I often begin my classes with a quote or a question. Here’s the first quote and set of questions for this semester:

When you write, it’s like braiding your hair. Taking a handful of coarse unruly strands and attempting to bring them unity. Your fingers have still not perfected the task. Some of the braids are long, others are short. Some are thick, others are thin. Some are heavy. Others are light.


Take a moment and think about the following questions:

Why does Danticat equate writing with braiding?

Why are you taking this class in particular?

Why do you think others are taking this class?

What do you hope to gain from this class?

What does this quote and questions have to do with one another?

Some Thoughts

Anyone who has braided hair knows it is a challenge. It’s a skill. It’s not something you can learn overnight. Braiding and writing are both skills that need time, effort, and a lot of patience. Everyone in this class is bringing different experiences with writing–the good, the bad, and the so-so–and some of you may wonder why you need to take a writing class at all. After all, we’re at New York City College of Technology!

This class is going to focus on reading and writing about discourse communities, and our experiences with writing about those discourse communities. (If you have no idea what a “discourse community” is, no worries–we’ll be talking about that later.) Some of the reading may be difficult to understand in one read–which means you’ll have to read it more than once! Some of the writing will be “easy” and some will be the opposite of easy, but as long as you make an effort with everything I assign this semester, you’ll be happy with your experience (not to mention the grade)!

Everyone in this class is a writer. Whether you are writing a text, a paragraph, an essay, or a novel, you are all writers. You may have different reasons for taking this class. Some might be taking this class because it is required, because they want to practice writing, and even others aren’t quite sure why they’re here. Whatever your reasons or expectations for being here, please know that I and your peers are here to read and respect you.

Please take some time to explore this OpenLab course site. Use the menu to explore the course information, activities, and help. Be sure to check on the Agenda tab where your assignments for Week 1 reside.

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Login to your OpenLab account and follow these instructions to join this course.

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Remember that your username and display name can be pseudonyms, rather than your real name; HOWEVER, to ensure you receive all your hard-earned points for this class, please create a username/display name that reflects your name.

For example, I often use “jpenner” as a username, instead of, say, “curlyhair78.” The first name can be easily linked to my legal name, the second is harder to link–especially if there are multiple people with curly hair in the class!

Your avatar does not need to be a picture of your face–just something that identifies you on the OpenLab.


If you have any questions, reach out via email or in Office Hours. If you need help with the OpenLab, you can consult OpenLab Help or contact the OpenLab Community Team.