Rethinking The Academy:

They Knew Each Other

The responses to the "Who am I?" assignment were amazing: An African-American student wrote

Many people who know me know that I am--and always have been--a very competitive person. I could never be satisfied with the results of my work if someone attained a better result. In high school, for example, I could not live with myself if I received a "C" in a class. At times I became frustrated if I did not get the highest score of the class. Even though I had been on the honor roll throughout my career, I felt a sense of envy toward those who ranked higher than I did. Today, however, I am much less obsessed with rivalry and more focused on performing to the best of my abilities.

Others were less concerned with the academic and much more concerned with the personal. One wrote:

Hello everybody. I am sitting here in Oakbrook now and I'm really bored so I better take care of this assignment now. Well all you guys need to know about me for now is that I came from Greece 2 and 1/2 years ago. I love horror movies and when I was young I wanted to be Dracula (he had a kewl cape I remember... ). Now I am a computer geek or wiz working for the Computer Center in UIC and assisting Keith in Engl. 161 and I really love it. I also has another job. I am a systems analyst for McDonald's Co. at the Global Headquarters here in Oakbrook. You know... Computer security and all that good stuff. I have a puppy which is 2 months old and right now she is the only female in my life.. ;) (January 15, 1996)

while another added:

hello people, i'm just a plain old korean girl born and raised in chicago. i live on-campus at courtyard. it's interesting to be out of the house. i can roam around without worrying about the time. but it does get in the way of my studies sometimes. well....i'm a pre-nursing major and i came to uic because they have a strong nursing program. hopefully everything will follow through.
well...enough background and a little bit more of myself. i love to party and just having a good time. i love being around people who makes me laugh. but at times, i have my quiet moments, and i like to sit down and relax. i love every type of music, except country. oh, and i LOVE cows.
i guess that's about it...... okay, buh-bye (January 16, 1996)

Some of the students were openly bemused by the assignment:

I am a Computer Engineering Major here, but I know absolutely nothing about them. I just know that they look like big machines that have this viewer on them, where I can see the rest of the world. Sort of like a magic mirror like in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.
I'm 6' tall and I weigh 165 lbs. I am Chinese, or at least that parents tell me. I was born and raised in Chicago. I love to play tennis. This letter is really weird. Why am I writing a personal ad to an English 161 class? We'll find out in class Wednesday. Bye. (January 13, 1996).

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Last Modified: August 2, 1996

Copyright 1996 by Keith Dorwick