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"In the face of death" - Common App: an experience and how its affected your lfie


jyoon11 3 / 9  
Oct 9, 2010   #1
In face of death, many people are confronted with a dilemma that changes an important aspect of one's life; whether it is their lifestyle, worldview or outlook in life. Fortunately for me, I did not have such an event, but this did occur to Lillian, an orphan at Grace Children's Home. With the death of Lillian, I experienced my very own predicament. The foundations of my worldview were delusive and a change was vital.

Lillian was a cheerful and vivacious little girl who entered Grace Children's Home in Nairobi, Kenya. She was like any other child in Africa, but she belonged to the exclusive group of children afflicted with AIDS. This past year, her immune system grew weaker and her body eventually acceded to the most predominant epidemic in Africa.

During my school vacations I had been able to help out at Grace Children's Home. It was another day of handing out biscuits (Kenyan term for cracker) to the kids. About seventy children mobbed me as if I possessed some ultimate treasure. The sick children (children with AIDS) were always the first to receive the snack. Slowly gaining control of the children I tried to divide the biscuits equally to all another. To my surprise most of the children kept coming back for more and they would say they did not get any. However; I was taken aback when I saw Lillian waiting patiently in the back of the line. While the other children tried to deceptively get more, Lillian waited with contentment and forbearance. After ten minutes of scramble and chaos Lillian finally got her biscuit and went off with a smile and thank you.

This small act of appreciation lingered in the back of my mind. I couldn't understand how Lillian was so full of gratitude. She had nothing to go back to, no parents, no family, and to top it off she was a victim of the notorious disease that kills over a million children every year. Lillian was completely undaunted by her situation and wore the biggest smile a child could possess. She spent her days full of cheerfulness and audacity. Lillian had surmounted her status quo and was seizing every moment of every day.

I have been living in a third world country for the last half of my life. Though aware of the society I was apart of I had not taken into account the lifestyle and conditions the majority of Kenyan people lived in. While the majority of Kenyans survived off five dollars a day, I grumbled about what more I could have. Everything had revolved around me, what I wanted to do, what I wanted. I was living an egocentric life. I had sought contentment and bliss with the materialistic objects I possessed. I was consumed by my desire for more. I had fallen victim to self-absorption.

Lillian's death had turned my world upside down and popped my narcissistic bubble which threw me back into reality. My outlook to the pursuit of happiness was challenged and I was convicted of my current lifestyle. All that I knew to make me happy and content was a misconception. Inadvertently Lillian had awakened me from my stupor of self-importance.

Since the death of Lillian, I have been trying my best to stop living for myself; to put others before me, and to make service to others my priority. Finding the acceptance and contentment from what really matters. To be satisfied with all that I already have and from refusing to covet more then what I need. I have thrown away my old self and put my selfish ways behind me. I want to serve the people of Kenya in any way possible to show the change that Lillian has brought in my life. I am still growing out of my selfish ways. Now in my final year, I will try and spend as much time as possible with the children of Grace Children's Home as I aspire to learn more from these children.

Editor1010 9 / 33  
Oct 9, 2010   #2
When I was reading this I just wanted to read more this is exactlty what they want its SOO good! Im bad at editing I didnt want to mess up anything :p

Wonderful esssay!
EF_Kevin 8 / 13,334 129  
Oct 12, 2010   #3
I tried to divide the biscuits equally to all. another .

She had nothing to go back to, no parents, no family, and to top it off she was a victim of the notorious disease that kills over a million children every year. --- you did a great job with this sentence.

Let's not repeat children at the end:
Now in my final year, I will try and spend as much time as possible with the children of Grace Children's Home as I aspire to learn more from them.

I am impressed, and I bet the AO reader will be impressed, too!
How has this experience affected your career aspirations?
dfdfdf 3 / 5  
Oct 12, 2010   #4
I agree with EF_Kevin. Maybe try to include more changes this event had on you. I believe the question says evaluate so really actually do that! Great essay, sounds like a great experience!!! I would love if you guys would read my essay and give me some critiques as well! thank you!
OP jyoon11 3 / 9  
Nov 19, 2010   #5
"When one man dies, one chapter is not torn out of the book..." COMMON APP ESSAY

"When one man dies, one chapter is not torn out of the book, but translated into a better language..." (John Donne) Through Lillian, I encountered my own rendition, a translation that transformed my perception to life. Her death made me realize that the foundations of my worldview were deceptive and a change was crucial.

