Onward and Upward|寫Personal Statement,如何避免用’Firstly…Secondly…Thirdly’?

相信大部分在香港本地學校接受教育的人跟我一樣,中學開始,英文老師教作文,大都比較格式化:寫完introduction,再想三個 points,每敘述一個point,start a new paragraph,然後按順序寫Firstly、Secondly,或Thirdly,最後再寫conclusion。

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用這種程式作文,能應付考試。但日後申請外國學校,或for work-related reason需要寫personal statement,如果還是採用這種格式,就難免給人生硬的印象。那what’s the alternative?

其實只能case by case去決定合適的方案。下面這個案例,為了避免Firstly…Secondly…Thirdly格式,我在原文前加插了一個跟三個points有關的小故事,三個points有了新的平衡,整段文字就生動起來。

Original text

For as long as I can remember, I’ve always admired strong and independent women.

Firstly, I was enrolled in a boarding school that was connected with Emmeline Pankhurst. She was a suffragette who was instrumental in winning women the right to vote in 1918.

Secondly, I admire Coco Chanel, who once said ‘In order to be irreplaceable one must always be different’. Chanel started out as an orphan who learned how to sew from nuns, going on to build a fashion empire even though she didn’t grow up in luxury.

Thirdly, I also respect Eleanor Roosevelt, a self-styled “ugly duckling” who believed from a young age  “no matter how plain a woman may be if truth and loyalty are stamped upon her face all will be attracted to her.” When she later became First Lady, she refused to play second fiddle to her husband, holding her own press conferences and penning her own newspaper column, eventually becoming a formidable champion of human rights.

To conclude, these women are very different but they all helped me develop my maturity and sense of independence. They are a huge source of inspiration and can give me insight into the many ways women from different circumstances can contribute to society.

My rewrite

When Gone with the Wind author Margaret Mitchell expressed a distaste for schooling at the age of six, her suffragette mother took her on a trip to tour the mansions in Atlanta that had been ravaged by the Civil War. There, her mother beckoned her to imagine how it must have shocked the former inhabitants of these grand places to have had their way of life abruptly seized from them.

”What women have in their heads (the education they have) will carry them as far as they need to go,” she instilled in the young Mitchell.

This story made an impression on me because the school I was formerly enrolled in was connected with Emmeline Pankhurst. So, it had long been ingrained in me that intellectual refinement and independence go hand in hand.

Over time, the life stories of other notable women spoke to me too. Among them are Coco Chanel and Eleanor Roosevelt. The former was rose from a poverty-stricken childhood to build a fashion empire, living by the motto “in order to be irreplaceable one must always be different”; the latter, though forever self-conscious about her lack of physical appeal, never let it get in the way of her goal of becoming a champion for human rights. Chanel and Roosevelt have taught me strong women come in all forms and persuasions.

Michelle Ng

聯絡方式: michelleng.coach@proton.me
個人網站: https://michellengwritings.com
逢周日英國時間晚上8時 / 周一香港時間凌晨4時刊出



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