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"Experience to teach the children from slums" -Macalester diversity -- cultures essay

frankeinsteinz 1 / 9  
Jan 9, 2011   #1
Describe a situation where you had to work or closely associate with someone from a culture very different from your own. What challenges did you face and how did you resolve them?

From the first sight, I realized that I was in the strangest place on earth. Twelve meters square, roughly two and a half meters high, the place was trapped by ashen yellow walls and lit by a single gloomy bulb. The floor was oddly plain a chill grey color, and there hovered in the air the smell of humidity. By no means was it a classroom. As I surveyed the place however, I also acknowledged that I was facing the strangest students. Ten kids. Different ages. Dirty faces. Shabby dress. Ragged T-shirts. Smeared shorts. Some sandals. Some bare feet. They were the children from the slums in Hanoi. A place so different from my world.

Suddenly a girl with pigtails came to me and asked: "Are we really going to study?" The question brought me down to earth. And for a while, I looked around the classroom anew. At the same time, however, I understood this was the reason I was here-to create a summer class program. With confidence ringing my voice, I answered: "Yes, we are here to teach you math, English and-" Just a second before I could finish my sentence, the girl with pigtails stole a math book from my hands. To my amazement, she placed the book on the table and began touching and smelling it as if there was some mysterious fragrance hidden inside those pages. With enthusiasm, the girl shared the treasure with her friends while yelling: "It's a new book!"

For three months, my friends and I appreciated the opportunity to teach the children math, English and literature. It was also the first time I entered and interacted closely in a poor neighborhood on the edge of Hanoi. That said, in spite of our geographical similarity, the culture with which my students grew up was so unfamiliar-the way of life when parents lived by below minimum-wage jobs; the living area was threatened by diseases and criminals, and children came to school in the morning and worked as drudges for a few pennies till midnight. (In the summer, they worked for almost an entire day.) Keeping in mind the hardships of my students, first I designed a feasible schedule of a three-hour-long class divided into two sections on each Saturday. In this way, we could teach two different subjects at the same time. We also improved the conditions of our classroom with new paint and light bulbs, so that it would be a better place to study. Often, I could see in my students' eyes the eagerness to study and the happiness every time we celebrated their birthdays. However, rather than our work, it was the effort of my students that took root in my memory. Despite the hardship of earning pennies to support their families, they never forgot to do the homework.

The experience to teach the children from slums helped me realize that my students and I, though coming from different backgrounds, were brought together by the desire to study. Thus for the last three consecutive summers, I have expanded my program: tutoring and donating money, pens, books and text books to children from the slums in Hanoi so that they can have a better education.

So that was my essay and I wonder if the essay answered the prompt or not --- if the children in my essay really have a different "culture". Thank you all.
canes4life 3 / 47  
Jan 9, 2011   #2
Yeah I think children can definitely be classified as a different culture. My cousin goes to Macalester. Um I think you should change the ending. You end kind of abruptly.
OP frankeinsteinz 1 / 9  
Jan 9, 2011   #3
Thank you L.R, I will get to your essays in a moment.
If any mod can answer my question, I will be extremely happy and appreciate it.
jeremyrlim 1 / 3  
Jan 10, 2011   #4
I am a current undergraduate international student at Macalester, and i definitely think the children in your story count as a "different culture", not because they are children but because they come from Hanoi. I would highlight the cultural differences in your essay (did they value certain things differently? did they have a mindset that was radically different from your own? Compare their life to yours - that would be a good way to explain why you thought things were "strange" or "Weird", and you can do this after the phrase "a place so different from my world"). I would also state the "challenge" more explicitly - i don't see one in your essay, just that the children "opened your eyes" in some way or another. Finally, was there a particular child you worked closely with? To zoom in on him or her actions or quotes will go a long way - the question does ask for "someone".

Remember, the internationalism is the aspect they are looking for, and your understanding and exposure of other cultures especially when juxtaposed with your own culture. You might answer the question, but remember to highlight what they are looking for.

I myself wrote about my Malay partner while i was in the army. Many students here write about coping with parents that come from 2 different countries. Some have gone to international conventions and have had work with teams consisting of students from other countries.

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