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32 “This I Believe” Essay

The history of ‘this i believe’.

by Tanya Matthews

This I Believe is an exciting media project that invites individuals from all walks of life to write about and discuss the core beliefs that guide their daily lives. They share these statements in weekly broadcasts on NPR’s Morning Edition and All Things Considered .

The series is based on the 1950’s radio program This I Believe , hosted by acclaimed journalist Edward R. Murrow. Each day, some 39-million Americans gathered by their radios to hear compelling essays from the likes of Eleanor Roosevelt, Jackie Robinson, Helen Keller and Harry Truman as well as corporate leaders, cab drivers, scientists and secretaries — anyone able to distill into a few minutes the guiding principles by which they lived. Their words brought comfort and inspiration to a country worried about the Cold War, McCarthyism and racial division.

Eventually, the radio series became a cultural phenomenon. Eighty-five leading newspapers printed a weekly column based on This I Believe . A collection of essays published in 1952 sold 300,000 copies — second only to the Bible that year. The series was translated and broadcast around the globe on the Voice of America. A book of essays translated into Arabic sold 30,000 copies in just three days.

[The NPR series This I Believe can be read and heard here . In addition, the website and organization This I Believe houses thousands of essays written by famous people, such as the ones mentioned above, and everyday people like you and me.]

As a college student in 2020, you are faced with turbulent politics, socioeconomic issues, and ethical dilemmas that will challenge you to take a stand and contribute to the local, national, and global conversation around you. The purpose of this writing task is not to persuade you to agree on the same beliefs. Rather, it is to encourage you to begin the much more difficult task of developing respect for beliefs different from your own. Fifty years ago, Edward R. Murrow’s project struck such a chord with millions of Americans. It can do so again today…with you.

Video Resources for Generating Ideas

Dan gediman on writing a “this i believe essay”.

Read Cecelia Munoz’s essay “Getting Angry Can Be a Good Thing” referred to in the previous video here .

“This I Believe” Essay with Animation

“This I Believe” Essay Ideas

Prewriting Activity

1) analyze others’ statements.

Consider the following statements, written in response to the question What Have You Learned About Life? Highlight any sentences that resonate with you. Talk about them with a partner or group, explaining why. 1. I’ve learned that when I wave to people in the country, they stop what they are doing and wave back. – Age 9 2. I’ve learned that if you want to cheer yourself up, you should try cheering someone else up. – Age 14 3. I’ve learned that although it’s hard to admit it, I’m secretly glad my parents are strict with me. – Age 15 4. I’ve learned that if someone says something unkind about me, I must live so that no one will believe it. – Age 39 5. I’ve learned that there are people who love you dearly but just don’t know how to show it. – Age 42 6. I’ve learned that you can make someone’s day by simply sending them a little note. – Age 44 7. I’ve learned that the greater a person’s sense of guilt, the greater his or her need to cast blame on others. – Age 46 8. I’ve learned that no matter what happens, or how bad it seems today, life does go on, and it will be better tomorrow. – Age 48 9. I’ve learned that regardless of your relationship with your parents, you miss them terribly after they die. – Age 53 10. I’ve learned that making a living is not the same thing as making a life. – Age 58 11. I’ve learned that life sometimes gives you a second chance. – Age 62 12. I’ve learned that whenever I decide something with kindness, I usually make the right decision. – Age 66 13. I’ve learned that it pays to believe in miracles. And to tell the truth, I’ve seen several. – Age 75 14. I’ve learned that even when I have pains, I don’t have to be one. – Age 82 15. I’ve learned that every day you should reach out and touch someone. People love that human touch—holding hands, a warm hug, or just a friendly pat on the back. – Age 85 16. I’ve learned that I still have a lot to learn. – Age 92

2) Compose Your Own Statement

Write down a sentence that expresses what YOU have learned about life. Maybe it is similar to one of the statements above; maybe it’s completely different. Whatever it is, write it down.

3) Freewrit e

Now free-write about your sentence. Include at least two examples / experiences that you have had that support why you think this way.

Personal Statement/Philosophy: ______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ Why do you believe in this statement? ______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ Name two experiences that you had that would support the statement: _______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ What does this say about yourself or your personality? _________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ After your life experience, how have you come to the conclusion that this should be your statement? How have your beliefs changed, if at all? ____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ How has the event effected your relationship with a person, place, or object? _________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ How does your statement apply to you today? (How you view yourself & society) ______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________


Sample #1: america’s beauty is in its diversity.

written by Alaa El-Saad,  high school student,  as heard on NPR’s Tell Me More (2009)

America is built on the idea of freedom, and there is no exception for Muslim women. I believe in the freedom of religion and speech. But mostly, I believe it’s OK to be different, and to stand up for who and what you are. So I believe in wearing the hijab.

The hijab is a religious head covering, like a scarf. I am Muslim and keeping my head covered is a sign of maturity and respect toward my religion and to Allah’s will. To be honest, I also like to wear it to be different. I don’t usually like to do what everyone else is doing. I want to be an individual, not just part of the crowd. But when I first wore it, I was also afraid of the reaction that I’d get at school.

I decided on my own that sixth grade was the time I should start wearing the hijab. I was scared about what the kids would say or even do to me. I thought they might make fun of me, or even be scared of me and pull off my headscarf. Kids at that age usually like to be all the same, and there’s little or no acceptance for being different.

On the first day of school, I put all those negative thoughts behind my back and walked in with my head held high. I was holding my breath a little, but inside I was also proud to be a Muslim, proud to be wearing the hijab, proud to be different.

I was wrong about everything I thought the kids would say or even do to me. I actually met a lot of people because of wearing my head covering. Most of the kids would come and ask me questions—respectfully—about the hijab, and why I wore it.

I did hear some kid was making fun of me, but there was one girl—she wasn’t even in my class, we never really talked much—and she stood up for me, and I wasn’t even there! I made a lot of new friends that year, friends that I still have until this very day, five years later.

Yes, I’m different, but everyone is different here, in one way or another. This is the beauty of America. I believe in what America is built on: all different religions, races and beliefs. Different everything.

Sample #2: The Essentials to Happiness

written by Alexxandra Schuman, high school student, as heard on The Bob Edwards Show (2013)

As a child, I was generally happy; singing and dancing to my favorite songs; smiling and laughing with my friends and family. But as far back as second grade, I noticed a “darkness,” about me. I didn’t enjoy engaging in many things. I didn’t relate to my peers in elementary school because they appeared so happy, and I didn’t have that ability to achieve happiness so easily.

In middle school things in my life began to get even worse. I began withdrawing from everything I once enjoyed; swimming, tennis, family. I hated going to sleep knowing I had to wake up to another day. I was always tired. Everything was horrible. Finally, midway through eighth grade, I was told I had a chemical imbalance; diagnosed with clinical depression and put on medication. It took months for me to feel the effects of the medication.

When I began to feel happy again, is when I realized that I had to take the responsibility for getting better myself, rather than relying on medication and therapy alone. Aristotle said, “To live happily is an inward power of the soul,” and I believe that this quote describes what I had to do to achieve happiness. Happiness is a journey. Everyone seems to need different things to be happy. But I believe people are blinded from what truly makes one happy.

Growing up, we’re encouraged to be successful in life; but how is success defined? Success and happiness are imagined now as having a lot of money. It is so untrue. Recently I went to Costa Rica and visited the small town of El Roble. I spent the day with a nine-year old girl named Marilyn. She took me to her house to meet her parents. It was obvious that they were not rich; living in a small house with seven children. The house was cluttered but full of life. Those who have decided that success and happiness comes from having money and a big house would be appalled at how utterly happy this family from El Roble is. People say that seeing things like that make you appreciate what you have, but for me, it made me envy them for being so happy without all the things I have.

“The essentials to happiness are something to love, something to do, and something to hope for,” a quote from William Blake sums up what I believe people need to realize to be truly happy in life. People need love; I feel they need their family and their friends more than anything in the world. People need work to do, something to make them feel they are making a difference in the world. People need to know that more good is to come in the future, so they continue to live for “now” instead of constantly worrying about the bad that could come. And most importantly people need to know that happiness is not something that happens overnight. Love and hope is happiness.

Sample #3: Find a Good Frog

written by Delia Motavalli, high school student, as heard on The Bob Edwards Show (2013)

I believe in finding a good frog. It seems that all throughout childhood, we are taught to look for a happily ever after. “And they all lived happily ever after”; isn’t that the conclusion to many children’s films? When I was a kid I always thought of that as magical; but now really it just seems unrealistic. And it teaches us that what we want is a fairytale like they have in the storybooks. We all want to be Cinderella who gets swept off her feet by the hot prince; we want to live in the royal castle, right? But I don’t think that’s necessarily a good thing for us to seek. Now I’m not saying I believe in being pessimistic, but I do believe in being realistic; it’s something I got from my mom.

My mother and I always have our best conversations in the rain. We sit in the car, neither of us wanting to brave the rain to get to the house. So we sit. We watch droplets race down the windshield, listen to the rain strike the roof of her little blue Honda, and feel the heater on full-blast rushing at our feet (just the way we like it). I don’t know why, but sitting in the car, we always talk more than normal. There was one rainy day when my mom told me something that is going to stick with me forever. Earlier that day she and my dad had been arguing about something; I can’t remember what. So she said, “Don’t spend your life looking for Prince Charming. Instead, find yourself a really good frog.”

At the time, I found this thought really disheartening. Who wants to think that you’ll never find Prince Charming? You’ll never get to be Cinderella? Another thought that struck my mind: if my mom says there’s no Prince Charming, then what’s my dad? A frog? I asked her, and she replied with, “Of course! If he were Prince Charming, he wouldn’t snore, would be able to cook, and we would never argue. But you know what? He’s a damn good frog.” Of course, being young, I didn’t think of the meaning behind what she was saying. I was too busy thinking of it literally, visualizing my mom as a princess and my dad in frog form.

But a few years later, I understand the value of my mom’s words. You can’t expect everything to be perfect. Let’s be completely honest; if you wait your whole life for your prince with flowing hair, statuesque features, and a white horse, you’re going to be lonely. I think that the point of finding a good frog is you accept something that’s great, flaws and all. It’s so easy to be picky. You can find the one tiny thing that’s wrong, and that one tiny thing is what you can’t get your mind off of. But in life, we can’t afford to wait years in vain for perfection. So I think that a good frog, an amazing frog, the best frog you can find is what we’re really looking for in this world. Don’t laze through life waiting for a happily ever after, because I don’t think you’ll be very happy with the outcome.

