A range of academic interests, personal perspectives, and life experiences adds much to the educational mix. Given your personal background, describe an experience that illustrates what you would bring to the diversity in a college community, or an encounter that demonstrated the importance of diversity to you.
Ding! Ding! Ding! That is how the bell was at my old school, the traditional sound which we would listen for in anticipation, especially after Mr. Parks' biology class. Wait! Do you hear that? It is the sound of school bells. To modernize it, I suppose, it is "BEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEP." Instead of the traditional Ding! Ding! Ding! This was my first experience at the new school. Even the sound of the bell was different here.
I did not like the idea of switching schools during my high school years, but my parents were thrilled about all three siblings getting accepted into what News Week rates as, the 9th best school in the nation. I knew I was definitely going to miss my old school, my friends, and most importantly marching band. Marching band to me was a dream that soon became reality as I entered high school. It was devastating to even think how my life was going to be so different from here on.
Lost in my thoughts and hoping for the day to end quickly, I wandered around the hallways of the school during passing periods and searched for recognizable faces. Though my efforts were fruitless, I was still desperate. Finally I came across a group of students in the cafeteria whom I had my first lunch with. I could hear my heart pounding in my chest as I walked over to where they were sitting. I was actually not invited to sit there, but that was the only spot available. To say that I was nervous would be an understatement; I was literally petrified; My guts were all tied up in tangles. One thousand thoughts went through my mind in a second such as, "Be yourself Zain, relax and smile a lot, it is as much your school as it is theirs, and your family is also paying the taxes to support the school", etc, etc. To my surprise, none of those tips were needed. Everyone was extremely nice and welcoming. There was Tyler, who had brown hair, freckles, large eyes, and basically looked generically white, Aline a first generation Brazilian, Keith a first generation Philippine, Michelle a Mexican immigrant and of course myself a first generation American born Indian.
Before my arrival, there was already a discussion in progress which continued after our brief introduction. It was rather an argument on how the world would be if everyone looked exactly the same. Keith's argument was that if such was the case, there would be no racial discrimination, no war, not even murder and certainly no starvation. "If it was all me, I would just get along fine with all of me" said Keith. On the other hand, Aline thought differently. She believed that eventually, due to different locations, and environmental circumstances, some of her would turn more tanned than others, some would have different fears and beliefs than others and basically, within a generation or two, the world would just be almost as diverse as it is today, along with all the problems such as war, starvation and poverty. I also wanted to add my two cents on the issue, but it was a bit late. The sound of "BEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEP" Made me realize I was only half- a-day old in this school.
That day coming back from school, I was thinking about our conversation at lunch. A thought came to my mind that, maybe this is exactly what has happened. We must all have started out the same, and over time changed due to our different environments, our beliefs, our fears etc. We the human race are genetically identical. More or less, we are all born with the same "hardware". Here I am referring to arms, legs, face, our brains, etc, and yes I know there are exceptions, but most people are born with the same basic structure. What makes us so different is our mental energy that filters outward, creating differences in appearances. Once you cross the threshold of understanding this concept, you cannot return to ignorance. As my history teacher always says, "Once the horizons have been broadened, they cannot be narrowed again". This is where diversity and I first intersected.
I used to assume that diversity just meant having a politically-correct sampling of various ethnicities, religions, sexualities, and socioeconomic groups. However, I now understand that true diversity is found through the invaluable sharing of various human experiences. This shift in my perception occurred at my new school, which made me appreciate diversity which is what makes this world so beautiful and full of life. I decided to give my new school a fair chance. Despite my rocky start here at North Hills Preparatory, I knew life was going to take a turn for the better, only if I kept pouring positive mental energy and create positive appearances.
Since then, my school and the IB experience here have allowed me to become an active, compassionate and lifelong learner. With its diverse blend of students, the school creates an energetic environment for learning that far exceeds its academic reach. I have learned that despite of all the differences, other people can also be right.
I, myself, have a unique diverse past. My father moved to the United States in 1979 and mom in 1985. They got married in 1990 and two years later, I was born, the first one of my family to be born on American soil. As I was growing up, the culture that my parents were brought up with in India was always a part of our life at home; this included all the religious ceremonies, cultural rituals, wonderful food, ethnic music, traditional dancing, and of course the Hindi language. Since I grew up surrounded by two different cultures, diversity was ever present, but I never realized it. I never thought that eating rice with a spoon instead of a fork was diversity. My eating habits are also very Indian. Because of the way I was brought up, I do not use a fork to slice a piece of my breakfast egg or my French toast. We do however, eat coconut curry with spaghetti. I can understand the disgust about it. My parents felt the same way when they tried theirs with tomato sauce and meatballs. I don't know why we eat it with coconut curry instead of spaghetti sauce, but I know one thing that I enjoy the best of both worlds.
Two thousand years ago, Rabbi Hillel asked, "If I am not for myself, who will be for me? If I am only for myself, who am I? If not now, when?" I always understood the first question all too well. But no one ever explained me the answer to the second one which is a reminder that one cannot completely forget about others because our identities are formed through our interactions. As I attended the Red Cross Leadership Summit last summer, I initiated the first Red Cross Youth Club in our school and scheduled the first blood drive for seniors, I can now proudly say, "If not now, when. People, irrespective of caste, creed, and community, are donating blood for the useful purpose. Blood donation is an anonymous act, and since donors are unable to see the end result of their generosity, the blood donated by a Hindu volunteer could be given to a patient of Muslim religion which in my opinion only aims at unity in diversity.
Two and a half years later, the term "diversity" has a new meaning in my life. Now I completely understand why my mom cooks four different dishes and calls all of them "Dal". It is because they all are made of lentils, but how she cooks them is different.
I want to end my essay by saying that in recognition of the need to continue different institutions' efforts to promote diversity and multiculturalism, I can become a unique and diverse patch in the perfect and beautiful mosaic I call college. Especially now when I understand that the ding, ding, ding and the Beeeeeeeeeeeep are both the sound of the long anticipated school bell, each with their own unique tone and rhythm. They both signify to the students that it is definitely time to get out of Mr. Parks' class.