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This I Believe: The Personal Philosophies of Remarkable Men and Women

Introduction.

“This I Believe: The Personal Philosophies of Remarkable Men and Women” is a captivating collection that dives deep into the core beliefs and principles guiding various influential figures across time and disciplines. Edited by Jay Allison, an acclaimed radio producer, and Dan Gediman, this anthology revives the mid-20th-century broadcast series initiated by journalist Edward R. Murrow. 📚✨

The book spans a wide array of personal philosophies, from those of famous writers and public figures to everyday people, each sharing the personal credo that guides their lives. It belongs to the genre of essay anthologies and personal narratives, aiming not just to entertain but to inspire reflection and introspection among its readers. 🤔💡

Jay Allison, renowned for his work in public broadcasting, brings together voices that echo through the complexities of human thought and emotion, urging readers to ponder their own beliefs. This compilation not only serves as a mirror reflecting the varied landscapes of human conviction but also as a bridge connecting us through our shared quest for meaning and purpose in life. 🌉❤️

Through its engaging narrative style and diverse perspectives, “This I Believe” stands as a testament to the power of belief and the profound impact it can have on one’s life and the wider world. Let’s dive deeper into the essence and structure of this remarkable collection!

Plot Summary

“This I Believe: The Personal Philosophies of Remarkable Men and Women” is a collection that defies the traditional plot structure, as it is not a single narrative but an anthology of personal essays. Each essay acts as a standalone piece, sharing the author’s core belief and the life experiences that have shaped this belief. Therefore, instead of a traditional plot with exposition , rising action , climax , falling action , and resolution , this book offers a tapestry of personal philosophies that provide insight into the human spirit. Here’s a breakdown of the main events as they unfold through the voices of various contributors:

Exposition — Each essay begins by introducing the reader to the author’s fundamental belief or principle that acts as a guiding force in their life. This sets the stage for a personal narrative that delves into how this belief was formed or tested.

Rising Action — As the essays progress, authors share personal stories, challenges, and moments of reflection that illustrate how their beliefs were shaped or reaffirmed. This section is characterized by diverse experiences ranging from moments of epiphany and loss to encounters with love and hardship.

Climax — The climax in each essay is a pivotal moment or realization that brings the author’s belief into sharp focus, often highlighting a turning point in their understanding or application of this belief.

Falling Action — Following the climax , the narrative often reflects on the implications of the author’s realization or how it has influenced their subsequent actions and decisions. This section underscores the impact of personal philosophy on daily living and decision-making.

Resolution — Each essay concludes by reaffirming the author’s belief, demonstrating how it continues to shape their perspective and actions. The resolution ties back to the core philosophy introduced at the beginning, often leaving the reader with a poignant message or question to ponder.

By weaving together a multitude of voices and experiences, “This I Believe” offers a rich mosaic of human thought and values, encouraging readers to reflect on their own beliefs and the myriad ways in which they manifest in our lives.

Character Analysis

Given the unique structure of “This I Believe: The Personal Philosophies of Remarkable Men and Women,” the “characters” are the real-life individuals who contribute their essays and beliefs to the collection. Unlike fictional characters, these contributors do not undergo development within the scope of a narrative plot but rather share insights into their personal growth and the evolution of their beliefs over time. Here, we’ll explore a few notable contributors and the essence of their philosophies:

  • Albert Einstein — His essay reflects on the awe and mystery of the universe, emphasizing a deep-seated reverence for life and the pursuit of knowledge. Einstein’s philosophical outlook showcases his belief in the interconnectedness of all beings and the importance of humility in the face of nature’s vast mysteries.
  • Bill Gates — Gates shares his belief in the power of innovation and philanthropy to drive positive change in the world. His essay delves into his journey from a tech entrepreneur to a philanthropist, highlighting his commitment to leveraging wealth and technology to address global health and education challenges.
  • Maya Angelou — Angelou’s contribution is a testament to the resilience of the human spirit and the transformative power of love and kindness. Her essay underscores the importance of recognizing our shared humanity and the capacity of empathy and compassion to heal and unite.
  • Tony Hawk — The professional skateboarder discusses the importance of perseverance and passion in pursuing one’s dreams. Hawk’s narrative illustrates how dedication and love for what one does can lead to success and fulfillment, even in the face of obstacles and societal skepticism.

Here’s a summary table for a quick overview:

These contributors, among others in the collection, offer a window into the diverse range of beliefs that guide individuals through life’s challenges and triumphs. Their personal philosophies reflect a broad spectrum of experiences and values, encouraging readers to contemplate their own core beliefs and how they shape our understanding of the world.

Themes and Symbols

“This I Believe: The Personal Philosophies of Remarkable Men and Women” is rich with themes and symbols that resonate through the diverse array of essays. Here’s an exploration of the major themes and symbols present in the book, shedding light on their significance:

  • The Power of Personal Belief — Central to the anthology is the theme of the profound impact personal beliefs have on an individual’s life. These beliefs, whether shaped by experiences, upbringing, or introspection, serve as guiding principles for the contributors, influencing their actions, decisions, and understanding of the world.
  • Unity in Diversity — Despite the wide range of backgrounds, professions, and cultures represented, a common theme is the unity found in diversity. The essays collectively underscore the idea that, regardless of our differences, there are fundamental beliefs and values that can bring people together, fostering a sense of shared humanity.
  • Resilience and Growth — Many essays highlight the theme of resilience in the face of adversity and the growth that comes from overcoming challenges. Contributors share personal stories of struggle, loss, and failure, reflecting on how these experiences have strengthened their beliefs and shaped their character.
  • The Quest for Meaning — The pursuit of meaning and purpose in life emerges as a key theme . Contributors ponder existential questions and explore how their beliefs provide a framework for finding purpose, happiness, and fulfillment in their lives.
  • The Mirror — The book itself can be seen as a symbol of a mirror , reflecting the diverse beliefs and values that individuals hold. It invites readers to reflect on their own beliefs and consider how these shape their interactions with the world.
  • The Bridge — Personal narratives act as bridges, connecting the reader to the author’s experiences and perspectives. This symbolizes the book’s ability to foster empathy and understanding across different walks of life, bridging gaps between diverse individuals.
  • The Compass — Many essays reference symbols or metaphors akin to a compass, representing personal beliefs as navigational tools that guide individuals through life’s journey. This symbol highlights the importance of having core values to steer by in times of uncertainty.
  • Light and Darkness — These classic symbols are used to depict knowledge, awareness, and enlightenment versus ignorance and adversity. Authors often discuss their beliefs as sources of light, guiding them through dark times and leading them toward personal growth and enlightenment.

The themes and symbols in “This I Believe” contribute to the overall meaning of the collection, offering readers insight into the complexity of human belief and the shared quest for understanding and connection. Through its exploration of deeply held convictions, the anthology celebrates the diversity of human thought and the common ground we can find in our most personal philosophies.

Style and Tone

The writing style and tone of “This I Believe: The Personal Philosophies of Remarkable Men and Women” are as varied as the contributors themselves, yet they all share an underlying intention to connect deeply with the reader. Here’s a closer look at the distinctive elements of style and tone that pervade the collection:

  • Personal and Reflective — The essays are inherently personal, with each contributor sharing intimate glimpses into their life experiences and the beliefs that these have shaped. This reflective style invites readers into the authors’ inner worlds, fostering a sense of intimacy and connection.
  • Inspirational and Uplifting — Despite the diversity of experiences and backgrounds, many of the essays carry an inspirational and uplifting tone . Contributors often share how their beliefs have helped them overcome challenges, offering hope and encouragement to readers facing their own obstacles.
  • Inclusive and Universal — The tone of the collection is inclusive, emphasizing shared human experiences and universal themes that transcend individual differences. This approach invites readers from all walks of life to find common ground in the shared exploration of personal beliefs.
  • Varied and Diverse — Reflecting the varied backgrounds of its contributors, the collection encompasses a range of writing styles, from the poetic and metaphorical to the straightforward and analytical. This diversity enriches the anthology, providing a broad spectrum of perspectives and voices.
  • Thought-Provoking and Engaging — The essays are crafted to engage the reader not only emotionally but intellectually. Many contributors pose questions or present scenarios that prompt reflection on one’s own beliefs and values, making the reading experience both thought-provoking and engaging.
  • Narrative and Anecdotal — The use of personal narratives and anecdotes is a common stylistic element, grounding abstract beliefs in concrete experiences. This storytelling approach makes complex ideas more accessible and relatable, enhancing the reader’s engagement with the text.

The varied writing styles and tones contribute to the richness of “This I Believe,” offering a mosaic of human thought and experience. By weaving together personal narratives with universal themes, the collection invites readers to reflect on their own beliefs and the role these play in their lives.

Literary Devices used in This I Believe: The Personal Philosophies of Remarkable Men and Women

In “This I Believe: The Personal Philosophies of Remarkable Men and Women,” the authors employ a variety of literary devices to enrich their narratives and convey their beliefs more effectively. Here are the top 10 literary devices used throughout the collection:

  • Metaphor — Authors use metaphors to draw parallels between their beliefs and more tangible or relatable concepts, enhancing understanding and emotional resonance.
  • Anecdote — Personal anecdotes are frequently employed to illustrate how beliefs have been tested, formed, or changed over time, adding depth and personal connection to the abstract.
  • Imagery — Vivid imagery is used to paint pictures in the reader’s mind, making the essays more engaging and helping to convey emotions and settings powerfully.
  • Parallelism — Some essays use parallel structure to emphasize the importance of certain beliefs or to create a rhythmic and persuasive effect in their arguments.
  • Juxtaposition — Authors often juxtapose contrasting ideas or experiences to highlight the significance of their beliefs or to illustrate turning points in their understanding.
  • Alliteration — Used sparingly for emphasis or to create a pleasing rhythm, alliteration helps to make certain passages more memorable.
  • Hyperbole — Exaggeration or hyperbole is occasionally used for effect, to express the intensity of feelings or the profound impact of certain beliefs.
  • Personification — Giving human qualities to abstract concepts, personification helps authors articulate the power and presence of their beliefs in their lives.
  • Simile — Comparisons using “like” or “as” are found throughout the essays, making complex beliefs more comprehensible and relatable to readers.
  • Allusion — References to cultural, historical, or literary figures or events are used to contextualize beliefs, lending them greater weight or universality.

Each of these literary devices plays a crucial role in enhancing the narrative power of the essays, allowing the authors to convey their personal philosophies in ways that resonate deeply with readers. By employing these techniques, the collection not only shares individual beliefs but also celebrates the artistry of storytelling and the profound impact of shared human experience.

Literary Devices Examples

Let’s explore examples and explanations for each of the top 10 literary devices used in “This I Believe: The Personal Philosophies of Remarkable Men and Women.”

Parallelism

Juxtaposition, alliteration, personification.

These examples showcase the diversity and richness of literary devices used by the contributors to “This I Believe,” each enhancing the narrative and deepening the reader’s engagement with the essays.

This I Believe: The Personal Philosophies of Remarkable Men and Women – FAQs

Q: What is the main purpose of “This I Believe”? A: The main purpose of “This I Believe” is to share a collection of personal essays that explore the core beliefs and values that guide individuals’ lives, encouraging readers to reflect on their own beliefs and the role these play in shaping their actions and perspectives.

Q: Who are some of the notable contributors to “This I Believe”? A: Some notable contributors include Albert Einstein, Bill Gates, Maya Angelou, and Tony Hawk, among others from diverse backgrounds and professions, each sharing their unique belief systems and life philosophies.

Q: How does “This I Believe” encourage reader participation or reflection? A: The book encourages reflection by presenting a wide range of beliefs and experiences, prompting readers to consider their own personal philosophies and how these beliefs influence their lives. It often poses questions and presents scenarios that invite introspection and discussion.

Q: Can “This I Believe” be considered a self-help book? A: While not a self-help book in the traditional sense, “This I Believe” does offer insights and inspiration that readers may find helpful for personal growth, self-reflection, and understanding different perspectives on life’s important questions.

Q: Is “This I Believe” appropriate for all ages? A: Yes, “This I Believe” is suitable for a wide audience, including teenagers and adults. Its themes are universal, and its content is accessible, making it an excellent resource for individuals at various stages of life and with different levels of experience.

Q: How can teachers or educators use “This I Believe” in the classroom? A: Educators can use the book as a tool for teaching critical thinking, writing, and discussion skills. It can serve as a prompt for students to write their own “This I Believe” essays, fostering self-expression and exploration of personal values.

Q: Where can I find resources for writing my own “This I Believe” essay? A: Many educational resources, including writing guides and prompts, are available online through the “This I Believe” website and other educational platforms, offering support for individuals interested in writing their personal philosophies.

  • B – Personal Essay Collection
  • B – Edward R. Murrow
  • C – Bill Gates
  • B – Anecdote
  • B – Reflect on their own beliefs
  • C – The pursuit of wealth as life’s goal
  • B – A personal narrative illustrating a core belief
  • A – The Bridge
  • C – Varied and diverse
  • C – Teenagers and adults

Identify the literary devices used in the following paragraph from “This I Believe”:

“As the sun dipped below the horizon, casting a golden glow over the city, I realized that life, much like the sunset, is a series of fleeting moments, each more precious because of its impermanence. This epiphany, born from a simple natural phenomenon, underscored my belief in the importance of cherishing every moment. It whispered to me, like an old friend, that the true beauty of life lies not in its permanence, but in the ephemeral moments that take our breath away.”

