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I'm from Hong-Kong - common app essay!

flickeringlight 2 / 1  
Oct 28, 2008   #1
Hi I have my common app essay here and I was wondering if I could get some feedback on it :)


"Where are you from?" The typical summer-school-roommate question.
"Hong Kong." I offered a smile, hoping-crossing my fingers-that she wouldn't ask me that question.
"Oh! Can you speak Japanese?!" She did it, she asked that question.
"No..." I was about to continue-"No, in fact, Hong Kong is part of China."-but she beat me to it with yet another question.

"Why don't you have an accent when you speak English?" I hope my mouth wasn't agape with incredulity.
As I slouched over my lab table listening to Mr. Buxton explain the anatomy of a sea sponge, the conversation replayed in my mind. "Do I speak Japanese?" Could someone really confuse Hong Kong and Japan, two totally unique cultures and nations separated by more than 1,700 miles? As I thought back to the conversation I realized I had been caught in that situation many times, and just as many times I had been rendered speechless.

"And so that is how the sponge ensures that it receives nutrients," Mr. Buxton finished, "they simply filter out what is unnecessary and retain what they need to flourish and survive." Suddenly I sat up, "That's me! I'm a sponge!"

I am a sponge not because I lack a nervous system, internal organs or muscles. I am a sponge because I am a filter. I am from Hong Kong, a city where a myriad of cultures and values come together into one vibrant setting. I have visited many countries and studied in an international school, both of which have contributed to my assimilation of in different cultures and traditions. Through my 'porocytes', I've absorbed as much as could about each culture, flaws and virtues alike. As I process all this information, it runs through my 'choanocytes' and 'amoecocytes', which pick out the unique parts of each culture that I appreciate and value, virtues I admire, aspects of the lifestyle I want to pursue.

While I have been able given the opportunity to see and do many things, I have always followed my parent's golden rule: never to forget who I am-Chinese. They are adamant-obsessively so-about this rule. When my brother and I enrolled in an international school, my parents decided that we would no longer be allowed to communicate in English at home; they figured with the amount of English we would be speaking at school, we'd soon forget how to speak Cantonese. My parents even hired a tutor to grill me in Chinese history and literature-a desperate but determined act to preserve the 'Chinese' within me and not let the 'American' I was absorbing in school take over. Through my parents' efforts and my determination, I remain fundamentally-inside and out-Chinese. They didn't mind that I preferred western music to Chinese music or read far more English novels than Chinese novels. In fact, they wanted me to learn and interact more with other cultures, get to know them, discover virtues within their cultures that are worth learning. My parents didn't mind that I was slightly Americanized, because they wanted me to be a fundamental Chinese but with a global perspective and virtues from cultures from all around the world.

A friend once asked me whether I was an ABC-an American Born Chinese. Another friend asked if my parents were full Chinese. I don't know if it's my behavior or just the way I look, but whatever it is prompted my friends to ask me these questions helped me through my discovery of who I am. After that particular biology class and my mini epiphany, I've finally found an answer to these questions: I'm a Chinese sponge, but I've been immersed in a sea of different cultures. As I go on in life, I'll always keep acting like a sponge and fill up as much as possible; soaking up new experiences and knowledge. It's up to me to decide what virtues I want to keep within me and what goals I want to work towards. I hope to be a better person with the better perspectives of both cultures filtered and retained.

Is the opening a little offensive? Am I going overboard with the Chinese-ness and offending other cultures?? Someone who read this voiced this concern and I wanted another perspective on it!

Thanks so much!!
EF_Team5 - / 1,586  
Oct 28, 2008   #2
Good afternoon.

I really like your opening; it is truthful and clearly honest. You are showing your true feelings during a very real situation. You are writing you, and you can never go wrong with that. It is very attention-grabbing, and that is also always good. :)

I like the sponge metaphor; it really works for this piece. You are very descriptive about the whole situation, and it absolutely keeps your audience's attention.

One mechanical correction though. When you are "referring" to words in quotation marks as you do in this piece, make sure you are enclosing them in double (") quotation marks and not singular ones.

I really enjoyed reading this essay. Keep up the good work.

Moderator, EssayForum.com
Devotion - / 4  
Oct 29, 2008   #4
Indeed, the essay was a good one, one that is rare among the Chinese at my place. I am Chinese too, but I am not as good as you are. In fact it did not look like a Chinese' essay. No offense intended, but at my place the Chinese boys are really bad with their English compositions, with a few exceptions.

The essay pulls me into your world, which is nice to feel. Therefore, keep up the good work! Oh and, your parents are great xD.

NOTE: I hate biology though.

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