Kat's Tips 1 - The Best Commencement Speech!

Re: Kat's Tips1 - The best commencement speech!

文章Kat C » 週二 10月 19, 2010 2:24 pm

Hey Kooper,

Wow, you can really write! :) You elaborated on Rowling's points well and got the most important message I think she was trying to impress upon her young and successful audience: "it is failure rather than success that makes a person grow." If this wording came from you and not Rowling (I don't remember everything she said), excellent job indeed!

I'm happy that you picked up the speech for YOYO-ISG - is it like a writing group?

Your piece is well put together. If you'd like, I can go over the language itself and make some suggestions.

Kat
最後由 Kat C 於 週四 10月 28, 2010 11:05 am 編輯,總共編輯了 2 次。
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Re: Kat's Tips1 - The best commencement speech!

文章Kooper » 週四 10月 21, 2010 10:30 am

Dear Kat,

I'm glad that you like my essay. It would be greatly appreciated if you are kind enough to give me some suggestions or advice. :ccry: This is exactly what I am longing for - having an expert like you pointing out my mistakes. :ssmile:

Actually YOYO-ISG is more than a writing group. At the moment we have four topics and visit each of them every month. They are:

1. Transcribing one-minute NPR hourly news or 60-second American Science
2. Reading an article on the Internet (mostly from the Economist, the New York Times, Time, etc) and write an essay or summary about it
3. Watching a video clip on the Internet (mostly from TED, video news, Tea with the Economist, etc) and write an essay or summary about it
4. Watching the American TV drama "Desperate Housewives" and discuss its plot, words, phrases or expressions

Besides the current four topics, we used to try novel reading, short story reading, and GEPT preparation. All the YOYO-ISG threads are put under 英語學習區/Affiliated Study Group. You can check them out here: http://yoyo.club.tw/viewforum.php?f=45

As you can see, we mainly focus on listening and writing because the two parts have long been least covered by YOYO's regular meetings. BTW, I posted an introduction of YOYO-ISG on the forum before. You may get more details about YOYO-ISG there: http://yoyo.club.tw/viewtopic.php?f=45&t=2700. (It apparently was not a successful advertisement, for I didn't recruit any new members because of it and the size of YOYO-ISG is consistently "small" :? )

ISG is a self-help group. We try to improve by repeatedly do writing, listening, and pointing out each other's mistakes. There is a limit to it however, because none of us are native speakers and it's hard to identify errors that are common to all of us. Not just me, we all desperately need your suggestions. :ssmile:
Kooper
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Re: Kat's Tips1 - The best commencement speech!

文章Kooper » 週四 10月 21, 2010 10:37 am

This is Sherry's essay. It was originally posted here: http://yoyo.club.tw/viewtopic.php?f=45&t=2968.


There were two themes in Rowling’s speech: the benefits of failure and the importance of imagination.

It’s surprising to hear Rowling talk about “failure” in her speech to Harvard graduates – for those promising young people who just completed their degree from one of the world’s most prestigious universities and were expecting a successful career and a brilliant future, this seemed to be an irrelevant topic. However, on second thought, it was probably a precious course those grads had never have a chance to take in their four-year-study in Harvard.

As Rowling said, it was impossible to live without failing at something, and it was painful to go through it as we had no idea when we would see light at tunnel’s end. But the landing on rock bottom eliminated her worries to rebuild her life, and the realization of the truly self made her concentrate on the only work that mattered. After listening to Rowling’s speech, I couldn’t help but wonder, was it just with the benefit of hindsight? If Rowling’s books had not been so popular, like innumerable authors’ works that didn’t succeed (and sometimes it’s just a matter of luck), would her story still give us any inspiration? After ruminating, my conclusion is that determination and perseverance may be no guarantee of success, but without any efforts there is no way to success.

Rowling’s second topic “the importance of imagination” might bring up associations of her fantasy novels, but it was actually about the ability to empathize with the powerless. I admire her willingness to put the issue in her speech to a group of people who were expected in decades to play a big role in political and economic spheres or have significant influence in other fields.

In the past, the speeches at Harvard commencement featured luminaries like Bill Gates, Secretary of State George C. Marshall, U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan, and other heads of state or Nobel Prize winners as speakers. It was unprecedented to invite a best-selling author to speak to graduates in such an event. Rowling said she was nervous and lost weight before coming to the ceremony. But I think she spoke with poise and sincerity, and was not intimidated at all. What impressed me most was that she took her past experiences of failure to inspire the audience. I ask myself: Would I reveal my past failures to the faces of a large group of Harvard graduates, even if I were really successful now? The answer is probably no. I think she is really a person of great mental strength, and I respect her good will to the audience and the attempt to change the world by her speech, that she urged the Harvard grads to use their power and influence to speak for the speechless and powerless – just as she said, “We do not need magic to change the world, we carry all the power we need inside ourselves already: we have the power to imagine better.” This is indeed one of the most impressive speeches I have ever had.
Kooper
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Re: Kat's Tips1 - The best commencement speech!

文章Kooper » 週四 10月 21, 2010 10:39 am

This is Chiron's essay, which is originally put here: http://yoyo.club.tw/viewtopic.php?f=45&t=2968


In this commencement speech, Rowling mentioned 2 topics, one is the benefit of failure, another is imagination.

She started from her personal struggle between reality and idealism when her parents, with impoverished backgrounds, wished her to major in more useful subjects, while she insisted on choosing what she really loves. As a result, she went through a miserable marriage and very poor life after she graduated.

