If you would please read this first half of my common app essay and tell me if it's in the right tense I would greatly appreciate it. I start in the past and then reflect on further back in the past (I forget what that tense is called). The switch is in the second sentence. Thank you thank you!
All the students were hollering in Arabic; I could tell by their smiles and cheers that I was making a good impression. I was wearing my soft-blue galabea - an Egyptian dress I had first seen in Tayiiba, a village where oxen share one-room homes with families and walls are made out of mud. In Tayiiba, heat and poverty demand a light, simple wardrobe. After walking the streets of the village, I asked my parents for that thing all the Egyptian men were wearing. I had no clue what it was called or what purpose it served, I just wanted to look like those men.
On the train ride back to Cairo, I sat with Rofi, an Egyptian boy one year older than me. Rofi and I talked about Egypt, soccer, and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles - his favorite television show - as images of the Nile River flashed through the window. When we arrived at the seminary, I was called up to Rofi's apartment for a surprise. Rofi's mother had a gift for me: a beautifully simple galabea that had been hand-stitched by the local tailor. I immediately slipped the cloth on over my Old Navy t-shirt, thanked Rofi's mother and went downstairs to show off my gift in the cafeteria.
It was lunchtime and the tables were lined with young, hungry seminarians. Heads turned when I walked through the door, and some students stood up. I'll never forget the applause. I was cheered by our hosts and by my friends. My simple act was an unintentional display of humility and camaraderie with the people in that dining hall. It was February 2002, 5 months after the September 11th attacks; I was 10 years old.