Examples from the ‘This I Believe’ Website

Be Cool to the Pizza Dude by Sarah Adams

They Lived Their Faith by Charles Henry Parrish

Returning to What’s Natural by Amelia Baxter-Stoltzfus

The Birthright of Human Dignity by Will Thomas

Remembering All The Boys by Elvia Bautista

I Am Still The Greatest by Muhammad Ali

A Goal Of Service To Humankind by Anthony Fauci

My Life Is Better by Abraham

Give Me a Waffle by Brenda

The Little Things by Sophie Crossley

You can also browse thousands more This I Believe essays by theme .

Prefer to Listen to Get Inspiration?

Check out This I Believe’s Podcast Series

4) Drafting

Assignment guidelines + suggestions and tips for drafting.

1. While the examples you’ve been given can serve as a model, it is essential that each of you write about a personal belief or philosophy that you feel strongly about. 2. Tell a story. Personal experiences are the corner stone of a good essay. Your story doesn’t have to be a heart breaker or even a major event, but it must be something that has affected how you think, feel, and act. List your personal experiences that you intend to use as evidence below: 3. Be concise. Avoid repetition. This essay should be between 500 – 650 words. When read aloud, it should take roughly four minutes. 4. Name your belief. It is essential that you can name your belief in a sentence or two. Focus on one belief only. This is your thesis. Write it here: 5. Be positive. Avoid preaching or persuading. You aren’t trying to change the way others think or act. Write about what you believe, not what you don’t believe. 6. Use the first person. Speak for yourself. Avoid using we or you. 7. Let your voice shine. Use language that sounds like you. Read it aloud as your revise. Keep making changes until your essay sounds like you and captures the essence of your belief.

5) Peer Review

Once you have written your first draft, arrange for your essay to be edited by a peer, using the following Peer-Editing Checklist: Writer’s Name: ________________________________________________ Peer Editor’s Name: ________________________________________________ Use your PENCIL or PEN (NOT red or green) to make corrections. Remember, this essay is a work in progress. You are not done writing! Look for ways to improve what you’ve already written. Tick each step if it has been completed. _____ 1. Read the paper backwards, one sentence at a time. Check for spelling errors. Use a dictionary, a friend, or a spell checker to find the correct spelling. _____ 2. Check for capitalized proper nouns and the first word of each sentence. _____ 3. Skip a line between each paragraph. _____ 4. Every sentence should have end punctuation. _____ 5. Check commas. Are they only used for compound sentences, a list of items, an introductory word or phrase, direct address, setting off interruptions, separating adjectives, or in dates? Do you need to add commas? Make sure you do not have commas separating complete sentences (i.e. comma splice errors that create run-on sentences). _____ 6. Apostrophes are used only for contractions and to show ownership. _____ 7. The use of more complex punctuation (dashes, hyphens, semi-colons, parentheses, etc.) is done correctly. _____ 8. Have you used commonly mixed pairs of words correctly? Check these: they’re/their/there, your/you’re, it’s/its, a/an, to/too/two, are/our/hour, and others. _____ 9. Read the paper backwards one sentence at a time. Check for sentence fragments and run-ons and correct them. _____ 10. Did you stay in present tense (such as is, am, do, take, know, etc.) or past tense (such as was, were, did, took, knew, etc.) throughout the entire essay? _____ 11. Did you stay in first person (I, me, my, we, us, our) or third person (he, him, she, her, they, them, their) throughout the entire essay? _____ 12. Was there adequate use of specific details and sensory details? Were the details clear and relevant to the statement? _____ 13. Is the overall purpose/philosophy clear? _____ 14. Does the conclusion make you go, “Wow!” “Cool!” “I never thought about it that way,” or any other similar reaction? Other suggestions for the overall content of the piece: ____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

possible grading rubric for This I Believe essay

This I Believe by Tanya Matthews is licensed by CC-BY-SA

“This I Believe” Essay Copyright © 2020 by Liza Long; Amy Minervini; and Joel Gladd is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License , except where otherwise noted.

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Power Lesson: “This I Believe” Essays

December 4, 2016

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“Doing homework”  by Predi is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0

In this power lesson shared by high school English teacher Cynthia Ruiz , students write their own personal statements of belief. The essay pushes students to write about something that matters to them and helps them get to know each other on a deeper level.

I used to assign a “Letter to the Teacher” at the beginning of every year  to get a snapshot of how a student writes while simultaneously learning background information. Being completely honest, this assignment is also an easy way to get the first few back-to-school days started when a 90-minute class period feels like 900 minutes, because everyone is typically on their best behavior and not talking much. Although I enjoy reading the letters, the assignment doesn’t lend itself to revising and is written only for a specific, one-person audience.

I know building relationships with students is important and a way to get to know them is through their writing, so I did some research to see what other teachers were trying. I came across the “This I Believe” site  and immediately liked the concept better than an introduction letter for a teacher.

Assignment Guidelines

The first time I assigned a “This I Believe” essay was in the fall of 2014, during the second week of school. I planned it as a year-long endeavor, something we could work on as a distraction from other essays required to prepare for state testing. This past year, I did not assign it until late April; it would be our last major writing task. I wanted to give everyone plenty of time to write but held them to a firm deadline of having four weeks to work.

This time, I crafted my writing guidelines according to  those posted on the NPR site that hosts hundreds of This I Believe essays from around the world. My rubric still has some typical writing conventions, but overall I think it focuses more on student voice than structure. I made it clear that students had a lot of choice regarding both content and format. The biggest restriction came directly from the This I Believe site: a 500-600 word limit. I know a lot of writing teachers are divided when it comes to word count, but I figured it was still better than giving a specific number of required paragraphs and sentences.

One other requirement was that students use at least three “vocabulary devices.” This may seem like a restriction, but it actually supported student voice. Over the spring semester, we spent a lot of time reviewing both rhetorical and literary devices (anaphora, hypothetical questions, simile) and I told students to focus on the devices they genuinely felt comfortable using.

Helping Students Choose a Topic

Because the rubric leaves room for a lot of choice, I encouraged students to visit the featured essays site and not only read, but listen to real examples. I wanted them to see that this wasn’t just another run-of-the-mill assignment, that what they believe is important and writing is just one way to share those beliefs. I also made it a point to tell them our end goal was to share this essay with their entire class by way of a gallery walk.

After giving students time to explore the site, I had them “rush write” in their notebooks to see what immediate ideas they captured to help start the brainstorming process. Here’s the prompt I used:

This I Believe For 2 minutes: List words or ideas that you think about when you think of YOUR LIFE. (Can be feelings, symbols, names, events, etc.)

After students generated this list, I asked them to consider what they wanted to write about and share with others. I wanted them to imagine a larger audience and think outside of meeting my expectations.

For some, deciding what to write about was easy and they began drafting immediately. However, the majority of students struggled not so much with what they believe, but how to write about it. Even though they appreciated having so much choice, they still needed some direction to get started.

We continued the listing strategy by focusing on “most memorables”: most memorable events in life so far, most memorable stuffed animal, most memorable friends, family experiences, life lessons learned, and so on. I asked them to focus on why they remember what they remember, and whether or not it impacts any of their beliefs. One student remembered a saying his grandmother always told him that still provides comfort as he’s gotten older. Another focused on her family not having a big house when they first moved to America and how she’s learned to be satisfied with opportunities instead of possessions. While this strategy helped a lot of light bulbs go off, it didn’t work for everyone.

Another strategy I tried was using involved sentence stems: I know I am the way I am today because______. I know I think about things the way I do because _______. I think most people would describe me as ______. I emphasized that these phrases did not have to be included in their final products, but should help generate ideas. I talked with a few frustrated students about this strategy and they told me it made them realize they’ve never really had to think about themselves in this way, but ultimately, it gave them direction for their essays.

Drafting and Revising

Because of block scheduling, I gave students about a week and a half to complete a working draft, which required having at least two paragraphs of their essay done. I only gave a portion of two to three class periods to actually write in class; students were expected to write on their own time.

On the day drafts were due, I set aside class time for revision. I asked students to refer to the rubric and focus on voice and vocabulary strategies. Questions I told them to consider were: Does this sound like me? Do I talk like this to my friends or family? I gave students the option of reviewing their own essays or partnering up with someone to peer edit. Again, this was the end of the year, so we had already established a pretty firm community of trust in class. I don’t know if peer editing would have been as easy had I done the assignment early in the year.

Overall, draft day didn’t feel like the usual “revising and editing” days we’ve had with other essays. Students were very concerned with whether or not they were making sense, if they should add more, or if they were being too repetitive, rather than only being concerned about capitalization, spelling, and grammatical errors.

Sharing the Finished Essays

The culmination of this assignment was when the essays were shared in a gallery walk . The gallery walk is my answer to having students write for a larger audience, and it really helps this essay become about what students have to say instead of just another grade. I can’t count how many times I have returned tediously graded essays only to have a kid immediately walk over to the recycling bin and trash it! Sure he read the comments and suggestions I made, or saw the cute smiley face I left by an excellent word choice, but it didn’t mean much to him because the paper is graded and finished, and he is now done thinking about it. With a gallery walk, not only are students thinking about what they wrote, but they have the opportunity to think about what their classmates wrote as well.

I printed each essay without any names, and made sure any identifying statements were revised. However, there were quite a few students who said they were proud of what they wrote and had no problem if others knew which essay belonged to them. Because not every student turned in a final copy, I printed additional copies of some completed essays to ensure every student had something to read during our gallery walk, instead of drawing attention to the two or three students who did not finish the assignment.

I placed the essays on different tables throughout the room and allowed students to move around as needed; some chose to stand and read an essay, others opted to sit, while others sprawled out on the floor to read. I played soft music and asked that the room volume stay quiet enough to be able to hear the music at all times. I didn’t mind if students were sharing and discussing, and I really wish I recorded the various conversations and comments I overheard that day: “Wow! Did you read this one yet?” “Man. Who wrote this? I might cry. Good tears, though.” “This one is life, Ms. Ruiz.”

