Ife Ajayi
Prof. Hall
Eng 1121
6 February 2019

I’m sitting alone at the dining table when all of a sudden I hear footsteps approaching my way. Both my parents walk in with familiar disappointed looks on their faces. Looks they would usually have when I would get in trouble with a teacher or come home with unacceptable grades. So I knew exactly why they looked that way and why they came. They wanted to know the specific reasons why I made the choices I did. More specifically, why I kept on making those choices over and over again. My parents have had several talks with me about education and how important it is to have one. They would go on and on about how education is required for a successful future. And how miserable life would be without one. Sometimes in the middle of those discussions I would think about all the people that are successful who didn’t go to college. I never brought this up to my parents though because I knew exactly what they would say. They would tell me that I don’t have to be like them and I’m better off going to college. It’s not that I wanted to be like those people, it’s just that they shouldn’t be looked down upon just because college wasn’t for them. Especially if they aren’t on the streets begging but instead doing something productive with their lives.

When the question of why I kept making bad decisions in school came up I completely froze. I had no idea of what to say. All I could see were my parents staring me straight in the face waiting for answers. The longer I took the more impatient they got. My dad then said, “I’m waiting for an answer.” I was very nervous and began to shake because of fear of being a disappointment to the family. But when I would make the choices to cut class, talk while the teacher was talking, not do any homework, not study for any exams I didn’t think that. I basically would just go to school and come back home without learning anything. It felt like a never ending cycle. I just wasn’t interested in school at that time. I didn’t have the guts to tell my parents any of that though because I know how they are. “Can you open your mouth and talk,” said my mother. “Hurry up, you’re wasting time,” then followed my dad. At this point I just decided to tell them what I thought would be a good enough excuse. “My teachers don’t know how to do their jobs, they can barely even teach because of how disruptive the students are,” I said. “Aren’t you one of those disruptive students?” asked my dad. The room went silent after that rhetorical question was asked.

My father began talking about how I shouldn’t be giving him any excuses and that I should just own up to my bad behavior. My mother shook her head and walked away in disappointment. I felt really bad because I hated seeing that look on her face. It made me feel like I was letting her down and in all honesty I really was. I wasn’t putting in any effort to become a better student. My mother would always tell me that I had the potential to be one of the best students. My father would also tell me the same thing and it’s not that I didn’t believe them I was just very lazy with my education in high school. After hours of talking and me almost dozing off every once in awhile my father finally asked me if there was anything I had to say for myself. I said no but that wasn’t a good enough answer for him, it never was. I told him that I would do better in my academics and not hang with the wrong crowd. “You can and you will,” he said. He then got up and walked away. I continued sitting in the same spot just daydreaming and thinking about what to do with myself.

Rough Draft for Thursday

Ever since I was a little kid, I loved the game of basketball. The speed of the game, intensity, and aggressiveness always got me excited to watch the stars play. It was a unique sport to me which led me to picking up a basketball at the age of 10. I would go to the backyard of my house just to practice by dribbling around. My older cousin would take me to the local parks to shoot around. It was when I was 13 I actually learned the correct way to play basketball. My friends and I went to an indoor court and one of my friend’s cousin showed up. He was the one who taught me how to shoot the ball correctly, how to dribble the ball in many ways, and how to play defense. I don’t believe people when they say that Basketball is just a game. I believe that basketball can teach people a lot of things in their lives. One of the lessons I learned was that life isn’t fair. I soon learned that when the referees in the game were making horrible calls or calls that didn’t make sense at the time. It seemed that all the calls that were being made never went our way and the referee never made the correct call when the call needed to be made. This happened a lot in a lot of games so I learned to accept it and just move on. Another lesson it taught me was how to have good sportsmanship. Whenever my team and I win games, we don’t brag that we are the better team or anything. We just shake the other team’s hands and tell them it was a good game. Even when we lose, we don’t get mad for losing. We just do the same thing if we win. Another lesson I learned from basketball is that nothing comes easy in life. It all comes down to hard work and dedication. A lot of the stars in the league states that they didn’t make it here by luck but by all the hard work they put in everyday to deserve to be in the league. This doesn’t only go for basketball but for careers as well. If you put in the work and dedication, you will be successful. Basketball has also taught me to not dwell on my mistakes but to learn from them. If I don’t make a shot or lose my dribble, I just get back on defense and don’t mess up on the next possession. The most important lesson that basketball has probably taught me is leadership and communication. Basketball is a team sport and in every team there’s a captain. If the team isn’t communicating, I step up and take control of the team. I would tell them what play to run and they would respond by doing the play. To a lot of people, Basketball is just a game but I believe it can teach people these things by playing the sport. It is a gateway to learning life lessons.

