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Wrapping up the Spring Semester

It has been an eventful spring semester. I had the privilege of teaching three different writing classes, and they were all rewarding and fun in their own way.

My first class, Writing for Engineers, was the class that I was most familiar with although it did present some challenges. Students learned how to write the following:

  • research reports,
  • proposals
  • failure analysis reports
  • and correspondence writing

For these courses, I really tried to focus on document design for reading efficiency and conciseness in writing. I’m sure my students were tired of me saying, “get to the point,” but to me, science writing should be readable and accessible.

In any case, I believe that students learned a lot here, and their feedback has been very positive.

My other class, Strategic Communications was a blast. Strat Comm is a writing class for students in advertising, marketing, and telecommunications. It focuses on teaching students how to create content for businesses and consumers.

I completed a lot of the work in this course, and students learned how to write,

  1. Placed-based advertising campaigns
  2. Native advertisements,
  3. Long and short form product placements

We even worked on creating a complete content marketing strategy campaigns for local businesses. This class was new to me, but I worked to emphasize reader/consumer-based writing. In the truest sense of the word, this is writing for your audience. Check out our blog.

Finally, I taught a more traditional first-year writing course. These are always a challenge because students, for the most part, would rather be somewhere else. Nevertheless, it worked out great.

Now, the semester is done. I am reflecting on what I did well and what I need to improve. I need to prep more practice activities for the Strat Comms class. Also, I liked that I gave class-time to writing and revising, but I found that students, in some cases, didn’t really write or revise during those periods. I will need to make some adjustments there.

I need to be much tougher on attendance and tardiness, which is a pet-peeve of mine anyway. Finally, I want to be able to help students more with the document design aspect of writing.

However, it’s time for finals, so here is to a great semester, and good luck on finals and the end-of-the-semester scramble.

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Happy New Year

2018 is finally behind us. While I recognize that some probably had a great year, I found the year to be deeply troubling, personally and professionally.

I’m glad it’s gone.

Hopefully, there will be no repeats.

I look forward to 2019, to new beginnings and do-overs. Deciding to leave things behind (when it is possible) is such a wonderful thing. Looking forward to what is possible is equally wonderful.

For this year, I have but one goal: to be unapologetically creative, artistic. That’s my goal. I plan to write like a fiend and to be unapologetic about what comes out. This has been my life-long dream, and now it is time to make it happen.

Let’s go! Happy New Year, everyone!

-K

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Do You Ask Questions During Your Job Interview?

I have a job interview today for an instructor position at a great university in a great location. In my preparations for the job, I have been trying to anticipate the types of questions the interviewers would ask, and fortunately, it is not too difficult to find a variety of interview questions via a quick Google search. From there, it is not too difficult to get a sense of the kind of questions that interviewers will ask.

While doing my Google search, I started thinking about the tone of a job interview. Interviewees can absolutely set the tone of an interview. In fact, they should. Interviewees should always want to give the impression that he or she wants to actively participate in their working environment. Participating in an interview means anticipating the interview questions and asking questions about the culture of the workplace.

At the end of every interview, there is always that moment when the interviewee has the opportunity to ask questions of their prospective employer. Too many interviewees let the moment pass without asking any questions, and that is not a good idea.

A job is where we will spend a good portion of our day. It is a good idea to know a bit about the company environment before accepting the position. Knowing what questions to ask are important, so while prepping for a job interview, job candidates should take some time to think about what questions they need to ask of the interviewer. These questions can range from how companies evaluate and measure success to what type of challenges a new hire might face.

Here are some of my favorite sites and articles that give great tips and sample questions that interviewees can use:

While there is some overlap in the questions that each article recommends, they all offer great insight into why these questions can help the interviewee know if their prospective employer is a good fit.

In any case, take the time to prepare for the job interview and, most importantly, prepare for the place you are going to spend a good deal of time. Make sure it is somewhere you want to be.

-K

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Word of the Day: Consequential

I voted today.

You should too.

You should vote because democracies live or die by the participatory actions or inactions of the citizens that live in those societies. While it is true that inaction is a fundamental right in democracies, it is an ill-advised course. Consequences rain down from the sky, and it is not a matter of doing or not doing; consequences will always show up.

I’m reminded of a student in one of my classes who once said that Jesse Jackson was “basic.” It was such an appalling thing to say because, as a Black American male youth, Jesse Jackson took a lot of physical and psychological abuse just for that Black American male youth to be able to sit in that college classroom or even walk across that college campus.

