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Peace Corps essay-"Describe living in a social cultural environment different.."

ansa0031 2 / 7  
Jun 21, 2010   #1
Any critique or advice will help, thank you.

Describe an experience you have had in living or working in a 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?

It is one thing to be an American with Pakistani roots visiting your parents' home country on vacations, and a completely different thing to live there. I grew up in a household with Pakistani culture in America, but when I moved abroad I soon realized how different the cultural environment really was. I temporarily moved with my mom who wanted to live closer to her family for awhile, while my dad and sister stayed behind. I had to establish a new life in a place where I did not have my safety net.

I attended a private school affiliated with the University of Cambridge but one with no air conditioning in the classrooms. I was given a crash course in Pakistan geography, history, and Urdu, surrounded by students and teachers whose education system was different from what I had known. As the new girl from America, all eyes were on me and I felt everyone saw me as "Americanized" and unaware of my cultural roots. In some ways I was, so I worked hard at building relationships with other sand integrating myself in every aspect of this new environment. In school I participated in as many projects as I could such as assisting with (writing and producing)our class school play and doing community service working with underprivileged kids in public schools I introduced the concept of the yearbook at my school, and created it together with other students. I never would have imagined how much I would bond and connect with the people around me and cherish such a special experience.

I completely absorbed the culture in a city like Karachi, the heart of the nation. It is a diverse mega-city, full of traffic, hustle and bustle, and people of all kinds of nationalities. The modern city's hullabaloo gave me courage to go to the markets on my own as a female, interacting with locals and negotiating with vendors. And I will never forget being in Karachi on 9/11, my school had a moment of silence at assembly, and everywhere on the streets people were glued to television screens at local shops. At that moment being an American in Pakistan I felt sadness and union in the air and did not feel detached from my homeland, and found support and comfort in my new location.

I knew when I left Pakistan I wanted to go back and travel to other places around the world. I had a thirst of experiencing new things after that. The more you learn about other cultures, the more you learn about yourself. Living in Karachi gave me the push and confidence to jump into unfamiliar territories, to discover ways to connect with the people and projects I came across.

I would love to take it to the next level as a Peace Corps member. It will be the ultimate experience for me to showcase my zeal for new adventures and building trust with other cultures.
ershad193 14 / 333 5  
Jun 22, 2010   #2
Hi Nina

Your essay is really great. Although you have touched lightly on the subject of gender inequality, I think you can slightly elaborate it; a couple of lines maybe.

You should probably write the line "I had a thirst of experiencing new things after that" in a different way.

Finally, in the last line, the word "zeal " seems a bit overboard considering you went to Pakistan because of your mother. You can use it if you can justify it by other examples of cultural interactions. Otherwise, use a toned down word.

Anyway, I really enjoyed reading your essay.

Good luck!

OP ansa0031 2 / 7  
Jun 22, 2010   #3
Thanks for the help Ershad!

I used a thesaurus to get the word zeal, to replace passion..would passion fit better? Trying to figure out how to write the thirst line differently.

Thanks for the tip on writing a few more lines about gender inequality, the essay cannot be more than 500 words, so I'll see what I can do! I did notice how women were treated while staying there, no way negative but I noticed in school I was more aggressive and spoke my mind compared to my female classmates, and the boys weren't used to that.

Glad you enjoyed my essay! :)
ershad193 14 / 333 5  
Jun 22, 2010   #4
Yep passion would do.
vaishali1980 26 / 83  
Jun 22, 2010   #5
Hi Nina.

Great essay and you did dare to write all your experience.
brucemcdon - / 1  
Jun 22, 2010   #6
Wonderful essay, good points made, on-topic.

It's not all about the grammar but I noticed this: "As the new girl from America, all eyes were on me and I felt..." That's a misplaced modifier or indefinite reference or something like that. One way to fix it would be, "As the new girl from America, I felt that all eyes were on me and that..."

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