Telling Your Story

Presentation and narrative due in class on Monday, October 2

Two to three pages, typed, double-spaced, printed out, and stapled.

This assignment consists of both a presentation and a write-up. We will break up into groups of four, five, or six, and each of you will present your story in a five to ten-minute presentation to the other people in your group.
Your presentation will consist of a true story of a relationship between you and someone you know well who is either far wealthier than you or far less wealthy than you. The story should be told through your eyes. This story is a first step towards further discussions about differences in socioeconomic class. In other words, we will discuss differences in wealth and income between different socioeconomic classes by first focusing on the ways in which we have experienced class difference.

Your narrative will probably mention your parents, but the primary relationship in your story should not be between you and your parents. In other words, do not focus your story on a relationship between you and your parents. This is because in most circumstances family wealth and income is shared. Relationships between siblings might be a possible focus for your story if there is an explanation for why siblings are not supported by parents and are not receiving significant aid from parents (for example, as a result of divorce and remarriage).

Here are possible relationships that you might have experienced and that might be the topic for your story:

  • Between you and the employees of a parent's business
  • Between you and a parent's employer
  • Between you and a domestic helper, caregiver, or nanny
  • Between you and a cousin/aunt/uncle, possibly newly-immigrated to the US or whom you have visited in Asia
  • Between you and family friends
  • Between you and a close friend
  • Between you and classmates/former classmates
  • Between you and co-workers

Your story should focus on activities, not ideas. Here are possible activities that might describe the material effects of the relationship:

  • Work and services (paid)
  • Work and services (unpaid)
  • Aid (providing necessities that otherwise would not be available)
  • Gifts

Finally, if you are having trouble generating enough material, you should consider how physical space and locations are related to class. People who are born in certain locations have different opportunities than people born in others. Some spaces, such as classrooms, might be places where people of different socioeconomic classes interact, while other spaces, such as restaurants, hotels, and stores, might be places where socioeconomic class determines who is permitted and who is not permitted to enter and what role different people have in those spaces.

Come to class on Monday, October 2, with the written part of this assignment typed, printed out, and stapled. For the presentation, you will present only for the other people in your group. You will not present for the whole class. You should refer to the written part of the assignment for your presentation, but you should not just read your assignment to your classmates.

Here is a suggested set of steps for completing the written part of this assignment:

Step 1. Brainstorm possible relationships. You should select one that you have vivid memories of, and remember that the relationship should not be between you and your parents.

Step 2. Write a true narrative with the following structure

  • Introduction: Introduce yourself, the person or people who were much wealthier or much less wealthy than you, and your relationship at the beginning of the story.
  • Body: The body of the essay should include a time leading up to a turning point and a time after the turning point. Make sure that you have a paragraph break immediately before the turning point. For most of you, the turning point will be when you realized how class differences separated you from people around you.
  • Conclusion: Sum up what you learned from this relationship about class differences, and especially the material differences. For example, the class (and the national economy) in which someone is born very often has a profound effect on the life opportunities of that person.
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