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'Beyond the walls of my safe haven..' Chinatown restaurant - CENTRAL TO IDENTITY

xxnina22796xx 3 / 4  
Dec 31, 2013   #1
Prompt Chosen: Some students have a background or story that is so central to their identity that they believe their application would be incomplete without it. If this sounds like you, then please share your story.

Beyond the walls of my safe haven was an unfriendly and dangerous world. The tall buildings loom high above one's head, walls are covered in graffiti, and streets are filled with neglected potholes and litter. It is a world in which gunshots are the norm and walking out at night is not advised. Many lives are cut short there, wiping away individuals' dreams and hopeful futures. Welcome to the Lower East Side of Manhattan, the place that I called home.

Growing up in a hostile environment was tough, but it was made worse by the fact that my parents were rarely around. They worked 12 hour shifts at a small restaurant in the heart of Chinatown. Long before us children awoke, they were gone and it wasn't until after we were asleep that they returned. Thus from an early age, I learned how to be independent. Watching my parents labor for minimum wage taught me the value of money. However, it wasn't until I turned 13, when we moved to Westchester Mamaroneck that I learned what it was like to work for long hours.

In the interest of providing me with the educational opportunities that Mamaroneck had to offer, my parents spent their life savings to open a small restaurant called the Little Kitchen. Since they spoke very minimal English and could not afford to hire many workers, I was recruited as a valued employee. Thus began my frazzled attempt to bear the weight of both the stress of high school and the family business. It soon became my job to not only take orders but also to communicate with customers when issues arose. In my young teenage years, I was forced to exit my comfort zone and hold conversations with complete strangers. Although it was initially nerve wracking, it grew easier throughout the four years, as I became more experienced and mature.

However, not everything has grown easier over the years. As I advanced through the years of high school, it has become increasingly difficult to balance my school, social, and family lives. The work load kept growing on all ends as I signed up for advanced courses and the restaurant's reputation gradually improved. The fatigue piled up as I continued to attend school for seven hours, work for six hours, then do homework and study for exams after. My nights often consist of very little sleep and a lot of coffee. During my school day, I'm often found scrambling to the library to finish any homework that I failed to finish the night before. Thus my social life began to fall through the cracks as I isolated myself further and further from others. I simply could not find the time to spend time with my friends without allowing my grades to suffer for it. I felt obstructed from partaking in extracurricular activities that piqued my interest, from exploring myself as an individual. I was alone, drowning in my responsibilities, trying frantically to find the balance between being a dutiful daughter and a healthy teenager. I wish I could say that I successfully found that balance, but quite honestly, I don't believe I did. My high school years were spent burrowed within a textbook.

However, college marks a new beginning for me. As my high school years come to an end, my days of managing the family business conclude as well. It's time that I find myself, to explore my passions and expand my boundaries. I wish to find the career that my heart yearns to pursue and interact with others that share the same desires. Becoming a millionaire is not in my dreams, for I'd rather have enough to live comfortably while providing for my family. Because my parents have sacrificed so much for me, I am inspired to work hard, to give back to them in the future and show that their efforts were not in vain.
sammk33 - / 3 1  
Dec 31, 2013   #2
Your introduction is very captivating with the vivid imagery. I could actually picture your neighborhood. I think it introduces the theme of chaos throughout your essay, but as a reader, I wish you incorporated it more later on because it doesn't seem to fit your story except to state that you grew up in an unfriendly part of New York. Since your essay is mostly about your parent's sacrifice, you might want to focus on the chaos in the kitchen rather than at home.

I don't know if you realize it, but you say "thus" a lot and it isn't always necessary to your sentence structure.

I'm no college expert, but are you sure that your lack of a social life and extracurriculars is really something you want to highlight? Is it really the most defining aspect of your identity? There must be more to your personality than just focusing on work and school. The fact that you haven't participated in anything else gives a negative vibe about your character.

If this is what you want to showcase, I think your essay would be significantly improved if you focused more on how you plan to direct yourself in the future. It could work, but I suggest you build up your paragraph about working hard in college to make your argument convincing enough to counteract that negative vibe. Majority of your essay was about your stressful life (which is kinda repetitive) rather than about you as a person. As of now, all I know about you is that you grew up with a hard life and your high school experience suffered because of it which is why you'll make college count. You might want to concentrate on the character growth you experienced instead.

Overall, it was a well written essay and I was hooked by your intro. It could have been a book. I wish I got a further look into that dangerous life and how it affected you. Best of luck!
cicijolee 5 / 19 4  
Dec 31, 2013   #3
I really like how you begin but I wish you tied that part in with the rest of your essay. The essay didn't lead to where I thought it might go and I think instead of highlighting your lack of balance, you should focus more on what you learned by all these experiences since this essay is about your identity. Like your independency or hard work working nature. You could focus on just one instance or anecdote that really illustrates how you've grown or become the person you are today

I like the first half of the essay overall though, maybe just change the ending and focus?

Hope I helped some :)

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