World Civilizations: China Travel and Study Class

Assignment:  Write a Reflection Paper  

            This paper should be 3-5 pages, at least 1000 words, typed, doubled spaced in 12 pt font (preferably Times New Roman or Arial).  This paper is due approximately 2 weeks from the date of your return and can be submitted by email attachment (in Microsoft Word or rich text file).  No cover or title pages please, simply your name and the date in the top left hand corner.  Journals or a Xeroxed copy thereof can be turned in to my mailbox in the History Department at any time after your return.  

Step One:  Keeping the Journal:  

Throughout the course of you will be keeping a journal.  A journal is a place you can not only keep track of where you've been and what you've done, but also your personal thoughts and feelings as you travel, see things, and meet people.  I recommend something small enough that it is easy to carry while traveling and thick enough to also keep class notes in.  A good idea is to begin by taking notes on the readings, the films we watch, and the preclass lectures, as well recording the events of the trip itself.  You may want to designate separate sections to a journal, or you may want to keep it in chronological order.  How and what you write is up to you, but you will turn in your journal for a part of your grade at the end of the trip.  Your journals will be returned to you after your grade is in.  The reflection paper you write will be based primarily in your journal.


Step Two:  Personal Reflections Paper:

To reflect is to think back on something, to step back in time and relive a moment, event, or series of happenings.  That is the primary goal of this paper.  The secondary goal is for you to tie together in your writing what you have learned about China, its people, its culture, and its history.  

Begin by choosing a theme and a locale for your paper.  The theme can be some aspect of the history (Imperial Era, a specific dynasty, the Communist Movement, the cult of Mao) or of society (the changing role of women, poverty, technology, foods, university life, political situations).  Your theme should also relate this to your earlier readings and to the films.  Your locale might be a particular city or a unique site or type of place (temple, palace, garden, university).  You might choose a theme or locale based on the novel you read.  
Example 1:  If you read the book Coming Home Crazy, you might compare the author's experience of the city of Xi'an with your own experience of that city and relate some of the city's history (drawing on the history text you've read and the film segments that spoke of the first Qin Emperor and his terra-cotta warriors).    

Example 2:  If you read the book Wild Swans you might make a claim about Communism today by relating what you saw and heard in China (people at  Mao's tomb, talking to students in English corners at the universities, items in the news) with Jung Chang's view of Mao and the Communist party and with that of the film To Live.
When you start to write be sure you are following good essay guidelines:  A strong introduction that sets up your intentions/your specific claims; several body paragraphs that address the theme with supporting details from your sources (your journal, the films, the books, the internet readings); and an overall conclusion that sums up your feelings on this issue and these places.  
Sample paper format:
Paragraph One: Strong introductory sentence(s) describing (drawing on the journal) something you experienced in China.  Your claim (relating this experience to the other sources).

Several Body Paragraphs: Each relating a specific place, event, or bit of history with descriptive details/or feelings from your journal and possible relation to the other sources (books, readings, films).

Conclusion:  Sum it up.  Give your feelings on the China experience.  What is the relevance?

Be sure you have a Works Cited or References Page as your last page.  Use either MLA or Chicago Style guidelines


Tips toward a better paper

A Rubric for how your papers will be graded:

A An A paper is extraordinary work that more than fulfills the requirements of the assignment. This essay tackles the topic in an innovative way, with a clear sense of audience and purpose, an insightful thesis, and an appropriate and effective organization. The structure is carefully planned; each section of the essay develops the thesis with logical arguments and specific, conclusive evidence which has been interpreted and clearly related to the writer's point. The style is energetic and precise: the sentence structure is varied and the words are carefully chosen. How the writer says things is as excellent as what the writer says. There is evidence of careful editing since the essay contains few grammatical and/or mechanical errors and, if necessary, is correctly documented using MLA format.

BA B paper is clearly above average and more than meets the requirements of the assignment. Like the "A" paper, it has a clear thesis and organizational strategy; and each paragraph provides unified, coherent, and developed support for its thesis and subordinate assertions. If necessary, it properly documents sources. While the essay takes some "risks," attempts complex strategies of development, and pays attention to audience, it falls short of the "A" essay in one or more of the following ways: the thesis may not be as interesting or insightful; there may be weaknesses in organizational strategy or its execution; the support may not be uniformly conclusive and convincing; and the style may not be as energetic or the diction as thoughtful. The essay shows strong evidence of editing since there are relatively few grammatical and/or mechanical errors.

C A C paper is average work that solidly meets the requirements of the assignment. The essay has a thesis and organizational plan which demonstrate thought on the writer's part, a generally clear style, and adequate documentation, if required. Paragraphs contribute unified and coherent support, but the writer may have difficulty with any of the following: the thesis may be too general; the evidence may be predictable, may not be thoroughly interpreted, or may not be clearly related to the writer's point; the paragraphs may be uneven in development and transition. Even in the "C" essay, there should be relatively few grammatical or mechanical errors--not enough to interfere with readability; the student has done some editing, even though it may be superficial.

D A D paper is below average work that demonstrates a serious attempt to fulfill the assignment and shows some promise but does not fully meet the requirements of the assignment. The essay may have one or several of the following weaknesses. It may have a general or implied thesis; but the idea may be too broad, vague, or obvious. The organizational plan may be inappropriate or inconsistently carried out. Evidence may be too general, missing, not interpreted, irrelevant to the thesis, or inappropriately repetitive. Documentation may be incomplete or inaccurate. The style may be compromised by repetitive or flawed sentence patterns and/or inappropriate diction and confusing syntax. Grammatical and mechanical errors may interfere with readability and indicate a less-than-adequate attempt at editing or an unfamiliarity with some aspects of Standard Written English.

F An F paper is substantially below average for the assignment. It exhibits one or several of the following. It may be off-topic. It may be an attempt to meet the requirements of the assignment, but it may have no apparent thesis or a self-contradictory one, or the essay's point is so general or obvious as to suggest little thinking through of the topic. It may display little or no apparent sense of organization; it may lack development; evidence may be inappropriate and/or off topic or may consist of generalizations, faulty assumptions, or errors of fact. This essay may fail to handle borrowed material responsibly and/or to document appropriately. The style suggests serious difficulties with fluency which may be revealed in short, simple sentences and ineffective diction. Grammatical/mechanical errors may interfere with reader comprehension or indicate problems with basic literacy or a lack of understanding of Standard English usage.