The subject is overused (I think) and I'm afraid that college admission officers will chuck my essay into the "boring" pile from first glance. If anyone could offer any advice on putting more personality into the essay, I would greatly appreciate it! Thanks! :)
The second I walked into room 1205, I knew there was a problem. With a fifty-pound suitcase in one hand and a violin in the other, I smiled uneasily as four unfamiliar, wide-eyed girls bombarded me with rapid-fire questions, music, and food. It was not long before these hyper teenagers slowly realized why I wasn't responding with equal enthusiasm: I did not understand Chinese.
Enter the Great Wall Academy. Prior to the exhausting fourteen-hour trip to China, I had not only been told that my roommate would be American, but also that the Academy would consist primarily of English-speaking musicians. However, these reassurances all disappeared when I walked through the door of room 1205 and straight into the formidable brick wall of Chinese. As I stared at the girls in front of me with their cute hairstyles, baggy jeans, and cell phones, I felt my comfortable dependence on words wane.
I soon found out that I did not have time to mope about how little Chinese I knew. Flitting from room to room, I bumped into famous Chinese professors with translators by their side, students who directed me to the nearest bathroom in that curious jargon, and custodians with humble bows and crinkles in the corner of their eyes. Rehearsals with my quartet were full of elaborate hand gestures as all four of us grappled with "one, two, three, four" in foreign tongues. My most difficult relationship was with my roommate, a girl who had her own agenda and friends. I craved a more personal relationship with her, but this was hindered by the lack of communication between us.
The solution came in the form of Charades, a never-ending game between two social cultures. Whenever I wanted to eat dinner, I shoveled food into my mouth with an invisible spoon. If I needed to practice in the bathroom, I would grab my violin, play a melody in the bathroom, then rush out to clarify with a grin. Our nods, smiles, and thumbs-ups surpassed linguistic differences, causing us to share precious information - I could read the emotions on my roommate's face while she could understand which violin pieces gave me the most grief, frustration, and excitement.
I thought I had learned all there was to learn about China, the country that shared similarities and differences with America, until the day I attended a master class starring a young violinist named Xu Ting. Sitting in the audience, I could sense her apprehension and her desire to perform well, because I had undergone the same anxiety during my own violin performances. As soon as her bow touched the strings, I felt a thrilling sense of magic streak through the audience. At that moment Shostakovich's violin concerto instantly became the means for twenty Americans and Chinese people to collectively experience something incredibly profound. In the dark with a small audience of twenty, I couldn't help but notice how different we all were, and yet, how much we shared; love, appreciation, and respect for music. In those ten minutes, I finally, finally understood why I was in China. It was not for the food, the Forbidden City, or Olympic propaganda. It was for understanding and experiencing the universal language of music.
On the second to last day at the Academy, I performed in front of the entire camp with a piece that started with a haunting melody and ended with an encompassing conclusion, a parallel to my stay in China. After the swell of applause faded, I sat down amidst friends and the rest of the audience and was tapped on the shoulder. It was a Chinese girl who played violin, liked jelly beans, and wanted to congratulate me on my performance. As I smiled and warmly accepted her praise, I realized something that I would carry with me all the way back home. All this time, I could have understood Chinese. I just needed a different language.
Again, thank you so much!
Flitting from room to room, I bumped into famous Chinese professors with translators by their sides , students who directed me to the nearest bathroom in that curious jargon, and custodians with humble bows and crinkles in the corner of their eyes.
Sitting in the audience, I could sense her apprehension and her desire to perform well, because I had experienced the same anxiety during my own violin performances.
After the swell of applause faded, I sat down amidst friends and the rest of the audience, and was tapped on the shoulder.