  • Simile — “life, much like the sunset,” compares life to a sunset to illustrate the transient nature of beautiful moments.
  • Imagery — “casting a golden glow over the city,” provides a vivid visual image of the sunset that enhances the narrative’s emotional impact.
  • Personification — “It whispered to me, like an old friend,” gives the epiphany human-like qualities, making the realization feel more intimate and personal.
  • Metaphor — “the true beauty of life lies not in its permanence, but in the ephemeral moments that take our breath away,” uses the ephemeral nature of life as a metaphor for its preciousness.

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4.5: “This I Believe” Essay

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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) Freewrite

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 STUDENT ESSAYS

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

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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 STUDENT ESSAYS

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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  • This I Believe Essay Showcase

'This I Believe' Essay Showcase

We asked GEL students and GEL alumni to share a belief in the form of an essay. The GEL program has long been one that helps students take stock of themselves and find their way through social and moral landscapes. Instructors in this program often assign This I Believe essays, sometimes as entry points into these landscapes and sometimes as souvenirs. Out of many, seven This I Believe essays stood out to a reading committee made up of students, faculty, and staff.

This I Believe is a popular essay genre that allows the writer to share a personal belief and, through a narrative, explain that belief’s origin or a time that belief was put into action. The essay genre started in the 1950s on a radio show with Edward R. Murrow and was continued by NPR in 2004. Many have enjoyed writing and reading these essays ever since. You can read or listen to tens of thousands of This I Believe essays at This I Believe.org .

To submit your essay for the 2019-2020 academic year, please use the link below:

This I Believe Showcase Essay Submission

The Writing Center is proud to present CSUSM’s This I Believe Showcase winners and their essays from the 2018-2019 Academic Year!

“I Am Enough” by Adrianna Adame

Throughout my life, I have always thought of myself as a failure. I was a failure for not being smart enough, friendly enough, or pretty enough. Always, I criticized myself for not putting in enough effort in order to work up to my full potential. Though, this wasn’t about working up to my full potential, but for not fulfilling the unrealistic expectations that I had burdened upon myself and by the people closest to me. The burdens that I carried weighed me down like how an anchor holds down a boat. Only, it was attached to my mind, instead of my ankle or a ship. The weight of the self-hatred and low self-esteem that I had made me feel like I was drowning. There wasn’t a bright horizon that could be seen in the distance, but instead more black and gray clouds that would bring another storm my way.

Day after day, I would look at myself in the mirror, tearing myself down. I would tell myself every night that I was never enough. I believed that I was a weak and worthless individual, a waste of time. This kind of hateful thinking made it a struggle to stay afloat. Before I knew it, I was weighed down by anxiety and an eating disorder. Each morning I would wake up to only to prepare to endeavor the difficulties of my illnesses.

At one point, I was fully consumed by the storm of my dark thoughts. I had trouble getting through each day. It was a struggle to pretend that everything was okay. I couldn’t even fake a smile anymore. During this time, I began to wonder what it would be like if I no longer existed. When I was staring at the cold and harsh waves of Monterey Bay one night, I realized that I didn’t want to drown. All of a sudden, I remembered all of the people in my life who helped me throughout the different stages of my life. I didn’t want to let them down. I thought about how I didn’t want to spend the rest of my life struggling to get through a single day. I didn’t want to go through life isolated, because of my anxiety. I wanted to live a life where I could be happy and be surrounded by people I admire. That moment of staring at the waves of Monterey Bay was when my determination to not only to just live came back, but my will to enjoy life came back.

I had to first learn from myself to begin to let go of the dark and anxious thoughts that had plagued me. Once I accepted that I would never be able to fulfill those unrealistic expectations that I had, I acknowledged that I needed to seek help by talking to mental health professionals. I couldn’t remain alone in the open sea forever, but needed to climb onto the lifeboat and communicate with people in my life.

Eventually, I realized that I wasn’t a failure. I actually was successful in many ways: for making it to CSUSM; being able to be there to those close to me; and having the beautiful gift of having the freedom to be the person that I am today.

I believe that I am enough. I am good enough for society. I am good enough to be myself without the burden of negative thoughts and unrealistic expectations. I am good enough to get the help that I need from others. I am good enough to live a happy life.

“The Power of Potstickers” by Lauren Brown

I believe in my mother’s cooking.

Ever since my mother realized I would have to cook for myself in college, she dedicated her summer to teaching me the ways of the kitchen. Whether it was educating me on how to operate a pressure cooker, showing me the best ways to peel of the skin of garlic, or demonstrating the right way to steam potstickers in a wok, the resilience my mother had in passing down as much as she knew was admirable. She insisted that the exact measurements or the exact ingredients weren’t necessary and cooking was more of an art than a hard science, but I still felt I would undoubtedly obliterate any flavor or texture with a single misplaced grain of salt; no compromise would yield perfection. Still, she persisted I pour rice into the cooker without a measuring cup and my heart sank with disappointment as I watched the watery, soupy mess fall heavily into the trash can.

“Sometimes, things won’t be perfect,” is what she told me, “and you just have to roll up your sleeves and realize that finding a different solution is the only way to save the dish.”

From then I started to see the compromises and solutions my mother would speak of, not just in the kitchen, but in her life around her.

My mother wanted to make us a traditional Taiwanese dinner, one her mother would make for her before she left for America. However, the pallet of my younger brother, only appreciating the complexities of chicken nuggets and pizza slices, refused to eat our cultural family infused feast. Next time my mother wanted to recreate the dishes, she opted for the frozen potstickers from Trader Joe’s with beef and American broccoli instead of cabbage and bok choy. Although this satisfied the tastes and likings of my sibling, I couldn’t help but despair over the changes to the recipes that I held so dear, despair over the compromise of our culture.

When I went away to college, my mother dutifully packed a freezer bag full of our pre-prepped food from home, and sitting on top of the frozen dishes were the Trader Joe’s potstickers.

Having roommates in college was a large enough compromise in itself, but food proved especially difficult. Caught off guard by roommates asking for tastes of my meals, I found myself naturally flowing into compromise the way my mother did, cooking for everyone and incorporating their preferences and restrictions. Egg noodles instead of rice. Less sesame oil and more soy sauce. Even though I didn’t welcome these changes to my dinners at first and feared the substitutes would produce a subpar dinner, I slowly found myself liking the alternatives more than the recipes. I continued, adding fried eggs, bean sprouts, spinach and spam to the prepackaged ramen noodles that only called for powdered flavor packets, and even my roommates began to show interest towards the unorthodox combination.

Although I find the exact measurements of recipes comforting, I do my best to add a pinch of this and a dash of that in my meals every so often. It’s how I get to go outside my comfort zone every day. And I see in myself a newfound wisdom: it's ok to go off the beaten path, you can experiment, compromise can lead to something new and beautiful. My mother’s cooking taught me that and I expect to bring that with me wherever I may go.

“I Believe in Healing” by Yahaira Cazares

I believe in healing. I believe in the enduring process of healing. September of 2017 I had an experience that has made the last year very difficult for my family and I. I long to heal and at times I feel like those steps towards healing are possible because I believe in hope, and that hope is part of healing. The idea that if I am not okay or not happy in this moment but have the capacity to become happy and become okay in the future is a motivating force for healing. I am in a place where I welcome the hurt and the pain because I understand that it is part of the healing process. I also welcome laughter and new opportunities because I believe allowing myself to be paralyzed in unhappiness will paralyze my healing.

I believe that as a person I am capable of allowing love to heal me. I believe that when my dog lays on my chest, she is healing me; when I tuck my younger brother in, he is healing me; when I hug my parents, they are healing me; when I watch “While you were Sleeping” for the fifteenth time, it is healing me. I am in the process of growth, and what I mean by that is I am “Filling my cup until my cup runneth over” I am choosing to fill my cup with understanding. The process of healing is like filling my cup with one drop per day, desperately agonizing, but desperately necessary to appreciate a full cup.

I have been visiting Mexico almost every other weekend, I see a lot of poverty, mothers are seated on the ground in the hottest and coldest of temperatures, with their babies and toddlers on their laps, trying to sell gum for any spare change. I had never been exposed to that level of poverty, and yet the babies and the toddlers were playing, laughing using rocks or a single action figure they had to share to create a fantasy, a game. That is when I realized that they were healing. Kids heal because they believe that good outweighs evil. They so willingly hope and neglect the possibility of failure. As adults, that diminishes. Experience takes it away, trauma takes it away, insecurity takes it away. Healing is taking it back. Taking back hope, taking back the unwavering belief that things will not always be bad. That there is always room for growth, always room for healing. To understand why things happen and appreciate the things that cannot be understood. There is strength in that, strength I hope one day to possess. I believe in change, I believe in growth, I believe in healing.

“Patience and Perseverance” by Erica Gershom

I believe that nothing in this world is unattainable if an individual works hard to achieve his or her goals. I have witnessed first-hand how much power perseverance has and how it can completely alter a person’s lifestyle and mindset. As an aspiring surgeon, I realize that it will take more than just good grades and volunteer experience to become someone who saves lives. Dedicating my life to helping patients will require a tremendous amount of sacrifice, self-control, and determination. In 2016, my father had a stroke, which permanently disabled his ability to walk and speak. At that time, I was enrolled in four A.P. classes, two dual enrollments classes, A.V.I.D., and I participated in three clubs on campus. I was also volunteering at Loma Linda Hospital on the weekends and singing at church on Sundays. The sole reason I was able to maintain a balance between all of my academic and extracurricular activities is because I believed in myself. I believed that I was capable of working harder than usual to juggle my school life and my family life together. I stayed up late to study for exams and woke up early to take my younger brothers to school since my mother had no other option but to work two jobs after my dad had become physically disabled. I do not know who I would be today if I had not pulled through these rough circumstances and persisted through high school regardless of the tragic events that occurred in my life. I wanted nothing but to wallow in my self-pity and feel horrible for all the setbacks that were persisting in my life. However, I made the decision to keep moving forward, and it was the best decision of my life.

I slowly began to see that my mindset played a huge role in determining how much work I could get done and where I would be in two years. I told myself to have a positive mindset and be patient, since I had seen the direct results of how well that played out in my life. Even today, I am faced with both internal and external struggles that would have normally held me back and prevented me from following my dreams, but a small voice of motivation in my head tells me to keep pushing through. As a 19-year-old female, I am proud to say that I have reached many milestones in my life that were on my to-do list, and it makes my passion for becoming a doctor intensify even higher, all thanks to diligence and patience.

Now, whenever someone asks me if I am really willing to undergo 14 more years of school—including residency and training—to become a surgeon, I say “absolutely, without a doubt.” Hard work has not only been a tool for success, but it has also given me a sense of purpose for my life. It has taught me how to have good work ethic and to always aim higher in everything I do.  It has also shown me that I have the power to change my own life and determine who I could be in this vast world. Success is not measured by the position a person is in, but rather how much hard work a person put in and how many challenges had to be overcome. With this in mind, I am willing to put forth as much effort as it takes to achieve my goal of becoming a great doctor and an even greater person.

“Faith, Hope, and Love” by Karen Siguenza

When I was six years old, my father, an undocumented immigrant was deported. I never knew that that was the reason why he moved to Mexico. I always thought that he just grabbed his stuff and left. Three years later, my mother was also deported. I remember when the ICE came into our room at 6 am in the morning. We were sleeping, then all of a sudden one of the ICE agents gets my sister and I dressed up and sends us to my aunt's house. I didn't understand anything that was going on. I mean I was nine, and my family would never speak the subject to me until a year later.

Every night I would pray to God to make sure my Mom was healthy. It was my faith in God that made me strong these past years. My mom would send me letters but she would never call because she was in a detention center. In those letters, there were prayers inside. Prayers of us seeing each other soon, and for us to be safe and healthy. I had all my faith in God, I would pray that I could see my mom. Having hoped to see mom again gave me strength. I tried my best in school and I always stayed focused. I wanted there to be a purpose for me being a first generation in the United States of America. I never let any opportunity go by.

I wanted to make my parents proud, and I still do. Even though they weren’t here physically with me throughout the years, I still received support from my mom. I had a few rough times in life that almost made me get off track. Through them I had my mom help me get through the difficult times, she would always give me love and support. You see, the most important thing a person can have is love. Having faith gives you a chance of having hope. Because of my faith, I never gave up on working hard in school.

I believe that faith and hope are a beautiful thing. When someone tells you, "I hope you do good." or "I hope everything will be ok for you." , that in my opinion, is the best feeling. I feel cared for and motivated because of it. It is true what they say, "it's the little things in life". Having hope makes me motivated in achieving success. In the Bible, the verse Corinthians 13:13, states: "And now these three remain: faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is love". I had faith in God, which gave me hope. Faith and hope motivated me to succeed in my education. Without it, I wouldn't be where I am today, at California State University, San Marcos. I am here to receive an education and to graduate with a Bachelor's Degree in order for me to have a stable job that I will love doing. But without my mother's love, I wouldn't be who I am today, a first-generation college student. I believe in faith, hope, and love. I believe that by giving or receiving these three things, it can make a better you.

