5. Ten Anecdotes

About This Book:  This composition book is still in development.  I’m taking a semester and a summer off next year to finish it.  The model papers, including the personal profile by Kerry, these ten anecdotes below (except for Gary’s Clif Bar), and those to be included in other chapters are based on the unique real-life experiences of my students and others over the years  from all over the United States and many other countries, giving the book what I hope will be an intercultural flavor.  Students’ names have been changed and events and stories fictionalized, although the details and reports about the U.S., other countries, professional organizations, and cultural items have been carefully researched and are currently accessible. I encounter my wonderful students, in both planned and unplanned meetings, through every day encounters, on social media and even sometimes while visiting the nearby and faraway places where they live.  If you’re still looking for a major or career, consider the exciting field of teaching!
Anecdotes are short observations about life and experience, such as the illustrated short advertisement in this chapter by Gary Erickson.  Anecdotes highlight and develop ideas based on your own personal experiences, observations and knowledge or from your reading, research, and interaction with other people. Such micro-writing, from just a paragraph to around 500 words in length, make for quality, finished work in themselves, or they can serve as important parts of a longer essay or paper. Gary Erickson has actually packed quite a bit into his 150 word anecdote.
            READ-DISCUSS ACTIVITY: Find and evaluate the important parts of Gary’s anecdote below: 1-An image (photo or verbally described), 2- Opening hook/topic sentence, 3- Real-life experience, 4- Main point or factual information.
Clif barFor me, European bike trips have never been just about riding from Point A to Point B. My buddies and I prefer the explorative method of riding. We seek out the adventure of remote alpine valleys on the smaller “white roads” you find on maps, rather than being blown off the main “red roads” by the noise and dust of passing semis. We’ve carried our bikes on our shoulders over mountain passes, slid down glaciers alongside them, and stumbled upon more quaint villages than I can count. As with our cycling trips, the adventurous road drives Clif Bar. Back in 2003, we chose to use organic ingredients—food grown without GMOs, toxic pesticides, or chemical fertilizers—over the stuff the other guys used. It wasn’t, and still isn’t, the easiest route, but we’re committed to it because we think it’s the right thing to do for people and the planet.
           –Gary Erickson, Founder/Owner, Clif Bar & Company


Ten Common Types of AnecdotesHere are the names of ten common types of short anecdotes & observations: a- process (a quick “how to”), b- analogy (comparison), c- scenario (proposed situation), d- prose poem (poem in paragraph/essay form), e- flash memoir (a micro biography), f- vignette (dramatic, evocative scene), g- fact bite (startling, important findings), h- dialogue (authentic conversation), i- flashback (a remembered experience), and j- abstract (summarized plan for a paper).
Reading/Writing Activity: In your notebook or class notes, match the names above with their examples below and write a sentence or two explaining why you matched them as you did. Answers will vary.


images1. The Sonora
Desert crossers dodging moon beams. Saguaro fruit red-ripening. Cactus wren feasting. Gila monster shrieking. Scorpion stinging. Javelinas growling. Tohono O’odham nation singing. H2O evaporating. Temperature rising.Monsoon crackling and booming. Gitano border bar rocking. No other place quite like it. I’ve loved it. Somehow survived it. The Sonora Desert from Tucson south to Hermosillo.

James Kino


Let's Talk
2. Strangely. . .

I recently experienced a really interesting conversation with my “Let’s Talk” buddy, and I just had to get it into my journal before I forgot about it. “Let’s Talk,” is our university friendship program informally matching students from different countries for conversation and campus activities. I was telling Mohammed, “International people have always interested me,” and Mohammed replied, “You know you’re an international student to me too because you’re not from my country.”

“Oh, yeah, good point!”

“In fact, Joseph, I found you strangely religious!”

“I’m strangely religious?”

“Strangely in the sense, I’m sorry, well it’s not strangely.”

I laughed.

“Um, wh-what was I trying to say? Strange in the sense not that you are strange, but I guess I was under the impression that, well, we are the people who go for religion, not the Americans and that was what was strange to me.”

