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"to paint a self-portrait of myself" - Main College Application Essay

npirwa4 2 / 2  
Sep 28, 2009   #1
The following is my main college application essay I am planning on submitting it for the common app. and other similar undergraduate application personal statements. I am not responding to a direct prompt, but I am trying to paint a self-portrait of myself and show what I value by meshing together different experiences from my life. Many college prompts ask to evaluate a significant experience and its effect on you. I suppose that is along the lines of what my essay is responding to.

A computer's "cut and paste" feature allows the user to compose a cohesive statement by piecing together different texts from varying locations. Similarly, certain sweet and bitter experiences from my life can be pasted together to illustrate how I have shaped into the person I am today. Although some of these experiences occurred long ago, they are still engraved on my "hard drive"; I can shut my eyes and "re-boot" those memories...

September 12th 2001: I thumped along mutely through the ghostly hallways to my fourth grade class. From a distance, I thought that the walls adorned with glittering posters and the books filled with countless doodles would buffer against yesterday's devastation. But when I entered the room, all thoughts of comfort vanished. Leaning over his pencil case, a tall, fair skinned, freckled boy screeched out from the fourth row, "Neha, you're Muzliims. Did your family plan the attack?" His voice pierced my naïve ears. Many other dreadful comments followed. I stood in the middle of the room, legs trembling and lips quivering. No longer able to stand the degradation, I bolted out of the room and shut myself in a bathroom stall. Behind the screen, I considered hiding my cultural identity, but "scar tissue is stronger than regular tissue. Realize the strength and move on" (Rollins). ...

I confidently stood in front of a classroom at my local mosque. Audiocassettes, pictures and books spilled out of my arms. As a special education teacher at my mosque, I did not teach traditional subjects such as reading comprehension and mathematics. Instead, I taught with intensity about my culture: its ancient roots, its vibrant music, and its colorful practices. I proudly presented a cultural outfit hand embroidered with rainbow-colored beads and exotic mirrors and shared pictures of beautiful Islamic architecture while the students listened in awe. Together we danced to Islamic music. While I was offbeat many times, my cheeks flushed with joy. Involuntary chills flowed through my body as I watched my excitement rub off on the students. The bits and pieces of our culture ignited something remarkable. In fourth grade, my tears soaked my shirt and dampened my esteem; now, five years later, communicating my culture to others, I decided, "I must be myself. I can not break myself any longer" (Emerson). ...

On a Monday morning, last summer, I impatiently waited for the north line train to Chicago. Excited to see the research team at the laboratory, I imagined myself in a lab coat, focused, a pipette in hand and a test tube in the other. However, what I didn't foresee, while daydreaming on the train, was the cultural diversity I would be immersed in at the laboratory. The researchers came from different countries, Italy, China, Japan, Bratislava, India, and spoke different languages, yet came together to investigate, discuss, discover what they were truly passionate about. Aside from being engrossed in the scientific aspect of research, I spent my lunch breaks talking with the researchers about their ethnic backgrounds. Everyday was, in a sense, a potluck: each individual shared something new about his or her heritage. ...

I chose to paste together these particular memories from different parts of my life because they reflect who I am, what I value the most in life. I love to talk with the people I pass, sharing my story and listening to their stories too. I love the feeling I get when I see that I have shown a glimpse of my culture to another student who has opened my eyes to a different tradition. I spend a great deal of my time cramming and studying, but I learn from the relationships I form with other people and the interactions, however short, I have with other people. There is so much waiting to be heard and seen, I pack my bag with what I have to offer and venture out with an open-mind.
reader2011 4 / 9  
Sep 29, 2009   #2
Wow this is a really good essay. It is very vivid and well organized. Good job. Also it was very interesting to read, it grabs your attention.

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