It would be great if anyone could spare a minute or two to read over my essay and give advice. Thanks.
Q: Discuss some issue of personal, local, national, or international concern and its importance to you.
Sights in India are often quickly associated with street cows, monuments, festivals and modernization, which I do not deny to have seen and marveled at during my thirteen years here. But, one particular sight has struck me deeply, a sight that is so prevalent, but ironically so ignored - the segregation of two starkly contrasting worlds, worlds of the prosperous and the underprivileged. At every stoplight, it is not hard to find a feeble child next to a Mercedes begging for a ten-rupee note or even a coin or two. It is also not hard to find a pool party at a five-star hotel right next to a slum colony with only a wall separating the two places. Analogously, the American Embassy School and the Vivekananda slum camp stand in contrast with each other, separated by a thick concrete wall with barbed wires.
Every day as I am dropped off at the school gate, I see a group of teenagers from the Vivekananda camp heading towards a nearby construction site with shovels and pickaxes. Then later after school, around five o'clock, I see a similar group of camp kids returning back home exhausted. Whenever I see the camp kids walking to the construction site, a sense of guilt strikes me, making me stare at my hands. Being able to use my hands to write, draw, play basketball and hug friends while the children at the camp use theirs to shift boulders, causes that guilt to tingle within me along with a remorseful feeling.
Child labor is prevalent in India as children are put to work with minimal payment, if any. In dark, shoddy factories, these children work 24/7 to make carpets or firecrackers. Despite the ban on child labor, children are still favored and are pushed more distant from education. By being forced to work in deplorable factories, they are exposed not only to diseases but to illiteracy. I believe that this is an issue that must be undertaken immediately in order to free the children laboring under the sweltering heat at this very moment and to enable them to spend their childhood in classrooms instead, with friends and books rather than magnesium powder used in firecrackers.
This local concern is indeed important to me as I have had the opportunity to interact with them through the Reach Out Program, where I have seen these children happy, despite their underprivileged life - happy playing with friends, being with family and helping neighbors. I have gained respect for them, who have shown me that true satisfaction arrives from within and happiness has very little to do with money. Whenever I meet them during Reach Out, a service initiative that educates and entertains these children, I find them happy, smiling and excited to be on our school campus. Their smiles seem unreal because I feel that they have so much to be unhappy about, and we in turn have so much to be happy about but are always complaining. The camp children live their lives in laughter and smiles despite the fact that they possess nothing. Interacting with them, teaching them, playing with them, sharing stories with them and just watching them has changed my perspective on material things, and I now realize that when I ask for something, it is more out of greed than need. I am fortunate to have learnt this lesson from these children from a wholly different socio-economic culture.
Mohandas K. Gandhi once stated that everyone should always "be the change [he or she] wants to see in this world." Every Thursday, I sit down with a group of camp kids, ages ranging from six to eighteen, and teach them a variety of fundamental computing skills. Not only am I striving to do good for that underprivileged community, but I am also fulfilling my own passion to work with computers and sharing my knowledge with someone from a completely different world. In accordance with the statement made by Gandhi, I dream of improving the camp children's lives and their education with the education that I have been granted and with the passion I have for engineering. Furthermore, I believe that devising cheap construction machinery for simple jobs such as digging will make child labor less favored, which will consequently force parents to send their children to school and equip them with education, not sweat and scars.