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Walter J.

Handler 1 Chelsea Joy Handler Professor Johnson English 101-A/NNN 5 December 1, 2012 The Music Never Stops What can you say about the first semester of your freshman year? Two things come to mind. First, it is almost over. Second, it took a lot more work than high school. This was especially true in Professor Johnson’s Freshman English I. I had come to college thinking I could write fairly well, having gotten A’s in English before now. In my journey in 101, I did not start at the top but towards the bottom, with C’s and notA’s not until the end of the course. How did I go from there to here, from the bottom of the barrel to the top of the heap? I shall tell you about my progress as a writer in this course. It is a tale of three papers. I will tell you what I learned as a writer in completing each one. As with all great stories, this one starts at the beginning. My first assignment was a research paper combined with a narrative. The topic was “WhoAre My People?” and I did research about my heritage, about two moments of note in my people’s history, and about my personal involvement in my people’s culture. I was raised by a Jewish father and a Mormon mother. We lived in a Jewish neighborhood, and I guess I am Jewish more than anything. I researched my Jewish history, looking for the earliest origins and key historical moments. At first, I only looked at Jewish historians, who told the story of my people’s beginnings from the Creation through the PatriarchAbraham and beyond. Professor Johnson encouraged me to look at what non-Jewish historians had to say, so that I got out of my comfort zone and saw how my people’s history looked from the outside. Using the Ebsco Host database on the Mildred Sawyer Library home page, I found a general history of Judaism. It was an article on “Chronology” that I found on Britannica.com. In the section on “Jewish Chronology,” I Handler 2 learned that there were many disputes and discrepancies among historians about the earliest origins of the Jews. Even the dates for the Exodus out of Egypt were not fixed in the minds of non-Jewish historians. What I had been taught as the continuous history of Jews from the creation of the world to modern times was not so continuous in their minds. I learned not only how to do research using a library database, but I learned about the larger world of historical chronology which is not as fixed and certain as what I had learned growing up. This research broadened my thinking about the past. Unfortunately, while I could do good research, I could not tell a personal narrative about my immersion in the culture of my people. At first, I told the story of my family’s celebration of Hanukah, which some call the Jewish alternative to Christmas. Like Christmas, Hanukah is a celebration involving presents. I told the story about the foods we eat, the Festival of Lights, and the prayers we say. Professor Johnson pushed me to be more personal, to show where I connected on a personal basis to Hanukah. It took me a while to figure out what he meant. Then one day I recalled the dreidel or spinning top my grandma gave me at Hanukah. It was on my sixth birthday. It had belonged to her as a child, and she passed it on to me. It became one of my most prized possessions because my Nana gave it to me. Now, when I take it
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