Cover Letter

16th March 2016

Professor Agnes Stark

UWP 23 Instructor

University of California, Davis

One Shield Avenue

Davis, CA 95616

Dear Professor Stark,

Though a quarter of learning in the course UWP 23, I feel I am improving my English skills, especially on writing, gradually for the last two months. As a writer, I had some experience with essay writing from high school and the winter quarter, which was my first quarter at college. I would say that I was not a bad writer, and my essays were able to convey my ideas. However, I heavily relied on the sources and was using quotes a lot and sometimes the analysis comes weaker than the quotations. Now I feel I am much more confident and natural with analysis and eliminating the direct quotations from my essays.

What I learned in this class can also be helpful in other classes whenever there is an essay to write. The most useful skill I learned that can be used in essay writing is researching in the school library. Library is a source that is being forgotten by people because of the existence  of the Internet and research engines. However, the articles and journals in the library are much better sources than the articles from the Internet since they were actually published on magazines and other academic publications. Moreover, the presentation skill that I practiced in this class is also very useful for other courses.

As a writer, I think the strongest strength I have is that I can always find something others cannot find. I love to write about something unique or interpret something through a unique point of view that is completely different from others. I guess it is related to my creativity and personality. I think the unique point of view can really help me to stand out from other writers.

As always, I can work on my essay organization since it is where my problems at. Despite the grammar problems I have had, my essay organization is sometimes confusing and really need improvements by making specific outlines. Instead of enjoying researching the topic, I think I should pay more attention to planning my essay way before I start researching. If I can make a complete outline including the thesis statements and topic sentence, I should be able to make my essay very clear and direct.

My favorite piece in the portfolio is the one that I interviewed my mother about the air pollution in China. I like this one the most because I really learned a lot of what I did not know before during the process of not only interviewing, but also doing the research to fully understand about the topic. I had a lot of fun during the process, and found interviewing a lot easier and relaxing than I had imagined. I think the analytical research essay came out a little confusing for the readers that it did not have a very specific format and topic sentences. However, the content, as far as I am concerned, is really interesting. Reddit is a website that many may be heard of but never experienced, especially for older generations. While writing about Reddit, I did look through a lot of articles talking about Reddit from its history to the problems of the community. I even learned the Reddit users accidentally accused the wrong person as the bomber at Boston Marathon.

As a UWP student, I really appreciate the program that helps me getting more and more comfortable with the English related works at UC Davis. I do feel more capable of getting good grades on essays and presentations, and even better than many of the native speakers.


Ziyi Zeng


Final Exam

Women in Military: How Are the Newer Generations Seeing Them

In January, the Defense Department of America had opened up all the gender-based limitations for one to join the military, and females, from now on, are free to join the military and even the special forces if they are able to pass the tests. According to Andrew Tilghman, in his article “All Combat Jobs Open to Women in the Military,” it was a “historic change” that “will clear the way for women to serve alongside men in combat arms units” (Tilghman, 2015). Many of the older generations do not agree with what the Department did, and believe allowing women in the military is a horrible mistake, since women are the ones to be protected in their opinions. Differently, the newer generations are more ready to accept women in the military, since they have been born and raised without the barrier of genders, and they have witnessed the power of women.

As the traditional beliefs goes, boys wear blue while girls wear pink, boys play with cars  while girls play with dolls. However, the newer generations are raised in a time where regarding genders equally, in which girls are able to have interests that considered “boyish” by the older generations. According to my English professor Agnes Stark, her four-year-old son loves to play with dolls as much as he loves to play with cars, and her daughter is learning tae kwon do and has already achieved the blue belt. Her children being the newest generation in the world currently, are the examples of generations being born without the boundaries of genders. According to Stark, interests should not be limited by the gender of a person, and one should not be judged because of the old fashioned ways of looking at genders. Children born in such environment would certainly become a part of the people finding less differences between genders but personalities. Also, one of my mother’s closest friend has a daughter who is about the age of 8. When the girl was 6, she just fell in love with the Disney movie “Cars” as well as all the cars. She was obsessed with toy cars and racing games on iPad, and never wanted to wear skirts. Clearly, the newer generations are being born in the world where has less bias on genders, especially on girls. The so-called “female-roles” from the older generations and stereotypes of housewives now does not apply to the females from the newer generations, and these girls would not think being a part of the military is something not appropriate for them.

