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Brown Early Decision Essay-any advice and constructive criticism welcome


Hi, this is a rough draft for my supplement essay for Brown. I'm applying Early Decision,
and running short of time. I would really, really appreciate any constructive criticism or advice on the essay.

What is an academic experience, project, class or book that has influenced or inspired you?

The Difference between a Mathematician and a Historian

Among the many, many projects I have done for school, very few have felt meaningful to me. While some of classmates raved on about how influential, how enlightening it was to design a scientific experiment or illustrate an environmental poster, I found these projects unremarkable. They could be enjoyable, but the projects never taught me anything beyond what the teachers had already drilled into our heads. Of course, I kept this idea to myself. However, among a plethora of projects I failed to appreciate, there was one assignment that affected me profoundly.

It was a project assigned by our quirky history teacher, Mr. Perdue, who had no problem recalling bad jokes but tended to forget everything else. As we were learning about World War II, our project was to construct an interview with our grandparents or any older relatives concerning their impressions of the era. I remember distinctly groaning as he assigned the project, because it was due over Winter Break, and like most of peers, I hated the idea of having to complete an assignment during time reserved for relaxation and fun.

My Grandfather was a gruff man of few words, like most Asian men of his generation. However, I was pleasantly surprised when he turned to have quite a lot to offer for my project. Having learned about Japanese imperialism and their occupation of Taiwan, I expected his words to be laced with resentment and righteous fury. However, his tone reeked of reminiscence when he spoke of his youth. He told me that the streets were safer then, that the Japanese kept such order that his family left their doors and windows open at night and woke up the next morning with nothing missing. He described a time of peace in Taiwan that juxtaposed with the chaos of the war the rest of the world was embroiled in. The Japanese, in his opinion, were a necessary evil in Taiwan that their power kept order and tranquility, that the Taiwan nowadays is riddled with crime and violence. His view of the war and the Japanese provided a stark contrast against the atrocities and simmering hatred the Japanese left in their wake of mainland China. What I had learned in class, what I had gathered from my conversation with the local Chinese formed a perspective of World War II that clashed utterly with my grandfathers.

That instant, I understood what History was really about. It wasn't a simple listing of facts and events that occurred in the past-it was about differing perspectives and contradicting truths. My passion for history stems not from the hard facts of the past but how different backgrounds and different values could shape an individual's perspective of the world. I appreciate history because unlike math and science there is no real answer, no complete truth. You ask a mathematician the simple question of whether World War II was good or bad, you would be simply given the numbers of casualties and the financial cost of the War. If you ask a historian the same question, you would not be given an answer at all, but an opinion. The answer would be up to you.

"...over w inter b ]reak..." As this is neither a proper noun nor the first word of a sentence, it should not be capitalized.

"My Grandfatherwas..."

"...necessary evil in Taiwan; that their..."

"What I had learned in class and what I..."

"That instant, I understood what Historywas really..."

Your content is very well organized and introspective. You use a good example to illustrate your point, and your intro and conclusion are very apt for this piece.


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