I provided a pad of post-its near each essay and told students to leave POSITIVE feedback for each other. I provided sentence stems to help:

Something I liked…

Something I can relate to/agree with…

Something that surprised me…

Something I want to know more about…

I really think…

I periodically checked to make sure no one was being inappropriately critical or just leaving cute hearts or check marks. I wanted students to think about what they were reading, and understand that feedback is a crucial part of the writing process

After about 40 minutes, each essay had received multiple written comments, looking similar to the picture below:

Overall, the feedback was uplifting and actually created a sense of belonging in each class. Students told me they learned so much about each other that day and were shocked by their classmates’ writing. A few said they wished they had written this essay sooner.

Sample Student Work

I was floored by some of the essays I received. Some made me laugh, some made me gasp, some made me cry. Compared to the typical papers I usually assign, this essay allowed my students to not just think about what they were writing but to care about their writing and to be intentional in the language they were using, both in word choice and rhetorical strategies, because it was about what they believe. It is some of the strongest student writing I have ever received as an English teacher.

Here are some sample paragraphs from students who gave me permission to share their work:

From a student who told me he hates school and hates writing.

From a student who by all outward appearances, comes from a traditional family.

From a student battling depression and anxiety.

From a student who missed almost a whole semester but is trying to stay in school.

Although this essay helped end the year with a strong sense of community, I think teachers could easily have students write it at the beginning of the school year or even in January at the start of a new year. I’d love to hear how other teachers have used an essay like this in their classes. ♦

Have you taught a lesson or designed a learning experience we should feature in Power Lessons? Send a full description of your lesson through our contact  form and we’ll check it out!

What to Read Next

this i believe essays purpose

Categories: Instruction

Tags: English language arts , lesson planning , power lessons


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Cynthia and Jennifer, Thank you for sharing this Power Lesson; it’s one I plan on “borrowing” for sure in January. I love the connection built during the gallery walk. I can imagine this being truly powerful for all students. Well done!

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I LOVE this!! I will use this in the Spring with my students. The excerpts in the blog post were so personal. I hope the students realize what a gift they shared.

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Tonya, I agree. I’m always so grateful when students are willing to let us see their work here!

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I love this assignment. I use it every semester with Public Speaking students, following a similar brainstorm and drafting process. Since the assignment comes from a radio program, my students audio record themselves, and our celebration of the work happens through hearing each student read the essay. Very powerful hearing their voices!

Ruth, thanks so much for taking the time to share this idea. I’m sure lots of teachers will love how audio enriches this assignment.

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Thank you for sharing the students’ samples. Writing is such a great way to express oneself and when you make it personal students are engaged. ❤️ it! I am thinking about adding it as my last assignment for my 3rd graders!

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Thank you for sharing, especially the students’ work samples.This will help inspire my students to share important details about their lives. Might I also recommend an excellent book I purchased used recently: Reading, Writing and Rising Up (by Linda Christensen)

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I like this writing strategy. Last week I started something similar with my Arabic students. In groups of 3 to 4 students, they wrote stories (Brainstorm, first draft…) They started writing their final draft(with illustrations and drawings) on the butcher paper. On Monday, they will hang it on the wall and they will give each other feed back wile walking and reading each other’s essays. The problem with the foreign languages students writing is that they have brilliant ideas in English, but they cannot express them in Arabic or French… My questions is the following: Is there a way to adapt this writing strategy to World Languages students with taking into consideration the limited students’ language levels.

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I love this assignment. I use at the end of the year with my seniors. I tell them to focus on a belief that they have formed over their past years of school and that will guide them as they make steps on their next journey — college, military, work, etc. Every year I am awed by the thought and pride they take in it. Their voices shine through the papers. The emotions, ranging from joy to sadness or humor to regret, overtake their essay making each both personal and universal. I also always write one that I individualize for each class and how they have shaped or firmed one of my own beliefs.

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I love this, especially as a way to “re-enter” in January! I hope that I can use it effectively with my middle schoolers. Thank you so much for sharing this!

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YES!! This was my first lesson in my first year of teaching and it completely set the tone for the rest of the year. The work I received from eleven year olds blew my mind, and I even submitted(with their permission) a few pieces to be published because they were that deep. Bravo to this I believe essays & sharing lessons like this with other educators.

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Did you find that you had to add in any scaffolds/support for students? I want to try this with my 7th graders who really struggle with writing and getting started with ideas.

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This looks like a fabulous project and one I am keen to try out next semester.

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I, too, have been doing this assignment for a few years now. It is my favorite assignment of the year. I teach 8th grade English and I have my students share their essays aloud. We sit in a circle and listen to each student share his/her belief. It is powerful. We laugh. We cry. We learn. Having students write for an audience of their peers is challenging for them, but so rewarding in the end.

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This looks great for January. I noticed that the This I Believe website has a high school curriculum for sale for $20. Has anyone used it? Is it worth it? Necessary?

This reminds me of an assignment I had in high school. It was called our “Capstone,” and was a year-long process (12th grade). We first chose three things that were important to our lives: a person, a place, and an event. Over the first semester we wrote about these in three separate papers. Then come second semester we had to connect them with a metaphor, and put together a 20 minute presentation that connected everything. It really allowed students to get creative while expressing what was most important to us.

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Do you happen to have an example of this still? It sounds AWESOME and I would love to do it with my 8th graders!

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Your students’ essays are beautiful, authentic and inspiring, as I am sure your teaching is. Thank you for sharing.

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Thanks for the lesson. I like this idea for journaling too!

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A brilliant idea! Thanks!

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Thanks for sharing and including student work examples. Essays like this are a great way to get to know students at a deeper level and could also make a good college entrance essay!

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Thank you for sharing this. Inspirational and heartfelt writing from young people.

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This is so inspiring and beautiful. Thank you so much, both of you for sharing this power lesson. I was lookibng for a writing task muy ss could include in their e-Portafolio. Can’t wait to try it!! Thank you again!!

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I know this might be simplistic, but could you share more about the vocabulary devices?

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Hi, April! For the vocabulary devices, I’m referring to adding similes, metaphors, hyperboles, imagery, etc. We usually practice devices like anaphora and asyndeton in my advanced classes, so those can also be used. One of my favorite lines this year was: “I mean, I thought a step stool would do the job but instead it was like climbing a 20 foot ladder just to finish my goal…” We talked about how using a vocab device is more powerful than “I worked really hard.” Hope that helps! Cheers!

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This is sooooo great!! I love it!!!!!

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I love this. Has anyone tried it at the start if the year? Are students willing to write about such personal experiences and beliefs with a teacher and classmates that they don’t know well?

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Hi Lizzie! I work for Cult of Pedagogy, but I’m replying as a teacher. I teach college level freshman comp and I started my previous semester with this essay. Because it was the beginning of the year, I didn’t do a gallery walk; it was more of a practice assignment to get used to the flow of papers and feedback. They had to bring in a rough draft for in-class workshops, so I made sure they knew a few of their classmates would be reading what they wrote. For extra credit, I offered them the chance to record their paper as a “podcast” and post it on YouTube. I was blown away by how in-depth most of them went! In fact, I’m starting my fall semester with it again.

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I love this assignment in the spring for senior English. Generally, kids are appreciative that we’re doing the final writing assignment about something that is ‘real world legit’. I’ve always been impressed by their level of attention (and attendance),as our gallery walk happens on the last day of their English class in June.

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Hi! This looks like a fantastic lesson and I would love to try it with one of my English classes. I noticed that your writing guidelines link is no longer available. Is there anyway I could get this information? Thanks Kelsey

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Hi Kelsey! Thanks for letting us know about the link. This was a guest post and we will be happy to reach out to Cynthia to see if she has a current link to the writing guidelines. If so, we’ll get that updated on the post as soon as we can. Thanks again!

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I was wondering about the guidelines as well. I teach in China and we are out of school right now for Chinese New Year, so I would love to have this when we return in February. Thanks for your help!

Hi Karen & Kelsey! I wanted to follow up on your request for the guidelines to let you know that Jenn no longer has access to them. If you haven’t already done so, Jenn recommends to check out the writing guidelines posted on NPR. I hope this helps!

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I teach a course called Theory of Knowledge. One of the concepts we study is ‘faith’ as a way of knowing or gaining knowledge. I remember the “This I believe” series on the radio and then NPR. I have my students read several of the essays from the website and a few I copy from one of the books published. Then, they brainstorm and write their own essays. This spring, right before the Covid shutdown, one of my students committed suicide. I had returned his essay to him only days before; he’d written about the importance of love and relationships in life. Being able to share his essay with his mother and brother (who I had also taught) was a gift for all of us. I think the inspiration to have students write these essays was somehow a preparation for this sad experience. I like the suggestions here and may use the sentence stems to help those who struggle to get started.

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Hello! I want to say that I had some difficulties in writing essays and statements. When I entered college, the first thing I encountered was writing a quality application.

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thanks for sharing, this is really useful information for me!

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thanks for sharing informative!

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This looks like an amazing lesson plan and although it is late in the year I will try to use it. could you please send the grading rubric you used?

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Hi, there! Because this post was written so long ago,we have unfortunately lost touch with the author, Cynthia Ruiz. From what we understand, she is no longer in the classroom. However, you may be able to connect with her on Twitter by clicking on the Twitter icon at the top of the post underneath Cynthia’s name.

If you are looking to create your own rubric, the section of this post called Assignment Guidelines links to the NPR website where Cynthia found the writing guidelines that she used as a basis for her own. In addition, there is another Cult of Pedagogy post on the single-point rubric , which you might find useful. I hope this helps!

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  • Resource Library
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Education Standards

Nebraska agriculture and natural resources standards.

Learning Domain: Agribusiness Systems

Standard: Differentiate between management and leadership

This I Believe essay - Leadership

This i believe oral evaluation sheet, 'this i believe' essay writing.

'This I Believe' Essay Writing

Presented in five consecutive standard-period classes, students are invited to contribute to the This I Believe essay-writing project by writing and submitting a statement of personal belief.  This is a challenging, intimate statement on one’s beliefs and one’s own daily life philosophy, considering moments when belief was formed, tested, or changed.  Written by Jarvis Reed.

Overview:  Presented in five consecutive standard-period classes, students are invited to contribute to the This I Believe essay-writing project by writing and submitting a statement of personal belief.  This is a challenging, intimate statement on one's beliefs and one's own daily life philosophy, considering moments when belief was formed, tested, or changed.  Written by Jarvis Reed.

