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Geneva Varga

∆ The documentation of my life work as an artist & naturalist ∆

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English Composition — WR 121 – Essay III

Assignment: This is the final essay and should include: your experience at college, changes in your writing, and what grade you should earn in WR 121. Make sure to use persuasive, compare and contrast, narrative, and evaluative writing techniques.

Geneva Varga

WR 121 Final Essay

9 March 2017

Green Tea Chocolates

Jane Goodall has been a role model to me since I was a young girl when I had the opportunity to meet her at a Roots & Shoots conference. Her words and life experience inspired me to work hard to make a difference for others in the community, animals, and the environment. For many years when I was a child I wrote to Santa requesting a better environment. On family walks I would always pickup litter and we took part in community invasive weed pulls regularly. I illustrated posters to communicate the danger of releasing unwanted pets like the red-eared slider turtle into the wild. As I grew older I realized I could have a greater impact by pursuing a career in environmental engineering. College and the lessons I have learned thus far, specifically in regards to writing, will play an important part in my chosen career and protecting the environment in the future.

“Every individual matters.

Every individual has a role to play.

Every individual makes a difference.”

– Jane Goodall 

My first college experience was in the fall of 2016 when I enrolled in Algebra I. The logical nature of mathematics has consistently appealed to me. Unlike traditional artists who use paint or authors who express themselves with words, engineers use mathematics as their medium. Consequently, I was intrinsically motivated to also complete Algebra II in the same term, receiving an A in each course. As my second term now comes to a close, I am confidant I will receive an A in my third college level math course, Intermediate Algebra II. However, not investing equivalent time and effort to also develop good communication skills —both written and verbal— can be a self-limiting decision. Mathematical skill is only a part of what an engineer needs to succeed. Therefore, I am currently enrolled in English Composition I, the only other course I am currently taking at Southwestern as a part-time, dual enrolled student.

Throughout this term, I have developed a deeper understanding for the writing process than ever before. I have discovered the three rhetorical devices of persuasion used to convince audiences, Ethos, Pathos, and Logos – each coined by Aristotle. I have learned strategies and techniques for choosing an intriguing title. I now also recognize the struggle I previously experienced with writing introductions and conclusions and the many clichés I infused into my work. Furthermore, I had previously found constructing a thesis statement near impossible and I would often wander from my topic. While criticism has been difficult to receive, green tea chocolates and a box of tissue have become my constant companion these past couple weeks, I have grown tremendously over the course of the term. I developed a better understanding of where I went astray in my writing. Often I failed to understand the original assignment. I am continuing to grow as a writer having completed just one college level writing class thus far. I look forward to all the challenges to come and applying the skills I develop in the future.

My Mandarin professor has said I am the best student he has ever had the pleasure of teaching because I am highly studious and always put my schoolwork above leisure time. I have approached all my college courses with the same methodology. This is demonstrated in English Composition by my near perfect attendance; I missed only one class due to family circumstances but scrupulously notified the professor in advance. Another factor to consider is that I have turned in all assignments on time and have fully participated in class activities, willingly reading aloud the work my partner and I composed. Additionally, I have read all assigned reading material, annotating the text while doing so. While I may have misunderstood the specifics of the two writing assignments, I was diligent and made every effort to apply the feedback once it was received to subsequent writings. Lastly, I have sought out assistance from other skilled writers rather than relying solely on my own perception of the assigned task. . I have clearly met or exceeded the criteria outlined in the course syllabus for which an A is deserved.

The lessons I have learned in writing are already helping me better communicate with others. For example, I was able to clearly share my vision for a student conservation project to the staff at South Slough which will commence next term.  As an aspiring environmental engineer I know skills in mathematics and sciences are critical, but writing is equally important. Engineers have a reputation for being weak writers. However, a broad array of skills are required to be effective in today’s multidisciplinary teams. Developing my writing skills will help me correspond effectively with my colleagues and the public. As a strong writer and mathematician, I can make a difference.

“What you do makes a difference. 

You have to decide what kind of difference you want to make.” 

– Jane Goodall

English Composition — WR 121 – Essay II

I had to revise this essay twice because the instructor believed that I did not provide a solid thesis statement and did not have a genre for the movie stated.

