Independent Minds, Working Together

Summer Reading 2014

Yu Hua, China in Ten Words

China in Ten Words Cover

What does it mean to be a College of Wooster student? Our liberal arts education—in all its components—aims to develop in its graduates the capacities “to become leaders of character and influence in an interdependent global community.” The many dimensions of this education are expressed in the Graduate Qualities, and may be summarized in the phrase, Independent Minds, Working Together. What does this mean, and how will Wooster’s mission challenge you as you enter the College and progress toward graduation?

Much can be said about these ideals and questions, but for now, starting with the Summer Reading Program, the focus is on the core skills of critical inquiry: critical reading, critical thinking, and communicating clearly with others, in writing, in speech, and in listening. The purpose of the Summer Reading Program is to provide a challenging assignment for critical reading, thinking, and writing, to engage you with the mission of The College of Wooster from the first days you are on campus, in the ARCH program, in New Student Orientation, and the first day of classes.

Required Writing Assignment

Before you arrive on campus for New Student Orientation, read China in Ten Words and write an essay (900-1000 words) on this book using one of the writing prompts listed below.

This essay provides both an opportunity for discussion of the book with your FYS class and professor, and a first writing assignment that will provide a benchmark for beginning to work with you in developing the skills of critical inquiry that are necessary for success at Wooster and beyond. Engagement with this book will also serve as an entry point for participating in the intellectual community of Wooster in relation to the Fall Forum.

Use the ideas and questions offered here to facilitate your reading and thinking about China in Ten Words. When you arrive on campus, bring the book, your essay, and any related notes and thoughts, so that you will be prepared both to begin benefiting from and contributing to Wooster’s community of learners.

I wish you the best as you start your Wooster education.

Henry B. Kreuzman
Dean for Curriculum
and Academic Engagement

Summer Reading Essay

China in Ten Words

The following prompts ask you to make an argument based upon your reading and analysis of China in Ten Words. Please select one of the following prompts and compose an argument, using details and quotes from the text to support and defend your points. Your essay should use appropriate citations and be approximately 900 to 1,000 words.

  1. Hua mentions Mao Zedong and the Mao era in several contexts. What does the figure of Mao represent in Hua's book? Provide evidence for your conclusions from the text.
  2. Hua presents a story that describes experiences in learning to read and write, and reflects on the greater significance of those skills. What point does he seem to be making about the place of literacy in his own life and in China as a whole? You may want to focus on the chapters "Reading" and "Writing."
  3. Hua discusses revolution throughout his book. What is Hua saying about the nature of revolution in China? Provide evidence for your conclusions from the text.
  4. "It's your experience while growing up, I believe, that shapes the direction of your life. A basic image of the world is planted deep in your mind, and then, like a document on a copy machine, it keeps being reprinted again and again throughout your formative years. Once you reach adulthood, whether you're successful or not, whatever you accomplish can only partially revise that most basic image; it will never be entirely transformed" (Hua 88). What basic image is planted deeply in Hua's own mind?

Fall Forum Essay Contest

The Writing Center is organizing an essay contest! Those students who submit the strongest essays will be invited to a dinner with one of the Forum speakers.

Submissions need to be Word or PDF documents, with the student's last name as the document title, and a full name and email address listed at the top of the essay.

Submit your essay.