Prompt #1 Describe the world you come from - for example, your family, community or school - and tell us how your world has shaped your dreams and aspirations.
Often the normal family has a dad who wears the pants and supports the family with his job, and a mother who makes the best dinners and always supports her kids with sugar coated messages about life. After growing up with my family I doubt that type of family could exist. My dad is a small 5'4 Chinese man, who likes listening to Barbara Streisand rather than Guns N' Roses, and often cries when a baby laughs since it's "beautiful". My mom is a no- nonsense Puerto Rican hard working lawyer, 6 feet tall, and wears the pants wherever she goes. It is a good thing they divorced or they would have driven each other crazy, and maybe even me.
When I was a young boy, my natural birthright of being the only Chinese/Puerto Rican in the world made growing up, well, interesting. My skin is a Latino brown, but whenever there was a Christmas or family event I was surrounded by Asians who looked at me as though I came from another planet. It was very hard for my dad to tell them I was his son. What was worst is that the family that did look like me spoke Spanish, which I never learned. My mom also had a hard time telling that to her family.
My family and background confused me for a very long time. It was strange to not talk to my dad about sports, but rather feelings and the beauty of life. It was weird to go crying to my mom only to hear her say suck it up and be a man about it. What was even worst is that I had to always be in the middle of them, and I never knew who was right. Should I express my feelings, or learn to deal with things and not "complain"?
The most confusing was their mixed messages on how to live life. My dad is a lawyer went hippie and massage therapist. He lives with no cable, no internet, or anything that everyone has in the 21st century. He believes that doing what you love will
bring you success. My mom is a hard working lawyer, who sacrificed a lot so I could grow up living where I did and have what I have. She believes hard work and sacrifice will bring me success.
After a bit of trial and error with both of their philosophies, I realized a combination of both was the best. Doing what you love will always bring you joy, but working hard in what you do will bring you success and prosperity. Their mixed parenting styles and ethnicities have shaped me to be a diverse, hardworking person. However, I hope for a future were we aren't defined by our ethnicity and things we can't choose. When people see me, I don't want them to see a minority, a Latino, an Asian, but a unique, successful man I know I'll become, because after surviving my parents I can do anything, (even get into college!).
Prompt #2 Tell us about a personal quality, talent, accomplishment, contribution or experience that is important to you. What about this quality or accomplishment makes you proud and how does it relate to the person you are?
Throughout my life I have worked at many camps or community events as a counselor, with kids of many age groups. However, one camper will always stay in my memory for he is the reason I love counseling. At the first camp I ever worked at I met a camper named Tom. Tom was a very skinny, awkward kid who wore glasses, and spoke with a nasally accent, which gave him the presence of the classic nerd or easy target. Tom was bullied very often by the other campers, and excluded from many games and activities. What was worse was that the camp counselors would coerce him too. The camp counselors would hit him with dodge balls and tetherballs when he wasn't looking, make fun of him when he complained about being bullied, and join kids in taunting him.
Tom reminded me of me as kid, as I used to be a geeky kid who wore glasses and was physically bullied. As much as I wanted to help, the same voices that paralyzed me with fear and pain were echoed through the voices of the other camp counselors. I was too terrified to help Tom for the longest time.
One day at camp I noticed that there was a huge circle surrounding someone chanting mean things and laughing. Approaching the circle, I realized that it was Tom; he was crunched up on the floor, his face red and close to tears. For the first time the same fear I felt in the face of these bullies was now replaced with anger, and in that instant I knew what I had to do. I pushed one counselor aside, picked up Tom and took him with me away from the circle. There was no noise to be heard behind us.
After sitting alone with Tom for awhile, he said something to me I will never forget, "Thank you Aaron for caring about me. You are the only camp counselor that does." I have never been awarded huge athletic medals, or many scholastic achievements but what that one boy said to me that day was more rewarding than anything else I could ask for. He made me feel like I could actually make a change in the world, even if it is only one boy's experience at camp.
Camp counseling not only gave me a chance to meet Tom, but many other people and kids. Tom is only one experience where I have connected with a camper, or learned something from camp counseling that affects my life outside of counseling. Many times we forget how important our childhood was, like how one embarrassing event can scar us, or how what we achieve at a young age can inspire us throughout our life. The experience I had with Tom inspired me to overcome the bullies of my childhood by standing up for a child who was bullied, like I was. The experience I've had camp counseling has helped me learn more about myself, and to reach out to others.