We need to understand that what we have today, especially as Black Americans, did not come without great sacrifice. Even before Black Americans were able to get a drink of water at a public fountain, someone had to get beaten and arrested for the privilege.

In order to maintain the progress we have made, we need to vote. Voting in America is a constitutional right, but that does not mean it is a given. It can be taken away, especially if we don’t use it and especially when we are not looking. Purging people from voter registration is just one way to go about it.

I’ve heard some say that the two-party system is one-and-the-same, that neoliberalism has corrupted the very foundation of democracy. To those people, I would say, “Yes, but one reason that neoliberalism has gained such a foothold is that people don’t vote; they don’t participate in their own experience.”

Some people would say that gerrymandering and voter suppression keeps people from voting. To those people, I would say, “Yes, but one of the reasons politicians have been able to create these circumstances is because people decided not to vote.”

During the last midterm election, we had the worst voter turnout in 70 years. If you are angry with how things are today, think back to your voter participation in 2014. Actions or inactions always have consequences.

During the recent presidential election, 46% of the eligible voting public did not vote. Actions or inactions always have consequences.

Democracies are synonymous with life. Say that you dream of being a doctor. You can dream of living the life of a doctor all day long, but if you are dreaming from your couch, that dream will never manifest. You actually have to get up and put in the work. In the glorious words of Outkast, “get up, get out, and get something.”

We cannot hashtag our way to equity, equality, freedom, and liberty. We cannot boycott our way to safe schools, churches, and synagogues. We cannot protest our way to coverage of pre-existing conditions. We actually have to exercise the mightiest power that any citizen of a democracy has; the power of the vote.

Inaction is what the status quo needs to remain in place. Further, and this is so important, so read this carefully, if you don’t like the shape of your experience in this country, then vote out the people who have created and maintained that shape.

If you do not participate in your own experience then you are directly contributing to your own degradation, ya’ll, go vote.

Participating is always a consequential action.

Go vote.

-K

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Language Files: Japanese

Like most kids who grew up in the 1980s, Looney Toons—Bugs, Daffy, Tom and Jerry, Tweety, and Yosemite Sam—were all I needed. Cartoons were, well, cartoons and serious movies were, you know, serious movies. Then one day that changed for me.

My brother’s best friend, a Korean kid named Alfred, introduced my brother to anime, and one day, Alfred came over to our home with a new cartoon. My brother promptly kicked me out of the living room while they watched.

Thankfully, I was always a patient child, so I waited until they grabbed their skateboards and headed outside; then, I rewound the tape (this was in the era of VCR’s) and watched. The first thing I saw was a Rocky/Bruce Lee hybrid look-a-like repeatedly punching what was obviously a delinquent thug.

The thug laughed, leading me to believe that the punches were useless; then, the Rocky/Bruce Lee-lite character said, “you’re already dead.” Then the thug’s head began to pulse, bubble and finally explode, blood shooting into the air. That was my introduction to anime: The Fist of the North Star.

This was most certainly not Tom and Jerry. But I was hooked, and I have been an anime fan ever since. I’m not sure if that says something about my disposition or psychology, but I accept myself, I love myself, etc…

It was maybe a decade ago that I begin to appreciate subtitled anime rather than dubbed. No offense to the great voice actors out there, but there is something really special and powerful about listening to something conveyed in its native tongue.

I then begin to watch Japanese movies and listen to Japanese music. I love languages, and I tend to cycle through different language obsessions at various points in my life. I know a little bit of a few languages—French, Spanish, Japanese, Mandarin, Cantonese, Swedish, and even Irish Gaelic and Swahili—so this is, perhaps, the way I am wired.

Japanese has circled back around to be my current language obsession except now, I want to make it a bit more formal. I want to read Japanese. I have watched so much anime that I rarely need subtitles anymore, but Japanese demands much more formal learning. I began with Living Language, which is a great program that teaches you quite a bit. I definitely recommend it for anyone learning any language.

Duolingo’s Japanese tree is, well, difficult. It goes from hiragana straight into katakana and kanji without any explanation. If I were not already familiar with the language, I would be in trouble. I would not recommend it to an absolute beginner.

I also have Rosetta Stone which, I must confess, I am kind of lazy about. I have also accumulated a lot of textbooks that teach readers how to read Japanese. So far, I can read hiragana fairly well; the sounds are pretty straightforward. I don’t actually understand what I am reading, but hey, we have to start somewhere.

In any case, the best way to learn a language is to thoroughly engage with it, and it is best if you approach the process in a way that you enjoy. The most important thing, though, is to have fun.

Happy learning!

-K