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'Like the milk' - common app essay-- diversity topic draft

atiedemann 1 / -  
Nov 12, 2008   #1
Needing feedback on draft of Common App Essay topic "Given your personal background, describe an experience that illustrates what you would bring to the diversity in a college community, or an encounter that demonstrated the importance of diversity to you.

In elementary school there were only two types of milk: chocolate and white. Much like the milk, there seemed to be only two types of teachers: the "nice" ones and the "mean" ones. Much like the teachers, there were only two types of students: those who got in trouble and those who didn't. (Avoid contractions in formal academic writing.) Ahmed got in trouble. Ahmed preferred chocolate milk.

Roosevelt Elementary School is the epitome of an old-fashioned neighborhood school. The inside had a multi purpose atmosphere. My grade school was predominately white and had little racial diversity. I met Ahmed, an Afghani refugee, the year the school district administration had decided my school was the new home of the district's ESL program. His differences to my childlike mind were obvious. Ahmed had much darker skin than the other kids. He didn't speak English very well and he didn't really follow along in class.

As young children, kids see themselves as friends because of the "fun factor." If a friend is not fun to play with, they usually aren't friends. It was simple. In contrast, new high-school relationships and friendships sometimes unfold sadly based on biased looks or similarities on a somewhat different plane. Ahmed had the fun factor.

We became close friends, and after two years of fun, Ahmed told me that he was moving to Michigan. Little kids really don't know the complexity, motivations, or background of why people move away, but they know it is a sad thing to hear when it's your friend. I wanted to give Ahmed something special as a going away present. I bought him a stuffed animal monkey, his favorite animal. My teacher, the "nice" one, threw a going away party for Ahmed. Most kids were excited because there were cupcakes with the artificial neon goop that kids deem delicious. I was unsure of how we were going to say goodbye and I didn't know when I should give Ahmed his present. My Mom had told me to wait until after school because I might make the other kids jealous. It was obviously not the answer I was looking for, but I waited. At dismissal as Ahmed got his backpack together, we exchanged last minute goodbyes, and awkward hugs. It was the most nervous and stressed I'd ever been as a kid. Anxiously, I stumbled behind Ahmed as he ran to the bus. He told me he really had to leave. Stopping him, I threw his present from behind my back and told him to open it. He was overwhelmed. He stammered and rushed to say he couldn't open it now, and he would open it on the bus. I was shocked and upset. I wanted to see the look on his face as he opened it. It didn't work out that way. To me our goodbye seemed like that of a Disney movie. He said good-bye and scurried on the bus. Confused and heart broken, he waved from the window.

I expected a lot from that day. Our goodbye was not what I had hoped for. Ahmed had brought so much life to my school. In my mind, Ahmed's "flaws" were his strengths. He altered my perspective of normalcy as a grade school student. I had never encountered diversity beyond the division of 'band" kids and "orchestra" kids. Ahmed he gave my little world its first spark of diversity.

There were still two types of milk, teachers, and students in my grade school. The gym still stayed its pathetic size and the portable music building still stands, plopped behind the monkey bars. As I've grown up and graduated from the small neighborhood schools, I still recognize one certain thing. There are not enough Ahmed's in my life.

I'm not really sure this piece answers the prompt. While it is a story about an obviously important event in your life, I don't think it quite answers the question presented. The focus is on Ahmed rather than you, and I'm not really sure what it shows, other than you grew up in a small, "closed" school and this student stood out. Shift the focus of the piece onto you and how this friend changed your viewpoints, and thus your life.

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