Prompt: Consider something in your life you think goes unnoticed and write about why it's important to you.
Three years ago, I had an opportunity to my visit hometown in China, after almost a decade apart. It was a small town in southern China, hemmed in by mountain. My previous memories of the place was one of busy markets, raging traffic, and adventure. I remembered playing tennis with my cousins at the local high school, and how they had led me on a grand tour of the town.
Liangshan, China in the summer. Sweltering by any standards, but I had never seen the town so sleepy. My cousin and I grabbed our tennis racquets and made our way down to the local high school for a friendly game of tennis. As we rounded the corner, we discovered that the school had been fenced off. Police cars blocked the roads, preventing any vehicles from passing the school. We saw hundreds of parents crowding the school fence, all with a look of anxiety on their faces. Both of us immediately realized that it was the gaokao, the Chinese higher education exam. An annual examination, it is a three day ordeal where students are tested on everything they have learned in four years of high school. Students spend months memorizing seemingly meaningless information, as well as constantly practicing "for the test". In a small town such as Liangshan, success means entrance to a prestigious university and a life of opportunity, while failure guarantees a difficult life of farm work and disappointment by family and friends. When I visited China during 2011, 30% of the students would fail the exam.
It on that hot summer day that I finally noticed how privileged I was to live in the United States. I never thought about how difficult admissions are for other countries, until I had visited during that summer. While I had a western education, everyone else in my family would have to deal with the pressure of the gaokao sooner or later. During that month, I realized how lucky I was that my parents decided to immigrate. If there is one thing I should do in life, it is not to let this opportunity go to waste.
Any suggestions will be greatly appreciated!