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'Languages and my way to America' - CommonApp essay - my life of diversity


abcdefg 3 / 7  
Dec 27, 2008   #1
Common app- topic of choice.
Can you please critique this and help me shorten (its 1247 words and I want it to be less than 1000). I think I can greatly condense the first paragraph. This is a 2nd draft (some grammatical/structural corrections to first rough draft I wrote really fast). I was thinking about changing it so the first sentence is about the "I was six years old" or "I peed my pants story"

When we glimpse back into our youth, what are our most significant recollections? What subtle memories lurk behind the more influential ones? We may recall humorous little anecdotes or climactic emotional experiences. We retain noteworthy events in our lives that have influenced or permanently altered our behavior or what we believe is important in life. In the past seventeen eventful years, the primary reoccurring trend has been change. My personality has continuously adapted to every new twist and turn that has confronted me. However, what has remained intact through all of this is a goofy sense of humor and casual approach to life. Many friends have asked me if any specific or life-altering memories or stories exist that I still reminisce about:

I remember hearing several stories about me running away from school everyday during lunch just to see my grandma, eating bugs and dirt when I thought there were no adults around, and wearing a sari for a picture after switching outfits with my cousin. I was apparently the most mischievous and adventurous kid in our family of twenty-one first cousins. However, the image I will never forget is my dad wearing his dark brown pants and red-checkered shirt the day my parents and I left India after they had finally obtained a Visa for me. We were going to America. I remember crying for hours on that rickshaw ride to the airport. I thought I was leaving my home and my entire family. It was then I was told the couple who I thought was my parents were really my aunt and uncle. I was six years old.

I was on my way to America, the greatest country in the world. I was moving to Jersey City, a few miles from the alleged greatest city in the world (New York City), where my entire mother's side of the family lived. I will never forget the looks of joy and enthusiasm on their faces the first time that I had seen them. I could not believe it! I had other loved ones on the other side of the world. I had a little American-born sister! Still, America had its own unique language that I had to master. I remember watching cartoons with my cousins and sister while not understanding a single word. However, I was forced to learn the ABC's and basic English in a mere three months before kindergarten started. I was physically disciplined at the any signs of complacency. The first day of school, I peed my pants because I forgot how to ask permission to use the restroom. I remember covering up the mess by secretly wiping it down with a girl's jacket. That was a long school year.

The following year, I started first grade in a "special" English class composed of a quarter of the diverse students in our school who could not speak proper English. When my level of proficiency increased, I finally graduated from this special-ed class midway through fourth grade ï what I still regard as one of greatest academic achievement of my life. My teachers and peers began to notice this immediately. I talked constantly to them even during quizzes and spelling tests. My mom was called several times to school because the teacher became furious at my "inappropriate behavior."

In addition to the language barrier, there was another huge adjustment that I had to make. I had never experienced such diversity. There were people here with white and black skin! My six-year-old knowledge had assumed that white people had painted their faces and black people stood out in the sun too long and burnt themselves. This naïve theory is similar to a humorous Indian fable that my mother told me that explained the different races of the word. God was making an Indian specialty, similar to baking cookies. He tossed the burnt ones in Africa, the undercooked ones in Europe and eastern Asia, and the perfect batch in India. I remember actually asking someone in my class if it hurt. After the following altercations, my parents taught me something I would remember for years: to be careful of African-Americans and the police. I know understand why new Indian immigrants would want to believe that.

I soon learned that these different people had their own unique languages. My entire class had unusual or diverse names like Pablo, Emanuel, Richmond, Vivian, Ying, except for one girl in particular named Ashley. The pure simplicity of her name made my peers and I laugh every morning during roll call. As the days passed, I become accustomed to the fact that Indians were not the only race in the world. Only a third of the people I saw in my school and community were Indian. I would soon realize this number was much smaller elsewhere.

I was overcome with joy in the fifth grade when my father told me that we were moving to Virginia. We were going to live in a real house! However, I remember crying that night when I realized I was going to be separated from half of my family once again. I had finally made my first friends after I had learned how to properly speak English. My life had changed for a second time. There was only one other Indian in my entire elementary school. The view from my front door changed from relentless traffic, pollution, and an influx of people to electric scooters, green grass, and little kids riding their bicycles across the road. This rapid change of environment from India to Virginia in merely six years of living altered everything about my life. The new calm and peaceful setting allowed me to focus more on my education.

As I look back at my upbringing, I see a life of change and diversity. It seems as though I can fit in with any type of person or group. In New Jersey, my only friends were Richmond, Pablo, Parth, Jerrold, Jakub, and Hassein. Richmond was Phillipino, Pablo was Latino, Parth was Indian, Jerrold was African-American, Jakub was Polish, Hassein was Pakistani. I remember the friendship pact we formed after 9/11 had occurred only miles away from our school. Here in Virginia, almost everyone is White and I fit right in. Without regards to race, I fit in with an array of the usual clichïs and groups that one would find in any school across America.

What I have NOT faced is what is important. I am only 17 years old. I have never had a close friend or family member pass away. I have never experienced an emotional divorce in a relationship. I have suffered only minor athletic injuries. I cannot sew. I cannot cook. I cannot swim. I cannot hunt or start a fire. If I was born centuries earlier or even on another continent, I would not be able to survive. However, I have endured through my parent's rocky relationship. It has taught me always be calm and never raise my voice in fear of losing a loved one. A car accident (passenger) has taught me how easily a life can be lost. I have shaken the hands of several congressmen, senators, a governor, and a Nobel Prize winner. I have also witnessed the elation of starving children in India by the tossing a single rupee. I have experienced much in life but nowhere near what is in store for me. I am only 17 years old and want to make a difference.
EF_Kevin 8 / 13,321 129  
Dec 28, 2008   #2
When we look back into our youth, what are our most significant recollections? What subtle memories lurk behind the more influential ones? We may recall humorous little anecdotes or climactic, emotional experiences. We retain noteworthy events in our lives that have influenced or permanently altered our behavior or beliefs . In the past seventeen eventful years, the primary reoccurring trend has been change. My personality has continuously adapted to every new twist and turn that has confronted me. However, what has remained intact through all of these changes are my goofy sense of humor and casual approach to life. Many friends have asked me if any specific or life-altering memories or stories exist that I still reminisce about:

I remember hearing several stories ...

I was on my way to America, the greatest country in the world. I was moving to Jersey City, a few miles from the alleged greatest city in the world (New York City), where every relative on my mother's side of the family lived.

...

I talked constantly to them -- even during quizzes and spelling tests. My mom was called several times to school because the teacher became furious at my "inappropriate behavior."

What I have not faced is what is important: I am only 17 years old, and I have never had a close friend or family member pass away. I have never experienced an emotional divorce in a relationship. I have suffered only minor athletic injuries. I cannot sew. I cannot cook. I cannot swim. I cannot hunt or start a fire.

Wow, this is very interesting1 I think you an cut out the story about god tossing the burnt people into africa, undercooked into europe and asia, and so forth. You can simply explain how you came to embrace other cultures...

Now, at the end, you need to connect the whole story to the school to which you are applying -- change it so that it is tailored to each school to which you send this essay. Cut out some of the stories and unnecessary sentences, and focus on one meaningful principle that the essay represents. Good luck!!!
OP abcdefg 3 / 7  
Dec 28, 2008   #3
Yeah Thanks a lot for the advice. Will do!


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