This makes me speculate on 2 reflections: one is, who was invited as the commencement speaker or what’s said on that? But I couldn’t recalled anything no matter for my graduate or graduate school commencement, and I realized, I might never attend any commencement speeches at all. Another speculation is that, doesn’t her speech is just what I need (or most Taiwanese graduates need) now especially during this period? To my relief, I don’t have to experience her poverty though poverty does help one to cultivate his/her potential to the extreme extend.

And then, Rowling talked about what she did as she was young. It can’t be denied those horrible things she ever had nourish her stories in Harry Potter. The dark force happening everywhere everyday all round as also exists in the same way in the wizard’s world. As people say, inspiration also comes from one’s own life. Usually, the best way to understand an art work is to understand the author’s life. This is so true.

In the end of this speech, Rowling encouraged these graduates to be more responsible, they don’t need Magic because they already have enough power, intelligence or ability any difficulties. This also gives me an alternative thinking, doesn’t magic start to server the incapable as a way to relieve the burden of reality? Think about it.

All in all, this is a great speech for those who rarely go through failure in the early life and brilliant talents. By the way, who don’t you like to invite in your commencement speech
Kooper
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Re: Kat's Tips1 - The best commencement speech!

文章Kooper » 週四 10月 21, 2010 10:50 am

Hi Kat,

Both Sherry and Chiron did a good job of writing an essay about the speech, but they were probably too shy to post their pieces here. It will be a pity if you miss them and I decided to do it for them. :wink:
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Re: Kat's Tips1 - The best commencement speech!

文章Kat C » 週五 10月 22, 2010 4:51 pm

Hi Kooper,

I think it'd be easier - and save a lot of words for me :wink: - if I just give you the proofread version and then answer any questions you may have. Bear in mind that some of my suggested wordings are not to correct "mistakes" but to either make things sound better to my ears or opt for certain choice in style. Writing, after all, is an art rather than science. :) No two people would give you the same suggestions, teachers or otherwise. You have done an exceptional job. I especially like how you use idioms like "roll with the punches" and "hit rock bottom"!

So here it is:

It's said that if you’re destined to suffer at least one complete defeat during your lifetime, it’s better to do so at a younger age rather than an older one. The young are generally more resilient and have less to lose. They are therefore more likely to roll with the punches when confronted with failures or setbacks. J.K. Rowling’s own dramatic real life story makes a convincing case for this axiom. She failed early on but managed to turn the tables and is now enjoying a fruitful success with her popular fantasy novels.

It is fair to say that more often than not it is failure rather than success that makes a person grow. Nothing forces us to appreciate the value of money and learn to make a good or correct use of it better than living in a straitened situation. Whether a relationship is authentic and solid won’t be told until it has been tested by adversity. People often have to hit rock bottom before they recognize that they have gotten their life's priorities totally wrong.

The early-failure observation and Rowling’s speech on the benefits of failure add up to a clear message: The young generation should dream big and dare to risk failing. The earlier they fail, the sooner they will acquire priceless knowledge that could help them keep their lives on track for the rest of their lives.

Keep up the good work! :lol:
Kat

P.S. As for others' work I'll have to wait for their OK to comment on it. I wouldn't presume. :wink:
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Re: Kat's Tips1 - The best commencement speech!

文章Kooper » 週三 10月 27, 2010 10:47 pm

Hi Kat,

Thank you a lot for spending time helping me out. After reading your version, I learned that I still have a long way to go in terms of good and concise English writing - the truth hit me like a thunderbolt. :oops:

I hope you don’t mind me asking a little more questions. :wink:

May I know the reason you chose “one complete defeat” rather than “one complete failure,” “one complete fiasco,” or “one debacle”? Are they not suitable to be put in this sentence?

Is “be doomed to” not appropriate here?

I noticed that you avoided using “saying.” Is there anything wrong with this word?

The intention I add “to name but a few” in the end of the 2nd paragraph is trying to show that the three examples are among the many cases (not just the three) that can prove that it is failure rather than success that makes a person grow. The structure of the paragraph is

1st: A claim: it is failure rather than success that makes a person grow
2nd: Example one: a straitened situation
3rd: Example two: adversity
4th: Example three: life’s priority
5th: Add ‘to name but a few” in the end of the last example

It seems like I cannot add “to name but a few” after several instances I just mentioned to support a statement. Is my understanding correct?

I once learned the expression “put two and two together,” so I tried to make an application of it by replacing the TWOs with two real situations. I have to admit that even in the dictionary I cannot find such expression “Putting two and two together leads to …” I guess that’s why you use “add up” instead. What if I change the sentence into this one: “By putting the early-failure observation and Rowling’s speech on the benefits of failure together, a clear message is being conveyed: ….” Does it sound better to you?

Is the reason you revise “help their lives stay on the right track” into “help them keep their lives on track” that we only “help somebody do something,” not “help somebody’s life do something”?
Kooper
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Re: Kat's Tips1 - The best commencement speech!

文章Kat C » 週四 10月 28, 2010 11:11 am

Hi Kooper,

Those are excellent questions and I actually thought about some of them while going over your piece. I think we should Skype! I can explain things more effectively that way, because you can then ask further questions right away if you have any. :wink: Do you have a Skype account? Mine is "moreopenmind".

Kat
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Re: Kat's Tips1 - The best commencement speech!

文章Kooper » 週五 10月 29, 2010 8:50 am

Hi Kat,

I just added you to my contact list. In case you don't receive my request, my Skype account is "Kooper." :D
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Re: Kat's Tips1 - The best commencement speech!

文章Kat C » 週六 10月 30, 2010 12:09 pm

Hi Kooper,

Cool! It's Halloween time so things are crazy around here. When I do get a chance to get on I'll surely look for you. Later!

Kat :mrgreen:
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