AFNR.HS.10.5.c  Communicate using strategies that ensure clarity, logic, purpose, and rofessionalism in formal or informal settings.

AFNR.HS.20.1.d  Examine and practice public speaking.

Learning Goal: 

Students will increase written and oral communication skills by thinking critically and articulating in writing a personal foundational belief in 350-500 words stated in the affirmative and then presenting this essay to their class.

Photo by Yeshi Kangrang on Unsplash

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This I Believe-Emma 1

This I Believe - Emma

School: Springfield Renaissance School

City/State: Springfield , MA

Grade(s): 10

Format(s): Essay

Subject(s): English Language Arts

Type(s): Argument/Opinion

Writing Assignment Description

Tenth-grade students at the Springfield Renaissance School in Springfield, Massachusetts, as part of their English Language Arts class, created This I Believe essays. The format for This I Believe essays has a long heritage, beginning with a radio program in the 1950’s with that name, hosted by journalist Edward R. Murrow. National Public Radio has continued the tradition of hosting famous and unknown citizens to write and orally present short essays that capture personal stories and personal beliefs, carrying on a tradition of celebrating narratives and promoting respect and appreciation for the beliefs of others.

The students in this classroom worked together, using models, peer critique and teacher critique, to craft these essays to share with the school community.

How This Writing Can Be Useful

  • Demonstrates a format that could be used in any classroom
  • Addresses a topic of common concern for both teachers and students
  • Excellent example of a real life experience expressed in a meaningful tone

Relevant Resources

Common core state standards.

50 I Believe Essay Topics

To better train students on how to present their personal opinions on subjective matters, teachers will assign what is known as an “I Believe” or “This I Believe” essay writing assignment.

Designed to provide the reader with insight into the writer’s character, these essays are typically written in first-person point of view. The writer shares their beliefs on a particular topic – ranging from religion and politics to more personal subjects such as love and happiness – and offers supporting arguments for why they hold these beliefs.

The Challenges of Writing “I Believe” Essays

This type of essay prompt is a welcome break from more detail-oriented or researched-based writing assignments for many students. However, “I believe” essay writing assignments aren’t always easy.

It can be challenging for students to articulate their beliefs in a clear and concise way that isn’t argumentative or offensive to the reader. Students may also struggle to explain their reasoning behind these beliefs in a thorough and not overly simplistic way.

Despite these challenges, “I believe” essays can be an excellent opportunity for students to share their thoughts and feelings on important topics and learn more about themselves in the process.

Tips for Writing “I Believe” Essays

If you’re given an “I believe” essay assignment, here are a few tips to help you get started:

  • Start by defining what it is that you believe. This may seem like a simple task, but it can be challenging to identify your core beliefs. If you’re struggling, start by jotting down a list of topics that are important to you – from politics and religion to family and friendship.
  • Reflect on why each topic is important to you. Think about the reasoning behind your choices and how these reasons evolved over time. After all, your core beliefs are likely to have changed or grown since you reached adolescence.
  • Determine which of your beliefs are the most important. Focusing on developing thought processes that support your beliefs. For extra help, consider sharing these thoughts with a trusted friend or family member for advice.

By reflecting upon your core beliefs and developing clear arguments to support them, you can craft a powerful “I believe” essay that will truly reflect your thoughts and feelings.

How to Write an “I Believe” Essay

To craft a well-written “I Believe” essay, students must forgo the typical essay structure of introduction, body, and conclusion.

Instead, the essay should be organized around a series of specific beliefs that the writer wishes to share. Each thought should be introduced with a clear thesis statement, followed by supporting arguments and examples.

The conclusion of the essay should wrap up the main points that have been made and leave the reader with a final thought to ponder.

Here is an example of how an “I Believe” essay might be structured:

Thesis: I believe that everyone has the right to love and be loved.

Argument: Everyone deserves to find love and experience happiness in their lives. This should not be limited by race, religion, socioeconomic status, or any other factor.

Example: I saw a video of a man proposing to his girlfriend at Fenway Park. She said yes and the crowd went wild! Now that is love. If they can find it, then so can we all!

Conclusion: Society should not stand in the way of love. Love is the most powerful force in the world, and we should all embrace it.

As you can see, the “I Believe” essay structure allows for a great deal of flexibility. Students can choose to focus on a variety of topics and can organize their essays in different ways. An “I Believe” essay can be an excellent opportunity for students to present their thoughts on important issues under a few simple guidelines. With a bit of planning and organization, this type of essay writing assignment can be a breeze!

What You Shouldn’t Do When Writing an “I Believe” Essay

To ensure that you are writing an “I Believe” essay and not another form of an argumentative or persuasive essay, avoid doing the following:

  • Don’t provide evidence or use statistics to support your position – this is not an essay that calls for research.
  • Don’t attack or criticize the beliefs of others – your goal is to share your own opinions, not to tear down those of others.
  • Don’t go off on tangents – stay focused on the main points you want to make.
  • Don’t speak objectively or in the third person – for example, don’t say “people believe that” or “studies show.”
  • Don’t use filler words and phrases such as “I think,” “I feel,” and “it seems like.”

Use any of these 50 “I Believe” essay topics to help you brainstorm ideas for your essay!

I Believe Essay Topics About Life

  • I believe that life is too short to spend time with people who bring you down.
  • I believe that laughter is the best medicine
  • I believe that we should make time for quiet reflection every day.
  • I believe that the only thing that matters in life is love.
  • I believe that we are all capable of change.
  • I believe that it is never too late to learn and grow.
  • I believe in the power of positive thinking.
  • I believe that we should always be kind, even when it is difficult.
  • I believe that there is no such thing as a coincidence.
  • I believe in the saying “what goes around, comes around.”
  • I believe that we are all responsible for our own happiness.
  • I believe that the best things in life are free.
  • I believe that it is essential to be grateful for what we have.
  • I believe that it is never too late to achieve our dreams.
  • I believe that we should surround ourselves with people who make us better.
  • I believe that you can either love or hate something; there is no in-between.

I Believe Essay Topics About Education & School

  • I believe that education is the key to a bright future
  • I believe that children are our future and should be treasured as such.
  • I believe that there is no such thing as a dumb question.
  • I believe that schools should do more to celebrate diversity.
  • I believe that homework is essential, but it should not be excessive.
  • I believe in the importance of having a strong support system while attending school.
  • I believe that standardized tests are not an accurate measure of a student’s knowledge.
  • I believe that it is vital to find a balance between work and play while in school.
  • I believe that everyone should have the opportunity to learn how to swim.
  • I believe in the importance of recess and physical activity in students’ lives.
  • I believe that there is no such thing as a bad grade.
  • I believe that teachers deserve more respect and better pay.
  • I believe that it is never too early to learn a foreign language.
  • I believe that education should be free for everyone.

I Believe Essay Topics About Friends & Family

  • I believe that family is the most important thing in life.
  • I believe that friends are the family we choose for ourselves.
  • I believe that it is essential to maintain close relationships with friends and family.
  • I believe that there is no substitute for quality time spent with loved ones.
  • I believe that family is not defined by blood but by love and commitment.
  • I believe that we should spend more time with the people we care about and less time worrying about material things.
  • I believe that it is better to have a few close friends than many superficial ones.
  • I believe that it is healthy for friends to grow apart.
  • I believe that competition between friends is healthy.

I Believe Essay Topics About Money

  • I believe that money cannot buy happiness.
  • I believe that it is essential to be happy with what you have, not what you want.
  • I believe that people are more important than things.
  • I believe that it is okay to splurge on something even if it means going into debt.
  • I believe that it is better to give than to receive.
  • I believe that money can’t buy everything.
  • I believe that the love of money is the root of all evil.
  • I believe in saving for a rainy day.
  • I believe in investing in oneself.
  • I believe in the saying, “money doesn’t grow on trees.”
  • I believe that rich people should be forced to pay more taxes.

These 50 I Believe essay topics are sure to inspire your own original beliefs and help you create a powerful and unique essay. When writing your I Believe essay, be sure to focus on the beliefs that are most important to you and that you feel passionate about discussing. The best I Believe essays are the ones that are personal and reflective, so don’t be afraid to share your own thoughts and experiences.

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30+ This I Believe Essay Examples

This I Believe Essay Image

In the realm of personal expression and introspection, the “This I Believe” essay stands as a testament to the power of individual beliefs and narratives. Rooted in the context of personal experiences and convictions, these essays provide a platform for individuals to articulate their core principles, values, and perspectives. Through the use of various literary devices and elements , authors craft narratives that illuminate their unique outlook on life. In this article, we will delve into the definition of a This I Believe essay, present a step-by-step guide on how to craft one, address common questions, and explore the essence of this expressive form.

1. High School This I Believe Essay Example

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2. Sample This I Believe Essay Example

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3. Student This I Believe Essay Example

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4. Middle School This I Believe Essay Example

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5. This I Believe Essay Topic Example

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6. This I Believe Essay Life Example

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7. This I Believe Essay Overview Example

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8. This I Believe Essay Steps Example

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9. This I Believe Essay Friendship Example

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10. Sports This I Believe Essay Example

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11. This I Believe Essay Rubric Example

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12. This I Believe Personal Essay Example

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13. This I Believe Essay Writing Example

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14. This I Believe Essay Statement Example

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15. God This I Believe Essay Example

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16. This I Believe Essay Brief Example

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17. This I Believe Essay Thesis Statement Example

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18. This I Believe Essay Speech Example

19. this i believe essay college example.

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20. This I Believe Essay Lesson Plan Example

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21. This I Believe Essay Music Example

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22. Faith This I Believe Essay Example

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23. Reflection This I Believe Essay Example

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24. This I Believe Immigration Essay Example

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25. This I Believe Love Essay Example

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26. This I Believe Dream Essay Example

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27. This I Believe Power Essay Example

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28. This I Believe Essay Prompt Example

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29. This I Believe Essay Peer Review Example

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30. Elements of This I Believe Essay Example

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31. This I Believe Essay Transcript Example

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What is a This I Believe Essay?

A This I Believe essay is a written composition that encapsulates an individual’s personal beliefs, values, and philosophies. Often reflective and intimate in nature, these essays offer readers insight into the author’s subjective understanding of the world. They provide an opportunity to explore the depth of one’s convictions, making use of various literary devices and characteristics to convey a sense of authenticity and sincerity. Through the exploration of individual experiences and convictions, these essays aim to connect with readers on a personal and emotional level.

