I think cultural differences become a big mess of entanglement in appeal letters. Time and time again, I’ve encountered this problem of trying to help somebody with his or her appeal letter, only to find myself unsatisfied during the process.
For one thing, the content of an appeal letter is inevitably self contradictory, to certain extent at least. It wants to beg for reconsideration but it cannot say the previous consideration is wrong; it strongly believes that the decision makers can make sound and reasonable decisions but it is also obliged to dispute the previous decisions; it wants to present himself or herself in a better way, but it doesn’t really know which part of his or her previous presentation is good and which part is bad.
With such embedded controversies, an appeal letter is difficult to write. On top of this, if you are writing an appeal letter in a non-native tongue, it is more difficult. And if this non-native tongue happens to be English, it adds another layer of difficulty, given the fact that English language has an unfathomable sense of subtlety and politeness to deal with.
For example, you can’t really say you are very sad as a result, you can’t really say you are crying, you can’t really say you want to vent your frustrations on social media, you can’t really say you have screamed and yelled as a mad person. Not in English. In other language, it might be considered a truthful representation of your situation and win sympathies–well, you are frustrated and what can be better representation of your current emotional status than some wild reactions and impolite gestures? However in English, one has to be well balanced, polite, and cool. Otherwise it is no good. I am not saying one can’t express emotion in English since one can certainly do it in one’s writing and the wild emotional turmoil in the book “Of Human Bondage” is my favorite. I can’t have enough of it. However not in appeal letters–I don’t know why.
I still remember in high school, we had a visit from a high school in Japan. All girls. It was for one or two days. I can’t remember exactly how long. Also I can’t remember what it was for, probably to commemorate something. Anyway, the day when we said farewell to each other, most Japanese girls burst into tears and we were very much pleasantly surprised and embarrassed. We didn’t think our brief encounter should have caused such an emotional display…. Somehow we thought that in Japan, crying is very much encouraged, at least for women, even though Japanese culture is very reserved in our imperfect understanding of it. Anyway, we wrote an appeal letter the next day and I still roughly remember the beginning–“we cried and our tears form a river that circled our campus; we screamed until all the trees and flowers hear our voice…” It was practically an exaggeration. None of us cried or screamed. It’s just a figurative speech. And the letter is to plead for a longer visit and better planned activities. Now to think of it, I’m from a very reserved, family-based culture that has an aversion to emotional display. Still, the culture doesn’t care if you go overboard with your writing. This letter was perfectly normal and nobody thought it strange.
However if this letter were in English, it would be considered corny, sentimental or something equally unaesthetic. Or probably the writers of this letter would be considered somehow imbalanced or weird.