So I am working on one of my Peace Corps essays and I would Really appreciate some objective feedback.
Here is the context:
Describe an experience you had living or working in social or cultural environment different from your own. what specific challenges did you face concerning trust, confidence, and/or integration? what did you learn from this experience that you will bring with you to your Peace Corps service?
This is my first draft, so I expect to make changes. I just hope it doesn't sound TOO formal :-)
Peace Corps Essay #1
I do not remember exactly when my passion for experiencing cultural diversity struck me. Whether it was something that had been manifesting since I was a child, or if it just hit me one day, I do not know. What I can say is this: since I started broadening my cultural awareness many moons ago I feel more in tune with both the people who associate themselves with my culture, and those whose culture differs from my own. There is something strange, exciting, and beautiful about experiencing seemingly routine events through the eyes of someone outside of your cultural norm.
While studying one summer in Costa Rica, I opted to live with a local family, as opposed to staying in a hotel with my classmates. I quickly became aware that dinnertime was not something that was rushed (or ignored altogether, as is the case with many Americans). It was a time to relax and enjoy the company of family members. As a guest I initially felt as though I was impeding on a sacred ritual reserved for the family. I quickly found the opposite to be true. I was graciously welcomed into the family unit, helping in the preparation of homemade tortillas and picking the fresh fruit for dessert. Dinner was not spent in front of the television, but rather discussing the events of the day, and sharing plans for the next. At first I was a bit apprehensive about detailing the events of my day. These people were strangers to me. What if they mistook my intentions for being in their country and became offended? This apprehension quickly subsided when I learned they were thrilled I was dedicating so much time and effort to learn their language and appreciate their culture. It was then and there that I realized just how important this family time really was in the Latin culture, and why the tradition of sharing meals together has lasted so long. It is not about the food, but rather the display of support and understanding for the people who are important in your life. I was so inspired by what I had discovered about something so seemingly insignificant as dinner that my family and I have made it our tradition to come together and make a homemade meal every Sunday evening. It has undoubtedly brought us closer together as a family.
By becoming a member of the Peace Corps I will enter my host country with an open mind, allowing myself to appreciate the cultural differences of those whom I serve. I understand the importance of integrating into the society of the local people, and I look forward to using this understanding to build strong multi-cultural bonds of mutual respect and acceptance. For as much as a Peace Corps volunteer has to give to others, the communities they serve have the ability to introduce new and enlightening traditions and values.