Self Portrait as FOB

by Yuxi Lin

Writing Workshop

Workshop Title: Outsider

Step 1

Ask your students, “Can you think of a time where you felt completely new, distant, or unfamiliar with the people around you? What made you feel that way? How did you respond? And how did they respond to you?” Then give them a few minutes to discuss.

Step 2

Read “Self Portrait as FOB” by Yuxi Lin. When you’re done, briefly discuss the speaker’s feelings as an FOB in America. How did they feel? And what made them feel that way?

Step 3

Say, “Hone in on a memory in which you felt like an outsider. Then come up with a list of things or reasons that made you feel so distant from the people around you.” Then give your students a few minutes to brainstorm.

Step 4

Ask your students to compose a poem similar in sentiment to “Self Portrait as FOB” in which they recount an experience where they felt like an outsider.

Step 5

When the students are done, have them share their responses with one another.

The full presentation may be found HERE.

Analytical Lesson

Area of Focus: Various

Step 1

This lesson allows students to analyze various concepts and skills, so it is recommended that you have covered several of the “standalone” lessons before assigning this one.

Step 2

Show your students the following meme. Then briefly discuss it. Ask your students when the “blue curtains” may actually mean something more significant than simply being blue? How can they tell when to read into something a bit deeper than surface level?

  • Try to steer your students’ conversation toward recognizing a “pattern” throughout the text.

Step 3

Now show your students the following clip to get them thinking of how an object, act, etc. can serve as something larger than just its literal meaning.

Step 4

Read “Self Portrait as FOB” by Yuxi Lin to your class. As you are reading, ask your students to pay particular attention to the speaker’s experiences and how they reflect something significantly larger, at least for the speaker.

Step 5

Have your students open the following document and go over the instructions with them. In this assignment, your students are going to explore specific parts of the text, determine how they represent something greater than just the speaker’s literal experiences, and discuss how they fit into a larger pattern throughout the piece. When you’re done going over the instructions, give your students time to work.

Step 6

When your students are done, have them share their responses with the rest of the class.

Step 7

If time permits, read through the exemplar essay.

Lesson Details

Lesson Info


  • Various


  • Children / Youth
  • Class
  • Community / Culture
  • Death / Grief
  • Education Formal / Informal
  • Family
  • Immigration
  • International

Literary Tags

  • Diction
  • Figurative Language
  • Imagery
  • Selection of Detail
  • Sound Devices
  • Tone

Content Warning

  • Racism or Racial Slurs