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Wednesday, 04 October 2017 17:13

Student Writing: "My Summer"

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For years, "What I did this summer" has been a standard back-to-school writing topic for September. With DreyerCoaching.com students, however, their responses are anything but standard! We are blessed to work with a sophisticated, well-educated, well-traveled bunch of students, many of whom visited exciting, exotic places. In one writing class alone, all three students traveled overseas from their home of Taiwan this summer. 

One student, Aaron, had a particularly remarkable summer. There is a program between Taiwan and Israel, where ten outstanding youths from Taiwan can visit Israel. Other than paying for air fare, the rest of the excursion is covered! For 2017, over 200 students applied.  All applicants had to write two essays, in both Mandarin Chinese and English. Aaron told me that his years with DreyerCoaching online writing classes improved his writing skills, helping him with word choice, organization, and grammar on his essay.  And he must have written well in both English and Chinese, because he was among the mere twenty finalists chosen for personal interviews in Taipei.   Aaron then aced the interviews, and thus became one of the ten winners to go to Israel last summer!   Taiwan has 23.5 million residents, and Aaron was one of only ten to join this prestigious program. Well done, Aaron! 

That's what we love to do at DreyerCoaching.com. Help people improve their communication skills, so they can help make their dreams come true! 

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People often ask me, "How do you teach writing online?"  

In this case: 1. I assignted the topic, 2. the students wrote their essay at home, 3. the student read it aloud in class the next week, 4. we discussed it in class, and 5. the student made edits in real-time, based on suggestions the other students and I made. Below you will see Aaron's first draft, while the "AFTER" essay is his final version after our class discussion and edits. 

 

BEFORE

 

Jerusalem

Out of the few short-lived days that stayed in Israel, I would say the second to last day was by far the best. For the entire duration of that day, we visited Jerusalem, the city that many influential works such as the Bible and Torah mentioned many times. After a gruelling 90-minute drive to the city, we began by visiting the “souk,”or the market. While the attraction didn't seem like it was meant for tourists due to the lack of ornaments and collectibles, it provided us with the unfiltered and uncensored Israeli way of life.

Soon after our visit to the market, we continued on to one of the most sacred sites of many religions: the Old City of Jerusalem. Even though I acknowledged the holiness and importance of the premise, I didn't expect to be surprised. Everywhere I looked, I feel like I've seen it before. Then it hit me: the pictures on my history textbooks were taken right here! This immediately boosted my energy and encouraged me to listen intently to our tour guide and make mental notes on the information that she gave.

I had a blast in the Old City. From the ancient bricks of the city to the fresh falafel of the restaurants, I felt a sense of pure joy that I would never forget. But that happiness turned into deep thought when we reached the Western Wall, a site where mainly Jews go to confess their sins and formulate wishes for themselves. With tight security and military personnel guarding the area, it quickly changed our mood from a cheerful one to one of caution. As we entered, we discerned many Jewish individuals clad in either complete black suits or fitted with a round Jewish cap. Without hesitation, we decided to follow them to the Western Wall itself where many are reciting the Torah and placing little notes of hopes and dreams into the cracks between the walls so God can realise them.

I myself wrote a little note that said, "Don't fear what's about to come. Embrace life,”  

I learned, I felt, and I lived.

 

AFTER

Jerusalem

Out of the few short days that I stayed in Israel, I would say the second-to-last was by far the best. On that next to last day, we visited Jerusalem, the city that many influential works such as the Bible and Torah mention many times. After a grueling 90-minute drive to the city, we began by visiting the “souk,”or the market. While the attraction did not seem like it was meant for tourists due to the lack of ornaments and collectibles, it provided us with an unfiltered and uncensored Israeli way of life.

Soon after our visit to the market, we continued on to one of the most sacred sites of many religions: the Old City of Jerusalem. Even though I acknowledged the holiness and importance of the premise, I did not expect to be surprised. Everywhere I looked, I felt like I had seen it before. Then it hit me: the pictures in my history textbooks were taken right here! This immediately boosted my energy and encouraged me to listen intently to our tour guide and make mental notes on the information that she gave.

I had a blast in the Old City. From the ancient bricks of the city to the fresh falafel of the restaurants, I felt a sense of pure joy that I would never forget. But that happiness turned into deep thought when we reached the Western Wall, a site where mainly Jews go to confess their sins and pray. With tight security and military personnel guarding the area, it quickly changed our mood from cheerfulness to caution as we entered. Immediately, we discerned many Jewish individuals clad in either complete black suits or fitted with a round Jewish cap. Without hesitation, we decided to follow them to the Western Wall itself where many were reciting the Torah and placing little written prayers into the cracks between the bricks so God could answer them.

To fully experience the moment, most of our group members also wrote a little note to leave in the wall. I followed along, placing a little note into the cracks -- "Don't fear what's about to come. Embrace life.”  

