From Writing

Tips on How to Write a Personal Statement

Admissions for graduate school in the West require applicants—both for Master and Ph.D.— to submit a personal statement among other things. Without it,  admission is impossible. If you have ever applied for a scholarship or to a graduate school, you know what we are talking about. For those of you who have not heard about it,…

Essential Tips and Tricks for Writing

Yesterday, I was invited to give a talk about writing in a pre-academic training program to a group of graduate students from Kazakhstan at Saint Peter’s University. Usually, international students with a modest background in the English language are required to attend the pre-academic training before starting their actual degree programs. The pre-academic sessions are designed to address the inadequacy of fluency in English, which includes writing, reading and speaking. Although some of these students were admitted to excellent universities such as Columbia, New York University and Cornell University, they were still required to go through the training. I talked to the group about…

To be a Critical Thinker is to be Curious and Skeptical

It is possible that you have read or heard the term “critical thinker.” Some of you may know what it means and some may not. Many young people think being a critical thinker is having the ability to think critically. But, what does it exactly mean to think critically? John Cotton and Eve Litt offer a concise and straightforward definition in their online course English for Journalism. To be a critical thinker, they say, is to have two qualities: being curious and skeptical. I elaborate them further below. Curious: It means to be eager to know or learn something. This curiosity can be about…

My Statement

Two days ago, a friend in a party asked: “What is your statement?” She meant what my philosophy about life and the world is. I said, “Frankly, I don’t think I have a fixed view (or a statement) of the world.” She said, “You quote all these books, but don’t claim any opinion. That is strange.” I said, “Yes, I read a lot, and I don’t see a problem in quoting writers I trust, or better, trusted by many in intelligentia. Besides, I don’t quote for the sake of it. I use books as reference points because they reflect my…

The Evening Walk

Music sets me on fire while I walk. I long for nothing but some time with myself. Alone. On the streets of the town. Under the trees with no one in sight. In the beauty of the darkness and silence. All I sense is thoughts and emotions. Happiness. Sadness. Helplessness. Nothingness. Aloneness. I see white and pink flowers in the street light. I feel their smell. Summer just started, but I thought flowers blossom in the Spring. Or maybe it is different in this country. But I like it anyways. I feel good. But who am I? How did I…

Why Read and Think Hard?

  Most humans are banal in their everyday thinking. They lack originality and complexity required to understand the world. The world is a big word. Let us just say, the everyday social and political issues. For most of them, coming out of their rigid and singular frames is a process, and a difficult one indeed. They do not appreciate when told that their ideas are base: based on passion and emotion rather than reason and experience, as the famous French philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre describes in Anti-Semite and Jew. Theorists Kay Whitlock and Michael Bronski define frame as a “conceptual path shaping how people understand an issue and…

To be a Writer​ is to Build Little by Little

    It has been three weeks since the last post I wrote. I have never been busier in school and work. Although I am still in the middle of a heavy workload, I guess I needed a break for this blog which I started with a lot of passion. Let me use this opportunity and share my writing journey with you, very briefly. I am not a born writer. I am not even someone who had the privilege to know about writing. I learned how to write on my own after years, at least a decade, of hard work.…

Fear of Public Speaking? 8 Useful Tips on How to Conquer It

Let’s be honest. It is not easy to speak to a crowd. To put it another way, it is not comfortable to talk confidently to an audience. I was afraid myself for quite some time. I would deliver but with less confidence and clarity. I guess my culture and the education system were both discouraging in this regard. But, over the course of my career as a student and as a teacher, I do not have that fear anymore. Although I have improved quite a bit, there are always new ways to seek to how to become the best speaker.…

The One Book You​ Should Read about ​Argument

An argument is not making a loud and persistent noise to silence to convince others. Neither is it speaking faster or overtalking the other to “win” a point. Argument can simply be defined as “a connected series of statements intended to establish a definite proposition.” Stanley Fish in his book Winning Arguments says,  “One general thing that can properly be said about argument is that it is essentially the art of persuasion, the art of trying to move someone from an adherence to position A—which might be political, economic, domestic, aesthetic, military, theological, whatever—to an embracing of position B” (Fish 2016, 7). Below…