BRS 100: Personal Narrative Assignment

BRS 100: Personal Narrative Assignment

BRS 100: Personal Narrative

OBJECTIVE: The goal of this course to explore border studies through the personal narratives of people who live in the local border region, and to associate these stories with larger themes such as movement, human rights, immigration, cultural context, among others.

YOUR ROLE: In this assignment, you are the storyteller, the central character of the story. This story can be about your experiences and/or your family’s experiences living in the border region. The purpose of a narrative is to look back and remember an episode in your life with great significance. The narrative is a first-person point of view; feel free to use, “I”, “me,” “mine”. Storytelling is an art that our families have passed down through generations without much notice. We usually tell stories when we are in communion with others, in informal conversations at the dining table, by remembering loved ones who are no longer with us, or reliving major life-changing moments. These are narratives that shape who we become as individuals and members of a community. Personal narratives are one of the most powerful ways to validate our lived experiences and to create a sense of collective solidarity.


DIRECTIONS: Write your personal narrative in the form of an essay using MLA format. Your essay should be between 3-4 pages, doubled-spaced, 12-point font (Times New Roman is standard font). This assignment is worth 25 points. The three most common personal narrative structures are: chronological approach, flashback sequence, and reflective mode, or a combination of multiple structures. Select one that best fits the story you are telling. Use the 5W’s: WHO, WHEN, WHERE, WHAT, WHY, HOW. Some examples of significant events:

  • Immigration/migration: Moving and living in a new country, new state, new city.
  • Family event: The birth or death of a loved one, reuniting with or separating from family. 
  • Establishing new notions of home, in a new community.
  • Overcoming fear or vulnerable moments.
  • Experiences with friends, in school, or witnessing something you felt was unfair.

Suggested Format :

  1. Introductory Paragraph: Catch the reader’s attention with an interesting opening sentence or two. Provide some background to your story, set the scene. Introduce your topic and the main idea you want to communicate about your story. 
  2. Body Paragraphs: Tell your story with details. Use the structures to tell your story. Include your thoughts and feelings. Try to use specific nouns, vivid action verbs, and descriptive adjectives to make the experience come alive. Help us think and feel as you did.
  3.  Concluding Paragraph: Conclude your writing with a paragraph that summarizes your thoughts and feelings about the experience. This is a very important paragraph! It leaves the reader with the final impression of your experience and your writing.

BRS 100: Final Border Project

BRS 100: Final Border Project

BRS 100: Final Border Project

The purpose of your final border project is to explore in more depth a topic, theme, or issue discussed in the course. This assignment is worth 30 points.

DIRECTIONS: This assignment consist of three parts: 1) project proposal, 2) expository essay, and 3) audio/visual or multimedia presentation.


  1. Project Proposal (Due October 12) − Using the handout provided, pick a topic, theme, or issue you will explore in depth. List 5 articles you will use to explore the topic, theme, or issue. − Explain the ways you will present your research to your peers.
  2. Essay (Due Nov 30 or Dec 7) − Write an expository essay about the topic, theme, issue of your choosing, − Use MLA format. Your essay should be between 5-6 pages, doubled-spaced, 12-point font (Times New Roman is standard). Use Purdue OWL to help you format your essay:
  3. A/V or Multimedia Presentation (Due Nov 30 or Dec 7) − Create and conduct a five-minute presentation highlighting important and relevant aspects of your topic, theme,   or issue. This presentation can combine photos, audio, video, and graphs.

Identify and find scholarly articles

Identify and find scholarly articles

BRS 100: Identify and Find Scholarly Articles

A scholarly article is how researchers (scholars) communicate the findings and analysis of their research. Scholarly articles:

  • Provide original research and analysis - these articles are based on studies or experiments, or analyze an artifact or event. Every scholarly article presents something new about the world we didn't know before.
  • Are written by scholars - scholars tend to hold PhDs, or other advanced degrees and are professors at universities.
  • Are published in peer-reviewed journals - These are generally accessed via library databases.
  • Might be hard to read - they act as the primary conversation between scholars about a field of study. Since they are written by scholars, for scholars, they contain specialized language that might be hard for the lay person to understand.

Credit: Allison Carr 

TUTORIAL: How to find scholarly articles in the CSUSM library databases


Tip Examples
Use keywords, not long search phrases

Instead of searching for "How does a failure to understand cultural differences impact the medical treatment of African American and Hispanic/Latinx communities?" break down your search into the main keywords:

cultural differences, medical treatment, African American, Hispanic, Latinx

Use AND to combine different keywords "cultural differences" AND medical treatment AND race
Use OR to combine similar keywords cultural identity OR ethnic identity
Use quotation marks (" ") to keep phrases together "cultural differences"
Look for ways to limit your search in the database You can often limit by type of article (scholarly and peer-reviewed), year of publicationsubject 


Databases and Internet Sources

Databases and Internet Sources

BRS 100: Databases and Internet Sources

Suggested Databases

Academic Search Premier - This scholarly collection offers information in nearly every area of academic study including: computer sciences, engineering, physics, chemistry, language and linguistics, arts & literature, medical sciences, ethnic studies, and many more.

Ethnic Newswatch - Full-text ethnic newspapers, searchable in English or Spanish.

GenderWatch - GenderWatch contains publications which focus on how gender impacts a broad spectrum of subject areas. GenderWatch is a repository of an important historical perspective on the evolution of the women’s movement and the changes in gender roles.

Google Scholar CSUSM - Link to citations and full-text from your CSUSM Library databases and beyond!

JSTOR - Contains (EXCEPT for the latest five years) core scholarly journals in sociology, history, economics, political science, mathematics, African-American & Asian studies, literature, humanities, music, and biological, health & general sciences.

PAIS - An important index to political, economic, and social issues in current debate.

ProQuest News and Newspapers - Search among ProQuest’s News & Newspapers databases

Internet Resources

Personal Narratives


TED Talk:

TED Talk:


Video series:

First episode:
Second episode:

Third Episode:

Fourth Episode:

Fifth Episode:

Citing Your Sources

Citing Your Sources