human era, time has been a vital and somewhat mythical concept. Some civilizations even went so far as to attach a God or Goddess to it. If someone could have a different framework from which to look at a concept as complex as time, who knows what could come of it.” I will not say that I have mastered writing for an audience, for that would be a vast hyperbole. Despite that, I will say that I have significantly improved. Another area of improvement has been my ability to analyze texts of all types and still be able to write about them in the same way. During this class, we have read poems, books, letters, watched films and visual albums. They are all incredibly different mediums with which to transmit your message to the public. Even though they are different an analysis will always be of the same type and same style. This allows for a sense of uniformity in different works. In my Diagnostic essay I was able to analyze the movie Amistad viewed through the lens of cinematography and sound design. To do this I used a variety of sources ranging from articles and websites, to youtube videos by professional musicians.

Rest of the portfolio:

Miguel Ureña

Miguel Ureña is currently an undeclared Freshman at Emory College. He was born and raised in the eternal sunshine of Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. His first and native language is Spanish, shortly after learning English. His planned major is business in the Goizueta Business School. He is interested in video games and Ultimate Frisbee.