Joseph Cheney
torii gate3. Hanging Prayers

Slightly peeking over the horizon, the moon would soon illuminate our evening run. This would be Arturo’s first visit to my hidden Shinto shrine in the “Five Lakes” under Mt. Fuji. We ran along a heavily forested road, connecting to a trail, then to a sparkling creek, our feet gently drumming over the familiar bridge. Then I slowed, stopped and bowed, Arturo copying my actions as we approached the torii gate, its two side pillars like giant legs, its two beams overhead joined in the middle to form God-like eyes gazing down but in a friendly way, like the BFG. A milky way of stars greeted our entrance through the heavenly gate. To our left was a stone bowl of water set on a wooden pedestal. Leaving the profane world behind, we washed our hands, dabbed our lips and stepped into the sacred path, with me directing Arturo humbly along the side, never the center, and on towards the shrine. Like holy communion, we served each other ceramic cups of sake from a flask decorated with waka poetry calligraphy. I made sure the light of the moon reflected onto our filled cups, then we drank deeply. Back at the torii, we left our prayers hanging and resumed running through the trail of overhanging cherry blossoms kissed by moonbeams.

Reiko Konohanasakuya


khipu4. Talking Knots

The Inkans of our famous Machu Picchu were amazing communicators who kept in touch with a vast empire extending far beyond my own country, Perú, an empire bigger than Ming Dynasty China, the Ottoman Empire, or the European Union and its 28 member states. Charles C. Mann documents this Inkan history in his book 1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus. To manage such an empire, it would seem that the Inkans needed a developed writing system, but for many years it was assumed such early societies functioned primarily through oral traditions. However, anthropologists and linguists in my country and other countries have increasily researched a unique linguistic device which the Inkans called a “Khipu.” The Khipu, a three-dimensional “talking knot” of colorfully wound and knotted strings, was capable of storing complex information, perhaps something like the first computer ever devised. Those trained to communicate with the device were called khipukamayua or “knot keepers.” Unfortunately, the Spanish colonizers were uninterested in the Khipu, and even destroyed most of them, calling them demonic devices. But for me, as a student of anthropology, I plan to focus my own studies on better understanding these remarkable indigenous devices. I hope someday we can discover its own unique “Rosetta stone,” a key helping us to decipher the poetry, stories and history of my ancestors and their remarkable civilization.

Raquel Yupanki


5. Kafadar

People often have something special when they grow up, but different ways. Some have special place, food, first pet. For me, it was cherry tree next bedroom window in littlevillage Turkey. I was raised of grandparents. They were very old and I did not have friends by that time, but with cherry tree we had the bond. We were both the lonely and we did not have anyone who loved us but each other. I used to talk and listen cherry tree; she even had name: Kafadar. It means friend or companion in Turkish and also sounds like Turkish word for the coffee. Of course coffeehouse is friendly tradition at my country, but I would climb out window and sit against Kafadar’s trunk with steaming cup strong Turkish coffee. Like ancient Turkish storytellers, Kafadar and I would act our own stories. I used to feel so bad when winter came, scared she would get sick for the cold. I gave to her my blanket a few times. Tree got grandmother so mad that she said, “I’m going cut a tree if you do not get act together!” I was so upset and scared she would cut my tree so I obeyed. But back I moved for the city for house from parents after loss from grandparents after died. Years later I went back the village and my aunt cut down Kafadar. I was crushed. My heart broke. How could she? She knew how much I loved Kafadar. Everyone knew. She said the tree made my cousin’s room dark and she was scared of dark. “Besides,” my aunt also told me, “Turkey has more cherry trees than any other country in world.” I still think on Kafadar sometimes and it hurts so much that I cannot protect her. Now I have two cherry trees in back yard, with beautiful white blossoms spring time, but they are not the same. Kafadar was special because she was the only friend I had all those years. I wish my friend could hear me now. If she could, I would tell her, “You are most beautiful tree I ever had and best friend girl could have.”