Assignment: Write an evaluative essay on a movie and movie criteria of your choice, make sure to use scenes from the movie to support your thesis statement.

Geneva Varga

WR 121 Evaluation Essay

12 March 2017

Hands of Sewing Needles

Numerous well-meaning parents forget that animated movies do not always mean kid-friendly. Coraline is one such motion picture that slides by the careful checking of parents for any disturbing content. While Coraline can be frightening at times, the visual graphics are breathtaking and all but distract from the storyline. The 2009 stop-motion animation film adapted from Neil Gaiman’s 2002 novel of the same name is a breath of mountain air to an audience accustomed to superhero or science fiction on the big screen. Thus, Coraline belongs to a noticeably specific genre of film called Animated Fabulism, which invokes elements of magic, artistic style, and smooth exciting visuals.

In the opening scene of Coraline, a pair of hands made of sewing needles are creating a doll that has an uncanny resemblance to the eleven-year-old protagonist, Coraline. This scene is important because the doll is the first connection that the audience sees between the real world and the fictitious world, connected flawlessly via a small door as a portal. During the day, this door opens to a brick wall, but when both the sun and Coraline have gone to sleep the door leads to the sinister world. Fabulism places no remarkability in magic. Instead, magic is presented in an otherwise real-world or everyday setting.

The artistic style of an animated movie plays an important role, the shapes and colors help to create a certain emotion. Tim Burton’s films would not be reputed as nearly as creepy if he had chosen to go in the style of Disney Pixar. The use of bright, cheerful colors in the ominous alternate world are in stark contrast to the dull colors of Coraline’s real world. This allows the viewer to separate both worlds from one another and magnifies the differences between them.

Additionally, the characters were created with puppets; there were 28 individual puppets of varying sizes to portray Coraline alone.  At one point, our protagonist shows sixteen different expressions in a span of just 35 seconds. Together with the myriad of voices provided by actors, viewers are spellbound by the emotions reflected in the lifelike dolls. Furthermore, the way a character is dressed and acts helps the viewer construct opinions and emotionally connect with the characters. Coraline appears to the audience as an energetic young girl that is confident in herself, evidenced by her yellow raincoat and blue hair. We are captivated by her resourcefulness and determination and cheer for her success. In contrast to the Other Mother who the audience immediately becomes suspicious of when they see she has buttons for eyes.

Ultimately, the most visually exciting scene in the entire movie takes place during the finale. After Coraline has beaten the Other Mother at her game she becomes furious and begins to change. Finally, the audience comes face to face with the truly despicable villain.  At the start of the film, she appears to be an over-caring mother to Coraline. In the end, when Coraline continues to evade her attempts to trap the protagonist in the Other World, she grows in height, her outfit becomes dark, she gains hands made of sewing needles, and her body shape transforms into that of a spider as the climax approaches.

The use of puppets, talented voice actors and stunning visuals enhance a story that is already captivating. While many parents are often shocked by the content Coraline contains, the movie teaches a valuable lesson to not only the children but also to the adults. Coraline is about overcoming the temptations of desire and realizing the sacrifices parents make for their children.

English Composition — WR 121 – Essay I

I was required to revise this essay twice, as the instructor believed I did not fulfill the assignment and instead wrote a report.

Assignment: Write a narrative essay on your writing experiences, please use MLA format

Geneva Varga

WR 121 Narrative

4 March 2017

The Spell of Writing

我爱写故事。Oh! Pardon my poor manners, sometimes I unconsciously switch into my second language as I am accustomed to frequently writing in Mandarin. A lot of people ask me how I know Mandarin, my reply is because I am homeschooled. My mother made the decision to teach me at home during the Beijing Summer Olympics. Additionally, because China was in the news often at this time, I begged to learn Chinese. When my mom finally followed through on my request, I knew it would be an adventure of life-long learning. One of the many things she has taught me was to use my imagination and trust my instincts.  This not only allowed my passion for story-telling to grow but also how to enchant people with my words.

One of the first writing experiences I can ever remember was a creative assignment, I chose a panda as the protagonist who lived behind a waterfall in a bamboo forest. She had a band of various animal friends and they went on adventures to save various artifacts, similar to Indiana Jones and his life-threatening quests. I had this wild prospect that I would become a world famous author at only 5 and a half years. Obviously, this didn’t happen, at least not yet.

