This week, your assignment will be to write a three-page compare and contrast essay. Typically, I have made this an open topic, but I have received as many dog and cat comparisons that I want to see in my lifetime; and by the way, dogs rule!
As a refresher: A compare / contrast essay should compare two or more things. You will be comparing the similarities and contrasting the differences. This essay should not only inform the reader—that’s me—but should also evaluate the items you are using. Give me specific, concrete examples to support your points.
As I mentioned, this is not an open topic. As Americans, we share this North American continent with Canada and Mexico. I want you to compare and contrast two aspects of the culture of each country. That could be education, family life, religion, immigration, language, art, or politics, etc. If you have any questions as to the appropriateness of what items to choose, please ask me. Canadian rap has not really taken off, so it probably should be stroked off your list.
Choose whichever outline you prefer, but the point of this essay is not just to practice the compare / contrast format, but to think about what our neighboring cultures experience in day-to-day living, which might be a different or similar experience to your own.
How many of you think that snow magically appears as soon as you cross the Canadian border? And do you know the significance of Prince Edward Island? Big hint: It’s not just where Anne of Green Gables lives. Does the 49th parallel sound in any way familiar to you; and no, it has nothing to do with gymnastics. It has more to do with good fences making good neighbors. Not all Canadians rub noses; not all Canadians ski or eat Canadian bacon; and, trust me, they are not all nice! So what are they all about, these grand neighbors to the North?
How about our Southern neighbors? How many of you feel that when speaking English to a Spanish-speaking person if you just talk a bit louder, you will make them understand? Do you think as soon as you cross the border, Mexico is one hot desert? You are mistaken: That’s Las Vegas! Mexico has varied landscapes, including pine forests and snow at higher elevations. When they get too much snow, they ship it to the Canadian border so it’s the first thing American tourists see. Mexicans are not all drug dealers (Haven’t you watched Tony Soprano?); they don’t all have tortillas with Mother Mary’s face in it; they don’t all salsa dance; and most hear . . . perfectly . . . fine. Take the time to find out who your neighbors are.
In order to write this essay and make it replete with concrete examples you will need to do some research. Here are some notes about that:
· Wikipedia is not considered an academic site. If I see it on your Works Cited page, your paper just made the bottom of my bird cage.
· If your site has anything in it about Bubba from Montana, it is probably not credible. Save that for creative writing. Instead, prefer sites with dot gov or dot edu at the end of the URL.
· If you plagiarize your source, I will know it. Even though I do not have Turnitin.com, like the great community college down the street, Google is an amazing search engine. If you plagiarize globally, as a patchwork, or incrementally, you just failed my course. Come by my office; I have applications for Jack-in-the-Box.
· There are other credible sources other than the Internet. They are called books.
Plan ahead and as always submit your essay in MLA format. I hope you enjoy this chance to study the other cultures that share your continent. Next week, we will be starting the poetry section. Extra credit is available for those successful in suppressing groans.