Essay topic "II"

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DIRECTIONS: You will have a total of 75 minutes to respond to the topic below. A time warning will be announced 10 minutes prior to the end of the test. You will not be allowed to leave early.

Express your thoughts carefully, logically, and effectively.
Provide examples and evidence to support your ideas.


"To move forward as a nation, we must respect and preserve our cultural differences."

"Emphasizing cultural differences erodes the unity of our country,."

  • Explain how both of these viewpoints can be defended.

  • Support your response with evidence from your own experience,

observations, or readings.

__________________________________________________________________You may use both sides of this sheet to make notes or form an outline.

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Do not remove from the test room

Please note: The format for the commentary for the essays in this workbook on the website has been changed from the original format given in the WPE workbook.

Essay Paper II-A"

America is a melting pot in which a variety of cultures have originated and flourished. This cultural variety is what makes our country such a wonderful place to live.

“To move forward as a nation, we must respect and preserve our cultural differences.” Our nation is overwhelmed by cultural differences. However, it is these cultural differences that makes our nation so unique. For example, you can go into a mall and choose from a variety of cuisines. Those cuisines could range from chinese, italian, indian to american. It is important to respect and preserve our cultural differences because only then will we learn from them.

In order to respect a culture you must learn about that culture. It is important to learn a cultures values and beliefs in order to respect and preserve that particular culture. When learning about a culture it also important no to judge or compare it by your own cultural values. This is called ethno centrism and it will only impede the growth of our nation.

“Emphasizing cultural differences erodes the unity of our country.” Cultural differences should not be seen as a handicap, but rather as an enhancement to our nation. Viewing cultural differences as being negative will eventually erode the unity of our country. This is where racism and stereotypes originate. A strong example of this would be the riots concerning Rodney King. What started out as a small incident turned into a full-blown riot which resulted in major destruction. This incident could have been prevented if people could have resolved their irrational fear of cultural differences.

In conclusion, it is important to preserve and respect cultures that are different from our own. In doing this we enhance our own culture. Cultural differences are a positive aspect of our country that we can learn alot from. Cultural differences should not be looked upon as something that impedes, but rather as something that encourages growth and prosperity.

Commentary Essay Paper II-A"

4 SCORE--ADEQUATE: The scoring guide assigns a 4 to papers that provide an adequate analysis of the writing assignment. It should be reasonably developed and focused. It may have minor weaknesses, but it should use appropriate sentence structure and diction.

This paper is not as fully developed or as strongly argued as the 5 or 6 papers. It has neither the concrete examples nor the personal voice of those essay; instead, it rambles on rather vaguely, never really making a strong point. The only specific example it mentions is the riot that followed the Rodney King trial. Overall, the paper is an "adequate" response to the writing assignments; however, it is somehow simplistic and highly repetitive. For example, although it is true that Americans have a wide choice of international foods, it hardly follows that eating chow mein or a pizza teaches one cultural differences.

The sentence pattern in the third paragraph, in which the author must struggle through four vague and repetitive sentences to get to the word "ethnocentrism," is indicative of the essay's failure to achieve more than mere "adequacy."

Essay Paper II-B"

I moved to America in 1991 with my family for immigration. The first time I saw this country is so rich and beautiful. I really love it. I started going to Bolsa Grande High school a month later. In school there were lots of people who came from different countries in the world such as Chinese, Japan, Mexico, etc. Instead of English they spoke their language sometimes infront of me. I didn’t understand what they were talking but I know they are not Vietnamese like me. United States is a big country which contains many cultural differences, and those differences that make the country has different parts in the unity of the country such as different human believes and observations, different holiday, and wear different costum.

Vietnamese and American have different human believes and observations. With Vietnamese, if someone shows the middle finger, that means good luck. Vietnamese people believe that wearing hat in the house or talk louder infront of parents or the old person is mean and rude. Children can not talk or go out until their parents let them go. Parents can allow let their children any time they want. The children have to get married with someone their parents expected. Actually, Vietnamese children have to obey everything from their parents; they are not free to do anything they want. American are completely opposite with Vietnamese. They don’t need to obey their parents if they think it is not right. They can go out any time they want. They get married with person they love. Actually, if they show one middle finger, people can see that represents for a bad thing. To live in America, I can see human believes and observations differently between Vietnamese and American.
Chinese and America have different new year celebration. Long times ago, Chinese had followed their ancestor’s style to expect time, differently from other people. They desired the month for their calender thirty to forty days after American way. That’s why Chinese’s new year has to celebrate different with American.
Vietnamese and Japanese wear different custom. Vietnamese’s custom is a long shirt with a big pant. Japanese wears Kikino. People were it to represent for their country.
America is one beautiful and rich country, it is a dream nation for many people in the world want to live. That’s why it contains many cultural differences. To live in America, I can see it clearly when I hear someone talk different languages, celebrate different holiday, and wear different custom. Cultural differences erode the unity of United States.
Commentary Essay Paper II-B"
2 SCORE--INCOMPETENT: The scoring guide states that the 2 essay lacks analysis, focus, direction, coherence, or completion. It is often characterized by persistent errors in sentence structure, grammar, spelling, or usage.