At one point in time, my family listened to an audio book by Scott O’Dell, The Road to Damietta. The book struck a chord in me which quickly inspiring a frenzy of writing poetry. We had learned about poems only a few months before and it was exciting to know that there was this entirely different path of telling a story. In this arc of prolific poem writing, I wrote one titled Wishes of Thy a Daughters. To this day it ranks as one of my best-written works, mainly because of all the meanings I had hidden in the words.

Eventually, I came to a stand still in writing and I became reluctant to write anything. I questioned how could I write anything better than the poem with hidden meaning? In an effort to breathe new life into my writing, along with experiencing peer works, my mom organized a Writer’s Workshop for homeschool kids. It helped me discover that everyone has a different approach to writing, a different voice. Writer’s Workshop helped me realize how words, sentence structure, and the way we read something aloud, could change the feeling of a story.

Furthermore, it was around this time that I first discovered fan-fiction. Fan-fiction is written works created by fans of popular books, movies, or plays that add a new dimension to the published story, sometimes creating something completely new. While fan-fiction authors are not making a profit from what they create, some are able to build a fan base who hunger to read their original works. Fan-fiction is a really interesting concept. For instance, there could be two pieces of work that are identical in storyline, but one is more enjoyable to read than the other. Fan-fiction provided me a way to continually engage with the characters that I loved, but also to recognize the difference between good, bad, and subpar writing.

While I did not attend public school, this did not mean I was exempt from disliking an assignment. This was especially clear when I had to write a biographical essay about a historical person. It eventually became a yearly assignment and I have since grown to enjoy them, but at the time, the idea of writing about someone else’s life seemed wearisome and lifeless. I knew that I had to choose someone, though I did not want to write the cliché report on George Washington or Sacagawea. Instead of half-heartedly choosing someone, I went to my teacher (Mom) for suggestions. In the process of finding someone whose life intrigued me, Mom expanded the assignment slightly to where I would dress up as the person and give a presentation on their life in first person. This simple change was able to spark my muse, and I hurried to the library to learn everything I could about Marie Curie; I wanted to have the best report. Even though I was able to find joy in my school assignments, it was not the same as writing creatively.

One of my favorite writing assignments took place over the course of a year, the long term goal was to write a magazine based on a topic of interest. At the time, I was in the height of my obsession with Anime (Japanese Animation) and thereby pursued it vehemently. My chosen topic became problematic, however, when I was expected to interview someone who had experience in the field. Here I was, living in a small town on the southern Oregon coast. How was I to write an interview that related to Anime?

As I procrastinated, my mothers tempers began to rise, she was the calm before a storm. My saving grace came a few weeks later when my violin teacher happened to mention that her husband had worked on the animation team at Disney. I had struck gold! He had animated many of the movies my mother had grown up with and shared with me anecdotes of his experiences. His story became the centerpiece of my magazine, tying everything together – even the color scheme. To this day, the collection of writing I created for The Otaku Habit is what I am most proud.

Several years ago during a weekend trip to San Fransisco, I lead my family into a bookstore. My family dawdled along behind me already predicting the amount of time I would spend here, in perfect contrast to my frantic eyes scanning every shelf of the store. It was here that I discovered a book that expressed everything I wanted to achieve in my writing. Buried beneath dusty tomes at the back of the store, I had stumbled upon Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe when my arms were enveloped in a mountain of intriguing books. I instinctively knew now why I had felt the undeniable urge to enter this bookstore in particular.

It was exhilarating to read the thoughts of a character with whom I so identified. While I had previously enjoyed numerous other books and liked the characters, this was a completely new experience. I immediately connected with Ari. Suddenly all of my previous writing appeared to be in a forest dipped in the sweet fog of a hazy morning.  I had always aspired to write a book, but now I had a vision and clarity in what I wanted to say. My writing became flush and vivid.

Homeschooling has not only shaped me as a being, but how I approach writing. To me, writing is the expression of experiences and feelings. Writing holds a universe of opportunity, it contains hopes, failures, nightmares, and dreams. I have always imagined myself as a traveling bard who would tell stories around the crackle of a campfire and capture the listener’s hearts with my fables of adventure and incredulity. 我希望你喜欢我的故事。

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