Moreover, female power has been widely witnessed by the new generations that they believe females are not made to be protected. As one from a newer generation, a Marine, and Iraq war veteran, Mary Beth Bruggerman said, “Women have achieved so much and done so much right in front of our eyes that most people don’t believe there are barriers for women anymore” (Lemmon, 2015). Even though women’s achievements were being dismissed by the older generations, it is more and more exposed to the newer generation. Kathy Johnson, in her article “Women in Combat: History and Future,” explained that there were more than 130 deaths and 800 injuries of women soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan that were never credited by the government (Johnson, 2013). Seen as only “attachments” of the military by the officials of the military, which are majorly males from the older generations, the female soldiers did not receive enough attention until now. As the Internet becoming the dominant media, the public is being exposed with more and more female power like those soldier who served their lives to their country. As the public becoming to notice how powerful females can be and forgetting about the old biased opinions of women are the ones to be protected by men, the newer generations would be much more willing to accept women in military serving their country with their strength.

However, one major point that people may believe that is against females in the military is that women do no have enough physical strength, stamina, and other elements to perform as well as men do in combat situations. As Tilghman reports in the article “All Combat Jobs Open to Women in the Military,” a Marine Corps-sponsored study indicates that male units “shot more accurately, could carry more weight and move quickly through some tactical maneuvers,” and women are easier to get injured than men (Tilghman, 2015). The fact is clear, most females do not physically perform as well as males does. However, in combats, physical performance does not mean everything. Every situation that men can solve with physical strength should be able to be solved with other elements like strategy and dexterity by females. In the new generations’ opinions, mental strength means everything instead of physical strength.

In conclusion, the newer generations are open to women joining the military. The environment they grow up in educates them that there are no boundaries between genders, the female power is more and more exposed to them and make them believe females are not the ones “need to be protected.” Humans started with the society of males protecting females long time ago because they were under the threatening of survival of the species from other brutal animals, and they needed to protect the ones who are crucial to the existence of a species, which are females and the young. However, in the society today, females should be freed from the role of continuing the species, and should be able to do what they want to with the respect from others.

Analysis Report

Reddit: News from Online Community for Millennials


Millennials, the young generation being born after 1989, are becoming the majority of American population, and they are having much different ways of consuming news and information. Having one of their characteristics as deeply depending on the Internet, most Millennials are actually receiving news from social networks. Among all the social networks that Millennials use, there is one called Reddit that can provide everything that the Millennials are looking for – a research-free source of information that is presented in front of them, a platform to discuss and exchange thoughts with others, and entertainment within news. Comparing to the traditional news source like the New York Times, Reddit is certainly a better fit for the Millennials and provides a better environment for them to be updated with the world.

Introducing Reddit

Millennials, or Generation Ys, are making up a growing portion of the population nowadays in America and other countries. Born from 1989 to 2000s, the Millennials are the generation that depend on the Internet and other technologies while consuming news. While the general opinion on the Millennials is that they barely learn about news, which is not true, the Millennials have their very own sources of information on the Internet and through the social networks. According to a Pew research, there are 61% of them are receiving political news from the Facebook (Mitchell, 2015). The Millennials prefer to read news that is more related to them, and want to be able to comment and discuss with others. There is a website called Reddit is providing the best platform for them.

What is Reddit? In the article “More Than Just Cat Pictures: Reddit as a Curated News Source,” Steven Ovadia introduced, “At its core, it allows users to post content and links to content, with other users voting on and commenting on it. All comments, content, and links can be voted either up or down, with high up-voted content moving up the site display into a higher position” (Ovadia, 2015). With the low limitations and requirements, Reddit users are more than happy to share their opinions on news and events with the online community. The users can identify the quality of the comments by the votes they have, and the most voted comments come up first while people are browsing a thread. In Branstetter’s article, “How Reddit Ate the News Media,” he compared Reddit with some of the popular online news websites like the BuzzFeed, and came up with the conclusion that Reddit may not have the best news articles, but the environment of discussing freely with everyone else is what others do not have. Among its user group of 36 million of accounts and 231 million of unique monthly visitors (Smith, 2016), the majority are young males from 18-29 years old (Sullivan, 2013), Reddit is a very attractive news source for those who are into technologies and discussion and can make people learn a lot more than reading news articles.

