This is the prompt: To help the reviewers get to know you, describe an experience you have had, a person who has influenced you, or an obstacle you have overcome. Explain why this is meaningful to you. Use your own words and limit your response to the space provided.
I chose to write of a person who has most influenced me, my grandfather. However, I mostly discuss a book he gave me, which I feel nicely represents my main points, but I worry may make it seem as though my essay isn't following the prompt, but rather discussing a cherished item or something. And most of it seems implied rather than clearly stated. And the last half of the rant about camels seems odd to me. It also needs to be edited, especially for concision (it's amazing that it's as short as it is now. xD I'm usually really verbose and stylistic.) If someone would be able to be /brutally/ honest so that I can turn in my application tomorrow, I would be very grateful. I really need to make Finalist. :P So thank you for your time and help. (:
My fingers curl comfortably around the smooth edges, though I remember a time when I could barely wrap my hands around them. The cover is thick, woven; a pale, pasty yellow. Coffee stains and a torn binding do not detract from the beauty of it. Gold lettering proclaims "Mammals" although the painted cover also shows birds, alligators, and swordfish. But the fascinating illustrations of pouncing lions and swooping bald eagles cannot compare to the unique, scrawling words written within.
There are names I don't recognize, places I don't know, and dates from before I was born. 1319 Busby Avenue edges across the page in distinctive cursive, fading away as the pen ink is absorbed by the page it's been resting atop for so many decades. An 'x' has been slashed nearby in pencil with my name scratched below in harsh, disjointed lines. Beside that is another address I don't remember, but I can still see the house that stood there and the hula hoops and pinky promises that were both broken there.
But the most important note has been safely written on the back, protected by the thickness of the woven cover. Pages have fallen from The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Animal Life, but this never will. Nor will it fall from me. Grey ink courses soft, curling paths across the page reminding me of the very soft, grey writer that once thought of them. It reads, "To my oldest grandchild, Alexis. I love to see your caring compassion for God's creatures. May you share this love with all, Papah."
There is even a page with a photograph of a mother camel and her young cow. Beneath it is a description of camels, including the statement, "In spite of their reputation for bad temper, obstinacy, and true grudge carrying, when treated with kindness and understanding, camels are gentle and cooperative." This sentence brought me new understanding and gave me a method to better deal with people, to provide them with chances. My sensitive nature, caused by constant moving, was always unable to deal with anger or sorrow, preventing me from understanding or comforting others, too afraid of how they might react. I was given a basic understanding of, a connection to, others just by recognizing that a little love and attention could, as with camels, reveal inner thoughts and feelings and thereby build better, open relationships. This was important when I heard a child scream dramatically in Wal-Mart or saw an old man forgotten at a bus stop, yes, but it also helped me grow closer to my own father. For that reason alone, the encyclopedia is my most cherished possession.
But more than even that, the book is a symbol of everything my Papah is and therefore has instilled in me. I've learned to love unconditionally. I do not discriminate or judge based on past acts, skin color, nationality, education, beliefs, or even species. I try to love as my grandfather loved and as his father loved before him. It's a trait not common in my family, and so I cherish and express it whenever possible. I find it to be my greatest strength, and my most charming character. My Papah, more so than my own parents or any historical figure, was most able to mold me into who I am today, simply by shaping me from his own humble, compliant compassion and intelligent open mind.