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History repeats itself; BACKGROUND or STORY - central to identity


baejoseph 1 / 1  
Oct 10, 2013   #1
Some students have a background or story that is so central to their identity that they believe their application would be incomplete without it. If this sounds like you, then please share your story?

History repeats itself.



Napoleon and Hitler invaded Russia before wintertide in vain, Abraham Lincoln and John F. Kennedy were assassinated on a Friday, and Shun Chan and Joseph, two ordinary boys, had to leave everything behind and pack their bags. Both did not want to move, but neither could foresee the difference it would make-- home was not the only to change but themselves, too.

Quiet and timid, Joseph grew up in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains in the small town of Lynchburg, Virginia. A timetable and his parent's rigid rearing forbid him from really exploring outside his own neighborhood. Aside from school, Joseph rode his bicycle, read books he borrowed at the local public library, and tried his best to be a "good" boy. On his last day of school, little did he know that a plane ticket and a cardboard box filled with his clothes and favorite toys would be waiting for him. Where was he heading? His family was moving to Indonesia, a country poles apart from his comfortable town of Lynchburg.

Coincidentally, Shun Chan had been living in Indonesia, and had grown accustomed to its culture-- walking outside barefoot to buy a plate of coconut cakes from a passing by vendor was perfectly normal; The sound that the vendor's steam pipes for cooking would make would always draw him outside. Unlike Joseph, Shun Chan lived with 13 other boys in a dormitory far away from his parents and had the liberty of letting his free will run wild. He often left campus to get a bowl of the country's delicacies "Mie Goreng", an addictive instant noodle that costed no more that a few thousand rupiahs, or the equivalent of a few cents, and spent a lot of time mingling with the natives. However, the summer break of his tenth grade graduation, the once intended hiatus abruptly became a relocation into his mother country. Shun Chan did not care if he was Korean he did not want to leave what he believed was home.

And this was where both Joseph and Shun Chan collide. I am Joseph. I am Shun Chan. My past, present, and future make me who I am. Neither have I succumbed to my present Korean lifestyle nor have I chained to my silhouette of Indonesian yesterdays. I will never forget who I was or am and continue let all my memories, experiences, and conflicts form myself.

I appreciate all constructive criticism and ideas since I am a poor writer (at least that's how I think of my writing). Thank you.

tayleeb - / 19  
Oct 11, 2013   #2
I really liked the essay and how it came together at the end, but that could be dangerous with college essays if the reader is simply skimming and gets confused or loses interest at the beginning before there's that part where you say you are both boys. Honestly, I'm still a little confused after reading it--maybe clarify what exactly happened? I gathered that you were born in Virginia, moved to Indonesia, and then in tenth grade...moved to Korea? You specifically say the Korean bit but the mother country is confusing because of the Virginia bit.

Maybe you could start off with a short sentence saying something along the lines of, "I am two people in one." I know that's awful, don't use that, hahah, but you could come up with a short sentence that pulls the reader in and makes them want to figure out how you are both Joseph and Shun Chan. I do like your beginning though. It's a tough decision to call!

I really did love the very specific imagery present in both boys' paragraphs--the noodles, the bike riding, everything. Great job!
OP baejoseph 1 / 1  
Oct 11, 2013   #3
Thank you! I know my essay is still a tad bit confusing since I chose to intentionally confuse the reader which is a risk I guess I'm taking. I'm an international student from Korea and graduating this winter. For now, I'm preparing several common application essays for regular admissions and not finding any luck with my writing, never really had. I thought this forum would be a great source for ideas and concrete examinations from others, which is really great considering I can't really get much English proofreading from where live. I wasn't born in Virginia but I started my essay with my "Virginian" past to show the conservative and strict rearing I had then to contrast my Indonesian opposite. Again, thank you.
tayleeb - / 19  
Oct 12, 2013   #4
Okay, then my only suggestion would be to make sure you clarify for the reader what you meant by Virginia at the beginning. I really do love the confusion and then all of a sudden it becomes clear...but right now it's still a little hazy. And of course, you want the reader to know exactly what you're talking about, because the essay is their way of knowing more about you. So maybe in those last few sentences, you can

Your English was definitely awesome-I never would have known that you were not from an English-speaking country! I only noticed two places where (only after reading through a second time with language in mind) I noticed anything:

nor have I chained to my silhouette of Indonesian yesterdays

First, I absolute LOVE that, "the silhouette of Indonesian yesterdays." And if I understood what you meant correctly, it should probably be "nor have I been chained" or "nor have I chained myself to..."

I will never forget who I was or am and continue let all my memories, experiences, and conflicts form myself.

This is slightly awkward phrasing, because you're trying to say that you want to continue letting your memories, experiences, etc. form yourself (because you are Joshua and Shun Chan, and so on), but it reads like "I will never forget who I was, and will also never continue to let." So I think that could be simply fixed by making it two separate sentences, or changing it to "and will continue." If you do that, I would probably cut out the "or am" or simply switch it to "who I am" because that gets length and kind of trips up the flow of the sentence.

Really, your essay is really great. You use really pretty, descriptive language. I'm jealous! Good luck :)


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