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My race has made me both the insider and outsider - Duke University


sleepyshamrocks 4 / 6 4  
Dec 19, 2019   #1
Duke University seeks a talented, engaged student body that embodies the wide range of human experience; we believe that the diversity of our students makes our community stronger. If you'd like to share a perspective you bring or experiences you've had to help us understand you better-perhaps related to a community you belong to or your family or cultural background-we encourage you to do so. Real people are reading your application, and we want to do our best to understand and appreciate the real people applying to Duke. (250 word limit)

What Does It Take to Truly Belong



Belonging - what a wonderful, confusing, and complicated concept. Are our identities tied to the slow ascent of the map that traces our lineage? Or are we shaped by the village that raised us?

These are questions that have shadowed me for years. My race has made me both the insider and outsider, suspended between my Chinese heritage and my Indonesian upbringings. Where do I truly belong? Between the tea set and dumplings on my kitchen table? Among the street food and snippets of the local dialect that I use with my friends?

I had always thought that I needed to pick a side to prove the legitimacy of my identity, but as I grew up, I started untangling that web of turmoil. Instead of answering my questions and boxing myself into a definition, I became determined to be the bridge connecting both sides of my identity. I am the person who brings dumplings to my neighbors' Iftar dinner during Ramadan month, the person who regularly introduces Indonesian slang words to my Mandarin-speaking grandmother. I let go of the concept of belonging to only one place and found a home in both the familiar and foreign: the Cap Go Meh celebrations after Chinese New Year, the Muslim orphanage I volunteer in during the holidays, the small Italian commune I lived in during my exchange year, the wet markets speaking a linguistic amalgamation of Sundanese, Javanese, and Hokkien.

College is just another place I'll make a home out of.

What do you guys think? I'm not entirely sure I like this essay, but I don't know what parts to fix.

Jiaxin Ye 2 / 5 2  
Dec 22, 2019   #2
It's great overall. But I'm not quite sure of what you mean by "both an insider and an outsider".


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