ENG 211- A Canvas Discussion 7 (2 steps): Submit Draft and Workshop

PART 2: By 9:00 AM on Monday, November, 22, you are to provide written and/or audio/video feedback to each of the peer members in your group who submits a draft. You will also discuss this feedback as a group during the workshop. See below for suggestions:
Once you have read the entire draft, you will type a 300-500 word post to the essay’s project’s (Dear _________,) or offer a 3-5 minute video or audio response to the draft. Regardless of whether you choose a written format and post to the forum or embed video or audio, your goal should be to provide the writer with specific possibilities for revision.
Make your feedback as specific as possible so that the writer knows exactly which section of the project you’re addressing. Refer to specific paragraphs. Quote language from the draft. In your responses, deal with areas such as purpose and thesis; larger stakes of paper; use of examples, description, or evidence; details; paragraph structure; and organization, title/introduction/conclusion, and style.
Write your feedback in complete and clear sentences. See advice for offering valuable feedback below. It is often helpful to the writer if you can point them to specific areas in the essay (In paragraph 4, you claim _______, but I wonder if __________). This specific advice helps more than a more general approach (“Sometimes you contradict yourself.”) See more suggestions and guidelines for providing feedback below.
Suggestions and Guidelines for Feedback: Your goal for your responses should be to provide useful and constructive feedback for the writer. Remember, your goal is to help the writer improve the draft; your job is not to evaluate the quality of the writer’s work. As you read, you should look for places in the essay that could be improved; you are not looking for “mistakes” or “errors.”
Ask Questions: In many cases, the best feedback you can offer comes in the form of questions. Your goal should not be to tell the writer what to do; rather, you want to get the writer to think about parts of their writing and ponder ways to make improvements. By asking questions, you will be able to simultaneously offer suggestions and create room for the writer to think of improvements on their own.
What would be a counter-argument to your thesis?
Why do you wait until the 4th paragraph to introduce ___________ ?
Do you have research to support the claim that ____________?
Is that the only example of ____________ or can you add others?
Show where the Writer could Provide More Information: An effective approach would be to ask for more information and to explain why you think the information would be helpful:
I would like to know more about . . . because . . .
Some background information on ___________ would be useful in order to __________.
Be Positive: Remember to provide positive feedback. Don’t fall into the trap of merely looking for “what’s wrong” with the draft. When writers know where they succeed, then they can try to improve other areas of their writing in the same manner. However, don’t just say that you like something. As with your questions, explain why:
I like . . . because . . .
Your example of ___________ made me understand __________ because __________.
Some DON’Ts for Workshop Responses: For the most part, you can respond to essays as you wish. Students have used a variety of approaches, tones, and styles in their responses, and the variety helps make the workshop experience valuable, personal, and interesting. If responses are overly formulaic, writers may lose interest in them, so feel free to explore different ways of responding. However, you should avoid the following two strategies.
Broad sweeping comments such as “Your writing is awesome. Keep it up” or “This draft is really good” will not aid the writer’s revision work, so please avoid using them. The more you refer to specific paragraphs, sentences, and ideas in the essay, the more you will help the writer make changes.
Your impulse may be to concern yourself with grammar and mechanics in responding to your group members’ drafts, but remember that the focus of the peer workshops is not copy-editing or proofreading. Rather, we want to focus on macro level revision—“seeing the essay” again—which will lead to large scale changes in feeling, organization, content, focus, etc. If the writer successfully makes large changes, the typos, misspellings, and grammatical errors may disappear because the content could drastically change.
Procedure for Workshop Day:
Each group member’s essay will receive an equal amount of attention—somewhere between 10 and 15 minutes, depending on your group’s size.
Try to alternate speaking during the workshop and have a conversation, maybe going paragraph by paragraph rather than one responder speaking and then the other. Go back and forth.
When your peers are discussing your essay, you should avoid over-talking and/or defending your draft; instead, take notes on their feedback. This step is important so that you can remember the advice you received later on when you are making your changes. Often, good ideas come up in discussion that no one had written down in their advice to the writer. Remember, you want to gain your group members’ perspectives, so be open to their suggestions and insights; later on, you can decide which to use in your revision.
When your peers have finished going through their comments for you, then you may ask them questions to help focus your revision efforts or you may then respond to issues they brought up or misunderstandings they had. Ask them to clarify points they made or ask them about aspects of your essay that didn’t come up in discussion.
In making your revisions for the final submission of your essay, you should consider the feedback from your peers. You’ll never be able to use all of the feedback you receive in your essay, but you should carefully weigh your options and use the suggestions that best help you fulfill the intended purpose of your essay.