“I Believe in Loving Myself” by Samantha Sparkenbach

I believe in loving myself. As a millennial, I am part of the majority of people who use social media. I was convinced that it was necessary to have platforms like Instagram, Twitter and Snapchat. I thought nothing harmful could come from an app, but I was wrong. From scrolling through pictures of girls who were living lavish lives that I would never have to compare my body to models photos that were most likely photoshopped, I was destroying my confidence slowly.

I grew up loving myself like any other kid would with so much innocence and happiness when I would sink my teeth into my favorite foods. What I would do to go back to a time where I could care less about what I was eating because it could affect the way my body looks. As I got older, I started to get more interested in fashion and makeup, I was more inclined to go on social media to get ideas and inspiration from online influencers. I thought there was no wrong in doing this because everyone my age was doing the same thing. People were posting all the adventurous trips they were going on as well as the most thrilling parts of their day. I was starting to notice how unsatisfying my life seemed compared to everyone else. I started questioning why I wasn’t living nearly the same exciting way they were. Not only was social media making my life feel dull but it was making me judge my body a certain way.  The more I found myself spending time standing in the mirror looking at myself and obsessing over the fact that my body wasn’t skinny enough was making me lose my self-worth. The mirror was starting to become a daily chore where I would point out every little detail I hated. I was viewing myself completely different than I really was, and just causing destruction inside of me. I no longer wanted to go out or hang out with people because I thought people would see what I was perceiving and not enjoy me anymore.

I remember one morning when I woke up and saw a stretch mark on the inside of my leg and I fell apart. All I could think about was how models don’t have stretch marks, so why do I? I was a mess about this and just wanted total isolation. I knew I could not keep filling my head with unhealthy acquisitions about myself.  I decided that it would be beneficial to remove all my social media accounts to see if I would feel more valuable.

As time would pass that I wouldn’t be checking my phone and wouldn’t be comparing my body to others, I was loving myself more. I started to wear clothes that I felt truly beautiful in and adapted my own style, not the style social media told me I should wear to feel sexy. I had completely created an ideal body in my head of what was perfect and no one can achieve that realistically. My body is unique and no one else has the same one as I do. Through the process of loving myself, I have been able to help so many of my friends to do the same, and the glow I started to see within them made me feel so content. Through loving myself I have learned inner peace and what it means to not rely on anyone else but myself. I believe in loving myself because my body is constantly working to keep me alive and healthy. I believe in loving myself because I deserve to think in a positive way instead of negative. I believe in loving myself.

“Infatuation” by Reignmarc Vincent Labuguen

I believe infatuations are necessary to strengthen desire, passion, and happiness in life. It’s a word that describes admiration for a short period of time. Infatuations is a viral emotion that can occur without notice. Whether it’s a job you’ve seen on television, following the footsteps of your idol, or getting your crush’s phone number. The word does not have to be involved romantically. Infatuations may end in disappointment. Sometimes it may become an excuse to never attempt a dream again. Time flies by, I have somehow made it this far. Thanks to these admirations.

I believe infatuations are all a part of a process that makes me an open book to opportunities. It’s hard to see it as a positive outcome, but the illusion of being disappointed begins to fade when a new opportunity is presented.

I can recall experiences that consist of undesirable outcome and disappointment. But I choose not to because who would like to hear me complain about my past. I am nowhere qualified for a podcasting career. But I do want to share you my past experience because I do believe it’s the reason why I hold my passions to live a successful life. My infatuations have always been a time when I do something uncharacteristic. It is usually my mother that notice my actions first, more than anyone.

In ninth-grade, I tried out for the varsity basketball team. My mom called me out and said, “why bother, your physically and mentally unathletic.” Boy, I wanted to prove her wrong. This would’ve been the best underdog story you’ve ever heard. I was cut from the team after the third day of try-outs. I was out of my comfort zone, literally and physically. Yes, it ended my dream following Kobe Bryant’s legacy. But I couldn’t imagine myself getting out of my comfort zone again without being in this position. Rejection is my greatest fear, but without it, I’ll never know how to cope with failure ever again.

In eleventh grade, I finally came at peace that basketball will never be a reality, and I accept it. So, I came back to my passion for public service. I ran for a position in ASB, not once but twice. When I told my mom that I wanted to return to public service, she told me, “you got to be kidding me, you’re not going through this and lose it all again.” She called me out for not being mainstream to win in a high school setting. But of course, my infatuation got the best of me and submitted my campaign to run for president. It is a huge commitment to run for public service. The front-runner was no other than the popular girl on campus. I was committed to winning, but the high school population was too overwhelming. I can certainly tell you my mom is a fortune teller, I lost the election by a landslide. Cheers to democracy.

My obsession achieving a dream influence actions outside my comfort zone. I accept that infatuation gets the most of me. The short-term desires reveal uncharacteristic actions. It is a bittersweet process, but I am thankful for it. While most outcomes result in heartbreak, it also reveals new characteristics of me. I take advantage of it, so when the next desire come, achievement might actually be a possibility.

Power Lesson: “This I Believe” Essays

December 4, 2016

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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

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Categories: Instruction

Tags: English language arts , lesson planning , power lessons

39 Comments

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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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English 104

Instructor Kathy Crutcher

You’ve made it.   You’ve examined where you’re from, where you are now, and where you’re going.   Now this final essay will incorporate all three of these elements—your past, your present, and your future—by allowing you to reflect one of your guiding principles for the journey.   We finish the semester by coming full-circle, returning anew to those questions we asked ourselves on the first real day of class: What do you believe?   Where do those beliefs come from?   How do those beliefs make you who you are?    

For your final essay, you will take inspiration from National Public Radio’s (NPR) series entitled, This I Believe. This radio project began in 1950 and is committed to “engaging people in writing, sharing, and discussing the core values and beliefs that guide their daily lives” (NPR). You can find out more about this project and read sample essays at: www.thisibelieve.org

Your essay will consist of your own life stories and reflections that somehow address the following questions:

  • What is a strong belief you hold that guides your daily life?
  • When did you first recognize this belief as a core value? Has this belief ever been challenged?
  • How will this belief guide your life in the future?
  • Your essay should be focused on a story or series of related stories that convey a deeper message to your readers about what you believe.
  • You should write a strong statement that completes the sentence, “I believe…” somewhere in your essay.
  • Use first person—“I.”   Avoid “you” or “we;” speak for yourself.
  • Present your own beliefs positively, rather than criticizing others’ beliefs.
  • Avoid organizing and developing your essay around direct answers to the questions above. You don’t want to rely on telling statements like, “A strong belief that guides my daily life is….” Instead, tell a story, set a scene, and use descriptive language to show your readers what you believe and why.  
  • You need to be careful to choose language that makes your voice and experiences unique. Choosing an obvious focus may lead to cliché and/or an unmemorable essay.
  • You must also start your essay with a title that captures the spirit of your belief.
  • See http://www.thisibelieve.org/essaywritingtips.html for more helpful tips!!

Grading Criteria:

  • Do you have a strong, interesting focus?
  • Do you fulfill your purpose by telling a story (or stories) that convey a deeper message about your beliefs?
  • Do you use descriptive, sensory language?
  • Do you develop your ideas with interesting, personal details?
  • Do you have a unique style and voice?
  • Do you make this essay MATTER to a broad audience?
  • Do you include an “I believe” statement and a captivating title?

Nitty Gritty:

  • 5 p. minimum, double-spaced, 1” margins, 12 pt. Times New Roman
  • Sources are not required. You may choose to use sources if they help you reflect and tell your story. If you use a source, you must include in-text citations and a Works Cited page.
  • Draft due (for in-class work-shopping and revision): Monday, December 8th  
  • Final draft due:   Wednesday, December 10th.   NO EXCEPTIONS.    
  • This project is worth 10% of your final grade.   For grading criteria, see above as well as the SMH section entitled “Grading Criteria in UK Writing Courses,” pgs. UK 7-11
  • Write with purpose, personality, and heart.   Give it all you’ve got!
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This I Believe

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Celebrating Four Years Of 'This I Believe'

April 27, 2009 • During its four-year run on NPR, This I Believe engaged listeners in a discussion of the core beliefs that guide their daily lives. We heard from people of all walks of life — the very young and the very old, the famous and the previously unknown.

Saying Thanks To My Ghosts

April 26, 2009 • Novelist Amy Tan hasn't always believed in ghosts, but as a writer she's had too many inspirations that she can't fully explain. Now, Tan embraces her belief in ghosts and the messages of joy, love and peace they bring her.

Life Is An Act Of Literary Creation

April 23, 2009 • Mexican-American novelist Luis Urrea used to think that simply being a good observer would make his writing better. But over time, he's come to believe that being a good writer and a good person comes from paying attention to the world around him.

The Art Of Being A Neighbor

April 12, 2009 • A few years ago, Eve Birch was broke and living alone in a dilapidated mountain shack. But a community of people befriended her, shared what little they had with her and showed Birch the value of neighbors uniting to help one another.

I Am Still The Greatest

Muhammad Ali John Lair/Muhammad Ali Center hide caption

I Am Still The Greatest

April 6, 2009 • To be the "Greatest of All Time," boxing legend Muhammad Ali says you have to believe in yourself. It's a lesson his parents taught him and it has helped him in fighting Parkinson's disease.

Dancing To Connect To A Global Tribe

March 29, 2009 • Matt Harding has been to 70 countries to dance — badly — in front of a camera, and videos of his travels have become an Internet sensation. Harding believes interacting with so many different people challenges him to understand what unites humanity.

My Father Deserves Spectacular Results

March 26, 2009 • Environmental activist Van Jones is a special adviser to the Obama administration. He says his dad, who died last year, would have gotten a kick out of seeing Obama become president. But his dad had high standards, and there is much more work to be done.

The Beatles Live On

March 15, 2009 • Macklin Levine was born more than 25 years after the Fab Four broke up, but at 12, she has a deep appreciation for Beatles music. "As old as the songs are, you can learn a lot about yourself from the lyrics," she says. And the Beatles help her remember her Dad, too.

Finding Freedom In Forgiveness

March 5, 2009 • Jennifer Thompson-Cannino was certain that Ronald Cotton was the man who raped her in 1984. But she was wrong. After Cotton spent 11 years in jail, DNA evidence proved his innocence. Now, the two have a friendship based on their belief in forgiveness.

Work Is A Blessing

March 1, 2009 • When he was 12, Russel Honore got his first job helping a neighbor milk 65 dairy cows twice a day. Fifty years later, the retired Army lieutenant general believes hard work helps build character, strengthen communities and promote freedom.

Seeing Beyond Our Differences

February 26, 2009 • Scientist Sheri White says that despite differences in size, shape and color, all humans are 99.9 percent biologically identical. White believes we should embrace our similarities and honor the differences that make each of us unique.

Historical Archives

Reflections on race: essays from the archives.

February 23, 2009 • Dan Gediman, executive producer of NPR's This I Believe, explores the archives of the original series hosted by Edward R. Murrow in the 1950s. He says the essays shed light on the realities of segregation at the dawn of the civil rights movement.

Gediman explores the 'This I Believe' archives.

The magic of letters.

February 15, 2009 • Chameli Waiba was raised in a village in Nepal and didn't attend school as a child. When she finally learned to read as an adult, Waiba discovered the power words could have to change her life, as well as the lives of others in her rural community.

How To Survive Life's Tests

February 9, 2009 • Kendra Jones assigned her students to write This I Believe essays and decided that she owed it to them to write one of her own. Jones believes toughness, steeliness and even meanness have helped her throughout her life.

Our Awareness Controls Human Destiny

February 8, 2009 • In an essay from 1951 for the original This I Believe series, Margaret Mead says she can't separate the beliefs she has as a person from the beliefs she has as an anthropologist. She says that humans have a responsibility for the entire planet.

A Hope For Bettering Humanity

February 1, 2009 • In an essay from 1953 for the original This I Believe series, Sir Charles Galton Darwin, the grandson of naturalist Charles Darwin, drew on his study of science to say he believed the future of humanity depended on the practice of eugenics.

Listening Is Powerful Medicine

February 1, 2009 • It took a scolding from an elderly patient to get Dr. Alicia Conill to look up from her charts and stop to listen. Conill came to understand the value of listening in the treatment process — especially when she herself became the patient.

America's Beauty Is In Its Diversity

January 29, 2009 • In sixth grade, Alaa El-Saad decided to start wearing the hijab , a religious head covering for Muslim women. Despite some trepidation, she found her classmates supported her choice. Now El-Saad believes being different is part of being American.

Thirty Things I Believe

January 18, 2009 • When Tarak McLain's kindergarten group celebrated their 100th day of class, some kids brought 100 nuts or cotton balls. Tarak brought a list of 100 things he believes. Now a first-grader, Tarak shares his top beliefs about God, life, nature and war.

Inviting The World To Dinner

January 12, 2009 • Every Sunday for 30 years, Jim Haynes has welcomed complete strangers into his Paris home for dinner. By introducing people to each other and encouraging them to make personal connections, Haynes believes he can foster greater tolerance in the world.

Pathways Of Desire

January 4, 2009 • Gina Parosa believes in letting her kids, pets and livestock make their own paths in life. But she also realizes that as a farmer and parent, she sometimes has to step in and set good boundaries — while still being flexible enough to change them.

This Is Home

January 1, 2009 • Majora Carter believes you don't have to move out of your old neighborhood to live in a better one. Carter was raised in the South Bronx and spent years trying to leave. But when the city proposed a waste facility there, she was inspired to fight for her community.

