English 414 Class Brings Literature To Community
Final project inspires students
December 9, 2006 11:43 PM
Kravika Nikola would not have been inspired to walk around used-car lots, trying to hand out pamphlets titled "Do you really need an SUV?" if he had passed the JEPET.
Nikola, 28, a mechanical engineer, tried to convince consumers to make a more educated decision about buying SUVs because of Jennifer Arin's English 414 class, a class students had to take since they failed the JEPET. Arinís class is one of almost 60 English 414 classes offered at SF State.
Students said they were frustrated when they started the class, but the journey has taken them to more inspiring places.
For Nikola and his classmates, the classís final project required them to place text somewhere in the community to raise awareness.
"I call it a blessing in disguise," said Jesse Moore, 23, senior BECA major.
Moore wrote lyrics to his song "All Alone," and compiled with other friends to make an entire CD called Lyrical Evolution. He said he passed out free copies on campus, sold copies around the city and created a MySpace page at Myspace.com/mexicaliog.
"Music is the most powerful of all art forms," Moore said, as he presented his music. "I'm trying to inspire instead of adding to the fire."
Liz Olsen, 49, senior psychology major, produced a final project that affixed text to the photographs her shelter-monitoring committee presents to the Board of Supervisors. She said she shot the photos with a 35 mm that visually expressed the sagas of homelessness and didn't think words had a place.
"I utilize photography as a way of impacting policy. Before Jennifer's assignment my thing was just going to be visual, but because of her, I have an appreciation for good writing," she said.
Olsen said if it were up to her, she would have ditched the JEPET all together and gone straight for Arinís class. She said she definitely gained more from the class than she could have gained from writing an essay in a couple of hours.
The students consistently analyze articles from The New Yorker magazine together and practice writing and proofreading techniques, such as spell-checking essays backwards when they meet on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
The last three sessions, however, gave every student a five-minute opportunity to enlighten the classroom with props and demonstrations. From cancer research to handmade bookmarks printed with stress-relieving techniques, the students let their true colors shine.
"I thought it's been wonderful and interesting. You can see everybody's personality come through in a formal writing class," said Anyika Hopson, 32, who presented disposable coffee-cup warmers printed with daily inspirational thoughts and actions. Students in the class encouraged her to distribute her holders on campus, but Hopson said she didn't plan on it.
Students said failing the JEPET was an ego-blow, but they said Arin's personality made the class a diamond in the rough.
Arin also taught at Stanford and USF before she found her base at SF State in 2000. She knew everyone's name in the class and asked her students questions such as, "Did you get the job?" and, "Does anyone have aspirin for Angela?"
Arin said the students really made the class phenomenal. She told the class, "Day one, I told you we could make the worst of it or the best of it. It's very obvious you made the best of it. It's just been incredible."
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