Unanswered [6] | Urgent [0]
  

Home / Undergraduate   % width Posts: 26

'girl from a foreign country had impact' - harvard common app


quack09 2 / 23  
Dec 10, 2008   #1
Please critque and edit this essay.
Does it grab your attention at first? Does it make you wanna read it? How can i improve the ending if it's weak? Any other ideas plez let me know, all criticism is welcomed :)

Thank You very much!!

Evaluate a significant experience, achievement, risk you have taken, or ethical dilemma you have faced and its impact on you.

"Ni jiao shen me ming zi?" asked the interviewer in Mandarin. Puzzled at first, I quickly answered back in Chinese, my native language: "Wo shi Alvin"(My name is Alvin). Eager to relieve my anxiety, I began playing with my hands and glancing at the certificates covering the walls. I was being interviewed for a counseling position in the International Exchange Foundation, a program that invites students from around the world to come and study in America. My interviewer explained to me that some of the students, all who are arriving from China, may present discipline problems. Although I qualified to serve as a counselor, my initial excitement soon turned into a feeling of apprehension.

On orientation day for student counselors, what my interviewer had told me about the students still haunted me. Nevertheless, I focused on my duties. I was to accompany the students to historical landmarks, to translate the English that confused them, and to prevent inappropriate behavior.

During the night of their arrival, I began to witness the students' disrespectful behavior. As they stepped off their coach buses, some expected the counselors to carry their bags to their dormitories. Believing the students were tired, I obliged and helped them. However, they began to complain about the modest living conditions as well. Apparently, the students were not satisfied with an air-conditioned room with clean bathrooms and organized beds. Even when I presented the freshly cooked foods to the students in the middle of the night, I received complaints and refusals. One student even threw a hard-boiled egg at me! Despite the cantankerous students' remarks, I believed a good night sleep could cure their grumpy attitude. I was too hopeful.

Waking up at six in the morning was not a pleasant way to start the day. Everyone seemed cranky, yet I continued to assist the students in anyway possible. After eating breakfast in the campus's cafeteria, I was asked to organize the students into five equal rows based on the given roster. Occasionally, they were cooperative and manageable with the presence of adult counselors, but rarely would they listen to me alone. As I arranged the students into single lines, each began to run around and disobey my instructions. Surprised by their energetic moods in the early morning, I was too tired to track after them. This hectic atmosphere began to trouble me. Never did I expect such rudeness from these students. The realization of my interviewer's ominous words now came true.

Aware of my vulnerable position, I could not let the students take control of me. I was the counselor, not them. By nightfall, I announced bedtime, yet I was met with more complaints and refusals. By locking me out of their rooms, they told me to scram. Disappointed, I slowly walked back to my dormitory. Never did I envision helping people would result in such distress. Somehow, I needed to gain their respect, but how? In China, it is common for adolescents to address their elders with terms of respect. Yet ironically, I was not getting any deference from these students. As I pondered the merits of participating in this program, a girl approached me with an ambiguous smile. She quietly asked, "What's your name?" Puzzled that it was not another student yelling in my face, I was caught off guard by her frankness. I answered back just like I had with my interviewer. However, each answer led to another question and another. Intrigued by her curiosity, I patiently answered her questions: "What do you do for fun?" and "Do you like living in America?" In return, she told me experiences of her life in China and her dreams of studying in the United States. At that moment, I realized why the students had alienated themselves from me: a lack of communication.

Growing up in different environments meant different approaches. These Chinese students had lived in China their whole lives. Respecting a stranger from another country had never crossed their minds. By communicating with this new student, my conversations began to slowly permeate through other students. Casual conversations that included the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games, recreational shopping centers, and even my stories of an Asian-American teenager had attracted their attention. In exchange, I learned more about each student's likes, dislikes, fears, and inspirations. They even taught me how to pronounce my Mandarin words more fluently. I realized a strong bond began to form.

After a week of talking to the students, they subtly began to respect me. With this in mind, my negative perception of the students changed as well. I had gained the attention and courtesy of students who originally had no regard for anyone but who now learned to listen to me. Not only did they obey my instructions and behave properly, but also we learned to have fun together. During karaoke nights, the students and I would sing "Wo Ai Beijing"(I love Beijing) as a tribute to the 2008 Olympics. Finding myself enjoying this experience and this program, I had completely forgotten they would soon return to China.

Watching the students board their busses for their journey back home, I subconsciously realized that this was possibly the last time I would ever see them. As I cheerlessly waved good-bye to them, I heard these five precious words: "See you later Big Brother."

---

Honestly, who would think a twelve year old girl from a foreign country could have had such an impact?