Lillian, a cheerful and vivacious little girl entered Grace Children's Home in Nairobi, Kenya. In many ways she was like any other child in Africa, but she belonged to the exclusive transient fraternity of members who wore the badge of HIV-AIDS, a scarlet letter that exiles one from his or her society. This past year she couldn't escape the inevitable; her fragile body eventually succumbed to one of the most predominant pandemics in Africa.

For the past seven years, the orphans' lives have been interwoven with mine. Living in the same compound brought constant interaction and a flood of endless contact making me an "older brother" to these invisible children. My daily ritual of handing out biscuits to a mob of seventy children made me feel as if I possessed the ultimate treasure. I tried to ration out to the sick children first. Slowly gaining control of the ravenous horde, I tried to divide the biscuits equally to all. To my disgust all of the children kept coming back for more. Hunger and desperation had sparked their basic human instinct, survival. Amidst the screeching havoc, I caught an emaciated figure from the corner of my eye waiting patiently in the back of the swarm. While the kids, like famished hyenas at a feeding frenzy, gnawed and shrieked for one last morsel, Lillian waited with contentment and forbearance. After ten minutes of scramble and chaos, I was finally able to reach out to her. I gently offered her the treasure. Slowly, her juvenile cocoa hued hand stretched out and clutched her prize. Lillian gazed upon me with humble eyes that pierced my forsaken soul. A tiny grin wrinkled across her face and a faint whisper "Asante" (Swahili word for thank you).

In our conversations together, she told her dreams of becoming a teacher. She wanted to educate the destitute and give them an opportunity to flourish in life. Knowing the shadows of her disease would not allow her to achieve her altruistic dreams, she still dreamed while I wallowed. Lillian was a child of integrity, one who lived with exuberance and audacity. Her meek disposition exposed my true nature.

Just as Narcissus gazed and fell in love with his own reflection, Lillian became the pool of water that manifested my inner personality. However, unlike the Greek hero I did not find beauty, magnificence or splendor, but a shroud of darkness and abhorrent disgust. I was nauseated by my consuming insatiable materialistic lusts. My lifestyle was detestably revolting. Lillian's death turned my world upside down, a cognizance that exposed my self-absorbed shackles. My conscience became my fatal nemesis; slowly tearing apart my essence. Inadvertently, Lillian had awakened me from my stupor of self-importance.

As Lillian's chapters of life have come to an end, I seek to rewrite my new chapters of life. What will my new pages of life say? Will they describe a man imprisoned by his unquenchable lusts, or one who overpowered the manacles of his voracious pining? Since her death, I have strived to abandon my life of egocentricity, to put others before myself, and make service my priority. I have relinquished my old self and put my selfish ways behind me; however, I am maturing from my childish ways. I want to serve the people of Kenya in any way possible to show the change that Lillian evoked in my life. By majoring in business, in the future I hope to build schools and orphanages throughout Kenya. For now as time's winged chariot hurries near, I am focusing on the fleeting eight months I have remaining to be the exemplary "brother" and family to these lost children.
Faradiah 2 / 6  
Nov 19, 2010   #6
Kwanza, you sound so INSENSITIVE, especially the description on how the kids eat, or is it feed? You also sound like you're trying to showoff your English instead of communicating.

On a brighter note, I think you have a really nice story and I would like to believe you are a better person than your essay portrays you to be. So please, tafadhali, change the tone of your essay because it determines the attitude of the reader towards your essay and towards you.

All the BEST.
egold 1 / 1  
Nov 19, 2010   #7
quite honestly you sound extremely unsympathetic. good writing though, like faridiah said you do have a good story and you are obviously a talented writer, but i HIGHLY recommend you change the attitude and tone. try not to make yourself seem above everyone else, like your superior...GOOD LUCK!
OP jyoon11 3 / 9  
Nov 22, 2010   #8
thanks for the input...
im in a dilemma because in my previous drafts iv been told my tone and attitude were weak
my english teacher (UCLA grad) keeps telling me to make it more dramatic, to create a vivid picture into the readers mind, obviously the kids weren't like hyenas, but trust me there was no organization when it came to handing out biscuits...

what parts exactly show my negative tone and attitude??


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