How to Write a This I Believe Essay

Step 1: choose your core belief.

At the heart of your essay lies your core belief. Choose a belief that holds personal significance and represents your worldview. This belief should be something you feel passionately about and can articulate convincingly.

Step 2: Develop a Compelling Context

Create a context for your belief by providing background information. Explain why this belief is important to you and how it has shaped your experiences and outlook on life. A relatable context will engage your readers and make your essay more relatable.

Step 3: Employ Effective Literary Devices

Incorporate literary devices to enhance the impact of your essay. Metaphors, similes, and anecdotes can help convey your belief in a vivid and relatable manner. Consider how these devices can strengthen your narrative and connect with your audience emotionally.

Step 4: Craft a Strong Conclusion

Summarize your belief and its significance in your life, reinforcing the message you want to leave with your readers. Reflect on the journey you’ve taken them on and inspire them to reflect on their own beliefs.

Can I write about a commonly held belief?

Absolutely. While it’s important to maintain authenticity, even exploring a cliché belief can be powerful when you provide a fresh perspective or personal context. Your unique experiences and reflections make your essay stand out.

Can I use proper nouns in my essay?

Yes, proper nouns can add specificity and authenticity to your essay. Mentioning specific places, people, or events can help ground your beliefs in real-world experiences.

How can I make my essay more impactful?

Focus on using strong verbs to convey emotions and actions. Instead of saying “I felt sad,” consider saying “I crumbled under the weight of sorrow.” This adds depth to your writing and engages the reader’s senses.

In the realm of personal expression, the This I Believe essay shines as a vehicle for exploring one’s deepest convictions. By carefully selecting beliefs, weaving context, employing literary devices, and crafting strong conclusions, authors can create narratives that resonate with readers on a profound level. Through the power of words, these essays bridge the gap between individual experiences and universal truths, reminding us of the strength and diversity of human beliefs. So, take the plunge into introspection and share your beliefs with the world through the art of the This I Believe essay.

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Interesting Guide to Writing a “This I Believe” Essay

Table of Contents

A This I Believe essay is a particular type of writing that needs to contain a personal experience on a particular subject. These types of essays define a particular belief to the reader.

If you’re looking for This I believe essay guidelines , this article is a great resource for getting started on creating a personal essay. There are tons of points to consider as you write your essay to show your connection with the statement of your belief. Keep reading to learn more!

What Is a “This I Believe” Essay?

“This I Believe” is a popular type of essay genre that enables the author to communicate a personal belief. Through a narrative, the author explains the origin of that belief or a period when that belief was put into practice.

In these essays, people write about the core beliefs that drive their daily lives. Ultimately, your personal motivation will keep you steadfast in your work and get you through the toughest times.

The 1950s radio program with Edward R. Murrow introduced the essay genre, which NPR continued in 2004. Since then, numerous people have loved writing and reading these pieces.

Significance of “This I Believe” Essay

A “This I Believe” essay is a personal reflection on the writer’s life, their influences, and what motivates them. It is a time for the author to take stock of their thoughts and inform readers of their thoughts, feelings, and motivations.

These essays can reveal a person’s life passages, extraordinary moments, and inspirations. “This I Believe” essay allows the reader to get a feel for your personality, your strengths and weaknesses, and your perspective on the world.

person writing on brown wooden table near white ceramic mug

Write Using “This I Believe” Essay Guidelines

If you are writing a This I Believe essay, you will typically be giving your experience as a personal essay. In this essay, you will detail what you believe and why you believe it. Clarify the point you are trying to make. Keep in mind your intended audience and stay focused.

Here are some this I believe essay guidelines to help you craft a perfect piece of writing:

Tell a Captivating Story About Your Belief

Tell the readers when you came to your belief and how it affected you. However, keep in mind that it should be true. Be honest and genuine with your thoughts.

Your story doesn’t have to force others to share the same belief. Connect your writing to your life and be sincere about your beliefs. Only then you will have a good chance to dazzle readers with a compelling story.

Keep Your Essay Short and Concise

Restricting yourself to one page will keep your essay concise and readable. It’s recommended to keep your writing between 400-600 words. It shouldn’t be too long.

It shouldn’t take more than 3–4 minutes to read your completed document aloud. Thus, it’s crucial to include only the most relevant information while packing your writing with your ideas.

Make Sure You Mention Your Belief

When writing this I believe essay introduction , make sure to focus on your belief and describe it briefly in a few sentences. If you don’t mention your belief clearly, the paper might be confusing or fail to reflect the core idea you wanted to convey. You must concentrate on the most crucial details of your story as you need to keep your essay concise.

Write in the First Person Point of View

This I Believe essays should be about your own life, not someone else’s. So, you must use the first-person point of view.

Write an essay about your viewpoint without focusing on what other people ought to do. Your assignment is to share a true story from your life without equating it with any societal ideals or religious principles.

Be Genuine and Positive

One of the most important things while writing this essay is to be genuine and on a positive set of mind. Don’t say something you don’t believe. A This I Believe essay should not contain any editorializing, advertising, or religious content. If you focus on yourself, you’ll be able to articulate your sentiments.

A This I Believe essay is written in the first person point of view and includes informative, personalized details about the writer’s belief. The goal of the essay is to tell an underlying story that conforms to the above This I Believe Essay Guidelines. And the narrative leads from past experiences to the present. The readers understand the writer’s beliefs through their personal stories and life experiences.

Interesting Guide to Writing a “This I Believe” Essay

Abir Ghenaiet

Abir is a data analyst and researcher. Among her interests are artificial intelligence, machine learning, and natural language processing. As a humanitarian and educator, she actively supports women in tech and promotes diversity.

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Home — Essay Samples — Life — Personal Beliefs — This I Believe: Exploring Core Values and Personal Convictions


This I Believe: Exploring Core Values and Personal Convictions

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Published: Sep 5, 2023

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Personal reflections on beliefs, fostering connection and empathy, inspiring thought and contemplation, unity amidst diversity.

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How To Write A Winning This I Believe Essay

this i believe essay

One of the common types of academic writing you are likely to encounter is this I believe essay. In this type of essay, you are required to write about something you believe in. Note that unlike many students think, the topic does not have to be related to religion. For example, you can write about something you love or interested in.

Although writing this I believe essay might sound simple; many students find it one of the complex types of academic writing. To help make the process simpler, we created this guide to help you understand how to write the best this I believe essay. We have also highlighted the 22 hot essay ideas that you can use.

How To Write This I Believe Essays

Here’s a brief guideline on how to write a good belief essay:

  • Get a good essay topic When you are faced with the task of writing a this I believe essay, the first step is selecting a good topic. At this point, you should look for something that you have learned about through various experiences, life struggles, or humanity. Because it is a piece of academic writing, it is advisable to go for a topic that has some resources that you can use to back personal arguments. This will make the essay weighty and earn you more marks.

In the body of the essay, you should dig into more details about your beliefs. Make sure to discuss each point in a separate paragraph and provide examples to support it. If the narrative is long, break it down into several sections and use subtopics.

  • Write and proofread your essay After developing the essay structure, it is time to start writing it. Pool together the main points and write a draft. Then work on the final copy and proofread it carefully to remove all mistakes. You could even ask an unbiased friend to help proofread the essay.

Special Tips for Writing this I Believe Essay

Once your teacher asks you to write an assignment on this I believe essay; the secret is ensuring to understand a concept that you are passionate about. To make it simpler for you, try to be truthful. Here are some more tips to help you craft a winning this I believe essay:

Follow the guidelines provided by your teacher or department. Make sure to focus on the item of interest and support it with personal examples. If possible, support the essay with secondary resources. Make sure to stay positive about the topic of interest. Because you are working on something personal, make sure to write in the first person. Try to be as concise as possible. The focus should be selecting points that explain your belief and restricting the essay within the recommended number of words. Read other this I believe essay examples to understand how to craft a winning paper. Most samples can help you to understand how to structure the essay and discuss different topics.

Top This I Believe Essay Topics

The most critical thing about writing a this I believe essay is selecting a topic idea because it determines what to focus on and points to discuss. To help you get started, we are going to list 22 hot this I believe essay ideas for you. Go ahead and pick the one you prefer or tweak them to suit your preference.

  • I believe in having a lot of fun in and out of school.
  • I believe in using a mentor to build a career.
  • I believe in using advanced technology for learning.
  • I believe I am unique.
  • I believe in dreaming big and going out of my way to succeed.
  • I believe in hard work to succeed in life.
  • I believe in my facility.
  • I believe in our justice system to build a harmonious society.
  • I believe in repentance and hope.
  • I believe that time is the best way to cure pain.
  • I believe in the support of my family.
  • I believe in our culture.
  • I believe in love.
  • I believe in the power of God to heal the sick.
  • I believe in life after death.
  • I believe in doctors’ ability to help pregnant mothers safely deliver their babies.
  • I believe I can make my county better.
  • I believe in my basketball team.
  • I believe in always trusting my guts.
  • I believe in the nature top address the problem of global warming.
  • I believe in dedication to my duties at work.
  • I believe that everyone’s life is predetermined.

This I Believe Essay Topics

Are you looking for the best this I believe essay topics? You can start with these. They are all dynamic and don’t point to just one subject. They are based on different realities of life.

  • Everyone has a positive outlook on life
  • Success requires self-determination
  • Life and creativity and interlinked.
  • A good life provides a positive outlook on my life
  • There are stipulated fundamental factors to success.
  • There are many modes of achieving success.
  • Sure shortcut to reading fast
  • There isn’t any accurate journey to success.
  • Determination leads to better time management
  • Collaboration is the start of a beautiful career journey.
  • Immigrants also have beautiful lives.
  • Making the most of the available time in a day leads to more goal achievement.
  • A good life is the result of hard work and determination.
  • Many factors lead to stigmatization
  • The right implementation can help improve the health care setting.
  • Proper conservation can lead to a cleaner ecosystem and environment.
  • Well-built bonds can lead to an increase in better human relations.
  • The industrial revolution will make an impact on the world.

This I Believe Essay Topic Ideas

What do you conform to? Do you think your beliefs are similar to your neighbors? Then you can consider challenging yourself using this I believe essay topic.