The two most basic problems with this essay are that it does not respond to the writing assignment and it has no clear organization. Instead of trying to defend the two viewpoints, the author merely provides a loose narrative of his early experiences in America and then lists in random order as many cultural differences as he can think of.

The fact that the author cannot yet clearly express his ideas in English is reflected by the simplistic and awkward sentence structure and the numerous syntactical and grammatical errors. The author needs more training and more practice in the use of basic conventions of English writing. But just as importantly, the author needs to understand that he must respond analytically to the assignment and must develop his ideas in an organized rather than a rambling fashion.

Essay Paper II-C"

America is a melting pot. It is filled with cultures indigenous to our land and of those from foreign countries. Two different viewpoints can be used to express the cultural diversities of our nation. One states that, “To move forward as a nation, we must respect and preserve our cultural differences.” This refers to the fact that since we are uniquely comprised, we must learn about and respect other cultures. It also means that we must protect our own unique heritage from getting lost. The other viewpoint states that, “Emphasizing cultural differences erodes the unity of our country.” This statement means that the commonalities that we all share as Americans should not be weakened by the fact that we do have different backgrounds. Both statements provide an interesting topic for debate.
It is true that to move forward as a nation we have to preserve our heritage and cultural differences. One way that this is achieved is seen all over college campuses. You can’t walk by an empty wall space without seeing a banner advertising a club or meeting representing a specific cultural heritage. On the way to this exam I learned that the BSU (Black Student Union) will have a meeting on Thursday, the PAC will hold its last two meetings in the following weeks and that the Mexican heritage group, “La Raza” will be having a bake sale on Monday. These groups on campus allow those with similar cultural heritages to get together and discuss how to preserve it. They also invite people from other backgrounds to attend and learn about their culture.

Groups like those mentioned above work to preserve their specific cultural differences, but it is not the only forum seen on college campuses. There are many courses offered in the CSU system that allow people to learn more about their own heritage as well as explore new ones. One class in particular, Ethnic Studies 319, gave me an introduction to four cultures I knew very little about. The class was taught by four professors all with different cultural backgrounds,

Black, Chicano/Latino, Asian American and American Indian. In this class I learned a little about the struggles each culture had to go through to gain acceptance in American society. I learned that they had to struggle to adjust to the American way of life without compromising their individual cultural backgrounds. I also learned that this struggle is far from over.

On the other side of the coin, a valad argument can be made to support the idea that too much emphasis can be placed on these separate cultural heritages instead of on the fact that we are all Americans. When people ask what my heritage is, I tell them I’m American. I’m not a native American but I am the oldest of the ninth generation of my family born in America. In my mind that makes me American. I do not say that I’m half Irish on my Mother’s side and 1/4 German and 1/4 English on my Father’s side. To me this defeats the purpose of being American.

Also, there is no cultural club on campus for me to join. I have yet to see a banner advertising that a weekly meeting of the ‘Western European mutts from the upper middle class suburbs” will be held on Wednesday. I believe that a club like this would probably be considered racist. If clubs were not restricted to a cultural background, more emphasis would be based on the things that we as Americans have in common. Instead of being about the things we do not.
I’m sure that there are many good arguments for and against cultural diversity in America. I agree that we do need to learn about, respect and preserve the many cultures that make up America. But I think the fact that we are all Americans should be more emphasized. We all live together in America and should be able to find ways to get along without emphasizing our differences. It is the differences in people that frighten some and lead them to not trust or get to know anyone from other cultural backgrounds. If these differences were not so emphasised, maybe there would be less racism and more acceptance today.
Commentary Essay Paper II-C"
6 SCORE--SUPERIOR: The scoring guide used by readers of the WPE essay states that to receive a grade of 6, the essay must be an intelligent, perceptive response to all parts of the writing assignment. It must be well-written, organized, and detailed. And it should use complex and varied sentence structure and effective diction.

