In ENGL 1301, one of the first few concepts discussed was the importance of mastering rhetorical skills. The mastering of these skills can be done by making appeals of ethos, logos, and pathos. Using these appeals enables writers to reach their audiences from different angles, whether that be from a logical standpoint or an emotional one. For this essay, to prove that I have mastered the rhetorical skills, I will explain how I became a member of the discourse community of the Little Elm High School’s Color Guard, by using the appeals of ethos, logos, and pathos.
Color Guard is the art of choreographed dances and routines using flags, rifles, sabers and other equipment all in order to enhance the interpretation of music. Despite the fact that the sport has been around since the 1970s, it isn’t as widely known as other activities offered by public schools, meaning that unlike some discourse communities that expect an aspiring member to have some sort of previous or basic knowledge of the discourse community, the color guard at LEHS did not. I joined the team knowing next to nothing about the sport, though, throughout my time spent in countless rehearsals and practices, I can say I successfully ascended from aspiring to fully-fledged contributing member of the discourse community.
A defining trait of a discourse community is the lexis the members use, each discourse community has a very particular dialect its members use to communicate. To assert myself as a member of the LEHS Color Guard I had to both gain an understanding and master the lexis used in the discourse community. This is how by using the appeal of logos, I was able to gain a place in the community. During my final summer in the color guard program, I helped teach basic dance moves and flag tosses to incoming members. It was a difficult task, mostly because I had to start teaching the newbies from scratch, though I could do this because I had vast knowledge on the subject as well as the ability to communicate it in order to teach it. I had the responsibility to teach the incoming freshman basic dance moves such as jazz walks, pirouette turns, chaines turns, and chasses and on the equipment side, I taught them how to toss pop tosses, prayer tosses, j-tosses, silk doubles, and 45s. To be honest, it was quite a difficult task but through hard work from both mine and their part and good communication, I was able to help others succeed in becoming members of the discourse community.
Despite the fact I had claimed my member status through a logical standpoint, I couldn’t necessarily count myself as a full member of the discourse community unless I had the ability to connect with my discourse community on an emotional level. Through the usage of pathos, I developed close connections with my teammates and superiors. When I first joined the discourse community I was a very quiet and reserved person, I kept to myself for the most part. Though that all seemed to change after spending countless hours with my team. My fellow teammates became my friends, I shared everything with them, truth is I had never been so close to any other group of people in my life. As a team, we were like a family, a tight-knit support system where nothing was held in secret because we all shared a mutual trust with one another. When my time on the team was up I could clearly see the changes these deep personal connections had made in my life, I wasn’t the reserved girl I once had been, from the experience I found myself to be a much more open and confident person.
One cannot simply be held as a member of a discourse community without holding any type of credibility in said group. For a person to be an established credible member of a community they must foster a set of very specific qualities. Using the ethos appeal I proved my credibility on the LEHS Color Guard team. In order to prove myself a credible member of the discourse community I had to first and foremost be a team player, I did so by always having a positive attitude and a willingness to learn, get better from correction, and above all by being selfless. Another quality I had to possess in order to be considered a credible member was work ethic, putting in the hard work and pushing through when the going got tough. Finally the last of the qualities was talent and the ability to perform the choreography given to us by the instructors, which might seem like the most important thing to possess when trying to prove credibility on the team, but to the directors of the LEHS Color Guard program, it wasn’t. My director would always say, “Hard work beats talent when talent refuses to work hard.” These qualities might not seem like much, but they were what made members of the team credible and what got us to winning 1st place in North Texas Color Guard Association Championships and what led us to be ranked 6th in Winter Guard International World Championships.
Often times my family and friends would be upset that I spent so much time at team activities, they would often nudge me in the direction of quitting based on the fact that color guard wasn’t important and it would have no positive effect for my future, that I was just “wasting my time.” To be honest, I couldn’t disagree more, I don’t think I would be both the person I am today or where I am today hadn’t it been for the fact that I joined the LEHS Color Guard. From my experience on the team, I matured and grew to understand that life is about taking risks and striving for success. The girl I used to be wouldn’t have made the go-getting choices I’ve made in my life now. Had I quit color guard I wouldn’t have successfully asserted myself as a member of a discourse community, and I wouldn’t have mastered the three rhetorical appeals of ethos, logos, and pathos.
Through my experience in joining the discourse community of the Little Elm High School Color Guard, I have a newfound appreciation for the rhetorical appeals of ethos, logos, and pathos. These rhetorical appeals have effects on my life far beyond what I expected they would. I went from being a shy and reserved girl to one that is confident in herself, her ability to join discourse communities, and ready to take on any challenges life throws her way. I now find that it is a vital part of life that people join discourse communities and master the three rhetorical appeals of ethos, logos, and pathos.
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