  • I believe that the world can be a better place when justice is implemented
  • I believe that love can help to sustain many family bonds
  • I believe positivity is a major factor that leads to success.
  • I believe that people should have a positive outlook on life.
  • I believe that leaders are both born and made.
  • I believe that friendship is important when it comes to socialization
  • I believe that strong family bonds lead to the prosperity of different people in certain capacities.
  • I believe that the solar system needs to be done more research.
  • I believe that all dreams are valid
  • I believe that many ideas can be implemented.
  • I believe in kindness, honesty, and faith.
  • I believe that every person has a role to play to make an impact in the world.
  • I believe that college plays a big role in making students think out of the box.
  • I believe that robots will play a huge role in the future.
  • I believe that artificial intelligence will boost the business world.
  • I believe that everyone has a right to a good life.
  • I believe that life is much simpler when people help each other.
  • I believe that all ideas are valid, regardless of how crazy they seem.

This I Believe Essay Topic List

We all have different beliefs that make us who we are. However, you don’t need to be too rigid, you need to be flexible enough to accept any new perceptions. The world is ever-changing.

  • People can get visions that later become reality.
  • Animals have a brain of their own.
  • Every person on earth has a mission.
  • Sports are essential for boosting flexibility.
  • Technical ideas can help make the world easier to live in.
  • People have different callings in their professions.
  • Everyone has a good heart.
  • The world can be a better place without any violence.
  • Dead people can listen to us.
  • Ancestors still exist within us.
  • All the different professions have a purpose.
  • Augmented reality will change the world.
  • Industry 4.0 will help to revolutionize the world.
  • Everyone was assigned a purpose at birth.
  • A good mindset leads to more happiness.
  • Patience and perseverance are important in life situations.
  • Faith, love, and hope are important.
  • Everyone has virtues they follow.

Best Belief Essay Ideas

People have different beliefs that make them who they are. However, you need to make a point of having a firm stand on what seems like the reality of life.

  • I believe everything happens for a reason.
  • I believe that miracles do happen.
  • I believe that healing happens to those who have faith.
  • I believe in the power of prayer
  • I believe in the existence of aliens
  • I believe that anger can at times be a good thing.
  • I believe that people need to accept themselves as they are
  • I believe that people connect better by giving
  • I believe that ordinary people can change the world.
  • I believe it is more important to focus on the bigger picture.
  • I believe that the environment one lives in plays a role in how one grows up
  • I believe in workplace ethics.
  • I believe that families are the greatest support system
  • I believe that family support escalates how fast one heals when sick.
  • I believe that people start socializing better when young
  • I believe that information technology is a game-changer
  • I believe that equality of people can make the world a better place.
  • I believe that everyone needs to have goals in life.

Interesting This I Believe Research Essays

When doing an essay, you need to do proper research to ensure that you capture all that is needed. Here are some interesting “this I believe” essay topics from our essay writers for hire that you can start with.

  • You should worry about being judged by others.
  • Without education, you can’t succeed in life.
  • Creativity is both inborn and made.
  • Anger can spoil many things.
  • Change comes from within.
  • Being kind to others is important.
  • Knowledge can help you succeed in life.
  • Reading helps to increase your creativity.
  • Having two jobs can help you prosper in life.
  • Everyone has a right to true happiness.
  • Good parenting is good for moral adults.
  • Ordinary people can change the world.
  • Humanity is vital for everyone.
  • We all have different realities.
  • Nations can simply be led by laws without men.
  • Without rules, the world can be dangerous.
  • Injustices can be reduced.
  • Small acts of kindness go a long way.

What’s Next?

Now that we have provided you with great essay topics demonstrated how to start a this I believe essay and close it, it is time to get down to writing your paper. However, if you still find it hard to write your college essay or the deadline is tight, consider seeking writing help or buy homework .

Writing assistance is provided by experts who understand what is the best this I believe essay format and can craft it even within short deadlines. Also, they are cheap and provide their services with a guarantee for high marks. Therefore, why settle for average marks when you have an opportunity to get A-quality papers?

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How to Write A ‘This I Believe’ Essay

Table of Contents

How to Write the Essay on ‘I Believe’

The ‘I believe’ is an essay that expects an individual to write about the particular beliefs that a person has. This topic does not necessarily need to be a religion as thought by many students. It is what can carry someone’s interests. Anything that comes to mind is applicable as long as it is a belief to you and in society like an essay on love and proof that love exists either personally or generally. Besides, it applies to writing about something which people do not believe in its existence. Similarly, the essay can be personal or based on research. In research, one is expected to support their ideas with references to the provided source. The written story should be accurate and have the ability to carry the readers easily. If possible, the writing should be able to bring the reader into believing the particular theme used despite their beliefs. The idea provided should have the emotional status of the user depending on the trait presented. If it is a funny story, the reader should be able to be carried in the capacity where they find themselves laughing without expecting it. In this case, the story will be real. Moreover, consider the particular moments for the creation, testing, or changing of your principles and ensure the story surrounds the essence of a person’s daily life values to the shaping of their beliefs. Besides, this essay should be a reflection of the life of an individual. One has to explain their faith critically in this article and after that relate to life including the personal beliefs one has experienced. A statement or the body in the explanation of this essay should be as brief as possible. The shorter the length, the greater the focus on the central belief in an individual’s life.

How to Start this I Believe Essay

Before beginning to write the essay construct a structure that guides the writing of the entire article. At the beginning of the piece, to be able to explain one’s belief quickly, the writers have to talk about the main idea just like in introduction of other essays where you state and explain your objectives in the article. It is always best when a writer quickly explains the core belief focused on in the piece. The introduction should only comprise the ‘I believe’ statement and a phrase to attract the reader.

How to Write Body Paragraphs for this I believe essay

The body structure which entails all the events in the paragraphs provides a detailed explanation using figurative language which should always have the letters ‘a’ and ‘e’ to enable the reader quickly see the story and provide a smooth flow in writing. Also under the body, one should create a paragraph about what they have learned from the belief and the effect this view on their lives into them growing into well-rounded people. Through identifying the picture, explain the application of this idea in one’s personal life in the future . The writer always has to remind the reader of the core belief they stated in the introduction and their hope to share this knowledge with the reader. Also, an explanation of why the reader should care about their personal beliefs and their teaching lesson to the reader entailing what the reader learns. When writing a “this I believe” assignment despite allowing a writer to write either the positivity or negativity in their beliefs this is what they believe in or what they do not believe in, it is always best to focus on one’s beliefs to compose an excellent essay.

How to conclude the Essay

It is not advisable to include religious belief statements, preaching, or editorializing when constructing the article. Also, always make the article about one’s yourself. Writing in the first person is allowed in this type of composition to bring out the personal belief perspective apparently.

Tips for Final Revision

Upon completion of describing one’s opinion, edit the piece to ensure the right word tone used lacks the editorial ‘we’ and provides an echo of one’s beliefs and original manner of speech towards people. The essay composed should be a personal story; not an opinion piece about social ideals. Review the written piece and compare it with the provided instructions to make ensure the correct answering of the questions. Remove any mistakes or spelling problems and ensure there is a flow in the writing of the essay. Also, ensure that the structure of the paragraphs has supporting detail and an explanation of the detail as per the stated point. In the writing of this section, the approach employed should not be direct. The sentences constructed should be simple. The essay after every sentence should leave the reader with suspense and an urge to know what comes next. They should not be able to predict the events because if they do the ‘I believe essay’ will be very annoying. Finally, the most important thing is to stay on topic. A person’s core belief in an article is the subject of the composition. For example, writing on a core belief as ‘love’ should be the only idea covered in the essay. Also, ensure that the formats used are per the required forms. In doing all this an excellent ‘this I believe composition’ will be poised.

Outline Example for this I Believe Essay

Introduction – Introduce the aim of writing the paper.

Thesis statement

  • Paragraph one – Introduce your first point on the “this I believe” paper.
  • Paragraph two – One should create a paragraph about what they have learned from the belief
  • Paragraph three – Explain the application of the specific idea in one’s personal life in the future.

Closing paragraph – Restate the purpose of the essay (What has the text shown us?).

this i believe essays purpose

“This I Believe” ESSAY

Excerpt of Original Invitation from 'This I Believe':

This invites you to make a very great contribution: nothing less than a statement of your personal beliefs, of the values which rule your thought and action. Your essay should be about three minutes in length when read aloud, written in a style as you yourself speak, and total no more than 500 words.

We know this is a tough job. What we want is so intimate that no one can write it for you. You must write it yourself, in the language most natural to you. We ask you to write in your own words…. You may even find that it takes a request like this for you to reveal some of your own beliefs to yourself. If you set them down they may become of untold meaning to others.

We would like you to tell not only what you believe, but how you reached your beliefs, and if they have grown, what made them grow. This necessarily must be highly personal. That is what we anticipate and want.

It may help you in formulating your credo if we tell you also what we do not want. We do not want a sermon, religious or lay; we do not want editorializing or sectarianism or 'finger-pointing.' We do not even want your views on the American way of life, or democracy or free enterprise. These are important but for another occasion. We want to know what you live by. And we want it in terms of 'I,' not the editorial 'We.'

Although this program is designed to express beliefs, it is not a religious program and is not concerned with any religious form whatever. Most of our guests express belief in a Supreme Being, and set forth the importance to them of that belief. However, that is your decision, since it is your belief which we solicit.

But we do ask you to confine yourself to affirmatives: This means refraining from saying what you do not believe. Your beliefs may well have grown in clarity to you by a process of elimination and rejection, but for our part, we must avoid negative statements lest we become a medium for the criticism of beliefs, which is the very opposite of our purpose.

We are sure the statement we ask from you can have wide and lasting influence. Never has the need for personal philosophies of this kind been so urgent. Your belief, simply and sincerely spoken, is sure to stimulate and help those who hear it. We are confident it will enrich them. May we have your contribution?

Adapted from the invitation sent to essayists featured in the original 'This I Believe ' series. Excerpted from 'This I Believe 2,' copyright © 1954 by Help, Inc.

Directions :   Since this course focuses on learning about cultural beliefs, values, and behaviors of people in various places and times, I would like for you to consider your deepest beliefs and how they shape your values and behaviors.  

