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"The Dash American term" - Common App Personal Essay


erica1004 1 / 2  
Oct 24, 2010   #1
Evaluate a significant experience, achievement, risk you have taken, or ethical dilemma you have faced and its impact on you

The term "Dash Americans" has become so familiar to me since I moved to the United States; it's like a constant reminder that I'm not a "real" American. When people ask me what nationality I am, I am uncertain how I should respond; I am always hesitant to firmly present my ethnicity.

I was born in central Seoul, just South of Han River. I lived in Seoul with my Korean mother until third grade. It was during this period I developed a strong cultural affinity to Korean traditional lifestyle. However, due to my dad's occupation as a US soldier, our family had to be abruptly up rooted and leave behind our identity as Asians and move to Maryland. Prior to this I had never traveled abroad. If fact, I had little or no interest in the world outside of Korea and had lived a sheltered life. The dramatic change severely affected my parents, but it was a life changing event for me as a young child. Although people see children, like a sponge, easily absorbable and vulnerable to change, I was a cocky eight year old girl who would not accept it. In Maryland, the school I attended was predominantly white. Actually, I was the only Asian in the class. I was afraid that once I attended an American school, I would be an outcast and worried that students might mistreat me because of my inability to speak English. Although Korean elementary students were required to take a year of "intensive" English, we were only educated in simple terms such as "mother," "father," "apple," and "good-bye". After arriving in Maryland, during a short winter break before I entered elementary school, I began studying English intensely so that I would not struggle as much. When I was introduced to my classmates as a girl who came from South Korea, the class was surprisingly dead silent. This was strange to me because it was customary in Korea for the class to welcome the new student in unison. Therefore, I thought my classmates disapproved of me joining the class. I tried to remain calm and quietly took a seat in the rear corner of the class so that no one would notice me. I had no sooner sat down when one of the students, Jackie, tossed a rubber eraser on my desk. The racism has started already, I thought. However, I quickly would learn how wrong I was. The student waved at me and said, "Hi." The object she tossed had simply been her way to get my attention. Later that day, the teacher and the other students greeted me enthusiastically. My homeroom teacher was eager to help me one-on-one and always reached out her hand which accelerated my process of learning English. Each day afterward, my classmates talked to me and I would reply in my limited English. Moreover, all the teachers and even the principal talked to me as friends. Unfortunately, as I was quickly making new friends in Maryland, my dad was reassigned to new duty station near Sacramento, California. On the last day of school when I walked into class that day I realized the lights were turned off. Moments later, my classmates all shouted in unison, "Surprise!" and sparklers burst aflame and someone carried a special cake for my going away. I was deeply moved. My prejudice toward Americans completely dissolved and washed away at that moment.

Within six months after arriving in America, my dad was relocated to Travis Air Force Base in California, and our family followed him. Although my English had improved since I first arrived, I was intimidated by the thought of having to adapt to a whole different environment. Although California has thousands of Korean dwellers, my neighborhood was only inhabited by Caucasians. Ironically, the fact that I was one of a few Asians in the school allowed me to be greeted genially by my classmates and faculty. After the first day, I made more and more friends; people sat next to me during lunch, helped me with homework and said hello to me in the hallways. The interest and attention I received made me comfortable and boosted my confidence level back to where it was in Korea.

Almost like a clock every three years, my family and I were forced to move from city to city, state to state, and sometimes from country to country: from California to South Carolina, to Japan, to Mississippi. The constant adjustment that had been made was not only arduous and demanding, but also a helpful and ground-breaking experience. Pondering about the places I've visited and people I've met always makes me feel like a chameleon.

Living in an atmosphere with different traditions made me soak up the strange custom and become part of the American society. The ability to adapt to environmental change and to easily socialize was enhanced by my childhood experience; I now realize that the constant moving prepared me for my future for smoother adjustment to anywhere I go. Despite the language and culture barriers which I faced in my earliest years, these very same barriers have ironically allowed me to mature in a way that I can face any other challenges of its kind.
jazzmeen 3 / 15  
Oct 24, 2010   #2
Because of my family's strong cultural background, I became accustomed to the Korean traditional lifestyle. Because my dad is a US soldier, our family had to abruptly leave behind our identity as Asian and move to Maryland.

Hello, I think your essay is ok. However, in this 2 sentences, you repeat the construction of them. maybe you should try with other words.
OP erica1004 1 / 2  
Oct 24, 2010   #3
Thanks for catching that and thanks for replying!
I hope i fixed this...
"I was born in central Seoul and raised there until second grade. It was during this period in which i developed a strong cultural background accustomed to the Korean traditional lifestyle. However(or Yet?), due to my dad's occupation as a US soldier, our family had to abruptly leave behind our identity as Asians and move to Maryland."

I understand that common application's personal essays are supposed to be..very "personal" with many descriptive words with narratives. But I think because of the topici chose, or because my lack of confidence in writing in general, I could not meet these criteria...

If anyone has any suggestions or criticisms in improving my essay, please help~ thank you :)
EF_Kevin 8 / 13,321 129  
Oct 28, 2010   #4
This needs a conjunction:
Because my dad is a US soldier, so our family had to abruptly leave behind our identity as Asian and move to Maryland.

I was born in central Seoul and raised there until second grade. It was during this period in which i I developed a strong cultural background accustomed to sense associated with the Korean traditional lifestyle. However(or Yet?),----(either is good) due to my dad's occupation as a US soldier, our family had to abruptly leave behind our identity as Asians and move to Maryland

:-)

I like this: Pondering about the places I've visited and people I've met always makes me feel like a chameleon.

The whole thing is well written.
OP erica1004 1 / 2  
Nov 4, 2010   #5
thank you for your comment!
i rewrote the essay to make it more personal to focus on answering the question


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