EF_Sean 6 / 3,491  
Dec 10, 2008   #2
Generally well-written; you have a good writing style. If you want to improve the essay a bit, I would suggest giving stronger examples of disrespect from the students at the beginning. Complaining about their dormitories just doesn't seem that bad, especially since, for all the reader knows, the dormitories may have been in very bad shape. Likewise, the students may have been demanding food because they hadn't eaten in eighteen hours. Out of context, these behaviors just aren't that shocking, much less examples of "the most disrespectful behavior" an American teen might have ever seen. I'd replace these examples with ones more like the one where you get locked out of the room.
OP quack09 2 / 23  
Dec 10, 2008   #3
ok anything else on grammar? was it interesting to read? did it grab your attention? conclusion?
EF_Sean 6 / 3,491  
Dec 10, 2008   #4
Your grammar is generally good. There are some cases where you could tighten up the writing a bit, though. For instance "Caught off guard by her frankness, I was surprised." "Caught off guard" means "surprised" so your sentence actually reads as "Surprised by her frankness, I was surprised." Also, "boy teenager" sounds a bit awkward. I'd go with your age followed by the word "boy."

Yes, it was very interesting to read.

Yes, in the manner of things that are very interesting to read :)

I like the conclusion. You end on a rhetorical question that emerges naturally from the narrative you have just presented. Good job.
OP quack09 2 / 23  
Dec 10, 2008   #5
hmmm ok thank you very much, if you were to give a score out of 10, wut would u give it, 10 being the best.

and anyone else have any comments? especially the mods? :)
raisin 2 / 7  
Dec 11, 2008   #6
I really liked your essay! It was an interesting read.
However, just some slight bones to pick...

"Ni jiao shen me ming zi?" demanded the interviewer in mandarin.

Perhaps another word would be better than 'demanded'?

Also, 'Fumbling my hands and looking around her embellished office, I tired to ease my anxiety.'

The term 'Embellished' might be a little inappropriate and it does not have much purpose in your essay. Perhaps replace it with another word or remove it?

Hope my comments were useful (:
EF_Kevin 8 / 13,335 129  
Dec 11, 2008   #7
Hi, you write brilliantly! It is a great story, and I am jealous of your learning experiences. Out of 10, I would give it a 10, but I don't know if the admissions people think the same way I do.
OP quack09 2 / 23  
Dec 11, 2008   #8
lol honestly you guys all think its great but i just dont believe it. There HAS to be something wrong right??

if i could, id also like EF_Team5 to read this and give me their opinion on it. thnxxx
EF_Kevin 8 / 13,335 129  
Dec 11, 2008   #9
Nope, you did something that is even better than writing a strong essay: you wrote an interesting one. It is rare for the admissions people to get something that is actually interesting... like, something thy would read in their spare time.

Good writers capture a reader by giving them something for which they want a resolution, and then letting tension build, and finally resolving it. If you try to improve it more, work with the way you cause tension in the reader's experience... that is a tough art, for sure, but you write very well.

To improve it, I would add one grabber sentence just before the Mandarin dialogue. Nothing fails to capture a reader's attention like something s/he does not understand. However, it is interesting to see words in a different language!! So, add one sentence before that first sentence.

The intro sentence could be very short, a sentence that establishes SETTING in just a few words:

I stepped into the office and tried to appear more confident than I felt. "Ni jiao shen me ming zi?" demanded the interviewer in mandarin. Puzzled at first, I quickly spoke back in my native language. "My name is Alvin," I answered. Fumbling my hands and looking around her embellished office, I tired to ease my anxiety. I was being interviewed for a counseling position in the International Exchange Foundation, a program that invites students from around

Does that make sense? Anyway, it is alread obviously a great essay...
OP quack09 2 / 23  
Dec 11, 2008   #10
thank you very much!

i just need a few more opinions from diff. ppl

o btw, if you were a college admissions officer readin this paper, what does this essay say about me?
OP quack09 2 / 23  
Dec 11, 2008   #12
yo come on there has to be a negative view on this lol

if you were a college admissions officer readin this paper, what do you think this essay says about me?<-----mostly concerned about this as well lol
shahindian2009 8 / 12  
Dec 12, 2008   #13
I feel like your essay doesn't use the proper words in many of the sentances. Have a school teacher who knows you well look over this.
EF_Kevin 8 / 13,335 129  
Dec 12, 2008   #14
Adults with some experience behind them recognize meaningful life experience when they read about it. Certain experiences change a person, add to them a new dimension. That is what struck me about this essay, but naturally my opinion does not reflect everyone's opinion. If I worked in the admissions office, this essay would make a strong impression on me...
OP quack09 2 / 23  
Dec 12, 2008   #15
ty shahindian2009, im currently fixin diction anything else that stikes u odd?