  • Write a personal essay of no fewer than 300 words and no more than 500 words.
  • Include word count.  
  • Your finished essay should be replete with an original title, credo, introduction, support for thesis, and conclusion.
  • On one hand, this essay is informal in that it is intended to be read aloud, which means that you are not required to use complete sentences.
  • On the other hand, this essay is formal in that you should not use slang, profanity, or "text-speak" and should capitalize "I" and the first letter of every sentence.
  • Submit your finished essay to the following places according to scheduled deadlines (see calendar): printed copy handed in to me at beginning of class, electronic copy to turnitin.com via Backboard, and to discussion board (when submitting to Blackboard discussion area do not include your name; include only the title and essay).
  • Since this essay asks you to expose/explore/express your deepest belief, your essay on the discussion board will remain anonymous so that no one will know who said what.


  • Listen to and/or read the following 5 minute Edward R. Murrow essay (click here) introducing the “This I Believe” essay project launched in 1951.
  • Think about the importance of storytelling, what your purpose and audience is, and what style and tone best suit your topic.


  • Take note of why Murrow began the project, the historical context of this project, and what he says to do and what not to do.
  • Write a credo of your deepest belief. This credo should sum up your beliefs in a powerful, compelling yet succinct, straight-forward manner. Your credo serves as your thesis statement for your introduction.
  • H ere are some credos from the “This I Believe” website to give you an idea of what I’m looking for:

I believe in stories. Stories that live and breathe. Stories that are fruitful and multiply. That create stories within stories. Bring into being stories of my own. I want stories that provoke a powerful response be it tears, laughter, or thought. I desire a story to have a gravity of its own. If it’s not worth telling more than once, it’s not worth telling. It should continue to pull me back again and again . . .

I believe that music is a force that stands and beckons the souls of humans to step out of their secret places. I have seen the power of a guitar’s voice as it draws out the souls of strangers in a crowd from under their superficiality and holds them spellbound as one. I have felt an overwhelming sense of unity fall over a huge crowd of people when the insightful artist reveals his sorrow, his frustration, or his overwhelming joy with a melody.

I believe in closed eyes and dim lighting, in tapping feet, concert halls, and heads carried up and down by the rolling swells of a melody. . .

I believe in the wisdom of the ages. My happiest place was sitting on my grandmother’s counter, while she was cooking, trying to memorize her cornbread recipe. I would sit on her powder blue carpet and run my fingers over the hand stitches of her many old quilts, while the colored glass hummingbird feeders on her porch made patches of purple and green move slowly around her living room. Her wisdom slipped by so many, but I drank it in like sunlight. . .


  • Write your own “This I Believe” essay.   This website is designed to help you craft this essay :   http://thisibelieve.org/essaywritingtips.html
  • Adhere to the guidelines provided for this essay project by Murrow in the following invitation to write a “This I Believe” essay
  • or your may choose the creative option and create your 300-500 word essay formatted as spoken word poetry or as song lyrics for any genre.
  • Remember that you must include proper MLA citation for any and all work that is not your own .
  • Click here to read a former student's exceptional "This I Believe" essay that I provide as inspiration for your own. Click here to read an example of a student who chose to write the creative "This I Believe" essay. Click here for an example of Paul Farmer's "This I Believe" photoessay.


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What Successful Purpose Statements Do Differently

  • Darrell Rigby,
  • Dane Smith,
  • Zach First,
  • Anna Cochemé

this i believe essays purpose

Strategies from companies that got their guiding mission right.

Sadly, purpose statements at all too many organizations are just empty words. The companies that issue them don’t live up to their lofty promises. But research by Bain & Company identified some companies that are the exceptions. They employ four methods to turn their statements into reality.

Most large companies like to have purpose statements. They put those statements on websites, in ads, and maybe on the walls of plants and offices. A bold purpose, so their leaders seem to believe, will motivate employees. It will help everyone pull together toward a worthwhile goal.

  • Darrell Rigby is a partner in the Boston office of Bain & Company. He heads the firm’s global agile enterprise practice. He is the author of Winning in Turbulence and a coauthor of Doing Agile Right: Transformation Without Chaos (Harvard Business Review Press, 2020).
  • Dane Smith is a Bain & Company partner with decades of experience in helping companies develop purpose-led business strategies.
  • Zach First is a partner in the Los Angeles office of Bain & Company. He leads the firm’s stakeholder strategy work. From 2016 to 2022 he was the executive director of the Drucker Institute. DrZfirst
  • Anna Cochemé is a Bain & Company partner based in Chicago. She is a leader of the firm’s People & Organization practice.

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Strange News

Why do we leap day we remind you (so you can forget for another 4 years).

Rachel Treisman

this i believe essays purpose

A clock showing February 29, also known as leap day. They only happen about once every four years. Olivier Le Moal/Getty Images hide caption

A clock showing February 29, also known as leap day. They only happen about once every four years.

Nearly every four years, the Gregorian calendar — which is used in the majority of countries around the world — gets an extra day: February 29.

For some people, leap day means frog jokes and extravagant birthday parties. For many, it may conjure memories of the 2010 rom-com Leap Year , which harkens back to the Irish tradition by which women can propose to men on that one day. And others likely see it merely as a funny quirk in the calendar, or just another Thursday.

Leap day means several different things to Alexander Boxer, a data scientist and the author of A Scheme of Heaven: The History of Astrology and the Search for Our Destiny in Data .

Our lives are ruled by the illusion of time

Our lives are ruled by the illusion of time

Literally speaking, he says, it's an "awkward calendar hack" aimed at making up for the fact that a year isn't a flat number of days, but more like 365 and a quarter. But there's more to it than that.

"I think the significance of the leap year is that it's a great reminder that the universe is really good at defying our attempts to devise nice and pretty and aesthetically pleasing systems to fit it in," he told NPR's Morning Edition .

Leap for joy! The creative ways NPR listeners are marking Feb. 29

Leap for joy! The creative ways NPR listeners are marking Feb. 29

Boxer says it's also a great reminder that the calendar most people rely on every day is actually the product of multiple civilizations, building off each other as they share in what he calls "this great undertaking of trying to understand time."

So where did leap year come from, and what are we supposed to do with our extra day? NPR's Morning Edition spoke with experts in astronomy, history and economics to find out.

Why do we have leap years?

Most people know that a single day is about 24 hours long, and that there are 365 days in a year.

But it actually takes Earth 365.242190 days to orbit the sun, says Jackie Faherty, an astronomer at the American Museum of Natural History in New York.

"And that .242190 days to go around the sun is the entire reason why we have a leap year," she explained.

Centuries ago, people kept track of the sun's position — such as for a solstice or the longest day of the year — to know when to do things like plant and harvest. Over time, she says, the need grew for a centralized calendar system.

The Hebrew, Chinese and Buddhist calendars, among others, have long contained entire leap months. The West is no stranger to leap years either.

The science and shared history behind the Gregorian and Chinese calendars

The science and shared history behind the Gregorian and Chinese calendars

The Julian Calendar, which Julius Caesar introduced in 45 BC, included an extra day every year. He borrowed the idea from the Egyptians, though his math wasn't exactly correct . Caesar overestimated the solar year by about 11 minutes, leading to an overcorrection by about eight days each millennium. That explains why Easter, for example, fell further and further away from the spring equinox over time.

Pope Gregory XIII sought to address that problem in the 16th century with the Gregorian Calendar , which adds leap days in years divisible by four, unless the year is also divisible by 100. To make matters even more confusing, a leap day is still added in years divisible by 400.

Why add the extra day in February? Boxer, the data scientist, says the Romans considered it an unlucky month. On top of that, they were deeply suspicious of odd numbers. Because February only had 28 days to begin with, they "just shoved it into February," though leap day used to be on the 24th.

Ultimately, says Boxer, the calendar is a compromise.

"On the one hand, you don't want a calendar that makes it so complicated to know how many days it's going to be from one year to the next," he added. "But on the other hand, you want to make sure that winter holidays, too, in the winter and summer holidays, stay in the summer, especially if your holidays are related to things like agriculture, harvest holidays and whatnot."

What does leap day mean for birthdays?

One tangible impact of a leap year is that birthdays will fall on a different day of the week than their usual pattern.

"If your birthday was on a Tuesday last year, you're going to skip over Wednesday and you'll have a birthday on a Thursday," said Faherty. "Not to mention those poor people that are born on February 29, a day that only exists every four years."

There are about 5 million people worldwide with a Feb. 29 birthday, according to the History Channel . The list of so-called "leaplings" includes celebrities such as motivational speaker Tony Robbins and hip-hop artist Ja Rule. And peoples' odds of joining their ranks are small — about 1-in-1,461, to be exact.

Several leaplings told NPR that there's no set rule on which day to celebrate their birthday in a non-leap year. Some prefer Feb. 28, others March 1 and many do both.

To reignite the joy of childhood, learn to live on 'toddler time'

Shots - Health News

To reignite the joy of childhood, learn to live on 'toddler time'.

"My answer to this question has evolved over the years," said Michael Kozlowski Jr., a leap day baby based in Belgium. "It used to be February for the reasons that I identified more with that month compared to March. But these days I honestly like to celebrate both days or even the entire week. It seems only fair and it works and it feels great."

They acknowledged both pros and cons of having a leap day birthday. Several said that while they were teased about it in grade school, it helped them develop a thicker skin and gave them a fun fact for life — plus more days to celebrate.

Plus, many online forms — including for the DMV — don't recognize Feb. 29 as a possible birth date. Raenell Dawn, the co-founder of the Honor Society of Leap Year Day Babies, told NPR in 2020 that those logistics can cause trouble, especially when it comes to things like driver's license expirations. But she also said there's no reason for leaplings to change their birth date.

"Humans program the computer, so the humans need to program it correctly," she said. "'Cause February 29 is everyone's extra day. And it's a day that started in 45 B.C. And it's the most important date on the calendar because it keeps all the dates on the calendar in line with the seasons."

What should you do — and not do — on Feb. 29?

There are lots of superstitions and traditions about leap day on the internet, and a few celebrations to look forward to IRL.

A decades-old French satirical newspaper , La Bougie du Sapeur , goes to print only on Feb. 29 — this year included . There are also festivities in the "Leap Year Capital of the World," as Anthony, Texas, is known.

Leapling Mary Ann Brown petitioned Congress to give Anthony, Texas — and Anthony, New Mexico, on the other side of the state line — that designation in 1988 because of the "numerous number of leap year births that happened within the two towns," Mayor Anthony Turner told NPR over email.