I learned, I felt, and I lived.

--Aaron in Hsinchu, Taiwan

 

Scott's thoughts: I like how Aaron considered his whole summer, then like a master photographer zooming in a telephoto lens, he focused in on just one day in Jerusalem. From the fresh falafel to the Wailing Wall, he paints a word picture of his next-to-last day in Israel. He ends with a bang by "channeling" Julius Caesar's  "I came, I saw, I conquered." 

 

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Fencing Camp in South Korea

 

For the first week of my summer, our fencing coach took us to Korea to sharpen our skills. The trip turned out to be more effective than I had thought-- my skills solidified, and my tactics matured. Throughout the week we had a tight schedule-- training in the morning, lunch, training in the afternoon, dinner, and going back to our apartment. Not the most exciting schedule ever. However, this was not the most grueling part-- long lectures that our coach gave us from 9:00 to 11:00 nightly. Every time he promised it would be concise, but somehow it took over two hours almost every night. This made us sleep at midnight, while we needed to wake up early the next day. (When I came back to Taiwan, the first thing I did was take a nap.) Also, the people I went with were not the nicest people on the planet-- most were 13 or 14 years old and a few were the typical rebellious teen type. Throughout the entire trip I only chatted regularly with one or two people. Thanks to our coach, we boys basically lost all means of entertainment throughout the trip. The coach decided to take away all our phones, books, etc. without any reason except for “you will not be able to control yourselves.” The girls, on the other hand, got to keep all their electronic devices. Despite these negative factors, the training we received was fulfilling-- generally, the physical workload was not unbearable and the main Korean coach helped all of us develop effective tactics and helped with our conditioning. When I came back, I felt both relief and grief-- relief from the tiring schedules and lack of sleep, but grief knowing I will never have this wonderful experience again.

--Tim in Hsinchu, Taiwan 

 

Scott's thoughts: First, I loved the pun. "Our fencing coach took us to Korea to sharpen our skills."  Good word choice: grueling, rebellious, concise.  I liked the illustration of the coach who promised to be brief, but managed to lecture for some two hours till 11:00 p.m. nightly. Tim explains how the trip was frustrating in some ways, but rewarding in others. 

*************

Sports Business Camp at UCLA

 

Eating in the best rated college cafeteria? Living in a dorm with students from all over the world? Sign me up! My two-week sports business program at UCLA was probably one of the most influential and memorable camps I have ever attended. In recent years, I have discovered that my interest and patience for science was waning; therefore, I have started to explore the social studies. This landed me in this two-week camp where I learned about the ethics of business and legal issues in sports, along with listening to many guest speakers who explained their jobs involving in a range of fields: entrepreneurship to broadcasting and even “why athletes are going broke” (mainly due to a lack of financial literacy). Being able to listen to professionals preach about what they do for a living inspired me to stay on the business track (and caused me to stay in my AP Economics class). One of the speakers whom I remember the most fondly was Brad Edwards, who explained the reasons why sports content is the most valuable content on television and he also dipped into the transactions involved when selling TV programs. To make it more exciting, retired NFL receiver Terrell Owens visited and talked about entrepreneurship and the promotion of a product. Coincidentally, soccer teams Real Madrid and Manchester City were practicing on the UCLA soccer pitch and NBA players were working out in the Wooden Center, a gym on campus, to add on the the excitement. Not only did we listen to our professor talk in a classroom, we also visited the Rose Bowl, Stubhub Center, and Dodger Stadium as part of our learning experience.

 

Yes, going to Disneyland, hanging out on Melrose Avenue, or staying up until 2 a.m. everyday was amazing, but the sports business class itself was what impacted me the most in those two weeks. This camp allowed me to know that business is what I want to do and solves the problem of my career and academic interests. Moving away from serious topics, these two weeks were no doubt the time of my life, opening a door to a whole new scope of topics to learn about.

 -Justin in Hsinchu, Taiwan 

 

Scott's thoughts: I like the hook: Two questions followed by an enthusiastic "Sign me up!" Justin peppers his essay with specific people and places; this makes his essay more readable and engaging. 

 

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Do you or your child need help with English writing? Find out more and contact me today!

 

 

Read 385 times Last modified on Thursday, 05 October 2017 14:19
Scott Dreyer

A licensed teacher in the US state of Virginia since 1987, Scott Dreyer has been helping Chinese speakers improve their English since 1989. Dreyer lived in Taiwan from 1989-1999 where he learned Mandarin, met his wife, started his family, and realized he loved working with Chinese students. He became an award-winning author and started teaching ESL online in 2008. Dreyer and his wife and their four adult children make their home in the beautiful Roanoke Valley in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia.

dreyercoaching.com/en/about/scott-dreyer

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