Draft Pavel Nunez

Pavel Nunez

Dr Carrie Hall


English 1121


Sometimes in life I always get lucky and that’s just how it is .But it wasn’t the luck that helped me , it was the effort that lead me to that luck . The time this happened to was actually recent, When I passed my  Computer System Technology class. So it was the beginning of the semester of 2018 and this class was required for my major so I said to myself “ This class should be easy”. I was wrong(like really wrong) ,but that didn’t stop me from having doubts. It was an 8 AM class so that wasn’t really a good choice but I wanted to get out early so that was the trade off. At first the class wasn’t too difficult the following 2 months because we were doing basic stuff. But after that it was complex and there was a lot of rules to cover when coding, and I noticed people around me were far worse where I was. Some people would look over my screen after showing the professor my program that runs correctly. Sometimes they would ask me for help and I helped them but it was still difficult for them( I don’t blame them). But overall i knew what I was doing even though it was difficult to comprehend the material being given to me. Sometimes I would leave early because I already did all the classwork which was a good thing. Fast forward to November 6(which was the last day to drop a Class), I was debating whether or not to drop the class because I didn’t really like my major anymore(Computer Science). I decided not to because that would’ve been a waste of time and money. The next day out of the original 30 students that signed up for the class only 8 people remained. But my friend that was in that class actually dropped it since it was too difficult for him. It was sorda disappointing that my only friend in that class decided to withdraw but it was his decision. Furthermore I had a test coming which I didn’t know about because I was too lazy to check the syllabus, I didn’t know what was going to be on the test so I just accepted my fate that I was going to fail the test. The day I took the test, I didn’t expect it to be almost the same exact things we had to as classwork, So I dodged a bullet on that one and I passed the test for it.So finally it was near the semester and I had to take  my final. Suddenly this person who I thought supposedly dropped the class showed for the final after nearly being absent for 2 months, My professor was actually quite mad at him but he couldn’t do anything so he just let him take the test, When the test started he only took a couple of minutes it finish it and left the class, even though there was around 15-30 lines of code that you have to write down for a few problems,which was basically impossible to write under 20 minutes). Some people had to resort to cheating( No names) by looking up the program for the specific problem, the professor was just using his laptop and actually caught someone using their phone, He gave him a warning instead of giving him a 0 ( which was generous.), I said to myself “Wow, he was lucky”. So after finishing I just went home to sleep and hoped I passed the class. Then I checked my grade and I got a B+ thinking I would get a C or maybe lower. But in the end I passed.

Overall life isn’t mostly about luck but how much you effort you put in to get that luck.

Thursday’s rough draft (2/7/2019)

Have you been intimidated by someone in your life before? Coming from an Asian background, it has been really difficult for me to be happy for who I identify as a Chinese American. For a stereotypical Asian family, they are expected to rise above the social standpoint in academics and is known for their dedication to education. A quote from Mother’s Tongue, “Well, these are broad sociological questions I can’t begin to answer. But I have noticed in surveys — in fact, just last week — that Asian students, as a whole, always do significantly better on math achievement tests than in English”(Tan). Coming across that I have given up on education made me realize that there is much more to appreciate in life. For being Asian, specifically an Chinese American, I was expected to highly excel in majority of subjects in school, specifically math. However, I wasn’t able to reach that academic success that is perceived by others if its my family or by peers and teachers. During my middle school years, I struggled with all subjects- even math, that I was given a letter telling me I was in probation. Throughout my middle school life, I struggled a lot in academics that I was even in probation in my 8th grade. I was never a book worm in school, nor did I had passion in learning as it dissipated as I climb the grades. Being yelled by my family, especially my father, for doing terrible in school had changed my in many ways. I even was sent to these programs that are suppose to provide extra assistance to English and math called “Kumon” that was located next to my elementary school. I would always remember being put under a lot of stress to the point I had many mental breakdowns. It was hell to the point that I was told this, “you are unable to leave until you get a 100% on this quiz”. I was there from 4 pm to 6 pm, constantly re-doing this quiz, It was just me and a few others after their closing hours still doing these last parts. I became so frustrated and upset that my paper was covered in tears. Of course I went against my parents for taking me to this program because I wasn’t able to learn anything but constantly failing and not rising through “Kumon” levels. Struggling through elementary school and middle school, high school is where I changed mentally and physically. The high school that I went to was located on 49st, and 9th ave. in Hell’s Kitchen. Going into a new environment, with a lot of diverse backgrounds was very intimidating at friends. But as time went along, I adapted and appreciated the people who I met where I don’t compare myself to other Asians in my class. I had a very diverse group of friends that consist of 1 white, 1 black, 1 dominican, 1 mexican, and me the asian. Many things that happened in my education, was around the time that I arrived in high school, that everything has shifted. Students were encouraged to learn at their own pace because not everyone can learn at the same pace. Though some negatives were  classes had to slow down, thus some units in the year has been removed by the teacher. The sense of community that I shared with my peers in high school was more appreciate because I wasn’t worried about my GPA if it was terrible or good. The workload has been decreased from middle school to high school. From my perspective, I always thought the teachers want more students to appreciate life and not constantly going home and doing homework all night long for the deadline due the next day. So I had a lot of free time to hang out with my friends and wasn’t bound to my school. In conclusion, there is more to life that just packing your brain with information that will show you’re intelligent to the social norms. From what I experience that to be smart, is the amount of information one can hold. So people who usually sleeps in class-two my friend’s, still passes his classes with A- or B+.