Advantages of Reddit

Comparing to traditional news websites like the New York Times, Reddit has its advantages of the depth of content and clarity through the users’ contribution. On the same topic of the Paris Attacks, the New York Times has its article introducing the event from the basics and also includes quotes from presidents (Nossiter, 2015). It is a typical news article that has everything that the reader needs to know to be updated, while it also has opinions from the authorities to provide the readers not only the facts, but also some analyzation and reactions. However, if anyone want to learn more about the event like “what happened to Syria” and “how are different countries reacting to this,” he is going to have a hard time doing research on the topic because there are too many articles on the similar topic that are pretty useless. As for Reddit, under the thread named “[Serious] Paris Attacks Megathread,” there are thousands of comments and replies from different users. Reading through the most voted comments, one can easily learn about the details about the topic from opinions on the events to the reaction of Australia government. Reddit is like a place where every user puts the information they get from any other sources together and shares with the community.

Another advantage of Reddit is that it is a source that “gives” users the news instead of requiring them to do the research. While researching, I had a really hard time to find a news post that I could use from major news websites, since there have been too many articles written on the topic and none of them has what I am looking for. However, I solved this problem after I found the “Paris Attacks Megathread” on Reddit. There is a link of the original New York Times article that I had been looking for right under the title. Web links are also Reddit’s core features. In different threads, people can put links in their comments and redirect others into a webpage, a blog, or even a Youtube video, and then they can discuss about it. Reddit gives up the traditional form of news media, but makes its users do all the work since only the users know what they want. Instead of having a few journalists writing the articles, everyone can be the contributor on Reddit and they can create the “article” together.

The Credibility Problem

However, Reddit, as many can see, is not a very authorized source since anyone can be writing on it. The comments are not as credible as the articles from major news sources, and people can be extreme, biased, or even racist. At the same time of receiving different opinions, one must be careful for what they should take and not. Even though users have to filter the information by themselves, I believe it still gives them the maximum freedom for what kind of information they receive.


In conclusion, Reddit is the place that many Millennials choose to go to be updated with the world. Even though there are no authorized articles nor interviews with politics, the users are co-creating their own news thread together with personal experiences, opinions, links, and votes. It is a very effective way of learning not only by reading all the contents, but also by joining the discussion. Reddit is really a place made for the Millennials to get their news rather than from traditional journalisms like the New York Times, because it saves their time, provide them a environment to comment discuss, and also give them a more thorough view of the events from other people.


Branstetter, B. (2014, November 2). How reddit ate the news media. Retrieved February 23, 2016, from

Mitchell, A., Gottfried, J., & Matsa, K. E. (2015, June 01). Millennials and political news. Retrieved February 18, 2016, from

Nossiter, A., & Gladstone, R. (2015, November 13). Paris Attacks Kill More Than 100, Police Say; Border Controls Tightened. Retrieved February 23, 2016, from

Ovadia, S. (2015). More than just cat pictures: reddit as a curated news source. Behavioral & Social Sciences Librarian, 34(1), 37-40. Retrieved February 18, 2016, from

Smith, C. (2016, February 19). 60 Amazing Reddit Statistics. Retrieved March 01, 2016, from

Sullivan, D. (2013, July 03). Who Reads Reddit? 6% Of US Internet Users, Young Men Are Highest Group. Retrieved March 01, 2016, from

Unknown2374. (2015, November). I live in canada, moved here more than four years ago when I was still in high school. I was raised in a muslim country, by a very religious mother. [Web log comment]. Retrieved February 22, 2016, from

News Story

Air Pollution in China: Who Shall We Blame and What Shall We Do?

Air is usually defined as the substance that has no color nor smell, and it is one of the most important sources of life. However, what would happen if the air becomes something completely different? It is not just an assumption, and the air pollution today is about to become the number one environmental problem in many countries. The particle pollution, which means there are unseen tiny particles in floating in the air that can be breathed in and cause harm, is bringing serious problems to countries that are rapidly developing, and China is one of them.

Since the economic reform in the 1970s in China, the pace of development in China has been increased to an extreme speed and is going off limits. According to O’Hara-Devereaux in her article “China’s 5 Generations: Diverging Lifestyles,” “The Sandwich Generation (1968-1979)” is the generation that experienced the development and witnessed the heavy pollution as the result. Along with the the Sandwich Generation, the “Me” Generation was also born under the influence of the pollution. Also, in the article, “Detailed Introduction to Generational Theory” by Graeme Codrington, the Sandwich Generation can be categorized as the rebuilding period when people were gathered under certain big visions and dreams of everything looks bright in the future, while the “Me” Generation is the inner-directed era as the society is blooming in an amazing speed, but the crisis is going to happen soon. The air pollution in China has been addressed these years and it changed people’s lives in different ways. People are wearing masks on their way to work and school, and they are having more breathing problems because of the harmful particles. If the generational theory is accurate, the air pollution can possibly be the crisis that ruins our generation right now.