The author of this 6 paper addresses the two viewpoints directly in the first paragraph, clarifying their meaning to establish how she will examine the issues in her essay. She uses concrete examples from her own observation and experience of campus organizations and ethnic studies classes to defend the first viewpoint and discusses her own cultural background to defend the second viewpoint.

The author responds to the writing assignment in a perceptive, well-organized way, supporting her points with examples and logical reasoning. The sentence structure and word choices, while not overly complex, are economical, straightforward, and appropriate to her approach. She conveys sincerity, conviction, and balance.
Although this essay does not explore the many complexities of the viewpoints expressed, it expresses a clear, controlled, personal, response to the writing assignment.

Essay Paper II-D"

We are growing further apart as a nation. The only way that we can move forward as a nation is to respect and preserve our differences. You see it every day in the newspaper. A young man is killed in Wyoming, because he is gay. A Black man in New York is beaten in part because he is Haition. We all come from different parts of the world, but we must respect one another. Emphasizing are cultural differences will not bring us together, instead it will pull us apart as a nation.

Racism is a problem that this country has had to deal with since the birth of are nation. One example of this is the Rodney King beating. One personal example that I observed was a man’s car was vandilized in part because he was from Arab desent. We will never move forward as a nation, unless we stamp out racism and learn to accept cultural differences.
The media also plays a big role in emphasizing cultural differences. The media sells more newspapers by putting one culture against another. One example of this is the O.J. Simpson trial. The media and television made it Black culture against White culture issue. The truth was that it was a murder trial.

The final big cultural difference that effects all cultures is economics. When one culture remains poor, we will always have cultural differences. That will never get better. One example of this is are nations poor that seem to stay in this econmic statis.

In conclusion, to move forward as a nation we must respect and preserve our cultural differences. We must move away from racism and emphasizing cultural differences. We must also be aware of the medias agenda of selling newspaper. The most important is improving the econmic statis of the poor. In doing this we will move forward as a nation.

Commentary Essay Paper II-D"

3 SCORE--INADEQUATE: The score of 3 indicates that the essay is an inadequate analysis of the writing assignment. The essay fails to developed a focused response or it is weak in structure, syntax, or mechanics.

The author of this 3 paper seems to have difficulty establishing the terms of the argument clearly in the first paragraph. First she says that the only way we can move forward as a nation is to preserve differences; then she says emphasizing our cultural differences will pull us apart as a nation. We think we understand the difference she is trying to establish, but we cannot be sure.

The paper has a number of concrete examples, for example, the Rodney King beating, the vandalism of a car, the O.J. Simpson trial, but it does not really make clear the significance of the examples; it does not explain the Rodney King beating, provides no evidence that the car vandalism was racially motivated, and simply asserts that the O.J. Simpson case was a murder trial with no racial implications. Although the author brings up the issue of economics in the conclusion, she fails to make clear the relationship between ethnic background and poverty.
Finally, the paper is marred by frequent spelling and grammatical errors. The last sentence of the first paragraph, for example, has three errors: using "are" for "our," shifting from the plural "differences" to the singular pronoun "it," separating two complete sentences with a comma. The last sentence of the fourth paragraph also has four errors: using "are" for "our," failing to indicate possession with an apostrophe in the word "nations," misspelling the word "status," shifting from the singular "one example" to the plural verb "are."

Essay Paper II-E"

“To move forward as a nation, we must respect and preserve our cultural differences.”
We are all live in this world, and we are all different. Respect each other is the first role we’ve all must follow. It is important for people as a nation to live together, and to move forward together.

Coming from different countrys and having different backround, language, cultural, all these differences, makes it very difficult for people to live together. Makes it difficult to understand each other. But respect and perserve help a small family to live with each other. Being different is normal respect other people is important. Reading about other cultural . . . . [essay not completed]

Commentary Essay Paper II-E"

1 SCORE--INFERIOR: Readers are instructed to assign a score of 1 to papers that show little understanding of the writing assignment, that provide no analysis or development, or that fail to express even the most basic ideas comprehensibly.
One cannot be sure whether the author of this paper did not really understand the topic or whether she did not have sufficient time to think about it and respond to it. Whatever the reason, the paper is so little developed and so sketchy and general that it is a very minimal response to the writing assignment.
This writer needs much more instruction and experience in English so that she can think more quickly in the language and express herself more clearly. As it stands, this paper is little more than a few general, rough ideas, expressed in awkward and disconnected sentences.