The success of small group peer workshops directly depends on the effort put forth by each member of the group. During workshop session, I will visit each group, join in the discussion when necessary, answer questions, give advice, and check to make sure that each group member is actively involved in the workshop process.
Chase Corlew
Dr. Jeffrey Gross
ENG-211, Introduction to Literature
11 November 2021
Injustices of the Immigration System
Imagine living a life where at any moment, you could be snatched up from your home, separated from your family, and held against your will in a place you are unfamiliar with. Unfortunately for many people living in the United States, this isn’t very far from reality. The United States has been operating a flawed immigration system for many years now, but these flaws were largely ignored until Donald Trump was elected as President in 2016. A poll by the Department of Sociology at Stanford University of Latino immigrants who feared deportation saw a large spike in 2016. Asad L. Asad, who ran the poll, reported that “These trends do not reflect changing deportation rates but rather a growing national awareness of deportation policy and practice since the 2016 US presidential election.”[1] Only when Trump’s administration started discussing plans of further restricting immigration opportunities and threatened undocumented immigrants living in the United States with higher deportation rates did the conversation of immigrant rights and the flaws of the immigration system get more publicity. Nonetheless, it is easy for people to detach the issues of the system from the people suffering under it. People like to simplify issues and make them black and white, right and wrong. In response to immigration policy and its many issues being detached from the individuals it affects, award-winning author Lisa Ko crafted a thrilling novel called The Leavers that reminds the reader that these issues are a daily struggle for some people. The novel follows the life of Polly Guo, a Chinese woman who immigrated to America in search of a better life for herself and later her son, Deming Guo. Throughout the novel Ko illustrates the cruelty and lack of humanity immigrants suffer at the hand of the legal and immigration systems, while also touching upon the many social and personal obstacles immigrants have to overcome such as maintaining national identity, fighting stereotypes imposed upon them by people who don’t understand their culture, and even discrimination in the workforce. Furthermore, Lisa Ko sheds light on these issues while giving the reader a fun, thrilling, and emotional story about the life of Deming Guo, and his search for identity.
One of the topics that Lisa Ko covers in The Leavers most thoroughly is the process of undocumented immigration. In the novel, Ko describes the dire conditions that force Polly Guo to make the decision to illegally immigrate to the United States, the logistics of how she managed to make it into the country, and the toll the process took on her physically, emotionally, and financially. “Never mind the debt, so astronomical it was unreal,” writes Ko. “Like the fake money burned graveside at Qingming holidays. Forget the grueling journey, which didn’t seem real either, the distances and destinations nothing but nonsense words to me”[2] It seems that Ko’s portrayal of undocumented immigration was spot-on. In an article about the issues and causes of undocumented immigration, researcher Leonard F. Chapman jr. writes “The desire to enter and remain in the United States is so strong that no risk is too great nor seemingly any price too high to achieve that end. Many undocumented migrants pay large sums to smugglers to bring them in. Fees of $200 to $700 are commonplace, and sometimes illegal immigrants pay as high as $1,500.”[3] This clearly illustrates that for many people, escaping whatever poor conditions they are dealing with in their homeland is of the utmost importance to the happiness and wellbeing of themselves and their loved ones. I believe Lisa Ko’s description of the conditions Polly Guo was going through in her homeland has a twofold meaning attached to it. First and foremost, Ko is trying to instill a sense of compassion and empathy for migrant individuals who may be going through similar circumstances in their place of origin. She is communicating that these are real people with real problems, who are looking for a way to solve them by moving to an environment that is an improvement for them. Additionally, I believe the author is trying to show that leaving one’s homeland is not a simple task undertaken out of laziness or in a haphazard manner. It is a methodical, tiresome, and burdensome transition that oftentimes takes a physical and mental toll on those who choose to undertake it. A last resort, if you will. What these two concepts Ko is conveying have in common is that they are meant to educate those who may be uninformed about what goes into undocumented immigration. Leonard F. Chapman jr also states that “Waiting periods to legally enter the United States have been extended to several years in some instances, and many persons forsake the long delay and enter by any available means.”[3] Illegal immigration to another country is not necessarily easier than doing so via official means, oftentimes the opposite is true. However, for those who need to seek out better living immediately undocumented migration is the more readily available and fastest method to an improved living situation.
