Welcome readers, to the very first edition of The Write Stuff, an online collection of artistic and literary work by our very own student body! We asked students across all majors and grade levels at UIC to submit their work to us so that we can have a space to share the collective voice of our incredibly diverse campus. We are proud to say that the submissions we received were most certainly not lacking in quality, and consisted of many different genres including poetry, creative fiction, academic essays, photography, and more! And it's also adorned with photography and visual artistic work submitted by students! Due to the overwhelming amount of amazing content we received from our students, we have divided our first edition into three segments. This first segment contains academic work and creative fiction (excluding poetry). The second segment contains samples of creative fiction writing and can be found here. The third segment, containing poetry submissions can be found here.
Essays and Academics
For our first edition, we collected a few academic works from interested students. Most of these submissions are essays previously submitted as part of the submitting students' academic coursework, and they cover topics important to them that they sought to share with the UIC community. Jessica Yim shares difficulties she faced as a child of immigrant parents when she moved from the States to live in Korea and attend middle school. She shares how she was judged on her skill level in speaking Korean, the hardships she faced feeling stuck between two cultures, and how she used those experiences to build confidence in herself. Xiomara Demarchi shares close readings of two different texts she read in past semesters, one regarding the experiences of Cristina García, and the other on an epic by Rodolfo Gonzales. Lance Nwokeji also shares a profile feature on American writer Kate Silver and Madeline Pimlott honors the memory of Doris Fleishman by sharing how she shaped the history of the public relations field!
Bending the Mold for Myself
Bending the Mold for Myself
For the first thirteen years of my life, knowing only the English language has never been a barrier for me even though my parents were Korean immigrants whose primary language is Korean. My dad recently told me that when I was about four years old, my pediatrician did not want him to talk to me in Korean. He recommended that I converse with my dad in English and with my mom in Korean if I were to become bilingual. Contrary to many parents’ expectations with their bilingual children, it is a rather massive feat for children to master their second language especially when their primary language is English here in the United States. This was the case for me and so I should clarify that during my childhood, I actually spoke to my mom in “Konglish” (English with broken Korean) due to my bare minimum Korean skills. Although I was forced to attend Korean school every Saturday to improve my reading, writing, and speaking skills, for the young and naïve seven-year-old me, the institution was just another place where I got to meet other Korean American kids, not to necessarily get serious about learning the language. On top of that, since my family had never made ritual trips to visit their relatives in Korea, in my small field-of-vision my parents’ home country was as foreign as any other country I have never visited before. Going to Korean school every Saturday, hearing my parents talk to each other in Korean, or catching glimpses of Korea through our living room television were not sufficient enough for me to gain any kind of mastery in the language. I was unable to fully comprehended the language nor the culture until about a decade later when my five senses were completely immersed in South Korea.
The nature of my dad's job is what caused our family to move on a yearly basis. Saying goodbye to my friends was the most excruciating part of it all, and sometimes the move would be so abrupt I could not take my school supplies with me as I had to transfer to a different school the very next day. Out of deep anger and frustration, I cried my lungs out in hopes that my wonderful acting skills would prove to him just how agonized I was, and that that would somehow magically change his mind. This phase did not last very long as I had to cut out the act in 2013, which was the year I finished the seventh grade. This was not because I was scolded by my parents for throwing temper tantrums, but because my two younger sisters and I were struck by the news that, instead of moving to another state as we always did, we now had to catch the plane to move to Korea. This all happened in such a whirlwind that I had neither the time nor energy to throw a good tantrum to change my dad’s mind. This was extremely pivotal in making me become a more resilient person as I learned how to better adapt in new and strange environments in the following years.
Sending three kids to an international school would cost an arm and a leg, yet the rebellious me was resistant to the idea of attending a Korean middle school. This may have been because I identified more as an American than Korean because of my upbringing, despite my Korean phenotypes. I convinced myself that I could not assimilate into a regular Korean school since I was more comfortable with English, and more importantly due to the fact that I could get bullied by other kids for not knowing Korean like them. To make matters worse, the idea of wearing school uniforms made me cringe all the way to my guts and so I was stern in wanting to get home-schooled. All the while my two younger sisters were already enrolled and attending the local Korean elementary school, while the rebellious me was on an unintentional hiatus from school as my parents and I tried to figure out where in the world I should be getting my education from. After much consideration and much to my dismay, my parents have decided to send me to a regular Korean middle school; not only was this more affordable, but it would fulfill my dad’s desires since he always wanted me to learn his native language. Now that I was forced to live under such new circumstances, it was necessary for survival rather than by desire for me to learn Korean if I wanted to make new friends and understand what my teachers were saying.
