As I entered my temporary off-campus home in St. Petersburg Russia, I heeded something peculiar. There was this festival going on near my home. The sounds and smells enchanted me into the festival. As I entered, I noticed many stands selling pancakes, and playing distinctive games. Then it clicked; it was Maslenitsa week! I was thrilled to see what my grandparents had talked about back home. My host explained to me that this was an opportunity for different Slavic people to get together from diverse locations to celebrate a mutual and ancient Russian tradition. Being an active participant in my Russian community and other cultural-bonding events at home is what naturally drew me to this short-term exchange program. I and other short term exchange students from around the globe would have an opportunity to learn more about the heritage of Russia, and also create a stronger network of understanding between our current locations and its cultures as well.
While most of our time in St. Petersburg was spent developing our understanding of Russia's rich culture, it turned out that we were given the opportunity to work for an organization called Habitat for Humanity in the local city of Novgorod. In this service we would renovate apartments in the area that were practically crumbling to the ground, with resourceful materials. When we arrived, it seemed as though a hurricane had hit. The emotions I felt left me speechless. During this service I met a boy named Nattapong from Thailand. We discussed the hardships people faced living in the apartments that we were helping to rebuild, which sparked a conversation on our current cultures as well. He told me exciting traditions of his culture such as: going to the Chiang Mai Flower Festival, participating in visual arts and crafts, and many others. I talked about my location, Chicago Illinois, and its many pastimes, such as: eating hot dogs, going out to baseball games, and xxxx. Even though we lived thousands of miles apart, we had this invisible connection that made us similar in terms of a longing to of understand the people around us. When he heard xxxx, he had no clue about it, since he did not have such an opportunity in his home. From this experience I realized that I wanted to learn more about cultures around the world, and participate in services as I was doing now to make lives easier.
If I am given a chance to join the community at the University of Wisconsin-madison, I would be able to tell students about my experiences in community services I participated in, and also about the rich cultures of Russia and the many others that can in turn help us understand why people have the mentalities they do. I would make it an effort to form a club of my own to influence people who live where they have not inter-mingled with other countries traditions, in the purpose of them feeling the passion, the sadness, the ambitions, the spices that evolve their lives that other countries feel. The exemplary international study abroad program at Madison is one I could contribute both my compassion and knowledge to. At the University of Madison I would not only be a culture major, but a volunteer and leader as well. One quotes, that is said by Andre Malraux, that expresses my desire to understand peoples culture is: "Culture is the sum of all the forms of art, of love, and of thought, which, in the course or centuries, have enabled man to be less enslaved."
Thank you very much for helping me with the grammar/punctuation mistakes. Does my essay effectively answer the prompt in a unique way though? How should I make it more powerful?