I would appreciate your corrections and comments for my short essay (caution! English is not my first language). The essay is about my Seeds of Peace camp experience. It has to be less than 150 words so I am afraid it won't be possible to understand what I wanted to say. I am even not sure this is the right topic and approach, but here's what I have so far:
At Seeds of Peace Camp in summer 2001 eleven teenagers from Bosnia, Croatia and Serbia criss-crossed their arms as I climbed the ladder. I was supposed to fall backwards into arms of my "enemies". Although I was born in a mixed marriage of Bosnian Serb mum and Bosniak dad, memories of war didn't let me trust people, especially these people. Were they really my friends or they wanted to hurt me? I was shy and would hardly open up myself to others, so it was not surprising that we couldn't establish any closeness. Even petrified, I decided to take the risk. I took a deep breath, closed my eyes, and let myself fly. Next moment I was safe in their united arms and I realized that the scared little girl in me was gone. In that symbolic game I gained self-confidence and even more important I learned to trust people.
Thanks for reading!
This is an interesting experience, and there's definitely a lot of symbolism with learning to trust others, especially given the ethnic tensions you discussed. However, my concern is that you're talking about an event that occurred in 2001, which was a long time ago. If you're submitting this as part of a college application, you probably want to tie this experience into something else that happened more recently. Also, it would be helpful to know what prompt you're writing for- your word count leads me to infer that it's the Common Application's "extraccuricular activity" prompt?
"Seeds of Peace Summer Camp 2001: Eleven teenagers from Bosnia, Croatia and Serbia criss-crossed their arms while I was climbing the ladder."
I don't see the purpose your unorthodox sentence structure really serves. It seems like you're beginning a list of events, but you only describe one event in your essay. Or perhaps you're trying to scrimp for the word count? If you still have room, change this to "At the Seeds of Peace Summer Camp [...] criss-crossed their arms as I climbed the ladder." I would change "while I was climbing" to "as I climbed" because it sounds better, and it also saves you a word on the word count.
"Although I was born in a mixed marriage of Bosnian Serb mum and Bosniak dad, pictures of war didn't let me trust these people and I was petrified of what is going to happen."
Instead of "pictures of war", you might say "memories of war" or "stories I had heard about the war" or something like that. Also, watch your verb tenses: "I was petrified" is past tense, but "what is going to happen" is present tense. The same goes for your next sentences: "Are they really my friends" is present tense, but "I decided" is past tense.
"I decided to take the risk unaware that it is going to be one of the life-changing moments. "
Aww, don't give it away! If you were unaware that it was going to be a life-changing moment, then let the epiphany occur naturally- you don't need to foreshadow it for the reader.
"In that symbolic game I gained enormous self confidence and even more important I rebuilt my trust in people."
You rebuilt your trust in people, in general? My initial impression was that your essay was about overcoming ethnic tensions. Or were you just mistrustful of all people? YOu might want to clarify. Also, don't say "enormous" self-confidence, especially since you don't mention self-confidence very much before. Were you ever doubtful of yourself? Once more, I was under the impression that you were doubtful of others, but never of yourself. Again, clarify.
Thank you very much for your comments, you helped me a lot :-)
First, a brief explanation for the summer 2001: I graduated from high school a few years ago and since then I was traveling and working. This is explained in other parts of my application, so I guess it will make some sense to admission officers. I was almost fifteen when I became member of Seeds of Peace, I believe old enough to understand what war and trust mean.
Second, I know this all looks kind of confusing but it is because I am limited with these 150 words. By the way, the essay is my answer to "In the space provided below, please elaborate on one of your activities (extracurricular, personal activities, or work experience)", so I hope this topic fits in there.
At Seeds of Peace Camp in summer 2001 Eleven teenagers from Bosnia, Croatia and Serbia criss-crossed their arms and waited for me to fall. I had climbed the ladder, and now I was supposed to fall backwards into arms of my "enemies".
At the end of the essay, you can name this experience as Seeds of Peace Camp in the summer of 2001. If you try to name it at the beginning, it is too much information for the reader.