Throughout my seven years of living abroad in Korea there were just as many rough patches as there were enlightening moments. One rather unpleasant memory was when I would constantly be judged for not knowing “proper” Korean since my appearance suggested that I was a native, just like them as Korea is an extremely homogeneous country. During my commute to school in which I would take the subway or bus, I found myself in uncomfortable situations because of the gazes I received from strangers. Whenever I talked to my sister or friends in English, many people (especially the elderlies) would stare at me throughout the whole ride because they were perplexed by the fact that the words that were coming out of my mouth were not Korean. On top of that, for better or for worse, my own relative considered me an uneducated person as she muttered under her breath that I could not even say goodbye properly: I could not differentiate between the honorific greetings “ann-yeong-hi-ga-se-yo” or “hello” and “ann-yeong-hi-ge-se-yo” or “goodbye” and so I would just use the former term for both situations. I was dealing with a new kind of racism I have never encountered before as people treated me with scorn or disrespect whenever they picked up cues that I was a foreigner in disguise. Despite these tragic difficulties, this did not stop me one bit as I became more persistent in mastering Korean. Contrary to popular opinion, my desire to learn the language did not come from a place where I romanticized a country or in which I had a deep passion for discovering my roots. The build-up of all the microaggressions I had faced from living in a country first-hand counterintuitively inflamed my desire to learn Korean so that I could stop being judged for being “too foreign” in native Koreans’ eyes, and live a normal life without having to explain my shortcomings every time I would stutter or pronounce words with an American accent.
As a result, after several arduous years of traversing the terrains of Korea with my dictionary and grit in hand, I became proficient enough at Korean to be able to trick some of my fellow high-school classmates into thinking that I was a native who also happened to be pretty darn good at English. It is easy for one to think that I can now finally throw my dictionary away and never have to worry about going through that immense ordeal. However, after several years of pondering and reflecting, on one hand, although I did feel a sense of pride (since all those years of burrowing my nose into books for nearly twelve hours a day paid off), on the other hand, there lied a sense of dissatisfaction deep inside of me like a stone I could not digest because I was not showing my true colors. This was because I was too occupied trying to hide my foreign identity as an American to avoid any sort of mockery as it gave me a sense of shame and guilt, especially after the traumatic incident I had with a particular family member. I constantly had to put on a mask which made me forget about my Americanness, making me become more homesick without ever knowing the real reason why I was feeling so discontent. I was now faced with an identity crisis where I was too American to be Korean in my parents’ homeland, and too Korean to be American here in the States. Despite the myriad of psychological struggles throughout my adolescence, my experience living abroad has taught me the art of resiliency. As I broke down the brick walls that come along when one lives in a foreign country, I realized that there will be no mold that will be ready for me to fit into; instead, I will have to go out and create it for myself. To this day, I am still in a place where I will perhaps have to forever navigate what it means to embody both aspects of Korean and American cultures. Nonetheless, with my higher sense of confidence and self-esteem, I can better express both sides of my upbringings as I remind myself every day that I must take the road not taken, in hopes that I empower not just myself but also those who are in my spheres of influence.
Close reading (Dreaming In Cuban, Cristina García)
…If I was born to live on an island, then I’m grateful for one thing: that the tides rearrange the borders. At least I have the illusion of change, of possibility…Don’t you see how they’re carving up the world, Gustavo? How they’re stealing our geography? Our fates? The arbitrary is no longer in our hands. To survive is an act of hope. (99)
These words were taken from the letter (a younger) Celia writes to Gustavo on May 11th, 1945, several years before word of the revolution found its way onto Cuba’s public sphere. The manner in which she writes highlights issues concerning the fate of Cuba as she knows it, using metaphorical borders to illustrate this loss of voice both her and other Cubans experience at the hands of corruption and tyranny. Arguably, she even insinuates the revolution as she writes to Gustavo, “To survive is an act of hope,” because hope is what builds a revolution. In this vein, such a distinction must be observed when comparing a younger, more malleable Celia—open to social and political changes—to a present-day, unadaptable version of herself.
Along these lines, it is important to consider the addressee of the letter, Gustavo, who is Celia’s lost love. Although she never sends them, Celia writes many letters to Gustavo over the course of twenty years, sharing bits and pieces of her life—almost like a personal diary. In a way, it is possible that these letters do serve her that purpose. Celia and Gustavo’s affair reigned a heavy influence on Celia, and in a world filled with constant changes, perhaps her letters to Gustavo are what sustain her. But it is also possible to suggest that the style and tone of these unsent letters are what reflects her lack of fulfillment in the way her life has panned out, especially with regard to her mental health.
Ultimately, these lines from Dreaming in Cuban (1992) not only give readers a glimpse of Celia’s earliest engagement in Cuban politics, but they also intertwine with a sense of identity, or lack thereof. From the moment Celia begins writing to Gustavo up until 1959—marking the end of the revolution—Celia’s letters, which cover crucial moments in her life, noticeably fluctuate in tone and style and allow readers to vicariously live through her character’s transformation as a result of the revolution.