Health Is A Human Right

December 21, 2008 • As an infectious disease specialist, Dr. Paul Farmer has traveled the planet to organize and provide medical treatment for people living in poverty. He believes good health care is vital but just the first step in creating a world free of all human suffering.

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  • Resource Library
  • Communication
  • Intro to AFNR
  • Personal Essay
  • Public Speaking

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

“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.

Preparation:

  • 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.

Contemplation:

  • 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. . .

  Creation:

  • 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.

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

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This I Believe: Exploring Core Values and Personal Convictions

  • Categories: Personal Beliefs Values of Life

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Published: Sep 5, 2023

Words: 579 | Page: 1 | 3 min read

Table of contents

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

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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

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101 This I Believe Essay Topic Ideas & Examples

Inside This Article

"This I Believe" essays are a popular genre in the academic and personal writing world. They allow individuals to reflect on their beliefs, values, and experiences in a concise and engaging manner. If you're looking for some inspiration for your own "This I Believe" essay, here are 101 topic ideas and examples to get you started:

  • I believe in the power of kindness.
  • I believe in the importance of self-love.
  • I believe in the value of hard work.
  • I believe in the beauty of diversity.
  • I believe in the strength of resilience.
  • I believe in the magic of music.
  • I believe in the healing power of nature.
  • I believe in the importance of education.
  • I believe in the power of forgiveness.
  • I believe in the importance of empathy.
  • I believe in the value of honesty.
  • I believe in the power of hope.
  • I believe in the importance of family.
  • I believe in the beauty of art.
  • I believe in the strength of community.
  • I believe in the power of perseverance.
  • I believe in the importance of gratitude.
  • I believe in the value of friendship.
  • I believe in the beauty of simplicity.
  • I believe in the importance of mindfulness.
  • I believe in the power of positivity.
  • I believe in the importance of communication.
  • I believe in the value of laughter.
  • I believe in the beauty of love.
  • I believe in the strength of faith.
  • I believe in the power of creativity.
  • I believe in the importance of integrity.
  • I believe in the value of curiosity.
  • I believe in the beauty of vulnerability.
  • I believe in the strength of courage.
  • I believe in the importance of authenticity.
  • I believe in the value of compassion.
  • I believe in the beauty of acceptance.
  • I believe in the strength of self-expression.
  • I believe in the power of self-reflection.
  • I believe in the importance of self-care.
  • I believe in the value of independence.
  • I believe in the beauty of solitude.
  • I believe in the strength of teamwork.
  • I believe in the power of imagination.
  • I believe in the importance of discipline.
  • I believe in the value of responsibility.
  • I believe in the beauty of freedom.
  • I believe in the power of change.
  • I believe in the importance of adaptability.
  • I believe in the value of balance.
  • I believe in the beauty of imperfection.
  • I believe in the strength of vulnerability.
  • I believe in the power of self-awareness.
  • I believe in the importance of self-compassion.
  • I believe in the value of self-acceptance.
  • I believe in the beauty of growth.
  • I believe in the strength of transformation.
  • I believe in the importance of resilience.
  • I believe in the value of perseverance.
  • I believe in the beauty of forgiveness.
  • I believe in the strength of love.
  • I believe in the power of gratitude.
  • I believe in the value of kindness.
  • I believe in the strength of unity.
  • I believe in the importance of trust.
  • I believe in the beauty of authenticity.
  • I believe in the strength of integrity.
  • I believe in the power of communication.
  • I believe in the importance of collaboration.
  • I believe in the value of teamwork.
  • I believe in the beauty of creativity.
  • I believe in the strength of innovation.
  • I believe in the power of education.
  • I believe in the importance of lifelong learning.
  • I believe in the value of critical thinking.
  • I believe in the beauty of curiosity.
  • I believe in the power of adaptability.
  • I believe in the importance of flexibility.
  • I believe in the value of patience.
  • I believe in the beauty of perseverance.
  • I believe in the strength of determination.
  • I believe in the power of self-discipline.
  • I believe in the importance of self-control.
  • I believe in the value of self-improvement.
  • I believe in the beauty of self-care.
  • I believe in the strength of self-love.
  • I believe in the power of self-acceptance.
  • I believe in the importance of self-awareness.
  • I believe in the value of self-reflection.
  • I believe in the beauty of self-discovery.
  • I believe in the power of self-confidence.
  • I believe in the importance of self-respect.
  • I believe in the value of self-esteem.
  • I believe in the beauty of self-compassion.
  • I believe in the strength of self-empowerment.
  • I believe in the power of self-actualization.

These are just a few examples of the many topics that you could explore in your own "This I Believe" essay. Remember, the key to a successful essay is to choose a topic that is meaningful to you and to communicate your beliefs with honesty and clarity. Good luck!

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Highlights: Closing arguments wrap in Trump hush money trial

What to know about the hush money trial.

  • Prosecutors finished delivering their closing statements in the trial shortly before 8 p.m. Former President Donald Trump's lawyers presented their arguments this morning .
  • Prosecutor Joshua Steinglass, who spoke for more than four hours, argued that Trump falsified business records to cover up what was essentially an illegal campaign contribution meant to help him get elected in 2016.
  • Trump is charged with 34 counts of falsifying business records in connection with a hush money payment to adult film actor Stormy Daniels to buy her silence about an alleged affair with Trump. He has pleaded not guilty to the charges.
  • Court adjourned for the day at 8 p.m. and will resume at 10 a.m., when the judge will give instructions to the jury before it begins deliberations.

Judge lays out timeline for the rest of the week

this i believe essays purpose

Gary Grumbach

Zoë Richards

Tomorrow's trial proceedings are expected to get underway at 10 a.m., instead of the regular 9:30 a.m., with Judge Juan Merchan saying he expects jury instructions to last about an hour.

After that, the case will be in the hands of the jury.

Merchan said tomorrow's proceedings will conclude at 4:30 p.m., but he left the door open for the rest of the week, noting that if proceedings are needed on Thursday and Friday, the timing will be determined by how deliberations are progressing.

Trump makes no comments after leaving courtroom

this i believe essays purpose

Katherine Koretski

Trump did not make any comments as he left the Manhattan courtroom after the prosecution delivered closing arguments that went until just before 8 p.m.

Trump, who has often spoken outside the courtroom, instead raised his fist as he left.

Closing arguments are done; court to resume at 10 a.m. tomorrow

this i believe essays purpose

Prosecutor Joshua Steinglass has finished his closing argument, which began shortly after 2 p.m.

Judge Juan Merchan told jurors they will start tomorrow at 10 a.m.

Merchan told jurors that jury instructions will take around an hour before deliberations begin. He said the plan is to go until 4:30 p.m. for the day.

Prosecutor gets fired up during end of closing argument

this i believe essays purpose

Phil Helsel

Prosecutor Joshua Steinglass began accelerating and emphasizing his delivery to jurors during closing arguments with minutes to go before an 8 p.m. deadline.

Steinglass reiterated to the jurors that it is a crime to willfully create inaccurate tax forms and that Trump’s intent to defraud in this case is clear. He argued that why else would Stormy Daniels be paid in what he described as an elaborate scheme, instead of all at once.

Steinglass argued that that and other steps show Trump wanted the issue to be kept quiet until after the election.

“The name of the game was concealment,” he said.

Defense objects to prosecutor's remarks about Trump and Fifth Avenue

this i believe essays purpose

Jillian Frankel

Prosecutor Joshua Steinglass urged the jury to hold Trump accountable, suggesting by way of analogy that he can’t shoot someone on Fifth Avenue during rush hour and get away with it.

Trump's defense team objected to the comment, which Judge Juan Merchan sustained.

Mixed level of visible engagement among jurors at this late hour

this i believe essays purpose

Laura Jarrett

At least one juror appears to be visibly engaged in prosecutor Joshua Steinglass’ presentation — offering an affirming smile.

Others, however, appear considerably less focused and can be seen twisting their hair and rubbing their faces.

The jury is approaching an 11-hour day at the courthouse.

Prosecutor talks about difference between reasonable doubt and certainty

Prosecutor Joshua Steinglass told the jury that it does not need to evaluate each piece of evidence alone and in a vacuum but as part of a whole that he argues proves Trump’s guilt.

“You will see that the people have proven this case beyond a reasonable doubt,” he said.

During his remarks, the defense objected. Judge Juan Merchan sustained the objection.

“I’ll instruct them on the law and the evidence,” Merchan said.

Prosecutor launches into rapid-fire recap of Trump’s involvement in Daniels and McDougal stories

this i believe essays purpose

Prosecutor Joshua Steinglass is recapping all of the evidence intended to show Trump’s direct involvement in the settlements with Karen McDougal and Stormy Daniels, beginning with an August 2015 Trump Tower meeting.

A screen the prosecution displayed during closing arguments read “Mr. Trump involved every step of the way” as Steinglass went through a timeline of events.

Joshua Steinglass passes 4-hour mark in his closing arguments

Prosecutor Joshua Steinglass has passed the four-hour mark since he began giving the prosecution’s closing argument in Trump’s trial.

Steinglass began giving the prosecution’s closing arguments at around 2:07 p.m., but there have been several breaks since then.

Today's trial proceedings to continue until 8 p.m., judge says

After he returned to the bench, Judge Juan Merchan indicated to the attorneys that the court will push forward until 8 p.m. but will need to wrap up after that.

That would make an 11-hour day for the jury.

Last recess of the day

Judge Juan Merchan announced at 6:52 p.m. what he said will be the last recess of the day.

It's expected to last just a few minutes.

Merchan earlier said that the plan was to go until at least 7 p.m. and “finish this out if we can.”

'A bold-faced lie': Prosecutor revisits Robert Costello's testimony

Given the hour, it was initially unclear why prosecutor Joshua Steinglass began revisiting the testimony of Robert Costello , a Trump ally and lawyer who has clashed with Michael Cohen.

But the prosecution's display of an email exchange between Costello and Cohen hinted that the DA's office aims to portray Trump’s attitude toward Cohen changing only after his former attorney's compliance was in doubt, not because of anything else Cohen did.

Recounting Costello's testimony, Steinglass argued that Costello's assertion that he was acting in Cohen’s best interest and that he didn’t care at all about the defendant’s interest "was a bold-faced lie.”

‘You guys good to go a little bit longer?’ prosecutor asks, as 7 p.m. draws near

Prosecutor Joshua Steinglass asked jurors, “You guys good to go a little bit longer?” and said “Alright!” after a bench meeting to discuss scheduling at around 6:30 p.m.

Judge Juan Merchan earlier today said the plan was to go until at least 7 p.m. and “finish this out if we can.”

Prosecutor refers to 'devastating' testimony by Hope Hicks

Given the largely chronological order of the prosecution's closing arguments, prosecutor Joshua Steinglass could be nearing the end of his remarks.

He discussed what he called Hope Hicks’ “devastating” testimony earlier in the trial, adding that she burst into tears because she realized the impact of what she had told the court.

Defense attorney Todd Blanche objected to that characterization, but Judge Juan Merchan allowed it.

Prosecutor argues Trump wanted to be 'involved in everything'

Prosecutor Joshua Steinglass mocked former Trump aide Madeleine Westerhout’s testimony in which she said Trump was often so busy that sometimes he absent-mindedly signed presidential proclamations.

Steinglass, who dismissed Westerhout's remarks as a narrative Trump’s team encouraged, said that overall she gave the opposite impression — that the former president remained very attentive to outlays of his personal expenses, and that his most frequent contacts included his former attorney Michael Cohen and a former top executive of his company, Allen Weisselberg. Westerhout's testimony also conveyed that Trump continued to be the sole signatory on his own accounts, even though he easily could have added other signatories, Steinglass argued.

Trump wanted to maintain control — and “he insists on signing his own checks," Steinglass said, adding that Trump boasted about his frugality and micromanagement in his books, which Steinglass read excerpts from.

Steinglass also rejected the defense's argument that Trump was too busy to be involved in certain financial transactions.

“He’s in charge of a company for 40 years. The defendant’s entire business philosophy was to be involved in everything,” Steinglass said.

Prosecutor: Cohen's time being cross-examined exceeded his legal work for Trump in 2017

Prosecutor Joshua Steinglass said that Michael Cohen did very few hours of legal work for Trump on 2017, and that “these payments had nothing to do with the retainer agreement and nothing to do with services rendered in 2017.”

“Cohen spent more time being cross-examined in this trial than he did doing legal work for Donald Trump in 2017,” Steinglass said. He also told the jury that none of the Trump invoices went through the Trump Organization’s legal department because they weren’t for legal services rendered.

Steinglass also commented on how Cohen was paid pretty well, and had the title of personal attorney for the president.

“He was making way more money than any government job would ever pay, and don’t I know that,” Steinglass joked.

Some jurors cracked smiles and small laughs when Steinglass joked about government salaries compared to what Cohen was making.

Prosecutor says ‘these documents are so damning that you almost have to laugh’ at defense's argument

Prosecutor Joshua Steinglass told the jury that “these documents are so damning that you almost have to laugh” at an argument presented by Trump’s defense.

Steinglass was referring to a comments by defense attorney Todd Blanche that the records were not false because, if they were false, they would have been destroyed.

Steinglass also argued that the 1099s forms on which Trump reported payments to Michael Cohen of $105,000 and $315,000 were another “unlawful means” through which the conspiracy was acted upon.

