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Your ability to adapt crossculturally; Peace Corps Admission Essay 2

sstacy2 2 / 1  
May 26, 2008   #1
Yesterday I posted my other admissions essay and I got fantastic feedback, so I thought I'd post this essay too and get some feedback. I'm concerned about the opening paragraph, and the overall tone of the essay. And feedback is much appreciated.

Essay Question: "Peace Corps Volunteers must be open to ideas and cultures different from their own.Give an example of a significant experience that illustrates your ability to adapt crossculturally.You may draw from experiences in your work, school, or community in the

U.S. or abroad. Please include the circumstances of the experience and dates." (500 Words)

My Essay:

Being a military brat requires you to get comfortable with the idea of moving around the country to be immersed in all types of domestic cultures. In my childhood I had moved from Hawaii to Nebraska, and on to California, but in all that time I was never confronted with so unique a culture as I was when I moved to moved to small town outside of San Antonio. In January of 1999, right in the middle of my sophomore year of high school I moved from a large city outside of San Francisco to a small town outside of San Antonio, and within a few weeks I understood that I had arrived in very different environment.

The best example of the cultural difference was the place religion had at school. Vastly different from the veto my former school had on any religious presences at the school, my new school held a morning ritual where students formed a prayer circle around the flagpole. The religious presence at school was everywhere. People frequently discussed Christian religion at school which was something I was not at all used to. I found public discussion of religion to be difficult because I was taught religious talk but best left private. Then I began to realize that religious conversation was easy to discuss because an overwhelming amount of the students were Christian, no one was being offended because there was no religious diversity. It wasn't that there was a fundamental difference in our beliefs, but the environment lent itself to open discussion of religion. This was lesson to me about understanding a different point of view, without judging it.

Religion is probably the best example of how this small town culture was different than I was used to, but it was by far not the only divergent belief. Every day was a new example of an opposing opinion; gun laws, sexual orientation issues, and race politics were just a few. I soon found the best solution to adjusting to this new culture was to listen more than I talked. When I was confronted with a less then liberal perspective I made every effort to get the other person's entire point of view before I said a single thing. All those conversations that were so uncomfortable became opportunities to expand my understanding of not only their beliefs, but my own as well. Sometimes I was wrong, sometimes I was right, but with each conversation I became better for the chance to bounce by beliefs of a different perspective.

I draw an enormous amount of my confidence from my time living in Texas; it was a time that I tried new ideas and learned a lot about my beliefs. The new perspectives I will encounter abroad with the Peace Corps, will again offer me that opportunity to listen and learn about other people. In this process of learning about another culture I will have the opportunity to better myself.

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