English Composition 121

Blog Post #1 (Revisit An Old Essay)

An old essay that I will be revisiting today is titled “Zoos: Friend or Foe?”. It was a long research paper project for my English Composition II class that I completed in the College Now Program at Lehman College in 2016. The assignment was to create a thesis statement and to deeply research by using academic sources in order to create at least a six page research paper. The goal of the project was to focus on and answer the thesis statement and create a counterargument while defending your original statement. I started the writing process by thinking of any topics that I would be interested in and came up inconclusive. At the time I was considering going into veterinary medicine, so I would often visit the Bronx Zoo, which is near my home, and regularly spoke to volunteers and staff members. I started off by watching Animal Planet and increasing my visits to the zoo to see if anything would spark my interest. While searching on the internet, I found a debate on whether zoos were beneficial or detrimental to the wild animals kept in captivity. This immediately captured my attention and completely cured my writer’s block! After discovering the topic for my research paper, I got it approved by my professor to ensure that the topic was suitable. Then, I started to continue more research so I could determine my standing point. Did I believe zoos were harmful or helpful for a wild animal? No matter which position I chose I had to stick with it, while extensively defend my argument and presenting counterclaims, unless a vast amount of information was found that proved my position to be inadequate. After following the previous steps, I began to search for any academic journals or articles that had been peer-reviewed to get a sense of other writings similar to my topic that had been published before my research paper. This way I could stray away from the norms and find my sense of originality in the paper. First off, I did not want to bore the reader and second off, I wanted my paper to have “that new car smell”. After completing this step, I created an outline, so I knew exactly what I was going to write in each paragraph and made sure that I had enough information to complete the six or more page requirement. When writing a paper, I always start by writing with a pencil in a notebook. I have been doing this since grade school, so it is a habit I have not been able to shake off. I document every step from brainstorming to sources in my notebook because it is easier to flip back and refer to old notes. Also, I like to physically edit my papers and look back to what I originally wrote. It makes the writing process easier for me because I can compare my revisions and immediately see an improvement or deterioration. For this particular project, I was required to do a peer review and also submit two drafts after receiving feedback from my classmates and professors. I also let my mother read my written work because she is a teacher as well and often gives back concrete and cohesive constructive criticism. She may also pick up on errors I did not initially notice because once I have written something it is almost completely memorized in my head, so I do not hear my mistakes. After being satisfied with my paper, I type it out. Then I take my time again and allow anyone who has the time to read it to catch any last minute errors. Since writing this paper, my views on the subject matter have vastly changed. My original stance was that I firmly believed that zoos were supplemental for wild animals and was necessary to save them against the likes of famine, disease, and poachers. Now, I understand that keeping an animal in captivity is not always morally correct. Even though it may protect the animals’ physical wellbeing, the social and mental counterparts are just as equally important and must be greatly considered as well. Perhaps instead of an enclosure setting such as in a suburban or urban zoo, it would be best to house certain animals on a safari park or game reserve because the animals’ natural, spacious habitat settings as well as their ecosystems and native species are preserved. In this research paper I was able to answer every question that I had, thanks to my considerable research. One of the questions, which is also my thesis statement I had to answer was: Should animals be kept in zoos and if so, what laws are present that ensures that their physical, social, and emotional welfare are being preserved? Another very vital question I had to answer was how it is possible that zoos are beneficial to animals when they are not able to fully experience their natural habitat and interact with their own kind, especially for endangered species. This was the most difficult question to answer in the entire paper because there were more counterarguments versus agreements. In a way I was obligated to answer this question in an autoethnographic sense. I had to use self-reflection and personal experience to fully get to the root of the problem. Writing this paper was an excellent and exhausting experience. Now, I wish that while writing a paper or an essay that I would not scrutinize my writing quality as much and to trust the process. In the end,  I felt fully satisfied by the outcome, but next time I would not peruse and obsess over my paper as much. It is my go-to paper because of how I proud I am of my writing and hope to use it as my base for my many research papers to come in the future.

One thought on “Blog Post #1 (Revisit An Old Essay)

  1. Dhipinder Walia

    Thanks for sharing Dionna. It’s great that you already have experience in writing an autoethnography with this Comp paper focused on captivity and zoos. I’m not sure it’s a great idea to explore this topic again for this class as I do worry you’ll lose the ‘new car smell.’ You mentioned you thought you wanted to be in veterinary science in 2016, has that changed? Why? Maybe that’s a possible starting point for your autoethnography? I’m hoping as we do more free writing you’ll find a new topic that is equally as exciting to pursue for your final project.

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