EXCLUSIVE: Elise Stefanik requests probe into Merchan's selection as judge

Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-N.Y., issued a complaint letter today to the New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct and an inspector general for the New York State Unified Court System, requesting an investigation into Judge Juan Merchan’s selection to preside over Trump’s hush money case.

Stefanik pointed to Merchan’s role as presiding judge for a pair of other cases related to Trump and his allies, saying, “The probability of three specific criminal cases being assigned to the same justice is infinitesimally small.”

“One cannot help but suspect that the ‘random selection’ at work in the assignment of Acting Justice Merchan, a Democrat Party donor, to these cases involving prominent Republicans, is in fact not random at all,” Stefanik wrote. “The simple answer to why Acting Justice Merchan has been assigned to these cases would seem to be that whoever made the assignment intentionally selected Acting Justice Merchan to handle them to increase the chance that Donald Trump, the Trump Organization, and Steven Bannon would ultimately be convicted.”

The letter marks a continued effort by Trump allies to attack people involved with the case by filing complaints. The board overseeing the judges has made clear that Merchan didn’t need to recuse himself over issues that some of his critics have called a conflict of interest.

Trump posts on Truth Social during break in courtroom action

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Vaughn Hillyard

During the court's roughly 20-minute break, Trump on his Truth Social platform disparaged the proceedings as "boring" and a " filibuster ."

Trump's Truth Social account has been active today with posts referring to his criminal trial and the closing arguments, which have continued as the prosecution continues its argument into this evening.

Judge says closing arguments to continue into the evening

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Adam Edelman

Judge Juan Merchan announced a short courtroom break and said the plan is to go until at least 7 p.m. and "finish this out if we can."

“I was watching the jurors, they look pretty alert to me. I don’t think we’re losing anyone. So I think right now we’re going to try to finish this out if we can," he told the attorneys.

“Let’s see what we can do," Merchan continued, adding that they will revisit the timeline at 7 p.m.

Prosecutor argues Trump didn't sign confidentiality agreement for a reason

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Kyla Guilfoil

Prosecutor Joshua Steinglass tried to turn one of defense attorney Todd Blanche’s better arguments on its head.

Steinglass said that Trump didn’t sign the agreement because that was the point: The agreement was no less enforceable without his signature.

The timing of the payment on Oct. 27, 2016, Steinglass argued, further showed that Trump's primary concern was not his family but the election.

Prosecutor seems to say for first time there were 2 calls between Cohen and Weisselberg in late October 2016

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Rebecca Shabad is in Washington, D.C.

Joshua Steinglass mentioned that in the phone records they have, prosecutors saw six calls between Michael Cohen and Allen Weisselberg over three years, two of which were in late October 2016, right before the Stormy Daniels deal was reached.

This appears to be the first time the calls have been mentioned in the case.

Steinglass also emphasized that Trump and Cohen spoke twice on the morning of Oct. 26, 2016, right before Cohen went to First Republic to submit paperwork to open his new account and to send the wire transfer to Keith Davidson on Daniels’ behalf.

Prosecutor walks through Michael Cohen's bank papers

Prosecutor Joshua Steinglass is now going through the false claims and omissions in former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen’s paperwork to First Republic to open an account in the name of his new LLC.

Those forms could serve as the “unlawful means” through which the alleged conspiracy to promote Trump’s election was acted on.

Prosecutor: Stormy Daniels' testimony shows Trump was 'not just words'

Prosecutor Joshua Steinglass is going at Trump now, referring to Story Daniels' testimony to argue that Trump is "not just words."

"Stormy Daniels was a walking, talking reminder that Trump was not just words" at a time when Trump was trying to distinguish between his words and the actions of both Clintons, Steinglass said.

He also noted that Daniels' story got little to no traction until the day after the "Access Hollywood" tape became national news, with phone traffic exploding among Keith Davidson, Dylan Howard, Michael Cohen and Trump.

Prosecutor describes ramifications of the 'Access Hollywood' tape

After a brief break, prosecutor Joshua Steinglass resumed his closing argument by describing the "Access Hollywood" tape, which multiple witnesses during the trial described as catastrophic for Trump's 2016 campaign.

Steinglass said the tape eclipsed coverage of a Category 4 hurricane, according to Hope Hicks; debate prep at Trump Tower was disrupted as campaign leadership discussed how to respond; and elected Republicans raced to disavow Trump's comments on the tape, with some withdrawing their endorsements.

Trump aide Madeleine Westerhout testified that senior Republican National Committee officials were even discussing dropping Trump from the 2016 ticket, Steinglass said.

“The video was vulgar, to say the least," he added.

Prosecution's closing arguments are one-third of the way done

Asked by Judge Juan Merchan "how much longer" the prosecution's closing arguments would take, Joshua Steinglass replied that there was still a lot to get through.

"We’re about a third of the way through," he said.

The prosecution's closing arguments began today shortly before 2:15 p.m.

Prosecutor says Cohen-Trump call shows effort to influence 2016 election

Prosecutor Joshua Steinglass told the jurors that it's their decision what the tape between Michael Cohen and Trump from Sept. 6, 2016, said.

Steinglass said it showed Trump suggested paying in cash — whether it means no financing, lump sum, it doesn’t matter, he said. Steinglass said they were trying to take steps that would not get noticed.

“This tape unequivocally shows a presidential candidate actively engaging in a scheme to influence the election," Steinglass said.

Prosecutor defends Michael Cohen's phone records

Prosecutor Joshua Steinglass is making arguments to defend Michael Cohen's phone records after the defense questioned their integrity.

Steinglass said that Cohen had no idea the Manhattan district attorney's office would ask for phone records again in January of last year, and there would be no conceivable reason for him to delete evidence of a crime he’d already been convicted and served time for.

Prosecution using graphics to illustrate points during closing arguments

The graphics that the Manhattan district attorney's team is using during their summation are high-tech and modern.

In presenting them, prosecutors are isolating certain calls and using zoom functions to highlight them. The graphics offer a clean and accessible way for the attorneys to illustrate their points to the jury.

Prosecutor: Call between David Pecker and Trump makes it 'impossible' to claim Cohen acted independently

Prosecutor Joshua Steinglass discussed a call between David Pecker and Trump in which Pecker apprised him that Michael Cohen had told Trump about Karen McDougal coming forward.

"This call makes it impossible for the defense to claim that Cohen was acting on his own here," Steinglass said.

He said the transaction was an unlawful corporate contribution to the Trump campaign — and not only did Trump know about it, Steinglass said, but he participated as well.

Prosecutor details Karen McDougal catch-and-kill scheme

Prosecutor Joshua Steinglass is going through the Karen McDougal catch-and-kill scheme in minute detail — call by call, text by text and day by day.

Virtually no testimony is needed to illustrate the negotiations — and to the extent that testimony is used, it’s not from key witness and former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen. It's from David Pecker, former publisher of the National Enquirer.

Analysis: Steinglass pokes hole in defense's argument around National Enquirer

Steinglass makes a very good point about the Dino Sajuddin story and corresponding payment.

Sajuddin is the former Trump Tower doorman who claims Trump fathered a child out of wedlock, a claim the former president has denied.

Given that everyone believed Sajuddin's claim to be false, purchasing the story was not something David Pecker did because of his fiduciary duty to shareholders; there was no reason to do it other than to benefit the 2016 Trump campaign.

Steinglass calls 2015 meeting at Trump Tower a 'subversion of democracy'

Steinglass characterized a meeting at Trump Tower almost a decade ago as a “subversion of democracy.”

He said the entire purpose of the August 2015 meeting was to “pull the wool over [voters’] eyes” before they made their decisions.

He also pointed out that while NDAs are not unlawful, nor are contracts illegal, a contract to kill your wife is illegal, and therefore an NDA designed to prevent certain information from becoming public during a political campaign is also illegal.

Steinglass tells jurors to think of Cohen as a 'tour guide'

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Daniel Arkin

Trump's lawyers repeatedly attempted to make Cohen's trustworthiness and motives a focal point of the trial — a strategy that Steinglass flat-out rejected in his summations. "This case is not about Michael Cohen," Steinglass told the jury. "This case is about Donald Trump."

Steinglass encouraged the jury to instead think of Cohen as a "tour guide" through the evidence introduced during the proceedings, including what the state has presented as falsified business records aimed at covering up an election law violation. Cohen, according to Steinglass, "provides context and color to the documents" — but he is not the trial's main character.

Steinglass begins touching on campaign finance violations

Steinglass is teasing the crux of the prosecution’s argument, saying, “Once money starts changing hands on behalf of the campaign, that’s election law — that’s federal election campaign finance violation.”

“We’ll get back to that,” he adds.

Prosecution argues there is a 'mountain of evidence' against Trump

Steinglass is fighting back against the defense's rhetoric that the only evidence in this case came from Michael Cohen's testimony.

The prosecutor told the jury that Judge Merchan will say Cohen is an accomplice because he participated in these crimes, but you cannot convict Trump on Cohen’s word alone — unless there is corroborating evidence.

Steinglass said that there is a mountain of evidence in the case, saying "it’s difficult to conceive of a case with more corroboration than this one.”

Steinglass looks to counter questions on details of Cohen's stories

Steinglass is now using an imaginary conversation to explain Cohen’s retelling of some of the stories or dates he’d recounted to the jury that Trump’s lawyers had questioned.

“These guys know each other well, they speak in code. A better explanation is that Cohen could have gotten the time and place of the call wrong. This is one date in many, he spoke to the defendant 20 times in the month of October,” Steinglass said.

“Let’s say you had dinner at a restaurant with an old friend and the friend says they were getting married. Later you find a receipt and think that was the night they told you they were getting married, but found out the friend was actually in California on that night. That does not mean that you are lying about the fact that you had dinner with the friend or about the fact that your friend told you they were getting married,” Steinglass said.

Steinglass: We didn't pick Cohen at the 'witness store'

Steinglass is forcefully pushing back on the Trump team's attempts to tarnish Cohen's character and motives, reminding the jury that the ex-fixer was once a valued member of the former president's inner circle: "We didn't choose Michael Cohen. We didn't pick him up at the witness store. Mr. Trump chose Mr. Cohen for the same qualities his attorneys now urge you to reject."

Cohen's top quality was loyalty to his former boss, Steinglass said. Cohen was "drawn to the defendant like a moth to a flame, and he wasn't the only one. David Pecker saw Mr. Trump as a mentor; Mr. Trump saw David Pecker as a useful tool."

On Trump attacks on Cohen: 'That is what some people might call chutzpah'

Steinglass is explaining that Cohen had lied at Trump’s direction and that Trump was now using those lies to harm Cohen’s credibility in the trial.

“The defense also tells you you should reject his testimony because he lied and took pleas in federal court. He has had some trouble accepting responsibility,” Steinglass said. “For bank fraud conviction and his tax law violation, he said he admitted to you that he did the things. He pleaded guilty.”

“He feels like he was treated unfairly and as a first offender he should have been able to pay a fine and back taxes and he believes the Trump Justice Department did him dirty. Whether that is true or not, he accepted responsibility and went to prison for it,” Steinglass added.

“You should consider all of this for his credibility” he continued. “The lies he told to Congress had to do with the Mueller investigation and the Russia probe, and what he lied about was the number of dealings the defendant had with Russia, and the only benefit was he stayed in the defendant’s good graces.”

“Those lies that he told are being used by the same defendant to undermine his credibility,” Steinglass said. 

“That is what some people might call chutzpah,” he added, using a Yiddish word meaning audacity.

Prosecution is careful to repeatedly call Trump 'the defendent'

There’s subtle but notable rhetorical move happening in this closing by the prosecution.

Steinglass is repeatedly referring to Trump as “the defendant” instead of “Mr. Trump” or “the former president.” This contrasts greatly from the defense's language, as Trump's lawyers almost always refer to him as "the president."

It will be important to watch for Steinglass to argue at some point that no one is above the law, even the former president of the United States -- something we’ve seen other state and federal prosecutors say about Trump over the last year.

Steinglass focuses on inconsistencies in defense argument

Steinglass zeroed in on an example of what the prosecution considers an inconsistency in the defense team's case. He told the jury that if the $420,000 payment for Cohen was for legal services, as the defense argued, Cohen could not have stolen $60,000 from the Trump Organization, as the defense also argued. It's either one or the other, the prosecutor argues — not both.

Steinglass: 'I'm not asking you to feel bad for Michael Cohen'

Steinglass is trying to reason with the jury, telling the jurors that they don't need to feel bad for Cohen, but they should understand where Cohen is coming from.

“I am not asking you to feel bad for Michael Cohen. He made his bed," Steinglass said.

“But you can hardly blame him that he’s making money for the one thing he has left," he added, referencing Cohen's knowledge of the inner workings of the Trump organization.

Steinglass admits that Daniels’ testimony was “messy” — but 'Stormy Daniels is the motive'

Steinglass is laying out how “the defense has gone to great lengths to shame Stormy Daniels, saying that she changed her story” but adds that “her false denials have been thoroughly discussed and explained.”

“She lived 2017 in pure silence, Michael Cohen came out and said sex never happened” and Daniels “felt compelled to set the record straight,” he said.

Steinglass said that “parts of her testimony” were “cringeworthy” and “uncomfortable.”

But details like “what the suite” at Harrah’s “looked like” and how the toiletry bag appeared “ring true.”

