Writer's Block

The USA is the place I was born. Canada is the place I was raised. Taiwan is the place in my heart.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

I recently gave my introductory writing class the assignment of writing about what they would do if they won the lottery. Of course I set some ground rules for their compositions, namely, that they could not simply write that they'd go shopping every day or write about all things they would buy. I wanted them to think a little deeper, perhaps with a charitable heart, and to dream a little.

So I offered some fodder to my flock, to help them express themselves and get to thinking. Here are some of the questions I asked them to think about and answer. Actually, some of these questions are pretty huge questions, but they offer some concrete structure for students at the introductory level:

If you won the lottery who would you tell first?

Would you give some of your money to someone else? Who? Why?

Would you still go to school or would you study abroad in a different country?

Would you still work or have a job?

Would you like to start your own company or business? Describe the company or business.

Would you buy a new house? Describe your house. Where would your house be?

Would you move to a different country? Which one? Why?

Would you use your money to help other people? Who? Why? How would you help them?

I don't know why, but I always find if particularly endearing when many of my students write that they'd like to study or travel abroad, but that they could never imagine moving to another country because Taiwan is their home, it's where their friends and family are, it's where they've had so many childhood memories.

I've given this writing assignment in the past, but this semester I noticed a disturbing recurring theme in my students compositions. 99.99% of the students wrote that if they won the lottery, they would only tell their close relatives. Otherwise, they would keep it a secret because they would be afraid if someone knew that they were wealthy, that they'd be kidnapped!

How ever outlandish my students concerns may seem, unfortunately, they aren't completely unfounded. Yes, the media here, as in other countries, seems to constantly report on crimes and kidnappings are up there with purse snatchers and ATM card theft. It used to be that children of wealthy families were at risk of being kidnapped for a ransom of hundreds of thousands of NT$ (New Taiwan Dollars). But now there has been an alarming trend in which petty kidnappers kidnap young children to make a quick buck, ransoming a child for NT$30,000-50,000. In these cases the families usually just cut their losses, pay the ransom, collect their child and the kidnapping goes unreported.


  • At 10/09/2006 2:22 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

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