In order to know what specific effects the air pollution has, I interviewed my mother, Yijun He. She was born in Taiyuan, which is a city that is famous for its coal production and is heavily polluted today. Then she moved to Beijing for work, and she also had lived in the San Francisco bay area for a few years when I was in high school there. According to her, when she was a child, even though her city is famous for its coal production in which is one of the major source of the pollution, she has absolutely no memory about the air pollution, and she described, “The sky was blue every day.” Nor she or her friends had ever seen or experienced air pollution while growing up. She told me that in her time, no one would care or talk about the environment since it was perfect, and they would not even think about something can take the blue skies away from them. As an older person that was born more than 40 years ago, my mother apparently did not experience any kind of air pollution in her youth.

If there was no air pollution at all 20 years ago, then when did the pollution start to happen? “About five years ago,” she first answered, but later she changed her idea, “No, the air pollution actually has been a problem for already more than ten years.” Then she continued, and explained that it was the last five years that the pollution has become more serious, but the particle pollution has been addressed for a long time already on the weather broadcasts. As I searched on the Internet, the major pollution substance is called PM 2.5 or particulates. According to AirNow, a governmental website about air pollution, it is a mixture of dry or liquid tiny particles floating in the air that has its diameter of 1/20 of human hair. It is harmful for people’s breathing systems in that it can cause serious diseases in lungs and tracheas. While I looked up the air quality in different cities on a website called Real-time Air Quality Index, it shows that the amount of PM 2.5 at Davis was 61 µg/m³, and about ten years ago as I remember, the amount for Beijing varied from 70-90 µg/m³, and sometimes it can even get to 120 µg/m³. In the last five years, the number has been 500-600 µg/m³ for its worst times in most cities in China.

“The breathing departments in hospitals are always full of patients, and a lot of children got sick because of the pollution,” she also mentioned, “and there are a lot more children having allergic rhinitis and asthma than before.” Clearly, the pollution has became more serious especially for the last five years in China.

Except bringing breathing problems, the air pollution has a lot more negative influences on people’s lives. When I ask my mother to give a number from 1 as least influence to 10 as most influence regarding how the air pollution is influencing her life, she answered 6, and said that when there is haze, she cannot even go out and can only stay at home. Also, the car use is limited since the pollution. During the last winter break, I asked her to drive me to the subway station  near our house in Beijing. On the road, the haze and mist was so heavy that we could barely see a thing; then we got lost and had to use the navigator to get me to the station. Also, she mentioned she has been coughing continuously since the haze appeared, which shows that the particles in the air is harming her breathing system.

The pollution is not always the same. My mother told me that she can remember how the car and factory limitation during special times (international conferences like APEC) was really effective. She thought the government did made some successful regulations during the times when those conference occur and make the sky blue again. In other words, she believes the air pollution is all caused by humans and can possibly be solved using similar strategies like reducing coal burning and using public transportations instead of driving.

In conclusion, the air pollution in China is clearly an urgent problem that needs to be solved as soon as possible. It is and has been influencing people’s lives in a very negative way causing them to panic about the haze and to be afraid of going out. The breathing diseases are becoming more and more common in China. As in the generational theory, the crisis may come very soon in my generation, but I sincerely hope that it is not related to the air pollution. I believe it is time to give up some development speed in order to restore the environment to the state it was, and make life far from suffering from these horrible air problems.

Works Cited

Codrington, Graeme. “Detailed Introduction to Generational Theory.” Tommrowtoday. Web.

EPA. “Particulate Matter.” United States Environmental Protection Agency. Web. 20 Jan. 2016.

He, Yijun. “Air Pollution in China.” Telephone interview. 17 Jan. 2016.

O’Hara-Devereaux, Mary. “China’s 5 Generations: Diverging Lifestyles.” Global Foresight (2013).

“Particle Pollution (PM).” Particle Pollution (PM). AirNow. Web. 05 Feb. 2016.