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Diverse Background, my experiences, and character - My Common App Personal Statement


tylrrvera 2 / 10  
Oct 23, 2011   #1
I would love it if you could read/edit/tear apart my essay. Thanks!

7:41 am. There I sat, gazing off into distance while thoughts raced inside my head. I clutched what ties to reality I still maintained: three #2 pencils, a pink eraser, and my ti-83 calculator. I was surrounded on all sides by other students, whose faces bore the same expressions of anxiety and exhaustion as my own. The proctor proceeded to hand out the booklets, the contents of which I had been preparing myself for during the past few days. I looked down at the packet, seemingly benign yet deceivingly crucial. I began to fill in the lines with my name, birthday, and social security number, until, unexpectedly, I found myself both bewildered and annoyed by a single question: "How do you describe you race/ethnicity?"

Never have I felt as though a bubble should be able to define how I choose to identify myself. I do not regard myself as exclusively Asian, nor am I entirely Hispanic, yet in no way do I consider my ethnicity to be "other". This paradox has emerged from the diverse background I possess, as the blend of cultures and experiences that my life has amounted to have transformed me into the person that I am.

My race and ethnicity have developed in response to the mix of people and places that I have encountered. My mother grew up in the Philippines, immigrating to New York City when she was 6, becoming the first in her family to step foot on American soil. My father, on the other hand, was raised by his Puerto Rican parents in poverty on the east-side of Chicago along with his eight siblings. Coming from greatly divergent places, cultures, and families, my parents have instilled in me a combination of all that they are. This has manifested itself in a variety of experiences: eating fishballs from a street vendor in Manila, attending midnight Christmas masses, and cheering on the White Sox from the bleachers at SafeCo Field. These memories represent a miniscule fragment of the collective experiences I have shared with my friends and family, however they still manage to contribute to who I am. From my hair that stands straight up to my seemingly ethnic yet entirely common last name, the cultures which I derive myself from endow upon me the unique characteristics which have now become a symbol of success within my family.

While my parents' contributions to my identity have been highly influential, the experiences that have comprised my life have undoubtedly shaped me as well. I have conversed with a man from Bangladesh on the metro bus about the differences between Kiwanis Club and Lions Club. I have eaten jajangmyeon and patbingsu with my friends at a local Korean restaurant. I have discussed the benefits of communism with a Hungarian woman as we hiked down a mountain. These memories however are not limited to enjoyable ones, as death, divorce, and financial strife have come to exemplify major events throughout my life. Together, I combine these diverse experiences, arranging them into something intangible yet invaluable.

I long for the day in which I will feel that a bubble will be able to express these realities of the world I come from. Over time, as I continue to blend new people and places into this puzzle I call my culture, it will only become more difficult to accurately pinpoint who exactly I am. Until then, call me Asian, Hispanic, or even "other", because I know that no bubble or phrase can ever encompass the breadth and significance of my background, my experiences, and my character.
capriciousprite 6 / 20  
Oct 23, 2011   #2
Great execution on how your two identities comprise a greater whole of you, but in the beginning, the transition from taking the SAT to your ethnicity is waaay too long, very unecessary. It's a good idea, but just say, whenever I find myself bubbling in races for standardized tests
OP tylrrvera 2 / 10  
Oct 26, 2011   #3
bumpity bump bump, any one else want to please edit?
OP tylrrvera 2 / 10  
Oct 28, 2011   #4
new draft with revisions.

7:41 am. There I sat, gazing off into distance while thoughts raced inside my head. I clutched what ties to reality I still maintained: three #2 pencils, a pink eraser, and my TI-83 calculator. Students surrounded me on all sides, their faces bearing the same expressions of anxiety and exhaustion as my own. The proctor proceeded to hand out the booklets, and I began to fill in the empty lines with my name, birthday, and social security number, until I found myself unexpectedly bewildered and annoyed by a single question: "How do you describe your race/ethnicity?"

Never have I felt that a one-word phrase can truly articulate how I choose to identify my race and ethnicity. I do not regard myself as exclusively Asian, nor am I entirely Latino, yet in no way do I consider myself to be "other." This paradox has emerged from my diverse background; the blend of cultures and experiences that my life has amounted to have transformed me into the unique, compassionate, and genuine person that I am.

My identity has developed in response to the mix of people and places that I derive myself from. Having grown up in the Philippines, my mom immigrated to New York when she was 6, becoming the first in her family to set foot on American soil. My dad, on the other hand, was raised by his Puerto Rican parents in poverty on the east-side of Chicago along with his eight siblings. The results of greatly divergent places, cultures, and families, my parents came together and instilled in me a combination of all that they know and are. This has manifested itself in a variety of experiences: eating squidballs from a street vendor in Manila, attending midnight Christmas masses, and cheering on the White Sox from the bleachers at SafeCo Field. While traditions such as consuming noodles for good luck on birthdays and singing karaoke until the twilight hours may seem unorthodox to others, they remain conventions of my everyday life. These idiosyncrasies represent but a fragment of the collective experiences I have relished, however they still manage to contribute to who I am. From my hair that stands straight up to my seemingly ethnic yet all too common last name, my heritage and background have given me the unique characteristics which will someday become a symbol of success within my family.

While my parents' contributions to my identity have been predominant, I have enjoyed a distinct array of other experiences that have shaped me as well. I have conversed with a man from Bangladesh on the bus about the differences between Kiwanis Club and Lions Club. I have eaten jajangmyeon and bulgolgi with my friends at a local Korean restaurant. I have discussed the benefits of communism with a homeless man at a local shelter. The diverse community I am from has allowed me to experience various people, cultures, and beliefs, from which I draw not only experience but inspiration. I combine these multifaceted experiences and arrange them into something intangible yet invaluable, continually reminding me of where I come from and motivating me to achieve all that I can.

I anticipate the day in which a phrase will hold the power to capture these realities of the world I come from. As time passes, I will continue to learn, grow, and blend new people and places into this puzzle I call my identity, making it even more difficult to accurately pinpoint exactly who I am. So as I sit here attempting to "describe my race/ethnicity," I am happy to know that no matter which answer I bubble in, it will never be able to fully express the breadth and significance of my background, my experiences, and my character.


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