In years past, he said, the community marked leap day with a parade that stretched between the two towns of Anthony. This year, the Texas side is hosting a two-day leap year festival , complete with live music, local vendors and an exclusive barbecue dinner for leap day babies.

"This is an opportunity for the community to take pride in the fact that they live in the leap year capital of the world, and a great chance for everyone from everywhere to join us and enjoy the true beauty of our lovely town," Turner added.

For Leap Day Only, A Rare Newspaper Goes To Print

For Leap Day Only, A Rare Newspaper Goes To Print

Worldwide, most leap day lore revolves around romance and marriage, as the History Channel explains.

According to one legend, complaints from St. Bridget prompted St. Patrick to designate Feb. 29 as the one day when women can propose to men. The custom spread to Scotland and England, where the British said that any man who rejects a woman's proposal owes her several pairs of fine gloves. In Greece and some other places, it's considered bad luck to get married on leap day.

Katherine Parkin, a history professor at Monmouth University, said she doesn't believe any of the myths are true — but doesn't think they had to be in order to take hold, which they did in America as early as the 1780s.

this i believe essays purpose

An example of one of many early 20th century postcards by cartoonist Clare Victor Dwiggins — "Dwig" — showing women pursuing men in a leap year. Katherine Parkin hide caption

An example of one of many early 20th century postcards by cartoonist Clare Victor Dwiggins — "Dwig" — showing women pursuing men in a leap year.

The real origin, she believes, is that people have historically liked to challenge gender and gender roles.

"And in the case of marriage, to have a reversal of that power, I think is really unusual," she added. "And it ties perfectly with this unusual date. Where did it come from and where did it go? And so I think it really plays well into people's imagination and playfulness."

But Parkin says her research points to darker undertones behind the tradition — namely, that it was actually intended to ridicule women.

The dark history of eating green on St. Patrick's Day

The dark history of eating green on St. Patrick's Day

She points to the proliferation of postcards in the 20th century — which people would send each other across all kinds of relationships — that portrayed women who proposed to men as desperate, unattractive and aggressive, such as holding butterfly nets and pointing guns at guys.

"It's proving to ... reinforce that it's a leap year and that this tradition exists and yet at the same time telling women, you really don't want to do this because it looks bad for you," Parkin said. "As a historian, I look back to this tradition and see it as part of an American desire to offer women false empowerment."

Of the more than 100 people who responded to an NPR callout about their leap day celebrations and traditions, several said they had gotten engaged or married on Feb. 29. Only one explicitly mentioned gender roles.

"I think this is the day that (traditionally) a woman was able to propose?" wrote Suzanne Forbes. "If so, I plan on proposing to myself in a beautiful southern setting (likely [Georgia], while solo kayaking)!"

What if we didn't have leap years?

Not everyone loves leap day.

Steve Hanke, a professor of applied economics at Johns Hopkins University, is one critic. He argues that the current calendar, in which dates occur on different days of the week each year, creates scheduling problems as well as confusion around holiday dates.

That's why he and Johns Hopkins astrophysics professor Dick Henry have created the Hanke–Henry Permanent Calendar , a proposal for a new calendar that would implement an occasional leap week rather than leap day.

"The great thing about the permanent calendar is that it never changes," Hanke explained. "The date would be on the same day. Every year, year after year after year ... January 1st is always on a Monday. July 4th is always on a Thursday. December 25th, Christmas, is always on a Monday."

How did COVID warp our sense of time? It's a matter of perception

How did COVID warp our sense of time? It's a matter of perception

Their calendar divides the year into four three-month quarters, each with the same number of days. The first two months of each quarter — including January and February — would always have 30 days, and the third month would have 31. Every six years, there would be an extra seven days at the end of December, which Hanke says would "eliminate calendar drift."

Hanke argues that his proposed calendar would save confusion and potentially money, pointing to studies in the United Kingdom that show the economic gains associated with having public holidays on weekends. And he believes it would be easy for a president to implement the new system by executive order, something that he and Henry have even drafted, just in case.

Still, he describes their lobbying efforts as more of a "soft sell" at the moment.

It seems like the current calendar system — with its leap days and years — may be here to stay, despite the many possible alternates. Faherty, the astronomer, says if someone truly wanted to keep track of their path around the sun, one could "build yourself a henge and know when the solstice is and carry on from that."

"But we don't do that," she said. "We gave it an interval and we follow that, so now we're stuck. And now you have to enter these leap days, to try and do our best to fix the human need to have a document that says where exactly you are in the position that the Earth is falling around."

And that's probably enough to think about for the year, maybe even the next three.

Adam Bearne and Julie Depenbrock contributed reporting.

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Guest Essay

I.V.F. Is a Miracle. For Republicans, It Is a Land Mine.

A black and white photo of a woman holding a baby is shown behind an illustration of columns, such as those you would see on a court building.

By Kristen Soltis Anderson

Ms. Anderson is a Republican pollster and a moderator of Opinion’s series of focus groups.

The grief of infertility can be all-consuming, but also hard to fully grasp for anyone who has blessedly never experienced it.

It is an unusual grief, a grief about lives not yet begun rather than lives that have come to an end. It often asserts itself most powerfully in moments of joy: the laugh of a toddler in a park, the smile of a mother-to-be at a baby shower. It can haunt you when you are living through it and stick with you even if the day comes when you are lucky enough to be called Mommy.

For years, I lived with that grief. Today, I am called Mommy. I am a person of faith, and I believe children are miraculous blessings. I am also of the mind that science is one way that miracles are made possible in this world. Even in the darkest of hours on my long journey to motherhood, hope existed for me and my husband in the form of in vitro fertilization.

As a result of the recent Alabama Supreme Court decision permitting would-be parents to sue for wrongful death over the negligent destruction of I.V.F.-created embryos, the hope and miracles that I was blessed to experience are at risk for families whose clinics have suspended treatments. To the extent that Alabama’s laws have now been interpreted in such a way that I.V.F. is at least temporarily unavailable, I am hopeful that policymakers in the state will take rapid action to put policies in place to protect it.

As a political pollster, I often give data-driven advice to elected leaders, warning of the consequences that could befall them if they do not carefully navigate contentious issues. While the latest debate over I.V.F. is a potential electoral land mine for Republicans, G.O.P. leaders from the House speaker, Mike Johnson, to Donald Trump have already gotten the memo — an actual memo was sent to Republican candidates — that I.V.F. is such a popular innovation that even a large portion of pro-life America finds it worthy of protection.

At the same time, you need not be a religious fundamentalist to consider the embryos produced by I.V.F. as having significant meaning , or the question of their disposition to be unbearably fraught .

I am one of those patients who has thought deeply about the tensions between the life-giving potential of I.V.F. and the complicated bioethical debates around the embryos created through that process, wrestling with the tough questions of what I might do if the process led to embryos I could not reasonably carry. I have come away a strong advocate for ensuring families can overcome the adversity of infertility and bring life into this world through this treatment if they so choose.

My husband and I met and married in our 20s. We had discussed and agreed that we would eventually like to be parents. After a few years, I told my doctor I was concerned that we hadn’t conceived yet. I remain furious at myself to this day for accepting his dismissal of my concerns. “Just relax. It’ll happen.” It did not. As so many women do, for years I blamed myself. My job is too busy. I travel too much. I’m too stressed.

When we were both 33, my husband and I decided to seek answers. It was both a blessing and a curse that our diagnosis was clear and incontrovertible. We were told that becoming pregnant would be difficult and would require surgery followed by I.V.F.

Knowing the odds were against us, we nevertheless held out hope and started treatment. After a year with nothing to show for our efforts and an ensuing pause during which we considered alternatives, suddenly a new egg retrieval gave us the incredible blessing of six embryos. The first embryo resulted in a few weeks of joy with a positive pregnancy test, but that happiness curdled when an early ultrasound revealed my pregnancy had ended in what is known as a missed miscarriage . Our remaining embryos each led to a different form of heartbreak: negative tests, early miscarriages, flickering heartbeats on ultrasounds that had gone out by the next appointment.

Compounding the pain was the fact that each time I went to an embryo transfer, I looked hopefully at the little blastocyst on the monitor and thought: I love you, and I hope to meet you soon . Whenever I would get the bad news that a pregnancy had ended, I felt powerfully that I was saying a very real goodbye.

When you are in the thick of infertility treatment, life can sometimes feel like a series of devastatingly hard choices, miserable doctor visits and earth-shattering phone calls. I simply cannot imagine what it would be like to be the hopeful Alabama parents-to-be of those embryos, hearing the news that their dreams had been shattered by an unauthorized person pulling them out of a storage freezer.

As I try to put myself in their shoes, I can easily imagine how they saw those embryos as more than mere cells in a dish suspended in their development and frozen in time. I do not for one second fault the plaintiffs for considering their embryos to be their children, awaiting their moment to be born, now irretrievably lost.

At the same time, I cannot imagine that those plaintiffs, who had built their dreams of family on this incredible technology, wanted their quest for justice to lead to the closing of this door to other families like them.

There is a reason such large numbers of conservative and pro-life Americans believe that I.V.F. is worthy of protection. In a world where so many on the right bemoan declining birthrates or the state of the American family , the ability to unlock the gift of life for those who desperately seek to bring it into this world is a powerful force for good. In just the past five years alone , the number of Americans who know someone who has undergone fertility treatment has risen significantly, so it also most likely follows that more people than ever know a child in their life who is here on this earth as a result of fertility treatment.

Years ago, I was told it would be challenging, if not impossible, for me to ever have a child. In a matter of days, I will give birth to my second daughter, a sentence that still remains incomprehensible to me. As I write this, sleeping just upstairs is my firstborn, Eliana, whose name means “God has answered.” Every time I look at her beautiful face, I am grateful for the answer to my years of prayer. I do not take a moment with her for granted. And I do not take for granted that it is only through a miracle — of faith and science in tandem — that I am called Mommy today.

Kristen Soltis Anderson is a Republican pollster and a moderator of Opinion’s series of focus groups .

Source images by aluxum and Rawpixel/Getty Images

The Times is committed to publishing a diversity of letters to the editor. We’d like to hear what you think about this or any of our articles. Here are some tips . And here’s our email: [email protected] .

Follow the New York Times Opinion section on Facebook , Instagram , TikTok , X and Threads .


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