“They’re the kind of details you’d expect someone to remember,” Steinglass explained, adding that, “fortunately, she was not asked or did she volunteer specific details of the sexual act itself.”

“It certainly is true you don’t have to prove that sex took place — that is not an element of the crime, the defendant knew what happened and reinforces the incentive to buy her silence,” explained Steinglass.

“Her story is messy,” he said. “But that’s kind of the point. That’s the display the defendant didn’t want the American voter to see.”

“If her testimony were so irrelevant, why did they work so hard to discredit her?” he added. “In the simplest terms, Stormy Daniels is the motive.”

Steinglass undercuts defense argument that Trump was totally in the dark on Daniels payment

Steinglass displayed quotes from one of the state's exhibits: a phone call in which Cohen — well before he started cooperating with prosecutors — tells Davidson that Trump hates the fact that his team settled with Daniels.

The quotes undercut the defense team's insistence that Trump knew nothing about the hush money payments to Daniels.

Steinglass to jury: You don't need to believe Cohen to find there was a conspiracy

Steinglass defended the state's witnesses against the Trump team's accusations of lying, but he added that the jury does not necessarily need to believe every word of Cohen's testimony to find that there was a conspiracy to unlawfully influence the 2016 election.

"You don’t need Michael Cohen to prove that one bit," Steinglass said, referring to the state's accusation of a conspiracy.

He added that Hope Hicks, Rhona Graff, Madeleine Westerhout, Jeffrey McConney and Deborah Tarasoff were all witnesses who like Trump but confirmed Cohen's testimony.

Steinglass: 'You don't get to commit election fraud or falsify your business records'

Steinglass is appealing to the jury by explaining to them that it doesn't really matter why Trump broke the law, as long as they feel he did break the law. The argument appears to be a response to the claim by Blanche, during his own closing arguments, that Stormy Daniels had attempted to extort Trump.

"In the end it doesn’t really matter, because you don't get to commit election fraud or falsify your business records because you think you’ve been victimized," he said.

"In other words, extortion is not a defense for falsifying business records," he added.

"You've got to use your common sense, here," Steinglass continued. "Consider the utterly damning testimony of David Pecker."

Steinglass rebuts defense arguments about phone records

"The defense seems to be questioning our integrity,” Steinglass told the jury near the top of his summation.

But, he argued, it was the defense that didn't properly depict phone records.

The call summaries were made to help guide you, the prosecutor explained to the jury. The phone records are all in evidence and you can look through them at your leisure, he added.

It’s also an interesting accusation, Steinglass points out, given that the defense’s summary of calls between Cohen and Costello double-counts their calls. He also reminds them that not every phone call is accounted for in their phone records. Cohen had 11 phone numbers for Trump; they had records corresponding to two of them.

Prosecution kicks off closing arguments

The prosecution is now kicking off its closing arguments. Joshua Steinglass will give them.

Merchan told jury to disregard Blanche's 'prison' comment

Merchan, who chastised Blanche for imploring jurors not to send Trump to prison, told the jury that the lawyer's comment was "improper, and you must disregard it."

"If there is a verdict of guilty," the judge added, "it will be up to me to impose a sentence."

He went on to explain that a "prison sentence is not required in the event of a guilty verdict."

We are back

Merchan is at the bench. Trump is seated at the defense table.

Trump's family shows support outside the courthouse

Trump's sons Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump along with Eric's wife, Lara Trump, the co-chair of the Republican National Committee, slammed the proceedings in remarks to reporters outside the courthouse during the lunch break.

"Michael Cohen is the embodiment of reasonable doubt," Donald Jr. said. "This entire case hinges on someone who has quite literally lied to every single person and body he's ever been in front of in his life before."

Both he and Eric Trump echoed their father's often repeated characterization of the trial, calling it a "political witch hunt" and a "sham."

Eric went on to say that the district attorney's office is ignoring crimes across the city and using the trial to attack Trump.

"They're sitting there, they're laughing, they're giggling," Eric said. "This was their moment. This is how they embarrass Donald Trump."

Laura Trump added that the trial has been "banana republic-type stuff."

"This is a case about politics, pure and simple," she said.  

After walking away from the news conference, Donald Trump Jr. added that Democrats "talk about democracy but are laughing about it like it's a soundbite," and claimed they are “trying to scare anyone who has any kind of belief that doesn’t go 100% with what they believe.”

Merchan says he will give curative instructions after Blanche's 'prison' comment

Merchan appeared to chastise Blanche after the defense lawyer implored jurors not to send Trump to prison — an unlikely outcome in this case

"I think that statement was outrageous, Mr. Blanche," Merchan said after jurors were excused for their daily lunch break, later adding: "It's simply not allowed. Period. It’s hard for me to imagine how that was accidental in any way."

Merchan told the court that he plans to give jurors a curative instruction — in other words, general direction that is aimed at clearing up an erroneous statement.

Prosecutor slams Blanche's 'prison' comment

Joshua Steinglass, the prosecutor who is expected to deliver the state's closing arguments, blasted Blanche's comment to the jury about prison time as a "blatant and wholly inappropriate move" by the defense.

Steinglass asked Merchan to provide a curative instruction, a direction given by a judge to correct an erroneous statement.

Trump lawyer tells jurors that 'this isn't a referendum on your views of' Trump

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Summer Concepcion

Toward the end of his closing arguments, Trump lawyer Todd Blanche told jurors that the verdict “isn’t a referendum on your views of” Trump, or “a referendum on the ballot box,” stressing the importance of basing their decision on evidence that emerged throughout the trial.

“If you focus just on the evidence you heard in this courtroom, this is a very very quick and easy not guilty verdict. Thank you,” he said.

‘You are gangsters!’: Robert De Niro clashes with Trump supporters in New York

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Katherine Doyle

Amanda Terkel Politics Managing Editor

President Joe Biden’s campaign held a news conference outside the Manhattan courtroom where  Donald Trump is on trial  in his hush money case, with actor Robert De Niro and  two officers who defended the Capitol  from the Jan. 6 mob warning about the dangers of re-electing the former president.

“The Twin Towers fell just over here, just over there. This part of the city was like a ghost town, but we vowed we would not allow terrorists to change our way of life. ... I love this city. I don’t want to destroy it. Donald Trump wants to destroy not only the city, but the country, and eventually he can destroy the world,” De Niro said.

Afterward, on the way back to his car, De Niro mixed it up with some pro-Trump protesters, who yelled that he’s a “wannabe,” “paid sell-out” to the Democratic National Committee, “nobody” and a “little punk” whose “movies suck.”

“You’re not going to intimidate,” De Niro replied. “That’s what Trump does. ... We are going to fight back. We’re trying to be gentlemen in this world, the Democrats. You are gangsters. You are gangsters!”

Read the full story here.

Blanche finishes summation

Blanche finished his summation at 12:49 p.m. ET, about three hours after he began the closing arguments.

Blanche refers to jail time

Blanche told the jurors: "You cannot send someone to prison based on the words of Michael Cohen."

It's worth noting that it's unlikely the former president will be sentenced to prison in this case.

Blanche says Michael Cohen is the 'GLOAT'

Blanche says that Michael Cohen is the "greatest liar of all time."

“Michael Cohen is the GLOAT. He’s literally the greatest liar of all time," Blanche said, a play on the sports term GOAT "greatest of all time. “He has lied to every single branch of Congress.”

He added, “He has lied to the Department of Justice.”

Blanche outlines 10 reasons why he believes jury should have reasonable doubt

Blanche presented jurors with a list:

  • The invoices. Blanche argues Cohen created the invoices, Trump had no intent to defraud, and prosecutors did not present evidence that Trump knew about them.
  • Valentine's Day 2017 vouchers. Blanche argues there is no proof Trump ever saw the vouchers.
  • No evidence of intent to defraud.
  • No evidence to commit or conceal a crime. "There is no falsification of business records, period," Blanche argued.
  • No evidence Trump was involved in illegal agreement to influence election.
  • AMI would have run Sajudin's story. Dino Sajudin is the former Trump Tower doorman who tried to sell a story about Trump fathering a child out of wedlock.
  • McDougal did not want her story published .
  • Daniels' story was already public .
  • Alleged manipulation of evidence .
  • Cohen is the "embodiment of reasonable doubt." "He lied to you repeatedly," Blanche said. "He is biased and motivated to tell you a story that is not true."

Blanche insists there was no felony because even if there was a conspiracy, it wasn't through 'unlawful means'

Blanche is insisting that there can be no felony falsification of business records because even if there was a conspiracy to influence the election, it was not carried out through any “unlawful means.”

To support his “no unlawful means” argument, Blanche said there is no proof Trump ever knew, for example, about certain paperwork Michael Cohen submitted to his bank or paperwork prepared to transfer Karen McDougal’s life rights from AMI to Trump.

Trump’s knowledge, however, is not required. All that matters legally is that a member of the conspiracy undertook those “unlawful means.”

Trump lawyer plays audio of Cohen screaming on his podcast

After playing audio of Cohen excitedly talking about the prospect of Trump being convicted, Trump lawyer Todd Blanche then played two excerpts of Cohen screaming on his podcast in a tone virtually unrecognizable to anyone who has encountered him only here.

This was more effective than most moments today.

Blanche says Michael Cohen is the 'MVP of liars'

Blanche said that Michael Cohen has lied to his family, including his wife and kids, his banker, the Federal Election Commission, reporters, Congress, prosecutors, business associates and bosses.

"He's literally like the MVP of liars," Blanche said.

Blanche raises his voice in accusing Cohen of lying

Blanche began shouting as he again accused Cohen of lying under oath. He reminded jurors that Cohen testified that he called Trump on Oct. 24, 2016, to provide an update on the Daniels situation, "It was a lie!" he said, pointing out that the call was actually to Trump's bodyguard, Keith Schiller.

"That was a lie and he got caught red-handed,” Blanche added.

Blanche accuses the prosecution of using Stormy Daniels to inflame jury

Over objections by prosecutor Joshua Steinglass, Blanche is accusing the prosecution of calling Stormy Daniels as a witness at trial, but not calling her as a grand jury witness.

Blanche is arguing it was intended to inflame the jury’s emotions and to embarrass the former president.

The jury didn't appear to react to that statement.

Trump lawyer portrays Trump as the victim of the infamous 'Access Hollywood' tape

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Jonathan Allen

Blanche may be the first person to portray Trump as the victim of the “Access Hollywood” tape .

Though Blanche says it was not “so catastrophic” as to motivate Trump to break the law — more precisely, that there’s “no evidence” that it was — he says this of the release of the video Oct. 7, 2016: “This was an extremely personal event for President Trump. Nobody wants their family to be subjected to that sort of thing.”

(The video had Trump on a hot mic discussing getting away with assaulting women because he was famous.)

Blanche accuses Daniels of 'extortion,' and the prosecution stays mum (for now)

Blanche just said of Daniels’ nondisclosure agreement: “This started out as an extortion and it ended up very well for Ms. Daniels, there’s no doubt about that.”

The prosecution has not objected to Blanche’s repeated use of the word “extortion,” which suggests a crime was committed. That could be a strategic choice, because what they say in refuting that characterization during their own summation could be more memorable and powerful than a sustained objection.

Blanche claims that threats against Stormy Daniels never happened

Blanche said that Stormy Daniels decided to go public with her story supposedly because she was trying to protect herself from threats in a parking lot that she received five years earlier.

Blanche said, however, that there are recordings that show that's not true. He said Michael Avenatti, Gina Rodriguez and Daniels were lying about these threats.

“They never happened," Blanche said. “The recording makes clear that Ms. Daniels lied to you.”

Blanche has resumed his summation

The morning break is over and Trump's defense team is continuing with its closing arguments.

Blanche said he expects about 30 to 40 more minutes.

Trial takes a break

The trial took a quick break starting at 11:35 a.m.

Blanche questions why no one in Trump campaign addressed Stormy Daniels issue in April 2016

Blanche questions why no one in the campaign did anything about Stormy Daniels in April 2016 when her manager reached out about it.

But Blanche's point ignores the impact that the leak of the "Access Hollywood" tape in October 2016 had on the campaign. Trump's campaign was beleaguered by accusations of sexism as a result of the tape, so Daniels' claim may have had more of an impact.

Fight appears to break out between pro-Trump supporters outside the courthouse

Elizabeth Maline

A fight appears to have broken out between pro-Trump supporters in Columbus Park across the street from the courthouse.

New York City Police Department officers were seen hopping over the fence into the park to respond to the clash.

Blanche tries to impress upon jury that Cohen's recording of Trump call is unreliable

Blanche wants the jury to believe that Michael Cohen's recording of the call with Trump is unreliable because it cuts off early.

But more than that, Blanche is trying to tell the jury that the transcript of what they have is unreliable because while the recording discussed AMI and Pecker, there is doubt that they are talking about Karen McDougal, whose name is never mentioned, or any payment of $150,000, which cannot be heard on the tape.

Blanche says they were “talking past each other,” and that Cohen’s invocation of “financing” shocked Trump, who had no idea what was going on, and that Cohen’s interpretation of “cash” to mean actual bills is a fiction designed to make the conversation sound more sinister.

Trump team responds outside courthouse immediately following Biden campaign

Moments after the Biden campaign finished its remarks outside the courthouse, Trump campaign members went to the microphone to speak.