Aysel Okur


6. Culture Shock

Think about a time you found yourself with a strange or new group of people in a city, school, job, or country. What was it like? I had always wanted to work in another country, and I found this great opportunity:

The Global Volunteer Network for students


While preparing for my experience, I learned about Kalervo Oberg’s four stages of culture shock—honeymoon, shock, schizophrenia, and adjustment. For me, my initial euphoria became overwhelmed by shock, leaving me up one day and down the next, uncertain who I really was, until I gradually adapted enough to survive and even thrive.

Michael Dunham


7. Ping Pong is Life

“Life ain’t nothin’ but a funny funny riddle. My friend, Fariborz, laughed at the country songs lyrics and said, “Ain’t that the truth!” Hailing from Iran Bo his American nickname had taken to wearing cowboy boots and learning as much American English slang as he could. I am driving my roommates back to campus after a table tennis tournament. Bob, our Greaves Dorm philosopher, said “I think life is like ping pong.” We knew what’s coming next, an unstoppable diatribe expressing another one of your sort of wacky takes on life. Here’s what I remember: “Both ping pong and life are all about points. A nice smash or lob get me a point. Breaking a rule grants a point to my opponent, like hitting the ball twice on my swing. If our current driver, Ray, runs a red light or gets caught texting and driving, he’s penalized fifty points, and 150 more means he could of lost his license. Tom get ready to take over, driving. Both ping pong and life have obstacles. With ping pong, its the net. With life, it might be physics, exams, or no gas money. And, finally, to really enjoy ping pong or life, you have to participate. I get bored watching sports on television or binjing a Netflix series, even with all its character conflicts and unpredictable outcomes. We’d rather be in the game ourself! But I guess my analogy isn’t perfect. Ping pong has only 2 players, well with doubles as much as 4, but life has so many more examples of the many kinds of people that I guess you might have to interact with, and I’m glad not all of them are trying to beat me. Finally, ping pong goes only to 21, but as a matter of fact I’m planning on going a lot further than that.”

Andy Minch


8. Princess Konohanasakuya

“Remember, Princess Konohanasakuya, you promised to pray with me at your mysterious, lost Shinto shrine.” “Pleeeeze!” I added on our video messaging app, soundlessly mouthing the word, my mouth as wide as I could make it. Princess K chuckled back at me, always impressed because I had no problem pronouncing her name. Japanese vowels are just like my native Spanish. But the consonants are sometimes different. Reiko is her real name, and I like to tell her that when she says her name, it sounds like “Lake-oh” to me. I guess because the Japanese r and l sounds are a lot different than in Spanish or English. She thinks that’s actually very appropriate because she lives in the famous five-lake region of Japan near Mt. Fuji. I love Japanese culture, so I nicknamed Reiko after Princess Konohanasakuya, the goddess of Mt. Fuji. We both just graduated from Weber State University. My major was mechanical engineering, and as I was growing up, I learned ornamental iron work from my dad and Michoacán uncles. I promised Princess K’s dad that I would complete his steel bamboo design fence in the temple style he wants. Best of all, I was going to see Reiko again, experience that ancient Shinto shrine, climb Mt. Fuji, and join the family for meals, our feet extending into their traditional kotatsu, dinner table over a pit of hot coals. Reiko says it gets cold without central heat.

Arturo Cantarovici


9. The Perfect Breakfast

First step: my early morning stroll. Soon light beckons from my darling’s kitchen door. Rhythmic cooking sounds of cutting, chopping, and bubbling invite me to explore further. The smells of soybean soup warm me. Look…steam is floating my way from the rice-cooker. Ahhh…nice tofu and seaweed. The golden sun through the window settles on my face. I sit down to enjoy my breakfast, the process always the same, always on time. Final step, we kiss. Seven-twenty a.m. Time to go. I’ll be back!

Khanh Chau


10. Humanized Kitten?

Princeton philosopher Michael Tooley once imagined the following predicament based on genetic engineering research in order to initiate a discussion about the ethical implications of this new science. After lengthy animal experimentation, the psychological and intellectual capabilities of a human were surprisingly miniaturized into the brain of a feline fetus. Should the kitten with its modified human-like brain structure be allowed to grow and fully develop?

Bob Krine