For Thursday, February 7

Hey everyone– great work in class today. For Thursday, I would like you to write a rough draft of Unit 1 Part 1– your Learning Narrative. Please post this on OpenLab and bring a paper copy to class. Both copies are important!! At least 500 words. (Final is 850 words)

What do I write about? In this essay, you will be writing about an experience you had with learning that you think would be interesting or important to an audience outside yourself. What about your experience is worth hearing about? It might be something dramatic, like Gilyard’s experience, but it also might be more low-key, like Tan’s (HERE in case you lost it) or Graff’s (posted HERE. You don’t have to read this, but it’s another example, should you get lost.) You do not have to quote Tan, Gilyard or Graff (but you can if you want to!) They are there as examples of learning narratives. Remember the video we watched in class– your readers will benefit from both anecdotes about your experience and reflection that tell them why those anecdotes are important. Also remember that even if you have 3-4 anecdotes, they should be somehow related to each other. There should be some thread that connects them all.

All of that said, for Thursday, you are writing a rough draft.  I know this sounds weird, but you really just need to get enough words down on the page– you’re gonna change things. Also, you never know what you’re going to write until you actually write it. The main thing here is to get started. (HERE is an article, called “Shitty First Drafts” which talks about how to get started if you’re lost. It’s not required either, but it might help.) Also, a great place to start is in a scene– you’ve written a couple. If you get stuck, explain to your readers why this scene is important. What does it tell them about education or learning? You don’t have to start in a scene, by the way– but if you’re lost, start with something you’ve already written!

Still stuck? Here are some of the ideas we had for scenes or topics in class. You don’t need to use any of them, but they’re possible starting points:

  • Overcoming odds and obstacles(or not overcoming them) 
  • What I learned from living in New York City
  • What I learned in school
  • What I learned outside of school
  • Peer pressure
  • People who believed in you (and those who didn’t.) 
  • Personal breakthroughs
  • What I learned from my family (this doesn’t have to be positive!)
  • Being looked down upon for being different
  • Experiences with different Englishes
  • How your Mother Tongue affects your learning
  • Learning on the street

Here is a guided explanation of how to do an X-page and write a scene with someone who is not me!

Admiring the Difference

Reading through Gilyard’s writing, the thing I admire most is his ability to write whatever is on his mind. The second to last paragraph in part VIII where Gilyard describes his agonies from withdrawal especially shows the imaging that I would question writing myself.  I’ve enjoyed writing and have written short stories before, but I would never be able to continue a string of images consisting of “holes in his arm large enough to drip dope into them directly” straight to putting those holes “alongside vaginas. On penises.”(158). Even speaking of his mistakes and near missed like when he “was given a 40 in English” on his regeants. The reading was enjoyable as a result due to the casual feel that came with Gilyard writing so openly. I personally didn’t have much I didn’t enjoy about the reading other than it being long, which isn’t that much of an issue when enjoying it. If I were to write of such events from my own experiences, I don’t think I would be able to finish it. I’ve always been conservative with information I consider personal, and to open up in such a way just as Gilyard did, it is a dream that I could only wish to be able to.