ty kevin
Rich Monte 2 / 93 2  
Dec 12, 2008   #16
It's good, not sure about the word count though. Check your requirements. I like how you gather the reader's attention with a quote/question in the first paragraph.
OP quack09 2 / 23  
Dec 12, 2008   #17
ok well thnx everyone, i just want to let everyone know that i have already submitted this essay about 2 months ago lolll, i just wanted some late opinions. So i cant change the diction. I hope that isnt too much of a drawback. I should be hearing from my school soon. thnx for ur time n opinions.
dodohuipy 2 / 15  
Dec 13, 2008   #18
Be sure to tell us whether you successfully got into harvard! fingers crossed*
OP quack09 2 / 23  
Dec 20, 2008   #19
hmm title name ideas anyone? lol

how about "Coco" lol idk sounds too simple
OP quack09 2 / 23  
Dec 20, 2008   #20
dude thats the best advice everrrrrrrrr

i got one more for cornell, however...i dont wanan post it online since i feel like ppl would take my ideas :/
OP quack09 2 / 23  
Dec 21, 2008   #21
i fixed it, u wanna see it?
EF_Kevin 8 / 13,335 129  
Dec 21, 2008   #22
You guys are great, excellent collaboration going on here. Thanks for contributing so much!
OP quack09 2 / 23  
Dec 21, 2008   #23
kevin, wut do u think of this? agree wit "chink"?
Chink - / 13  
Dec 21, 2008   #24
Ah, this is much better! Your content and the entire flow of the essay is now much more even and engaging. Good job.

There are still quite a few stylistic issues, though. My first and foremost advice is to read this essay to yourself about five to ten times right now and make any changes to your phrasing and sentence structure that you feel would improve the style. Then put it away for a day or two. Take it out again and read it several more times, continuing to make changes. After you feel you've done as much as you can regarding STYLE, show this essay to as many people as you can, particularly those who especially have a knack for writing and literature. I'll help you get started on improving the style by giving you some suggestions on how you can fix a few of your sentences and phrases..reading your version and the suggested corrections side by side, I think you'll gain a better awareness of style and structure.

First, I suggest deleting the entire first paragraph. If you read your whole essay over again, you will find it seems a bit unnecessary. The essay is a bit long as it is anyway. Just start the essay by saying: "The interviewer at the International Exchange Foundation, a program that invites students from around the world to study in America, warned me about the exchange students' tendencies to misbehave. I was initially excited to become their new counselor, but after hearing this warning, I became apprehensive." or something like that. Most of the content of the first paragraph seemed a bit irrelevant to the rest of the story.

"By locking me out of their rooms, they told me to scram." - Here, you've tacked an introductory clause onto an irrelevant statement. When you start with, "By locking me out of their rooms" you establish a cause, however the effect in the next statement: "they told me to scram," doesn't really relate. You've suggested that locking you out of their rooms was necessary for them to tell you to scram, which sounds a bit odd when you read it. I suggest: "They locked me out of their rooms and told me to scram." This is far simpler and clearer and eliminates the awkward "by" at the beginning of the sentence. Watch out for these kinds of mistakes because I think I caught a couple more similar to this in your essay.

"The realization of my interviewer's ominous words now came true." - Again, you have some disjointed word choice here. Here, you're actually saying your realization came true, not the interviewer's words, which again sounds a bit awkward and unclear. You should write: "I realized the interviewer's ominous warning came true."

"Despite the cantankerous students' remarks, I believed a good night sleep could cure their grumpy attitude." - 'Cantankerous' is a bit improper here. It's one of those words that stick out among the others because it's so rare and obscure. You maintain a fairly simplistic diction throughout the essay (which is good), so keep this sentence simple. I would just delete 'cantankerous' altogether because you mention that their 'grumpy attitude' in the same sentence. You don't need to describe the same disposition twice.

"Casual conversations that included the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games, recreational shopping centers, and even my stories of an Asian-American teenager had attracted their attention." - I would honestly just say 'Olympic Games.' The 'Beijing 2008' just adds two more adjectives to an already wordy sentence. Plus you mention the Beijing 2008 thing a few sentences later in the essay. And instead of saying 'casual conversations that included,' try phrasing it in a way more how you speak. No one actually says that they've had 'casual conversation that included X, Y and Z.' Just say 'We discussed...' Again, it'll make the sentence far less wordy.

"Watching the students board their busses for their journey back home, I subconsciously realized that this was possibly the last time I would ever see them. As I cheerlessly waved good-bye to them, I heard these five precious words: "See you later Big Brother."" - I suggest: 'Watching the students board their buses for their journey back home, I realized this was probably the last time I would ever see them. As I cheerlessly waved good-bye, one of the students approached me. "See you later, Big Brother," she said, and they departed.

If you just read your essay over again repeatedly, you will catch a lot of these style issues. My comments are only suggestions, and don't cover everything, remember. Just keep your eye out and REVISE. Good luck, again. :)
OP quack09 2 / 23  
Dec 21, 2008   #25
ok thnx man, any other ideas?"

"chink" wut college do u attend or did u attend?

u seem to be very knowledgable in college admission essays
OP quack09 2 / 23  
Dec 26, 2008   #26
chink i need ur help again lol

after the climax " see you later big brother"

should i add another para that gets the reader thinkin or something?

i have an idea but idk wut to do...

"following week i walked bak in to my interviewer's office. i glanced at the certifcates again. i realized what it meant to earn....etc"

somethinglike that? idk any ideas or should i just end it at "see u later big bro"


Home / Undergraduate / 'girl from a foreign country had impact' - harvard common app