I began this research when living in Florence, Italy. It started as a cultural blog and transformed into an entire research project that I was able to present at Elon University’s Student Undergraduate Research Forum in the spring of 2011. It focuses on the cultural difference in the United States and Italy, based on my experience, especially the comparisons between foods. How and where Italy’s food is grown is drastically different than the Untied States. Therefore, I continued my research after returning to the United States and had more focused research on the food processes.
I developed my original cultural blog as a form of communication to my audience. These were friends and family that had become interested in my travels. In some cases I knew exactly who was reading it because they would leave comments, but other times I just knew the number of people. Therefore, my writing tried to reflect that. I kept the blog, and later final document, very conversational due to the nature of blogging. All the while trying to be informative and as professional as possible when writing to my audience.
I utilized my rhetorical studies when going about creating and finalizing my research. Although my method of communication was blogging, I wanted to keep it as informative and professional as possible. I found that my tendency to consider my ethos when writing became a question every time I made a post. I wanted my audience to feel that I was a credible source, even though I was a college student. I was very aware that most of my audience was much older than college age and therefore, I found that it was important to connect to them on a rhetorical level and instill confidence in them that my blog was informative and truly acted as a reflection on the cultural differences.
Therefore, I didn’t use blogging as a way to get out my feelings or simply type to type. Instead my posts became like mini-papers on my experiences. I tried not to allow any mistakes in grammar or writing and I made sure that my posts always came full circle. I knew that to portray a strong sense of ethos in my writing, it had to be the best writing I could do.
Although my Student Undergraduate Document acted as a research paper, I kept a conversational tone to it, in order to keep that connection with my readers. I also added comments to the bottom of my posts, seen in italics here, which took the post and expanded it with the research I had gathered. It was a way to connect my readers with the two pieces of my research. When creating these documents I did not sacrifice my professionalism though and kept to researching credible sources and writing to the best of my ability.
Elon University graciously recognized the work I have done and allowed me to present my research in front of a panel of English professors and students. This opportunity allowed me to personally explain my rhetorical reasoning for the project and also give it my own personal touch.
This research opened my eyes to the different types of writing that I can do. Life isn’t about research papers due on a certain day. Instead it’s a constant balance of creation and organization. I was able to create an entire research project on a simple trip to Italy. Having the rhetorical influences though allowed me to see the world in a different light. When I was abroad my experiences were enhanced by my constant reflection on cultural differences and how to portray that professionally in writing. If I had not had that seed in the back of my mind I suspect that my experience would have been very different and not as culturally or rhetorically rich. The idea of combining rhetoric with travel, culture, and even science was such a learning experience. Rhetoric is truly used in every discipline and this project showed me that.