I would greatly appreciate if someone would edit/critique my essay for the common app. I plan on putting it under:
Evaluate a significant experience, achievement, risk you have taken, or ethical dilemma you have faced and its impact on you.
Hidden in the mountains of Italy is a town known to very few people, a town that changed my life. The village, holding no more than 1,200 residents, is the home to my family and values. My papa, having grown up there, decided to take my siblings and I on an unforgettable journey to see the land of my ancestors: the town of Pizzoferrato.
My entire life has consisted of tales told over pasta-filled tables, telling of the hardships my family had faced in Italy. As a result of these terrifying descriptions, I was not thrilled about the idea of staying in Pizzoferrato for eight days. Knowing how important the trip was to my father, however, I courageously boarded the Alitalia plane and anxiously ventured on the nine-hour journey to the "Old Country."
Upon arriving in Pizzoferrato, my family and I headed to my father's childhood home. In front of the two-bedroom farmhouse stood what I consider to be my first glimpse of a true Italian woman. The woman, whom I was to call zia, was short, plump, gruesomely hairy, yet clearly hardened by the life she had lived. After being graciously embraced, I hesitantly followed her into the house where, to my surprise, I found a warm dinner waiting on the table. This display of generosity triggered a new perspective of these strangers I called my "famiglia." In that moment, my predetermined generalizations regarding the trip disappeared, allowing for my simple vacation to become an adventure. Participating in various customs and meeting many townspeople opened my eyes to the vast world around me, teaching me to have an open mind and heart. It was a much quieter experience, however, that impacted me the most.
The most crucial lesson came from my Zia Maria, an elderly woman who spends her days completing farm work. Inviting my family into her home with open arms, she proceeded to bring assortments of cookies and juices into the kitchen for our enjoyment. As she set the table, my eyes could not help but wander along the walls of the kitchen. Pictures lined the walls like a timeline of her life. My father must have caught my wandering eyes, for he too began to marvel in his childhood memories. Seeing this, my zia slowly walked over to a wallet-sized photo of her late husband on the mantle and handed it to my father with tear-filled eyes. I stared at the photograph for less than a minute myself before I felt a small tear run down my cheek. It was because of that man, my Zio Nicola, that my family was privileged enough to be sitting around his kitchen table. It was because of the importance of family and the foundations of hard work that he, along with my nonno, had given up his life on the farms. It was because of hard work, determination, and courage that I was able to experience that moment in a place nearly 5,000 miles from my own front door.