Long Essay (5,000 character limit, including punctuation and spacing)
Recall an occasion when you took a risk that you now know was the right thing to do.
There comes a time in everyone's life when we are faced with a choice, one that involves risks and consequences. I found myself at just such a crossroad a year ago and the effects of my decision still reverberate in my young life. When a rare opportunity presented itself, I knew I had to take it.To quote William Shakespeare, "There is a tide in the affairs of men. Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune."
Mid-year during 11th grade, I was invited to attend the Global Young Leaders' Conference (GYLC). My excitement knew no bounds as by accepting the invitation, I would become part of a special delegation of students from across the globe and travel to Washington DC and New York. This was a unique opportunity, as all participants are recognised as Global Young Scholars and receive the GYLC's Youth Leadership Award, distinguishing them as high achievers.
At the time, all this seemed too good to be true, but there was a catch.The conference was scheduled from 10th to 28th of June 2011, which would mean missing a whole month of school in my senior year-an academically critical year. By this time I had already started preparing for my SATs in addition to meeting the requirements of my school's academically demanding coursework.In order to participate in GYLC I would have to complete paperwork that was stacked way up to the sky and also have to factor in the probability that my school work and grades would take a dip due to my absence.
In those critical days I mulled over my options and also worried about what would happen if I didn't score well on my SATs. I would essentially be putting my future on the line for a month's international exposure. After much deliberation, I decided that the risk had to be taken. Deep down, my conscience told me that things would get tough, and true to my conscience, things did indeed get tough.
With back-to-back filling of application forms, nomination letters, and visa interviews, I soon realized that I had signed myself up for a hectic senior year. When added to my schoolwork, preparation for SATs, soccer practice for upcoming tournaments, and all the extra Olympiads and competitions that my school had signed me up for, the GYLC had turned my life into a chaotic juggling act! As predicted, from the middle of my 11th grade, to the middle of my 12th, my grades took a nosedive, and I found no free time to stop and take a breath. I was seriously beginning to regret my decision, until June, when I actually attended the conference, and experienced a turning point in my life.
Attending the GYLC opened my eyes to a whole new world of possibilities. Being a student representative, I had the opportunity to visit the international embassies of France and Ecuador, evaluate nations' interdependency in trade, and learn about the art of conflict resolution. The highpoint of the conference was interaction with a United Nations speaker and participation in a Global Summit simulation, wherein I had the opportunity to help draft policy proposals, debate issues of international importance and pass resolutions. All this gave me a global perspective on pertinent issues such as Peace and Security regulations, Human Rights Commissions, and Global Economic and Financial Stimuli.
I interacted with some of the top students from across the globe, each a unique and talented individual in their own right. For once I felt like I was part of the world, and not living in my own shell in my hometown. I embraced the experience immediately, and it has had a life changing impact on me. I developed a strong understanding of the cultures of people. I learnt about their complex and diverse social structure, quaint and fascinating traditions and even added a few interesting new words to my vocabulary- sufficient to ask a waiter for some sushi, in Japanese! Despite my initial inhibitions, I realised that certain generally preconceived stereotypes are not true and that cultural-barriers are only there to be broken. I made friends and acquaintances, who I will never forget.
Participating in GYLC made me aware of the realms of knowledge that I have yet to explore, and how much an international education (like the one from Georgia Tech) has to offer me. During the conference, we also interacted with teachers and lecturers from different colleges in New York and Washington, and it made me realise that the teaching methodology is completely different. The hands-on, personalised teaching systems of US colleges changed my perception of collegiate life. GYLC changed everything about me, in its own little way. I went, as a young student, and came back, a Young Leader.
Even today, I'm still ankle deep in the backlog that the GYLC caused. However, through sheer hard work and determination, I have got myself back on the academic track and I have never been more motivated to work hard and reach for nothing short of the stars. It was a risk well taken, that made all the difference, and I wouldn't change my decision for the world.It's just a draft so there are probably a few typos. All advice is welcome! :)