This is an essay for Middlebury in response to the following topic:
2) Middlebury values a sense of place and community in all forms. Please tell us about where you have grown up. How has it influenced you and your vision about the kind of college community you would like to join next year?
Dongying, a splendid little city in the north-western part of China, is the place I resided in for almost fourteen years from birth. It is a city that flourished on the crude oil that swelled below its earth. My parents were pioneers; they were the first generation of educators for the workers' sons and daughters. Because of that, I was born into a community, heavy laden with an air of academia, where everyone I knew was a scholar of some sort. My parents taught chemistry and physics. Growing up, I've envisioned myself many times as a prominent researcher, working away in a lab permeated with the smell of burned rubber, hydrogen sulfide and cigarette smoke, a smell that closely resembled the distinctive odor of the laboratories in the old days. Aside from the smell, I recall the little "magic tricks" my mother used to perform with her flasks and bottled chemical solutions. She could conjure up milky smoke out of an empty bottle; she could make liquids solidify in a split second; she could set my homework on fire and show me that it was still intact after the flame ceased; she could... well, you get the idea. She was magical! Having had such fun with scientific experiments in my early childhood, I think there is nothing more important in learning than seeing a clear demonstration and being fully engaged. This approach is one I anticipate in the undergraduate liberal arts program at Middlebury.
Even though my life in Dongying inspired my interest in science, the past four years I've spend in Canada have had a greater impact on my character and personality. I've changed in such a way that what I initially thought of as the eccentricities of "the white" (as we used to say back home) are now incorporated into my behaviour and thinking. Some of these changes in attitude and lifestyle are truly eye-opening. It might be hard for you to believe, but people in North America are not as materialistic as they think. People here have a genuine appreciation of their communities, they enjoy life despite the ups and downs, and most importantly, they care about the lives of others. Following the example of my peers, I've been volunteering in my school, at the Canadian Red Cross and lately in the Toronto Western Hospital's Neuroscience Inpatient Unit. While working in the hospital, I visited hundreds of patients who have come to Toronto from all around the world - France, India, Spain, Hong Kong, Africa, and, my personal favorite, Italy. Not everyone speaks English, but we have little trouble communicating. My patients and I talk about classical music, football, spiritualism vs. materialism, painting, Europe after WWII and even gardening and food. Our diversity of backgrounds and interests makes us realize the inherent nature of all human beings and the universal language we all share, be it laughter, tears or the hope for a better future. Next year, I look forward to getting to know my professors and making many sustaining friendships. I believe that Middlebury College is the place to do that.
Lastly, I have just one question to ask: does Middlebury College offer dorm rooms with kitchen? I cook Chinese food and, you know, some things never change.
p.s. great website.