Jason Miller, a senior adviser to the campaign, called the Biden campaign's decision to have Robert De Niro — whom he called a "washed-up actor" — speak today as a way to "try to change the subject" from Biden's "falling" poll numbers.

Karoline Leavitt, a Trump campaign spokesperson, called the Biden team's conference "a full-blown confession that this trial is a witch hunt."

"This is a disgrace. President Trump has been locked up in that courtroom for six weeks," Leavitt said. "But guess what, the American people see through this witch hunt, this scam, and that's why President Trump continues to rise in the polls."

Leavitt added that Biden is "weak" and "pathetic" and is using "elitist, out-of-touch Hollywood actors like Robert De Niro who have no idea the real problems that people in this city and across this country are facing." 

Blanche accuses Cohen of lying about Pecker lunch. Pecker didn't dispute it, though.

Blanche is continuing his effort to convince jurors that Cohen is a shameless liar. "Remember when Cohen told you he had lunch with Pecker?" Blanche told the jury. "Pecker said he was really frustrated that he was not getting paid for the McDougal story. Ladies and gentlemen, that lunch did not happen. Cohen made it up."

However, Blanche and Trump's other lawyers never entered any evidence backing up that claim — and Pecker during his testimony did not dispute that the lunch happened.

Blanche appears to want to have it both ways regarding David Pecker

Blanche appears to want it both ways regarding Pecker.

On one hand, he has characterized David Pecker as a “truth teller” and someone who, because of Pecker's immunity deal with the Manhattan DA, had no incentive to lie.

But Blanche also tells the jury that Pecker’s explanation that if the story from Trump Tower doorman Dino Sajuddin had been true, he would have published it — but only after the election — is not entirely credible because such a major story would have been published immediately.

Blanche argues the effort to silence Karen McDougal wasn't a 'catch and kill'

Blanche argued that the effort to silence Karen McDougal "is not a catch and kill either" because she didn't want her story published.

Blanche said McDougal wanted to kick-start her career, be on the cover of magazines and write articles. He said it wasn't McDougal's intention to publish her story.

"She didn't want her story published," he said.

Former Capitol police officers campaign for Biden outside courthouse

Harry Dunn, a former Capitol Police officer, and Michael Fanone, a former D.C. Metropolitan Police officer, who defended the Capitol during the Jan. 6 attack, spoke in support of the Biden campaign outside of the courthouse today.

Fanone, who suffered a brain injury and a heart attack in the assault, recounted the attack adding that "if Jan. 6 didn't happen, we wouldn't be here right now, I'd still be at work."

Dunn went on to say that Trump is "the greatest threat to our democracy and to the safety of communities across the country today."

"Trump does whatever will get him votes and helps Donald Trump," he said.

Blanche mixes up details in 'catch and kill' cases

Reporting from Manhattan criminal court

Blanche has been walking through each of the stories that were caught and killed. But he is mixing up details. He mentioned, for example, that Karen McDougal’s business manager was Gina Rodriguez. But Rodriguez worked for Stormy Daniels, not McDougal.

Analysis: Blanche's assertions about the Enquirer don't really hold up to scrutiny

Blanche is arguing that the Enquirer’s reach was not wide enough to influence the election. But especially in today’s social media-fueled age, the idea that a story’s reach is limited to the publication’s own distribution is simply untrue. More significantly, however, the Enquirer’s influence here was in preventing certain stories from ever seeing the light of day.

Blanche pushes back on idea that the Enquirer could influence an election

Blanche, attempting to undercut one of the key planks of the prosecution's narrative, told the jury that it's absurd to believe that positive stories in the National Enquirer could affect the outcome of an American election.

"The idea that even sophisticated people like President Trump and David Pecker believed that positive stories in the National Enquirer could influence the 2016 election is preposterous," Blanche said, referring to the former publisher of the tabloid magazine. He went on to say that many of the articles published in the Enquirer were recycled from other outlets.

Pecker testified earlier in the trial that he purchased potentially damaging stories about Trump and then made sure they never saw the light of day — a practice known as "catch and kill." He also testified that his editorial team attempted to run more glowing stories about Trump in the lead-up to the 2016 election.

Robert De Niro condemns Trump in fiery remarks outside courthouse: 'He could destroy the world'

Robert De Niro reads a statement during a press conference outside of Manhattan Criminal Court.

Actor Robert De Niro spoke to the press as a surrogate for the Biden campaign outside the courthouse, railing against Trump.

"I love this city. I don’t want to destroy it," De Niro, a native New Yorker, said.

"Donald Trump wants to destroy not only the city, but the country and eventually he could destroy the world," he continued.

De Niro, who has also appeared in ads for the Biden campaign, condemned Trump for the violence that occurred Jan. 6 at the Capitol, arguing that if Trump wins in November, "he will never leave."

At the end of De Niro's remarks, a Trump supporter in the crowd called the two former police officers standing with De Niro — both present at the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021 — "traitors."

The actor engaged in a back-and-forth with the man in the crowd, defending the officers, Harry Dunn and Michael Fanone.

"They stood there. They didn’t have to," De Niro said. "They stood there and fought for us. They fought for you, buddy. You’re able to stand right here."

"They are the true heroes. I’m honored to be with these two heroes today," De Niro continued.

Blanche says every campaign is a 'conspiracy to promote a candidate'

Blanche said that the prosecution wants the jury to believe that the entire scheme was to promote Trump's successful candidacy in 2016.

“Even if you find that’s true, that’s still not enough. It doesn’t matter — as I said to you in the opening statement — it doesn’t matter if there was a conspiracy to win the election," Blanche said. “Every campaign is a conspiracy to promote a candidate.”

Blanche hammers on the question of Trump's intent to defraud

Blanche asked the jury: "Where is the intent to defraud on the part of President Trump?" He then showed a slide labeled "No Intent to Defraud."

The exact language of the charges against Trump in this case accuse the former president of breaking various laws with the "intent to defraud and intent to commit another crime and aid and conceal the commission thereof."

Biden campaign arrives with Robert De Niro outside courthouse

Biden campaign members have arrived outside the courthouse with actor Robert De Niro and Capitol Police Officer Harry Dunn, who was attacked in the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol.

Blanche again suggests Cohen was bitter

Blanche asked the jurors whether they "believe for a second that, after getting stiffed on his bonus in 2016, when he thought he worked so hard," Cohen would then "want to work for free" for Trump.

"Was that the man who testified," Blanche asked rhetorically, "or was that a lie?"

Cohen did indeed testify that he was upset after he did not receive a holiday season bonus after the 2016 presidential election, but he repeatedly rejected the defense team's suggestions that bitterness and vindictiveness drove him to cooperate with prosecutors.

Blanche then argued it was "absurd" that Trump would agree to pay Cohen $420,000 even though the former president owed him only $130,000.

Blanche suggests Trump, as president, was too busy to be part of 'scheme'

Blanche repeatedly refers to Trump being in the White House when the repayments were made. He was very busy, Blanche said. That he was somehow in on a “scheme” to conceal a repayment is “absurd,” he added

His argument also reminds the jury this is no normal defendant: It’s the former president of the United States.

It’s an interesting line to to walk: Trump is so careful about his finances that he would never overpay, but he was also so busy in the White House that he was sometimes careless and wouldn’t know what he was paying for.

Blanche says prosecutors asked jury to believe Michael Cohen

Trump lawyer Todd Blanche said, “What the people have done, what the government did for the last five weeks, at the end of the day, is ask you to believe the man who testified two weeks ago, Michael Cohen.”

Blanche rejects assertion that Trump had full knowledge

Blanche told jurors it was "a stretch" that Trump always "had full knowledge of what was happening" inside the Trump Organization and his other business enterprises.

"That is reasonable doubt, ladies and gentlemen," he said.

Trump lawyer says there's nothing 'sinister or criminal' about the word 'retainer'

Blanche commented on the fact that retainer was listed as the reason for the reimbursement checks from Trump to Cohen.

"There's nothing sinister or criminal about that word," Blanche said.

Blanche said it wasn't put there by Trump or Allen Weisselberg but by Trump Organization accounting employee Deb Tarasoff, who testified earlier in the trial.

What was missing from the chart put up on the screen

When Blanche put up a visual aid for the jurors showing invoices, vouchers and checks, the most glaringly noticeable line on any of the documents was the very familiar, thick-lettered signature of Donald Trump.

Blanche calls attention to the fact that Don Jr. and Eric Trump weren't called as witnesses

As Blanche is calling attention to the fact that Don Jr. and Eric Trump were not called as witnesses, they are sitting in the front row of the courtroom behind their dad.

“The burden is always on the government, they make decisions about who to call," Blanche said, adding, “They did not call Don or Eric.”

The jury did not look over at the Trump children.

Blanche tries to steer jury away from old Trump books

Blanche tells the jury to be wary if the prosecution starts reading from an old Trump book to help prove how involved the former president was in his company’s accounting system.

Those books were co-written by ghostwriters, Blanche says, implying the ghostwriters did the due diligence of figuring out the system in lieu of Trump’s personal knowledge.

Blanche tries to address toughest evidence before prosecution gets to it

Blanche is working hard to try to pre-empt certain arguments the jury is likely to hear from the prosecution after he sits down. Because he goes first and the prosecution will have the last word -- per New York law -- he can’t afford not to address the toughest evidence for his client. 

Blanche pushes back on hush money argument

Blanche appeared to suggest that Cohen received retainer payments not because of the hush money arrangement but because he was Trump's personal attorney.

"There’s a reason why in life usually the simplest answer is the right one, and that’s certainly the case here. That the story Mr. Cohen told you on that witness stand is not true.” 

Cohen was paid $35,000 a month by Trump to be his attorney, Blanche said.

Blanche planting the seeds of reasonable doubt

Blanche is doing two things simultaneously to plant seeds of reasonable doubt early in this closing argument — establish that the internal records at the heart of this case weren't falsified and that Michael Cohen is a liar.

Blanche argues Michael Cohen was working as Trump's personal lawyer

Trump attorney Todd Blanche argued that Michael Cohen was serving as Trump's personal attorney, which he said was not in dispute.

“He talked to every reporter that he could, pushing the fact that he was going to be the personal attorney to President Trump," Blanche said. “This was not a secret. Michael Cohen was President Trump’s personal attorney. Period.”

Biden's campaign set to hold press conference outside the courthouse

President Joe Biden's campaign is scheduled to hold a news conference outside the court this morning at 10:15 ET.

The news conference is set to include the campaign team and "special guests," although the news release didn't say who they would be.

Trump lawyer argues invoices were false and there was no intent to defraud

Trump lawyer Todd Blanche argued that the invoices weren't false and there was no intent to defraud — and that if the jurors are so convinced, they don't have to go further.

As a matter of law, Blanche is correct, but it is also the case that the requisite intent to defraud is defined as including the intent to commit or conceal another crime.

Put another way, if the jurors believe the documents are false, they do have to confront whether Trump intended to conceal the underlying alleged conspiracy.

Jury sees chart that won't be put into evidence

Blanche displayed a chart on the courtroom screen showing what it presented as various financial records, including Cohen's invoices (which were then turned into vouchers, and then turned into checks).

The chart will not be put into evidence, so the jury can't refer back to it — and the general public may never see it publicly produced.

Trump lawyer accuses Michael Cohen of lying for likely the first of many times today

It's 9:48 a.m. and Trump lawyer Todd Blanche just accused Michael Cohen of lying — the first of many times we're likely to hear that claim today.

Blanche: 'This is a paper case'

Blanche continues his sentiment that the testimony that the jury has heard thus far is not enough to convict Trump. Instead, Blanche argues the true evidence for this case lies in documents.

"This case is about documents, it’s a paper case," Blanche said.

Blanche went on to argue that the case is not about Stormy Daniels, but instead about the payments Trump made to Michael Cohen.

“Were those bookings done with an intent to defraud? That’s why you’re here. And the answer to that — to those questions is absolutely positively not," Blanche said.

"The bookings were accurate, and there was absolutely no intent to defraud. And beyond that, there was no conspiracy," he continued.

Blanche tries to undercut Cohen and Daniels testimony

Blanche tells the jury members that “they should want and expect more than the testimony of Michael Cohen. ... You should want and expect more than the word of a woman who claims something happened in 2006.”

He continues by saying they should want and expect more than the testimony of Keith Davidson, who was trying to extort Trump. Notably, the district attorney's office does not object to the characterization of what happened as attempted or actual extortion.

Trump lawyer reiterates to jury that his client is innocent

Trump attorney Todd Blanche told the jury that they, as a group of citizens, decide the facts and decide whether Trump is guilty or not guilty. He said he wanted to repeat what he told them five weeks ago.

“President Trump is innocent," Blanche said. "He did not commit any crimes, and the district attorney has not met their burden of proof. Period.”

Blanche starts his closing arguments

Trump's lawyer Todd Blanche began giving his closing arguments at about 9:40 a.m. ET. He said that he expects he'll need 2½ hours to deliver the end of the defense's case.

He briefly put up a PowerPoint presentation and then took it down.

Merchan to jurors: You are the judges of the facts

Merchan is giving jurors an overview of what they're going to hear today from lawyers on both sides of the case. He explained that the summations "provide each lawyer the opportunity to review the evidence and give you the conclusions that can be drawn."

"You are the finders of fact, and it is for you and for you alone to determine the facts from the evidence," the judge told the jury.

He reminded the jury that the "lawyers are not witnesses," adding that nothing they say in their summations constitutes "evidence."

