Prompt: The quality of Rice's academic life and the Residential College System are heavily influenced by the unique life experiences and cultural traditions each student brings. What perspective do you feel that you will contribute to life at Rice?
The bus slowed to a stop. I took a moment to glance at my surroundings through the window. The sky painted a mixture of colors much like that of Edvard Munch's The Scream. I had arrived in a small village known as Morrelgang.
Stepping out, I felt the damp weather press against my skin. Though the above scenery displayed a pleasant and heartwarming view, what lay ahead of me did not compare. The road on which people walked or even bicycled across had a scattering of hazardous rocks and mud. Five children, dressed in wretched clothes stood before me. Many of them strode barefoot. Those with shoes had only ones of poor quality. Despite their conditions, all the children flashed me bright smiles. At that moment, my throat clenched and my heart tried to keep itself from shattering. At that moment, I was facing my own family.
As I tried to hold myself together, a young girl, my niece, approached me blithely and wrapped her cold hands around mine. She wore a faded red long-sleeved dress with tears trailing to where the skirt ended. Her hair was tied up in a messy knot with a ribbon of matching color. She constantly dangled her bare feet against the mud-covered earth floor. Not minding how she looked, she gently tugged on my arm as a signal for me to follow her to her home.
We soon stopped in front of an enormous house, built primarily out of wood and mud. About 20 feet tall, the house was painted in shades of bright red and blue. Stairs molded from a mixture of gray cement and golf sized rocks led to the inside. Back home in the United States, I had never lived in, nor seen a building even remotely similar to this mansion. To be honest, I couldn't imagine ever living in a setting like what lay before me. However, as I saw my niece gleefully run towards her home, gesturing for me to follow along, I gained an immense respect for her lack of embarrassment from where she came from.
Once in her room, I instantly spotted a medium sized gray shoe box placed on top of a wooden bedside table. When she noticed my expression, she giddily told me to have a seat on her bed. She grabbed the shoebox excitedly and placed it on top of my knee, pleading me to open it. I untied the elaborate handmade bow and lifted the lid. Inside lay a homemade necklace and bracelet made of rainbow colored beads and brown and ivory-colored yarn. My heart melted. Even though I had seen a million dollars worth of jewelry in my lifetime, I still thought her gift to me was the most precious piece of jewelry I had ever laid my eyes on. While I stared at my niece's present, I was filled with a sudden fear of presenting her with the gift I had brought.
Surrounded by a lifestyle in which shiny and materialistic objects were easy to obtain, I assumed that by merely buying her a golden jewelry set would make my niece happy. However, after seeing how much time and effort she had put into making a gift made me feel inconsiderate and less giving. I did not want to offend her because I could afford what she currently could not. I did not want her to feel inferior to me. However, I did not want her to go through life without having at least one moment of luxury, a life I had been living every day. Hesitantly, I reached into my purse to grab a maroon box which held my present for her.
I silently hoped and prayed that she would not get upset. In my head I imagined seeing a frown on her face once she saw the costly jewelry. Instead, she flashed her small teeth at me and leaped onto my lap to give m bear-like hug and kiss on the cheek. Slowly, she moved towards my ear an whispered, "Thank you so much Auntie, I really, really love it." All the immense anxiety within me suddenly washed away. Happily, I smiled back at her beaming countenance.
To this day, her smile reminds me of how despite our contrasting lifestyles, I feel that I am equal to her. Whether one could afford to make a piece of jewelry out of beads and yarn or a diamond necklace worth someone's lifetime savings, our exchange in gifts illustrates the ideal of quality. I believe that each person deserves to be treated with equally respect. I do not base a person's disposition through first impression but through elongated observance of temperament and spirit. I carry myself on the morals of keeping an open mind towards people, places, and things. The choice of taking a chance on seeing others by the same token leads me to become more knowledge in different realms. While I yearn to challenge myself on many intellectual levels, I also am curious of understanding other people's roots and ethics they hold with them every passing day. Walking across the college campus populated with fresh new faces ranging from small towns in Eastern Asia or even local cities in Texas, by the end of the day, I plan to allow individuals to show me who they truly are. While I do reflect on my niece's smile through moments of my life, I do not mind encountering another elated countenance.
Any advice on a better title?