22 funny things my students wrote and the beauty of diversity

The other day, I came across some pretty amusing things my former college students wrote in essays, informal reading responses and the “Here’s why I’m not bringing myself or my homework to class today” emails.

It was also a reminder that English teachers are often seen as unlicensed therapists of sorts, becoming privy to students’ depression and homesickness, struggles with gender identity, family abuse, unplanned pregnancies, homelessness. Perhaps even more so in the multifaceted San Francisco. In fact, an English college class in the Bay Area is kind of like the microcosm of our country. Everyone is different. Yet everyone wants to do well. That’s why empathy, on case-by-case basis, instead of authoritarianism and blowing people off with “you’re fired/deported/whatever” might be just the thing to help someone succeed.

ANYWAY, here are those funny bits I promised.

1. She glared at me with her frightful open eyes, popped out.

2. Hearing [Alice Walker] talk about the small shit she worries about makes me think about the small shit I worry about, which makes me think I really need a cigarette.

3. In the midst of California’s prospering “Silicon Valley,” my adolescent purgatory stood like a fading ghost of post-war optimism.

4. In Russia, party without vodka and herring is not a party.

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17 Reasons why you may be the Person of the Year

person-of-the-yearTime Magazine has recently nominated their person of the year for 2016. (For the record, they’ve also had Stalin and Hitler on that list and their reasons are anything but complimentary.)

Of the seven billion people on the planet, many do pretty fabulous things on a daily basis. I’d like to propose someone that may be a worthier candidate.

So, gentle reader, you deserve the title, if:

1. If you’ve lost work and sleep to care for an ailing relative.

2. If you saw a nut job draw a weapon in an attempt to kill innocent civilians and you intercepted him.

3. If you grit your teeth and kicked a bad habit.

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No, our nation isn’t one of bigots – but here’s what to do if you meet one. Or two.

On November 8, the glass ceiling didn’t shatter, the balloons didn’t drop, though the champagne was consumed anyway, right out of the bottle, for different reasons.

It hasn’t even been a week since the election, and there’s already an uptick in racially-motivated verbal and physical violence, with Trump-lovers tearing off Muslim women’s hijabsscribbling slurs on public and private property and going on anti-Semitic rants. As someone who once moderated a Facebook page for an official U.S. Navy Command, I’ve never seen as much trolling as in the wake of this election and following it. And let me say, that Navy Facebook page saw some brutal content, what with people swearing like sailors and outbursts by enemies of the state.

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How to write a speech that doesn’t suck if you are a wife (or a husband) of a presumptive presidential nominee

(Image: Melania Trump gives a speech at the RNC convention in Cleveland on July 18, 2016 (CNN photo))

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Okay, let’s get a few things straight. Party affiliations aside, it’s neat that a wife of a presumptive presidential nominee was born outside of the U.S. and in Communist nation, no less. Gives her a global perspective (baby carrots don’t grow this way, most of the world doesn’t have paper towels, kids walk to school alone and survive). Also, don’t hate her for being beautiful. And the accent? Big deal, I got one too, even though we both spent most of our lives in the U.S. as citizens, some with better purses and a personal chef.

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“Hey comrade, join our farming collective!” (From The Huffington Post)

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Terry Gross on not having kids and a civil chat on parenting

Back in grad school, I had an opportunity to interview Terry Gross, the host of NPR’s Fresh Air radio show on WHYY.

She finally agreed to an interview for the school paper after I stalked her for a couple of weeks and eventually told her in a voicemail of how Fresh Air has impacted me as an immigrant.

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Community-Supported Agriculture: Fresh Boost for Organic Food (Journalism Clip)

I started out working in journalism at a time of print newspapers, before content migrated online (and it was pretty recently!). So I decided to pick some of the more poignant and interesting “non-web” stories to occasionally share here. The story below was written for Dow Jones Newswires during the boom of the organic food movement in the U.S. Continue reading

Williams, Stewart and storytelling in journalism and public relations

Two developments in the world of journalism last week got me thinking about storytelling.

Brian Williams, anchor and managing editor of NBC Nightly News, was suspended for falsely claiming his helicopter was hit by a rocket-propelled grenade during the Iraq war. The credibility of the journalist, who’d won multiple awards and increased the network’s viewership, is now at stake.

And Jon Stewart announced that after 17 years of hosting The Daily Show – where despite disavowing the show’s seriousness, he was hailed as a voice of the generation – he plans to step down.

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