"You and you alone are the judges of the facts in this case," Merchan said.

Judge tells prosecution and defense: Don't go into the law

Before the jury entered, Judge Merchan told both the prosecution and defense teams that they shouldn't explain the law to the jurors during summation.

"Please do not go into the law. Stay away from the law," he said. "That'll be my job. I'll take care of it."

District attorney staff members are watching from the overflow room

As proceedings begin today, more than eight secondary members of the prosecution team have come into the overflow room to watch the trial.

The members present appear to be senior leadership from the district attorney’s office, including First Assistant District Attorney Meg Reiss and former Executive Assistant District Attorney Peter Pope, who led the investigation of this case leading to the grand jury’s indictment.

The staff members are seated in the jury box in the overflow room -- an area we have not seen used before for seating.

How long will summations last?

Todd Blanche, Trump's lawyer, estimates he'll need around 2½ hours to deliver his closing argument. He goes first.

Joshua Steinglass, one of the prosecutors, says he'll need "somewhere in the vicinity of 4 to 4½ hours."

Trump says 'this is a dark day in America' before heading into courtroom for closing arguments

Shortly before heading into the courtroom for closing arguments, Trump repeated his claims that he was forced to attend courtroom proceedings in the hush money trial because of President Joe Biden, without providing evidence.

The presumptive Republican presidential nominee griped that the trial is “election hunting, election interfering” because it is an effort to go after Biden’s political opponent.

Trump again accused Judge Merchan of being “highly conflicted” and “corrupt” and read aloud quotes from legal analysts who support his assertions that the former president did not commit wrongdoing in the case.

Trump also complained about Merchan’s gag order that bars him from making disparaging comments against his family members and others involved in the case, saying that it’s an “unconstitutional thing” to impose on a presidential candidate.

“This is not a trial that should happen. It’s a very sad day. This is a dark day in America,” he said. “We have a rigged court case that should have never been brought, and it should have been brought in another jurisdiction.”

Jury instructions set in stone

Judge Merchan says that he provided the jury instructions to the defense and prosecution on Thursday afternoon and that neither side has commented on them. They are now final.

Merchan is on the stand and they're ready on go

The judge has taken his seat and proceedings are about to get underway.

The prosecution and defense in Trump’s criminal hush money trial will begin making their closing arguments to the jury today as the first criminal trial of a former president enters its final phase. NBC’s Laura Jarrett reports and Hallie Jackson provides analysis for "TODAY."

‘Phony’ checks and hush money payments: Breaking down Trump’s 34 charges in his New York criminal trial

JoElla Carman

Trump faces 34 felony counts in the New York hush money trial that is expected to potentially wrap up as early as this week.

Here's what to know about the charges.

Biden campaign preps for a Trump trial verdict: From the Politics Desk

this i believe essays purpose

Monica Alba

this i believe essays purpose

Natasha Korecki

this i believe essays purpose

Mike Memoli

President Joe Biden has largely steered clear of Trump’s legal woes. But with a verdict in the  hush money trial  coming as soon as this week, Biden’s campaign is exploring a shift to a new, more aggressive posture, according to two people familiar with the strategy. 

Regardless of the outcome, top Biden campaign officials plan to stress to voters that Trump will be on the ballot in the fall and that no potential court proceeding will change that fact.

A person familiar with the discussions summed it up this way: “Donald Trump’s legal troubles are not going to keep him out of the White House. Only one thing will do that: voting this November for Joe Biden.” 

Trump has departed for the courthouse

Brittany Kubicko

The former president has left Trump Tower for the courthouse downtown.

Rudy Giuliani's son argues with anti-Israel protester outside court

Former New York gubernatorial candidate Andrew Giuliani started a heated argument with a protester who was shouting antisemitic tropes outside the courthouse this morning.

Giuliani, a former Trump White House official and the son of former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, followed the demonstrator who was wearing a ski mask around a protest zone and yelled at the man about the Oct. 7 terrorist attack on Israel.

The protester carried a sign with numbers representing Gazans who have been killed in the ensuing conflict and voiced canards about Jews controlling the U.S. government and the entertainment industry.

Trump's guests in court today

this i believe essays purpose

Jake Traylor

Matt Korade

Several of Trump's children will be in court for closing arguments, including Donald Trump Jr., Eric Trump and his wife, Lara Trump, who is the co-chair of the Republican National Committee, as well as Tiffany Trump, the former president's only daughter with his ex-wife Marla Maples, and her husband, Michael Boulos.

Also in attendance will be Trump's longtime friend Steve Witkoff, a real-estate investor who testified as a defense expert in Trump’s Manhattan civil fraud trial , Will Scharf, a lawyer for Trump who is running for attorney general in Missouri against Republican incumbent Andrew Bailey, and Deroy Murdock, a contributing editor for National Review Online.

Trump lawyer says she has 'zero confidence' Judge Merchan will issue jury instructions 'in an appropriate manner'

Trump legal spokesperson Alina Habba on Sunday expressed concerns about jury instructions in the hush money trial against the former president and the jurors not being sequestered over the holiday weekend.

“Generally, as an attorney, as an American who understands the law and how to apply to laws to facts, there are no facts that support this alleged crime,” Habba said during an interview on Fox News “Sunday Morning Futures.” “We’re not even sure what the crime is. So it’s a books and records issue.”

Habba echoed Trump’s claims that Merchan is “severely conflicted” without evidence, noting the judge’s gag order that bars Trump from issuing disparaging comments on his family members and others involved in the case. Trump has repeatedly accused Merchan of being “conflicted,” often citing his daughter’s work at a digital fundraising and advertising firm that often collaborates with Democratic politicians.

“This judge is the judge that determines the jury instructions. The jury instructions are the road map for non-attorneys and jurors to follow the law,” she said. “It’s going to be critical, and frankly, at this point, I have zero confidence in the fact that this person, who should not be sitting on the bench right now, will do the right thing and give jury instructions that are in an appropriate manner without any persuasion towards the prosecution.”

Habba then raised concerns about jurors not being sequestered over the holiday weekend, arguing that they could be swayed by family and friends who have certain opinions.

“They should have been sequestered because, in my opinion, these jurors are handling something that is completely unprecedented and unwarranted in America, and for them to be able to be out and about on a holiday weekend with friends and families who have opinions, who are watching the news TVs on the background at the pool party — I have serious concerns,” she said.

Trump blasts Merchan and District Attorney Alvin Bragg in Truth Social posts over the weekend

this i believe essays purpose

Alexandra Marquez is based in Washington, D.C.

Isabelle Schmeler

In a series of social media posts over the holiday weekend, Trump attacked Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, who brought the charges in this case against him, attacked Judge Juan Merchan and said the case was about a "legal expense" and a "bookkeeping error."

"I have a great case, but with a rigged and conflicted judge," Trump said in one post, before adding in another one, "The City of New York’s D.A., Alvin Bragg, is trying to prosecute a Federal case, which cannot be done, and where there is NO CRIME."

One post blasted the case for blowing a "legal expense" out of proportion, saying, "Let’s put the President in jail for 150 years because a LEGAL EXPENSE to a lawyer was called, by a bookkeeper."

Another post yesterday accused Merchan, without evidence, of being a "corrupt and conflicted" judge and claimed that Bragg is backed by liberal billionaire megadonor George Soros, who has been a target of antisemitic conspiracy theories .

Trump’s lawyers are preparing for the final stretch of the former president’s hush money trial in New York. NBC News’ Gabe Gutierrez reports on Trump’s busy weekend ahead of closing arguments in court.

Closing arguments set to begin in Trump’s criminal trial

this i believe essays purpose

Dareh Gregorian

Closing arguments will begin today in the People of the State of New York v. Donald J. Trump , as the first criminal trial of a former president enters its final phase.

After the prosecution and the defense deliver their concluding arguments, the judge will give instructions to the jury. Then, the 12 ordinary New Yorkers who sit on the jury will begin deliberations on whether or not the former president is guilty of the charges against him.

After 20 days in a courtroom, here's what you missed in the Trump hush money trial

Ahead of this week's closing arguments, catch up on what you missed over the last few weeks of the first criminal trial of a former president.

In sometimes explosive testimony, former Trump "fixer" Michael Cohen said that he did call Trump a "Cheeto-dusted" villain but admitted to past lies and theft upon questioning by Trump's attorneys.

Despite promising to testify, Trump did not ultimately take the stand and pushed back on media reports that he fell asleep multiple times during the trial. On his Truth Social account, the former president claimed he was simply resting his “beautiful blue eyes” while listening “intensely” to the proceedings.

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COMMENTS

  1. "This I Believe" by Jay Allison: Study Guide & Literary Devices

    Introduction. "This I Believe: The Personal Philosophies of Remarkable Men and Women" is a captivating collection that dives deep into the core beliefs and principles guiding various influential figures across time and disciplines. Edited by Jay Allison, an acclaimed radio producer, and Dan Gediman, this anthology revives the mid-20th ...

  2. 4.5: "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.

  3. "This I Believe" Essay

    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 ...

  4. This I Believe Essay Writing Guidelines

    Make sure your story ties to the essence of your daily life philosophy and the shaping of your beliefs. Be brief: Your statement should be between 500 and 600 words. That's about three minutes when read aloud at your natural pace. Name your belief: If you can't name it in a sentence or two, your essay might not be about belief.

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    This I Believe is a popular essay genre that allows the writer to share a personal belief and, through a narrative, explain that belief's origin or a time that belief was put into action. The essay genre started in the 1950s on a radio show with Edward R. Murrow and was continued by NPR in 2004. Many have enjoyed writing and reading these ...

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    A This I Believe essay is a personal essay--an essay that is focused on a belief or insight ... Purpose is more reflective, although the tone may sound persuasive Development of the piece is based upon the writer's personal experiences or anecdotes Written in first person; more conversational and subjective in tone ...

  7. Power Lesson: "This I Believe" Essays

    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.

  8. PDF How to Write Your Own This I Believe Essay

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  9. Essay 4: This I Believe

    You should write a strong statement that completes the sentence, "I believe…" somewhere in your essay. Use first person—"I." Avoid "you" or "we;" speak for yourself. Present your own beliefs positively, rather than criticizing others' beliefs. Avoid organizing and developing your essay around direct answers to the ...

  10. This I Believe : NPR

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    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 ...

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  15. This I Believe: Exploring Core Values and Personal Convictions: [Essay

    The "This I Believe" essay series has provided a platform for individuals to share their deeply held beliefs, values, and reflections on life. These essays offer a glimpse into the diverse perspectives and convictions that shape our understanding of the world and guide our actions. This essay delves into the significance of the "This I Believe" essays, examining their power to foster ...

  16. PDF Getting Started on "This I Believe" Essay Assignment

    Be brief: Your essay should be between 400 and 500 words. That's about three minutes when read aloud at your natural pace. It should be 3-5 paragraphs in length. Name your belief: If you can't name your belief in a sentence or two, your essay might not be about belief. Also, rather than writing a list of beliefs, focus on one core belief.

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  18. This I Believe, Essay Writing Guide with Outline

    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 ...

  19. This I Believe

    This I Believe was originally a five-minute program, originally hosted by journalist Edward R. Murrow from 1951 to 1955 on CBS Radio Network.The show encouraged both famous and everyday people to write short essays about their own personal motivation in life and then read them on the air. This I Believe became a cultural phenomenon that stressed individual belief rather than religious dogma.

  20. 101 This I Believe Essay Topic Ideas & Examples

    If you're looking for some inspiration for your own "This I Believe" essay, here are 101 topic ideas and examples to get you started: I believe in the power of kindness. I believe in the importance of self-love. I believe in the value of hard work. I believe in the beauty of diversity. I believe in the strength of resilience.

  21. PDF Report on Institutional Voice in the University

    The purpose of the university is to pursue truth. In that pursuit, the university as an institution can never be neutral, because we believe in the value of seeking truth through open inquiry, debate, and weighing the evidence, as opposed to mere assertion or unjustified belief. What counts as truth varies across domains from physics to poetry ...

  22. I Believe in Having a Purpose

    Explore. Featured Essays Essays on the Radio; Special Features; 1950s Essays Essays From the 1950s Series; Browse by Theme Browse Essays By Theme Use this feature to browse through the tens of thousands of essays that have been submitted to This I Believe. Select a theme to see a listing of essays that address the selected theme. The number to the right of each theme indicates how many essays ...

  23. Highlights: Closing arguments wrap in Trump hush money trial

    Updates and the latest news on Trump's hush money trial, where he faces 34 counts of falsifying business records to hide payments to Stormy Daniels to keep her quiet about an alleged affair.

  24. What Is My Purpose?

    Explore. Featured Essays Essays on the Radio; Special Features; 1950s Essays Essays From the 1950s Series; Browse by Theme Browse Essays By Theme Use this feature to browse through the tens of thousands of essays that have been submitted to This I Believe. Select a theme to see a listing of essays that address the selected theme. The number to the right of each theme indicates how many essays ...

  25. A Purpose in Life

    Explore. Featured Essays Essays on the Radio; Special Features; 1950s Essays Essays From the 1950s Series; Browse by Theme Browse Essays By Theme Use this feature to browse through the tens of thousands of essays that have been submitted to This I Believe. Select a theme to see a listing of essays that address the selected theme. The number to the right of each theme indicates how many essays ...