Essay Paper II-F"

In this essay I will explain how two very different viewpoints can be defended. The two viewpoints that I will discuss are first, “To move forward as a nation, we must respect and preserve our cultural differences,” and second “Emphasizing cultural differences erodes the unity of our country.” I will discuss my personal feelings as well as the feelings of those around me.

I do believe that “to move forward as a nation, we must respect and preserve our cultural differences,” because there is so much to learn and share between the cultures. If we all were the same culture, the United States would be a boring place to live. We have a variety of cultures that makes things more interesting. People need to be proud of their culture and share it with others and learn about other cultures than their own.

This is an interesting viewpoint for me because I have two cultural backgrounds. My mother is white, and was born in Washington State and my father is black, and was born in North Carolina. How much more different can you get? I feel that having two very strong cultures in my life has made me a very open person to know and want to learn about other cultures. In my house we have
different ways of doing things. For example, my mother may cook bread one way and my father may cook the same bread another way. That gives me a choice as well as a variety of breads, and other things, to eat.

We have to realize that there is not just one culture in the United States and in order for us to move forward as one nation, we must acknowledge that. We must put all of the “my culture is better than your culture” behind us and instead say things like “what can I learn from your culture” and “what can I share with you about my culture.” We all have to work together as one and respect each other in order for us to make any progress. If we don’t then we have failed not only ourselves but our children, our future, and any hope for a better nation.
Now this leads me into the next viewpoint which states that “Emphasizing cultural differences erodes the unity of our country.” I do not agree with this view point, because if we ignored all other cultures than our own, one I would not be alive today and, two we would all eat, breath, and smell the same. There would be no room to move forward. Some people in the United States do believe this viewpoint is the key and the only key to the future.
I can only guess why someone would think that emphasizing cultural differences would erode the progress of our future. In reality we can ignore other cultures as much as we want but, when we open our eyes they are here and they are not going any where, so what better thing to do then acknowledge them and work together instead of “you do what you need to do for your culture and I’ll do what I need to do for my culture.” Thoughts like this is what holds the United States back from moving forward.
If I did agree with this viewpoint I think I might feel that another culture is getting in the way of my cultures progress. We do not need another culture to help us move forward because we are doing well all by ourselves. Those other cultures are only getting in our way of our progress. We must emphasize on our culture and make sure that we can go where we need to go and make our culture strong even at the cost of other cultures.

Some people may say that we should make one culture and that would be the American culture. Then no one would have to worry about what culture are you or I can’t understand the way your culture does things. The American culture would do things the same way. We have to come back to reality, because even though we may live in America, there are many different cultures that live here as well.

In my life time I have come across many different cultures and they all have so much to offer. If we or I were to ignore one then I feel that I would be missing out on something and America would be missing out on something if they ignored the many different cultures of our society. If we all put our minds together in a posative manner, who knows the things we would be able to accomplish. We must forget about “what culture are you” and emphasize on “what can you offer to make this nation move forward as one?”

In conclusion there are many different view points in our society and we must choose one that will benifit us as a nation and help us move forward to the future. We must respect and preserve the different cultures and not forget where we came from, because how can we find out who someone else is if we do not know our own culture. The only way to survive and prosper is to live with an open mind and at least listen to what other people of other cultures have to say, who knows you might find something out about yourself.
Commentary Essay Paper II-F"
5 SCORE--COMPETENT: The scoring guide states that in order to receive a score of 5, an essay must be a thoughtful analytical response to all parts of the writing assignment. It must be clearly organized and developed and skillful in sentence construction, variety, and word choice.
This paper is a good example of a common-sense approach to the topic; it has an engaged personal point of view that convinces the reader by its conviction and energetic presentation. Although the opening paragraph is routine and less interesting than the information-filled first paragraph of the 6 paper, once the author gets the opening formalities out of the way, he describes how his own mixed racial background makes him more open to cultural diversity than most people. His argument in the third paragraph is, as it is throughout, based on simple common sense, and his cultural background gives it vigor and force.
The author admits that he does not really agree with the second viewpoint in the writing assignment, but, knowing that he must try to defend it, he provides what he guesses underlies such a viewpoint. Having done that, he hypothesizes what he might feel if he did agree with the viewpoint; this is an honest and forthright approach that predisposes the reader favorably to the rest of his argument.
Although the essay is not characterized by complex sentence structure and elaboration and is not free from occasional errors and flaws, it is a good example of a writer who establishes a personal voice, draws from his own experience, and tackles the writing assignment honestly and straightforwardly. The result is good, clear writing.

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