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'prepared to serve others' - International Experience - Common App Essay


PuzzlingCloud 1 / -  
Nov 23, 2011   #1
This is my first post, so sorry if I did not get the formatting correct. I was wondering if my essay could be reviewed primarily for content and fluidity. Are there certain paragraphs that do not fit? Are there sentences in need of elaboration? Also, I was wondering if my writing style or the morals I learned from my trip are cliched? The prompt is open topic. Thanks!

This summer, I battled my emotions and my emotions battled me. The fight was furious; tears poured, eyes swelled, hearts pounded, sweat trickled. But amidst this fight, on the other side of the world, I discovered myself.

Taking off my Reeboks, I knocked on the wooden door, images from Pre-AP World Geography quickly flashing before my eyes. Skinny children. Whooping infants. Tattered clothing. Sweaty skins. Helplessness. Desolation. Tears. Envy. What misfortune awaited me inside?

As I passed through the narrow doorway, I never realized when my vision of rural India dissolved in the monsoon rain. In the corner of the hut, a baby slept soundly in a dirty hammock, his smiling selfless sister gently rocking him to the tune of the rain. On the back porch, laughing children pattered their feet in accumulating puddles. And within two feet's distance, a mother happily made papad amidst oppressive humidity to earn a living for her family.

I came to the village thinking I would be the one teaching these underprivileged children. Rather, they taught me. I expected to see tears, misery embedded into every corner. Yet when I departed, my eyes were swollen. Yes, this was a village where people lived in small huts, under scrap metal roofs. But it was also here, within the walls of a dung-laden hut on a crusty floor under a dripping roof, that I felt simple solace.

Embracing simplicity has always been difficult for me. Just the other day, my English teacher told me my writing had become too poetic, too immersed in the world of metaphors and similes. Instead, I needed to simplify my language to achieve a subtle beauty. But in America, a society so governed by vanities, the quest for simplicity and self-awareness becomes difficult.

In wealth we drown. In ignorance we pretend. In simplicity we strive. In truth we excel. Just as the children I met danced in the rain without any care or false pretense of helplessness, so too should we build our characters, our identities, and ourselves through honest depictions. Yet I can only portray my character veraciously if I am not shrouded by materialistic wealth. I must be truthful to myself in order to be truthful to others.

When I first came to the village, I have to admit, I was a different person. My face showed complex emotions of humility and courage, and my button-up plaid shirt, denim jeans, and rough gelled hair exhibited my false sense of importance. Despite my materialism, I felt more happiness in the simple lives of the women and children I met than I had ever felt before.

Like many other teenagers, I have extensively tried to answer the question "Who Am I?" Am I still the innocent second grader who received a referral as a reward for drawing a Swastika in art class? Or the confused fourth grader who misspelled "anniversary" in the school spelling bee? Am I still the puzzle-making seventh grader who passionately juxtaposed convoluted shapes on mahogany floors to create vast skylines and fast-flowing waterfalls? Or the nervous freshman that mistakenly pronounced "vocabulary" as "wocabulary" and was then teased by both teachers and friends for slurred speech?

No, I am none of these and none of these fully represent me. Rather they are mere representations of a confused identity. In India, I learned to embrace simplicity, the hallway and hallmark of self-awareness. And with this lesson, I have just begun to realize who I really am. I am the sum of my experiences, my character, my culture, and my genes. I am a teenager constantly redirected to new destinations by spontaneous storms. I am an intellectual seeking knowledge. I am a humanitarian well prepared to serve others. Simply, I am [NAME].

desm2012 6 / 36  
Nov 23, 2011   #2
You use hut a lot. Like 2 times in 2 sentences. Maybe there's another descriptive word/phrase you could use?
"Yes, this was a village where people lived in small huts , under scrap metal roofs. But it was also here, within the walls of a dung-laden hut on a crusty floor under a dripping roof, that I felt simple solace. "

smiling, selfless sister gently you need to insert a comma between smiling and selfless

"Despite my materialism, I felt more happiness in the simple lives of the women and children I met than I had ever felt before. "

You seem to be marginalizing the value of the lives of these villagers. Describing them as simple, happy, etc.

"I battled my emotions and my emotions battled me" I imagine if you were battling your emotions, your emotions were also battling you. This seems to be repetitive. Perhaps, "my emotions and I engaged in a serious battle." or something like that?

"tears, misery" I think "tears and misery " sounds better.

If there's some way you could organize your essay categorically, instead of flitting between these two subjects, your experience in India, and your struggle with simplicity every paragraph, it would be an easier read.

Oh, and you used the eyes swelling thing once in the opening paragraph and once in the "villagers taught me" paragraph. Maybe there's some variant of crying you could use?
rgudz26 1 / 6  
Nov 29, 2011   #3
i agree with desm2012.

consider putting your essay completely in chronological order. it makes it easier to follow for the reader and would help with the fluidity.

overall, great essay. yes, it's a slightly cliche topic, but you put your own voice into it with your unique selection of detail and syntax so don't worry about it. i actually really like your writing style. the choppy sentences add power to your writing.


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