Essays

We are offering new options for students in the two required essays for this certificate. Please note that all essays should be submitted at least one month before you graduate, to allow time for the director to read and offer feedback and for you to complete necessary revisions. You will submit your essays on Canvas; please add yourself to the site by following this link. Please title your files as follows: LastName_FirstName_CGS_EssayNumber: for example, Dawson_Bess_CGS_Essay1, then submit it under the correct assignment (Essay 1 or Essay 2) in PDF format.

You are required to submit two essays, chosen from the following options (you may do one of each, or both in the category of your choice):

Option 1: Essays you have written for a globally-focused course that match one of the following descriptions:

  • Analyze and interpret key characteristics of a culture outside the United States, including its cultural products, traditions, and institutions. A successful essay in this category will demonstrate a detailed, sophisticated understanding of the target culture, its institutions, tradition and products. Analysis/interpretation reflects a nuanced understanding of the context(s)/ways(s) in which meanings are negotiated in the target culture and takes varying perspectives from within the target culture into account. Relevant/related social and/or historical examples and/or artifacts are discussed to support claims. Analysis/interpretation also reflects a high degree of cultural self-awareness. Student provides pertinent examples and is able to contextualize interpretations within broader cultural narratives.
  • Relate cultural products, traditions, and institutions of your own culture(s) to those of a culture outside the United States. A successful essay in this category will demonstrate a high degree of awareness of similarities and/or differences between cultural institutions in target culture and their own cultural background and articulate these in detail using specific, relevant examples and personal experience. Comparison and/or analysis demonstrates a detailed, sophisticated understanding of the target culture, its institutions, tradition and products. Student demonstrates a high degree of cultural self-awareness. They provide appropriate examples and are able to contextualize personal experience within broader cultural narrative.

OR

Option 2: Short reflective essays tying together the following components (1-2 pages each):

  • Your globally-focused coursework, your experiences learning a new language, your time abroad, and an international activity  in the U.S.
  • See below for more pointers for this type of essay.

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GUIDELINES FOR REFLECTIVE ESSAYS (Option 2 listed above)

Each of the two essays must be between 400-600 words in length (1-2 pages), and each must weave together the following elements (keep in mind that you must tie the elements together in a way that flows well and creates one cohesive essay, rather than disparate sections):

  • One approved internationally-focused activity you have attended in the U.S.
  • Your experiences during your education abroad program
  • Language acquisition and/or comprehension
  • Something you learned in a globally-focused course you have taken

If one or more of these elements is missing, you will be required to revise your essay.

You may wish to consult class notes, your journal, your photographs, and messages you wrote to family and friends as you gather ideas for this essay.  You may decide to focus on a positive experience that has inspired you, such as an insight gained in a class discussion, or an experience you enjoyed abroad; or you may be willing to share a dilemma you faced, or a fundamental question raised by an unexpected confrontation.  Please organize each of your essays in this way:

1.  Open your essay by describing an actual experience, a reaction, an issue or a problem you encountered because you were living, studying, or working in an international context. Please note that this must be factual, not fictional.*

2.  Offer a comparison, or extend that description, by referring to all of the following in the next few paragraphs: the event or activity in which you participated in the U.S.; your education abroad experience; the world language(s) in which you have learned to communicate; and what you have learned in a course.  Remember that this is an opportunity for you to highlight the work you have done as an undergraduate in a way that allows you to tie together the skills, knowledge, and interests you have acquired.

3.  Close your essay by explaining how the experience, reaction, issue or problem was resolved or how it affected you, and by evaluating its impact upon your education, your personal goals, or your worldview.

*Please note: Descriptions of courses, education abroad, and language acquisition in your essay will be compared to those recorded on your transcript.  For this reason, we will be worried about plagiarism if you describe a scene in a courtroom in Mexico even though you were granted credit for working in a clinic in Guatemala.

Students who plan to use this essay as a rough draft of an application for further study, for a graduate fellowship, or for a volunteer position, and who will therefore stress the skills, knowledge, and practical experience they have gained abroad, may want to look at this useful website.

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