English Project Assignment on Identity and Politics



This project will be built around identity and politics. I believe, and I know that not everybody experiences this the same way, that politics and identity are inseparable, that our identities impact our politics, that our politics impact our identities, and the way we experience the world is impacted by both of these things.

I also believe that identity and politics sometimes (a lot, recently) keep people separate, keep us from finding common ground and humanity, and prevent us from living the full lives we could be living.

This project aims to address those things, and hopefully begin the process of taking “one small step” towards another person and seeing their whole self.

The project

This project asks you to identify somebody who is different than you in either identity or political beliefs; How you define “politics” or “identity” is left open – we will spend some time in class brainstorming about what those terms might mean and might reflect. Once you have found that person (somebody living, in town, ideally not a stranger) you will spend some time interviewing (following directions below and using an app to help) that person to try and understand them and SEEK COMMON GROUND between people who are different. The second part of this project is to use the interview to help you write an essay about your subject, tell their story, humanize this “other” and take “one small step” towards bridging the growing divide in our society.


Part 1 – talk to each other, and listen

  • Download the Story Corps app.
  • Schedule a time (at least 60 minutes) when you and your subject can sit down together in private to talk. Ideally you will be someplace comfortable and quiet (that’s important). The Aurora library has some nice quiet rooms, as does the CCA library. You may need to call ahead to reserve those rooms. Remember, be cognizant of the impact the space may have on the person you are talking to.
  • Develop a list of questions you want to ask. (There are some suggestions below to get you started, and we will brainstorm in class).
  • Share that list with your subject in advance of your meeting.

at the meeting/interview session

  • Check your technology. Do a sample interview using the Story Corps app to make sure everything will work.
  • Spend at least 5 minutes doing some deliberate and planned activities to get comfortable with one another. Ask each other a series of questions about favorites: favorite color and why, favorite smell and why, favorite part of fall and why, favorite place to be and why, favorite memory and why. I advise ending with something a bit more challenging, to move things from surface to a little deeper. Maybe least favorite memory, thing you wish you could forget, something you are scared of, what would you regret if you died tomorrow, etc….
  • Interview/talk with your subject. Use the Story Corps app to record your discussion. Use the questions to guide your dialogue. Remember the goal here is to listen to one another, to come together and FIND COMMON GROUND. Listen for stories that help us to humanize others and help you to connect and understand.

Part 2 – tell the story of your subject

  • Now that you have created an interview, and shared it to the public (if you want… if you don’t share it publicly , at least share it with me) use that as a guide to help you write an essay that explains who this person is by sharing their stories. Tell the story you heard them share. Don’t just write a transcript of the interview, tell the story of them telling the story. What did you observe in their emotions, behaviors, actions, language, tone, etc… Think about how you can build these details into the story to help your readers engage and connect. Maybe you want to tell multiple stories and put them together in order to make a point about the person; think about how you can build a thesis and argument around their stories. Stories may include details about their identities, how those identities impact their experience in the world, what their politics are, how they came to hold their beliefs, etc…

Your goal here is to share this person’s story and experience in a way that helps you and others understand this person not as a X, Y, or Z and not as a person with particular beliefs but as a WHOLE, COMPLETE HUMAN with fears, passions, and beliefs just like the you or me.

  • As you write focus on the pathos – tell the persons story, make your readers engage and connect. You can do that through description, vivid imagery, focus on specific details, and quotes. Quote from the interview, quote from the exchanges before the interview.
  • You may need to go back and talk to the person about OTHER things, or maybe hang out with them, or maybe follow them on social media so you can see them from other perspectives.
  • Try not to use first person (I) in this essay. This isn’t about you; it’s about your subject.




October 17 – identify 2 – 3 people you may want to interview. Draft an email/phone call/text message inviting them to participate and support your educational goals. (Use pathos as you invite them to participate).

October 19 – You should have made contact with the subject of your paper, and planned a date for the interview.

October 24 – Interview needs to be completed by this date

October 31 – Draft for workshop due Draft for workshop due – 4 copies.

November 5 – Submission Draft Due



  • Describe an experience that shaped your politics.
  • How did your childhood shape your view of the world today?
  • Can you talk about a time you experienced doubt over your beliefs?
  • Is there someone with whom you disagree but still respect?
  • When you think about the future, what are you most scared of?
  • Why did you agree to be a part of this interview?
  • Who has been the most important person in your life? Can you tell me about him or her?
  • What was the happiest moment of your life? The saddest?
  • Who has been the biggest influence on your life? What lessons did that person teach you?
  • Who has been the kindest to you in your life?
  • What are the most important lessons you’ve learned in life?
  • What is your earliest memory?
  • What is your favorite memory of me?
  • Are there any funny stories your family tells about you that come to mind?
  • Are there any funny stories or memories or characters from your life that you want to tell me about?
  • What are you proudest of?
  • When in life have you felt most alone?
  • If you could hold on to one memory from your life forever, what would that be?
  • How has your life been different than what you’d imagined?
  • How would you like to be remembered?
  • Do you have any regrets?
  • What does your future hold?
  • What are your hopes for what the future holds for me? For my children?
  • If this was to be our very last conversation, is there anything you’d want to say to me
  • For your great great grandchildren listening to this years from now: is there any wisdom you’d want to pass on to them? What would you want them to know?
  • Is there anything that you’ve never told me but want to tell me now?
  • Is there something about me that you’ve always wanted to know but have never asked?