However, even after an undocumented immigrant makes it into the United States their obstacles do not end there. Once in the country, legal and illegal immigrants alike will have to face a slew of anti-immigrant laws and ordinances. Although documented migrants who entered the country are going to have a far more difficult time finding employment than a citizen born in the country would, even they do much better in this new environment than illegal immigrants. The Department of Economics at Columbia University did a study that concluded “Mexican legal immigrants in the United States was 41.8% higher than that of undocumented workers while female legal immigrants earned 40.8% more.”[4] Illegal immigrants often have a harder time finding employment due to a language barrier, or even discrimination. Even if an undocumented immigrant is able to find employment at a company, they’re likely to be paid at or below minimum wage. Lisa Ko explores this aspect of undocumented immigrant life as well when Polly seeks out employment right after she enters the United States. She lives with several other undocumented migrants in a small apartment in New York, working when she can and trying to save enough money to cover life for herself and later her son Deming. Throughout her entire time in the United States, Polly exclusively worked what many would consider low-income jobs, starting out in a textile factory and later moving into the nail salon business. This sort of situation is common for people who have freshly immigrated to a country, even more so for undocumented immigrants. People who are more familiarized and acquainted with the country are preferred over migrant workers, despite their living conditions oftentimes being worse than that of national citizens. Nonetheless, many companies end up hiring undocumented workers for labor-intensive jobs due to the stereotype that immigrants are seen as “hard working” or “dedicated to their work.” This type of employment is borderline exploitative in nature since these same hard-working immigrants are frequently paid under the table, meaning companies can avoid paying undocumented immigrants what they deserve for the work they’re doing. Some states have even begun to join in on this exploitation, going as far as passing anti-illegal-immigrant legislation. Researchers in the School of Social Work at Arizona State University in Phoenix recently published a paper outlining several of the many anti-illegal-immigrant laws in place in Arizona. These include but are not limited to laws regarding mandatory reporting of undocumented immigrants, laws requiring citizenship for employment, and even laws limiting the types of education undocumented immigrants’ children can receive.[5]
I think Ko included details about Polly Guo’s work and financial situation to show her audience that the life of an undocumented immigrant in the United States is not easy. She wants the reader to understand the struggles of working in a country that is actively opposed to your presence, and how that in turn affect all aspects of one’s life. A common anti-illegal-immigrant argument that people use is that undocumented immigrants are stealing jobs. However, Lisa Ko is debunking this argument as well and showing that this is simply not the case. Employment is difficult to come by for many immigrants, and even once they find employment, they are often exploited by the very corporations that hire them. Ko wants her readers to understand these struggles, and to understand one’s suffering is to empathize with their situation.
Quite possibly the most taboo of all the subjects covered in The Leavers is that of deportation. After an annoyed customer at the nail salon Polly Guo works at informs the Bureau of Immigration of undocumented immigrants working, immigration enforcement agents raid her place of work. Polly is taken against her will to a deportation camp in rural Texas, where she is treated quite poorly and has to suffer through inhumane living conditions for several months. The atrocities described by Lisa Ko in these camps are unfortunately not the works of fiction. Undocumented immigrants arrested by the Bureau of Immigration are often sent to internment camps located in remote locations around the southern United States. In these camps are children separated from their parents, pregnant women, sometimes even full families. All awaiting to make their court appearance before being returned to their country of origin. These detention centers, however, are barely suitable to house people. Sometimes undocumented immigrants are kept in cages, where they sleep on the concrete ground with the bright florescent lights always on overhead. Lisa Ko goes into extensive detail about Polly’s time in one of these camps, and describes in vivid detail the horrors she had to suffer at the hand of the United States government. Although I believe she does this once again to inform the reader of the dystopian situation many undocumented immigrants face and humanize a large issue in the immigration system, I also believe she is especially passionate about this issue. While in previously stated scenarios Ko does her best to inform the reader, here I believe she is actively trying to show her audience how disgusting this kind of treatment towards people truly is. After all, it was an article about an undocumented Chinese immigrant who was deported without a fair trial that inspired Ko to write her novel. She wants her audience to not only understand the suffering these people are going through, but to feel moved by it.
Works Cited
Asad, Asad L. “Latinos’ Deportation Fears by Citizenship and Legal Status, 2007 to 2018.” National Academy of Sciences, Department of Sociology, Stanford University, 28 Feb. 2020, https://www.pnas.org/content/pnas/117/16/8836.full.pdf.
Ko, Lisa. The Leavers. First edition. Dialogue Books, 2018.
Chapman, Leonard F. “A Look at Illegal Immigration: Causes and Impact on the United States.” Digital USD, University of San Diego Law Review, 1975, https://digital.sandiego.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=2061

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