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"Learning with Purpose" - Commonapp essay

john883 1 / 1  
Dec 31, 2010   #1
Prompt: Evaluate a significant experience, achievement, risk you have taken, or ethical dilemma you have faced and its impact on you.

Learning with Purpose

For a long time, I did not understand why I studied Chinese. Every Saturday for three years, I would attend Chinese School to learn my ethnic language alongside my normal

schoolwork. Through those years, I learned without purpose. I blindly absorbed the pinyin and memorized archaic passages but found little use for them in my life. In school I spoke English, and at home, I spoke English. The knowledge was pushed aside and collected dust in a lonely

corner of my head.

One day, last summer, the Chinese pharmacy I was working at was not busy, so my boss decided to leave me alone in the store while she ran an errand. Because of my previous Chinese schooling, I could speak well enough to efficiently communicate with the customers. However, three years of schooling has its limits and occasionally, I had trouble following especially inquisitive customers and went to my boss for aid, which I could not do until she returned. Moments later, a young woman walked in to inspect our beauty care section. While she was preoccupied, I mentally readied myself by preparing responses to possible questions she might ask. I started to get nervous because the boss would not be here to come to my rescue, and I did not want to give a bad impression of myself, especially to an attractive member of the opposite sex. She finally asked a question, but it was so specific and the vocabulary so advanced that my first instinct was to say, "Huh?" Laughing and shaking her head, the young woman turned back to the products. She had the wrong impression of me. She thought I was clueless, too ignorant of the Chinese language to understand. To show her otherwise, I quickly replied with, "What? I did not understand." She nodded encouragingly and asked the question again. Her attitude had completely changed just because I showed her that I would try my best to speak Chinese. She then seemed eager for my help, especially because she could not read the English labels. I struggled a lot - I could not translate specific terminology. When I had to translate "anti-wrinkle cream," I mentally scrambled for the right words, but they never came and I resorted to physically gesticulating the word, "wrinkle." By running my fingers down my face and pressing my cheeks to create creases, I was able to show her what I was trying to say. She confirmed this by asking, "Do I have any?" to which I quickly retorted "No, of course not!"

When my boss returned, I immediately told her my story. She seemed pleased at my pleasant experience but was disappointed that I did not sell any merchandise. Despite being scolded, I was happy, just because I was able to overcome a language barrier. Suddenly, I realized why it didn't bother me that I was not able to sell anything to the girl even with my effort. I was not working for the money. I had not only found my purpose in learning Chinese but my purpose to learning anything. Anything I learned became common ground for me to communicate with others. If I had not known any Chinese, I would never have been able to talk to the girl because she would have dismissed me, but because I did, I was able to make myself heard and thus, finally learn with purpose.

Thanks for any help on this essay.

CrimeanGurl 1 / 17  
Dec 31, 2010   #2
It written well and answers the question. I like the conclusion "Anything I learned became common ground for me to communicate with others" - it definitely adds value to your experience.
Anonymoussenior 17 / 133  
Dec 31, 2010   #3
This is a great common app essay and it shows how all of your hard work in learning finally paid off. You have a strong ending and a strong beginning with great supporting evidence in the body of the essay. Everything looks good to me.

Please edit my Northwestern essay
bananaphone 3 / 6  
Dec 31, 2010   #4
wooow I completely relate to your essay. I'm Korean and I have difficulty speaking Korean!

anyways, I thought your essay was quite good. it didn't have any unnecessary sentences or details. one sentence did stand out to me though:

I had not only found my purpose in learning Chinese but my purpose to learning anything.
seems kind of awkward.
how about:
Through finding purpose in learning Chinese, I ultimately found purpose in learning in general

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