Hey! This is my common application essay, I think it's good but i would like to get your feedback as well. Tell me what you think, and feel free to critique and revise.
"Renee?" the teacher articulated with grace.
She raised her head from the attendance sheet and looked thoughtfully across the classroom to the children who were waiting patiently for their own name to be called. I knew she wanted to meet eyes with another one of her new students, I knew she was looking for me. Yet, I also knew that the student she was seeking was not me. I paused before I raised my hand, waiting for her gaze to reach the left side of the classroom, my side of the classroom. I finally forced my small hand timidly into the air. Our eyes met, and I could tell that she was not expecting a six-year-old first generation Chinese American male to raise his hand.
It was the first day of first grade at Campbell Elementary School in Lincoln, Nebraska. Ms. Johnson was a young, amicable woman with blonde hair who cherished every single one of her six-year-olds. She played games with them, laughed at their innocence, and absolutely adored their macaroni pictures and crayon drawings. I remember walking into the classroom on the first day standing in awe of the interesting artifacts that lay on the counters surrounding the classroom. I weaved my way towards my assigned seat with my large Power Ranger backpack that seemed to engulf me into its large expanse. I found my name, Renee Ni, on a large piece of construction paper decorated with various colors and shapes. I smiled.
Ms. Johnson seemed puzzled at first when she saw this small, scrawny Asian boy with his hand raised, but then quickly concealed her expression and grinned.
"Why hello there! Are you excited to be in first grade, Renee?"
"Yes," I answered diffidently.
"That's wonderful!" she exclaimed with a beaming look on her face as she moved on to the next student.
She was expecting a girl.
I sat next to a Hispanic boy name Jose. He was a polite but very outgoing child who loved Power Rangers as much as I did. During recess we would always pretend to be these heroes who saved the jungle gym and swing set from the diabolical plans of Lord Zedd with our intimidating and powerful megazords. We became the best of friends and we were always found fighting evil together. I remember the first day I met him. The first words he said to me were, "Renee? Isn't that a girl's name?"
And it was. The more I came in contact with new people, the more I realized that this name did not belong to me. Not only because of its gender specific connotation, but I also felt that this name did not reveal much about me. I vividly remember an instance when I overheard two parents commenting on my name. It was parents' night at the elementary school and each first grade class hosted a project on a differing biome. In Ms. Johnson's class we turned our classroom into a tropical rainforest. My individual assignment was on the boa constrictor and since I could not let a 12 foot snake free in a confined classroom filled with 20 small children, I engineered one out of toilet paper rolls and string. I connected the string at the ends of the rolls and colored the model bright green and brown; I was quite satisfied with my toilet paper snake. While standing idly by my creation on parents' night, two parents commented on how beautifully constructed it was. I smiled. As they were walking away I heard my name and I glanced in their direction. "Is that a girl, or a boy?" the woman said.
I moved the next year. My dad's profession brought us 1,046 miles northwest to Bozeman, Montana. I began second grade in a few weeks, and I realized that I did not want to hide behind the shadow of my current name while talk and tease encompassed it. I confronted my parents about the situation.
"Well, if you don't want this name what will your name be?" stated dad.
"I dunno," I said.
"How about this," he said, "We'll let you choose your own name, and if we all like it, you can keep it."
"Wow," I thought to myself, "I get to choose my own name!" I was ecstatic as well as burdened. How would I know what the right name would be? Out of the millions of names in the world how was I able to choose one that I truly loved and was "me"? My parents initially named me Ren Ni (Ni, Ren 倪任). The year of 1992, the year I was born, held a special significance as it was the Ren(壬) Shen(申) Year(年), also known as the Year of the Monkey-more specifically the Water Monkey Year. 壬 is the ninth of the ten celestial stems of the Chinese Zodiac which is also accompanied by one of the 12 terrestrial symbols (zodiac animals). However, Ren was too short and odd a first name so an Americanization was in order, thus resulting in Renee. The choosing of my own name was similar as it also held a significance, a significance to me. However, it did not possess deep contemplation and research, but instead thoughtlessness and celerity. I felt that this name was made for me, right from the start.
"I've settled on a name," I told my parents the next day.
"Really? And what is it?"
"Jason!" I exclaimed as I struck a power ranger fighting pose.
They laughed, and I waited anxiously for their approval. I received it. I smiled.
I have often thought that perhaps I made this decision too hastily, too brashly, and that I chose this name because of my infatuation with the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers. Yet, now, in retrospect, I feel as if that the name I chose was more fitting than I realized. As the leader of the Power Rangers Jason was a commander who listened to his other team members and knew how to lead them accordingly. Not only this, but he was also an altruist who sought to aid others before himself and a community aware individual who accomplished much for his city. Laughing with his fellow heroes and performing random acts of kindness, this was the red ranger. Filled with courage, loyalty, and flickers of compassion, this was the individual whom I had chosen to become. Oddly enough, I later discovered that in my name, 任 (Ren) stands for trust and responsibility and 倪 (Ni) denotes a pinnacle in success. Perhaps, "Jason" is in fact the Americanization of 倪任.
I started second grade a couple of weeks later. I walked into the classroom, found my name on my desk and sat down. The teacher called roll.
"Jason?" Mrs. Gray called out.
I raised my hand and smiled.