Response to Gilyard

Amani Nassar

Dr. Hall

February 4, 2019

Gilyard’s writing was very intriguing from the beginning to the end. His precise use of details really helped the scenes come to life in my mind, like when he was running away from the police, describing the alleyway, the fence and even how he scurried behind the bushes. Through these details, Gilyard is able to build up the readers interest and anticipation for what might happen next or even resemble a feeling us as the readers may have in a situation like his. This is a writing technique I would like to include into my own writing to help keep my reader not only interested, but to add more depth to my writing. I also liked how Gilyard included his own thoughts into the scenes as they were happening like when his dean and teacher asked to see his arms. Gliyard stated “I didn’t mind obeying his order… was curious to see what they knew,” instead of us assuming this nonchalant attitude Gilyard may have had due to his previous actions, he was able to give us more of an insight into his thoughts that would help us understand his actions more and later on his reflection. Gilyard was able to go through almost his whole life story, highlighting and reflecting on the key events of his hardships in a way that made me want to read even more. 


I really liked this story. His writings really relates to teenagers. I really enjoyed the chapters, because they vary between narrative stories of how Gilyard communicates in different social situations and scholastic analyses of those experiences. Gilyard has a way of writing that never sounds boring and you can keep reading and reading until you finish the all book. In “Voices of the Self”  Gilyard uses a lot of imagery which is what kept me reading the text with a flow that I really enjoyed a lot. I think that on my writings that is what I have to get better at. An example in his writings is “Cutting into an alley, I encountered a high fence topped with a short row of barbed wire and didn’t hesitate to scale it. I ripped my shirt going over but managed to jump down to the other side and scurry behind a clump of bushes just as the cop entered the alley”. In this example I can really imagine my self in the situation because the way he words the sentence is fantastic and he also uses an English which really sounds like the one that many teenagers use as well, and this is why I really like Gilyard’s writing.

A response to “Voice of the self” By Keith Gilyard

Michael Vignoles 

Dr. Hall

A response to “Voices of the self”

Keith Gilyard uses personal experiences and imagery to help portray his experience being a minority and his own drug problems while maintain high school. I really enjoyed when Gilyard was writing about his experience he was not afraid to use his own language he grew up with and used during time of the story. The main fact that Gilyard was trying to prove is that you do not need proper English to writing a great story with meaning. Gilyard describes his language as “Black English” which some can argue is not the proper English society has chosen to be correct.

Gilyard had to struggle dealing with being a minority and being surrounded around a ghetto community. He dealt with finical struggles which lead to him drug dealing and burglary.

“I became involved in a series of crimes that initially ranged from purse snatching to burglary. Ripping off some White woman down in Jackson Heights”.  (p. 227) He dealt with finical struggles which lead to him drug dealing and burglary. This ultimately started his decline in his academics as well as the use of heroine. However, the environment that he was raised gave him the identity to be able to talk “black english” which is argued to not be correct. However, Gilyard is able to use black English to help connect and create a colorful image for the reader. Giliyard is painting an image for the reader during a burglary gone wrong

‘“Should I shoot him?” Wallace asked me. 

“Naw man,” I replied, my mind on the real business at hand. “We ain’t got time for that.”

“Only take a second.” 

“Naw man, stop jiving.” However, I wasn’t totally convinced he was. Tango was quietly pathetic, what you might call a hope fiend.’ (p. 233)

Gilyard is not afraid to use his own personal language that he grew up speaking to his family and friends. Ultimately this gives the reader an idea of Gilyard struggle and point of view before even knowing the writer. Using improper words like “Naw man” or “We ain’t got time.”

I also really enjoy that Gilyard was not scared to show his true literature abilities in the conclusion to make a strong and solid argument about whether Black English is proper and should be embraced more in public education.

“What has been commonly referred to by educators as “failure” to learn Standard English is more accurately termed an act of resistance: Black students affirming, through Black  English, their sense of self in the face of a school system and society that deny the same.”(p. 258)

As a minority, Gilyard and many other have been oppressed and dined their true home culture because society gets to choose what is proper and what is not. Gilyard broke social boundaries and stereotypes by writing a great narrative with a life lesson to never give up. Moving forward this piece has inspired me to not be afraid to use my personal experience and culture to paint a vivid image for my readers.