Close Reading (I am Joaquin, Rodolfo Gonzales)
My land is lost
My culture has been raped.
I lengthen the line at the welfare door
And fill the jails with crime.
These then are the rewards
This society has
For sons of chiefs
And bloody revolutionists,
Who gave a foreign people
All their skills and ingenuity
To pave the way with brains and blood
For those hordes of gold-starved strangers,
Who Changed our language
And plagiarized our deeds
As feats of valor
Of their own.
This section in Rodolfo Gonzales’ epic poem “I Am Joaquin” (1967) powerfully magnifies the tensions of life as a Mexican American in the United States. Moreover, the speaker intends to inspire their readers and emphasize a part of their identity that remains neglected. Before the Chicano Movement, Mexicans were aggressively pushed to assimilate towards a white identity by deconstructing any sign of their Mexican roots in language and culture. In the first three lines of this segment, the speaker highlights this deconstruction as a form of decolonization: “My land is lost / And stolen, / My culture has been raped”. Namely, the speaker is reflected through the history and horrific experiences of his indigenous ancestors in an effort to understand his own identity.
As a Chicano activist and a civil rights leader for the Chicano Movement, Gonzales radicalizes the poem, particularly in this section, through the eyes of a revolutionary. In the next set of lines, Gonzales paints several contradictions that address the struggle of self-identity as a Mexican American, and he does so by making connections to the past and comparing them with the present, “I lengthen the line at the welfare door / And fill the jails with crime. These are then the rewards / This society has / For sons of chiefs / And kings”. Here, the speaker seemingly combines two timelines in an attempt to unfold a new perspective of his identity, which is that of the Chicano. Furthermore, the text lays out the paradox of being forced to assimilate into a white-American society, which thrives on stripping other cultures of their “skills and ingenuity” all the while facing ostracization and enduring unequal treatment as second-class citizens.
Ultimately, the lines’ dark overtones, diction, and imagery attempt to serve the difficult task of fighting for liberation and social, economic, and political change. By highlighting Chicano exclusion and the demoralization of Chicano culture, the speaker demonstrates a literary act of protest of a society that lacks a sense of unification and historical recognition of Mexican Americans. In the final analysis of Gonzales’ “I Am Joaquin”, the message demands for a cultural rebirth of the Chicano identity.
The Freelance Plunge - A Profile Feature on Kate Silver
For two decades, being a freelance writer has led Kate Silver on many unexpected adventures. In
her career she has slept in dozens of hotels around Chicago, driven through the same city’s
streets on an e-bike, walked the slowest marathon in the city, and even met with a
self-proclaimed hit man to discuss crimes.
However, she didn’t start with these adventures. Silver got her start in Las Vegas, having grown
up there. She spent her time on staff for Las Vegas Weekly , writing news and various features.
Her job before 2007 kept her secure. She had money. She had her ideal career. She had plenty of
awards. Out here in Las Vegas, there weren’t many distractions to get in her way.
Unfortunately, Silver began to notice she was missing something. Over time, feelings of
loneliness became more persistent. Her family was nowhere to be found in Las Vegas. They
were all the way in Chicago, more than a thousand miles away. For Silver, a long distance
relationship with them wouldn’t cut it. “I felt isolated.” She commented.
Yet going to Chicago would be hard, and Silver knew this. When she graduated from college,
she managed to rise into the position of a staff writer. Along the way she learned valuable
lessons as a writer. “I learned to take criticism when I wrote for anything public.” She said.
Silver would have to review these lessons if she were to succeed with a career in Chicago.
During college at Las Vegas, Silver started out as an English major. She wanted to write, not
only because she had writing skills, but also because she enjoyed it. Then, she narrowed her
interest down to journalism. “I found that journalism had my interest more than anything,” said
Silver. Writing about current events seemed to her a necessary task. She always knew the news
as something that enlightened people from all walks of life.
Early on, Silver found out quickly that having the desire to write did not mean she’d get taken
seriously as a journalist. Getting into big publications was incredibly difficult. First, she had to
build her credibility. Eventually, she learned of a couple editors while living in Las Vegas. She
proceeded to write letters to them, pitching ideas for stories.
“I did a lot of pitching early in my career,” said Silver. “Making myself stand out was vital.”
To ever get a position on staff for Las Vegas Weekly , Silver had to gain experience as a journalist
over time. She worked with multiple editors, slowly establishing herself as trustworthy. Silver
developed good relationships with credible sources. This took time, as those sources were not
available to her right away. Over a long time period she proved her professionalism through trial,
error, and most importantly, patience.
