Here is my Cross Cultural Essay for the Peace Corps. As the comments by the reviewing committee show (in italics below), my previous one didn't answer the question (in bold) thoroughly enough. My other essay was very general and was about my move to the USA and how I had to adapt (in both school and life in general). Since I received this feed-back, I decided to write about another event entirely. I was wondering if I seem vague or if I'm specific enough in your opinion to answer the question. To meet the 500 word max and answer the question proved difficult. This one is 507 words and I still feel like I could write more. That being said, thanks in advance for looking at it.
I would like you to re-write the Cross Cultural Essay. While your essay was interesting it did not get to the heart of the prompt. Please be sure to give specific examples of the various ways you respectfully adapted and flourished in a new and unfamiliar situation. The goal of this essay is to help us understand your past experiences and how you adapted to a situation. Please keep in mind that this doesn't have to be an international situation. It can include a move to a new community, living with a roommate, etc.
Your success as a Peace Corps Volunteer is based on the trust and confidence you build by living in, and respectfully integrating yourself into, your host community and culture (Core Expectation 4). Describe an experience you had in living in a social or cultural environment different from your own. What specific challenges did you face concerning trust, confidence, and/or integration? What did you learn from this experience that you will bring with you to your Peace Corps service?
Filled with excitement, I prepared to work at a secluded summer camp for my first solo excursion into the "real world", a world completely different from what I was used to. While I prepared to leave, I had to realized that there would be no comforts or commodities of the life I lived in the city... Just me and this brand new world. For the first time in many that year, I worried that I might have been over my head. In a camp that usually caters to a mostly upper class and Caucasian population, I was a definite minority being a Hispanic man from a lower class new to the USA.
I walked up to the designated 10x10 elevated platform I was to call home, I could feel the rest of the staff eye me apprehensively. It was clear they where beginning to form their opinions of me without me even putting my things down. As I began to introduce myself, their mumbled responses were a sharp contrast to the boisterous discussions I overheard them having before arriving. It turned out that many of the people I worked with had active stereotypes... of which that I had to dissolve to be able to properly work and live within the community.
The first couple of days went this way, them keeping their distance and me getting acquainted to life in camp. I knew that if I started by highlighting our differences it would only increase our distance... so every now and then, whenever I would see something particularly interesting (like someone playing an instrument or building a fire) I would ask about it. It was challenging being so forthcoming at times at that point in my life but I knew I'd have to be if I was ever going to earn their trust. They would very often appreciate my genuine interest. One time, a fellow staff member was playing an obscure song on his guitar and, without realizing, I began to sing the vocals. And though I butchered the song, he was very excited that I knew of it. He would later go on to begin to teach me how to play the guitar in exchange for language lessons. Another example is when a staff member was having a difficult time carrying a couple of boxes and I stepped in and helped during my break. Little things like this accumulated and before I knew it I was accepted into the community that was originally so distant towards me.
That summer taught me a great deal about living within a different group of people. The first is just that, we are all different. But, there is definite overlap. Learning to appreciate the differences in people and communities while enjoying the similarities is something that I continue to apply to this day and, if accepted, would continue to do so in the Peace Corps. Because now, when I venture into a new "world", I do so with excitement and an open mind and not with fear or concern.