“A big part of the journalism game is really just being patient,” she remarked. “You have to wait
for editors to respond, and you have to be patient with yourself.”
After gaining enough experience, Silver got hired into Las Vegas Weekly . After almost a decade,
she wanted to move away to Chicago and build her career all over again. This time however, she
would face more of a challenge. She wanted to do freelance writing. Unlike staff writers,
freelance writers found it harder to get ideas approved by people. 10 years ago, she left her city
behind and moved to Chicago.
Silver was not surprised when she found that it was hard to break into the local market in
Chicago. Yet she knew what to do. First, she had to get a foot in the door of local journalism.
She wrote a guidebook about the city. As a bonus, writing this guidebook helped her learn all
“I’d say one of the biggest challenges is having thick skin,” she remarked. Not all editors said
yes to her ideas, and at times she would repeatedly get turned down. Luckily, being a generalist
writer helped her greatly. She could write about many things including business, culture, and
history. This made her adaptable, and appealed to some editors.
Journalism as a career has changed around Silver in the past decade. The rise of social media
accelerated this change. When she started journalism, there was no expectation for her to be her
own photographer. Now she could take her own pictures. People are less interested in longer
pieces. Instead they want easy, quick information. To her, journalists are more desired by
companies than before. After all, information flies fast in the social media age. “There is a new
respect for journalists to be hired for public relations, and most industries need strong writers.”
In addition, Silver gets more exposure.
“A story I write for the Washington Post might get to many other publications,” she said. “The
other publications pay for the story and I get credit. But it doesn’t really benefit me beyond that.”
Despite what people commonly think, she has found that writing earns her a lot more money
than she could ever dream of. She does well for herself with her career, earning six figures.
However, money isn’t the most rewarding part of writing for Silver. Writing helps her connect
people and their stories in a deep, meaningful way.
A Short History of Doris Fleischman’s Contributions to Public Relations
Though some may know her as the first woman to get a passport with her maiden name
after marriage, New York City native Doris Fleischman made significant contributions to the
development of public relations. During her marriage and business partnership with Edward
Bernays, she was equally responsible for the success of the Edward L Bernays, Counsel on
Public Relations firm. Though the company was created by her husband, Fleischman soon
gained equal partnership. Her work behind the scenes led to the expansion of both the company
and PR field. Susan Henry writes that the couple were “among the handful of people who
invented the field of public relations. They operated one of the country’s premier public relations
agencies from the 1920s through the 1950s” (1997, p. 51). Their partnership wore two faces: one
of romance and one of professionalism. While working as a part of a couple, she demonstrated
how to be a strong teammate without sacrificing individuality.
Though often associated with her husband’s success, Fleischman as an individual offered
critical contributions. Specifically, a major contribution to the profession included the
development of Contact, a newsletter that outlined the value of connecting with the public
through the then-unfamiliar field of PR. After being sent to about 15,000 professionals, Contact
drew attention to the firm and became what Bernays described as “the single most important
activity in advancing our cause” (Henry, 1997, p. 53). Along with this creation, her writing and
editing for organizations such as the Lithuanian National Council, Lucky Strike, and the U.S War
Department set the tone for future PR writing. After writing for several years, she took on
“management-level functions” such as strategizing and planning for a number of campaigns
(Heath, 2013, p. 345). While Bernays was the face of the company, Fleischman was often the
voice. She wrote speeches and press-releases that connected with audiences, truly embodying
what it meant to work in PR (Heath, 2013, p. 345). Though often behind the scenes, she wasn’t
lacking in interpersonal communication skills. “Equally useful to the new firm was Fleischman’s
ability to judge and understand people quickly and accurately… she could sense the strengths
and weaknesses of individuals she had only met briefly” (Henry, 1997 p. 52). Overall,
Fleischman used her many communication-based abilities to develop and expand the PR
profession while driving her husband’s company towards success.
Fleischman found meaning in her work, exhibited limitless potential in a single field,
held leadership roles in many organizations, and created a space for women to work as PR
professionals. She found meaning when creating positive publicity for the first convention of the
NAACP, expressing that “No work I have ever done has had so deep and lasting effect on me”
(Henry, 1997, p. 52-53). In addition, her work in feminism not only gave her meaning, but
encouraged other women to join careers in public relations. She wrote multiple articles in
magazines such as Independent Woman, ultimately leading to more women working in the PR
field (Henry, 1997, p. 57). Without Fleischman, the world of public relations would look
incredibly different today.
Heath, R. L. (2013). Fleischman, Doris Elsa. In Encyclopedia of public relations (2nd ed., pp.
345). essay, SAGE Publications, Inc.
Henry, S. (1997). Anonymous in her own name: Public relations pioneer Doris E. Fleischman.
Journalism History, 23(2), 50–62. https://doi.org/10.1080/00947679.1997.12062467