The quality of Rice's academic life and the Residential College System is 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?
Cringing to my mom’s hand, my eyes modulated left and right, searching for a man with curly hair and big rectangular glasses. From my first four-hour plane ride, my stomach still felt as if its contents were ready for take off, but all I had in mind was to find my dad who I had not seen for a year.
My dad left China a year earlier for a research job in Japan when I was four years old, a time when my primary family was not just my mom and dad, but also my aunt, uncle, cousin, grandma, and grandpa. We lived in the same household where my cousin was practically my sister and my grandma, my second mom. At each meal, we shared platters of foods with just the rice bowl being everyone’s own. Chopsticks danced around the table to reach variety of dishes that accompanied the steamed white rice. Laughers were heard and every time I saw my grandma’s missing tooth, I could see her smiling. Of course, it was not easy for me to leave my family at such young age.
Living in a new country where I did not know any of its spoken language, I wondered how I was going to survive. How am I going to make new friends? What am I supposed to say to the teacher when I need to go to the bathroom? Questions ran through my mind like an avalanche on the first day in kindergarten. I sat at the corner of the classroom just so that I could avoid conversations with other people. Back in China I feared the lunch period the most. I was one of those kids who could barely eat half the meal. I remember my teachers trying to make me eat by sticking a spoon deep in my mouth to the point where it hurt my gum from all the moving and shoving. My mom explained to me I did not eat much because my grandma fed me snacks all the time. I do not think that was the case because I had the same problem in Japan. I did not eat much during the lunch period. Thankfully Japanese teachers did not force me to eat my whole meal. At that point, my life seemed to take a quantum leap.
By second grade, my Japanese fluency caught up with most of my peers. I was able to interact with my classmates, and I did not have to sit in the corner anymore. One of the primary differences between Japanese education and American education is that the whole school is involved with improving the facility. While the Americans try to improve the educational quality by pumping money into school systems, the Japanese achieve the same feat without much financial burden. Everyday students clean the school by themselves. Some sweep the hallways, some wipe the floor with a wet rectangular towel, and some clean the bathroom with a water hose and a brush. Even at lunch, students serve the prepared food to other students in their classroom. Not only do these mundane tasks save money for school systems by eliminating the need for food servers and custodians, they discipline students. Perhaps it is because of these strong disciplines, I am now a responsible and a dependable person. As strange as it may sound, I keep having nightmares about not being able to open my locker and come to class late. I have never come to class late and unexcused in my life. I take every action seriously because I want to succeed. I am inclined to achieve the best that I can be and never satisfied with average efforts.
At Rice I will bring this strong discipline in my education. As my Governor’s Honors Program director had once said “being early is being on time,” you can expect me to arrive to class before anyone else. My peers can also rely on me to lend a hand. When tutoring, I always stick around at least fifteen minutes longer for my students. Because I do not like to leave anyone unfulfilled, I will not leave the one needing help until I see their cheeks lifted, forming a smile. On the light side I can share my Japanese cultures, mangas, origami, and video games, to all those that are interested. I’m interested in joining the Japanese Association of Students and Scholars at Rice and I can take them around Asian stores in Houston and suggest them what to stock up in their room (Pocky, chocolate covered biscuit sticks) and what to avoid (Nattō, fermented soybeans). From the Chinese culture, I believe the sheer joy of eating together improves people’s dynamic and well-being. If I ever see someone sitting alone at the cafeteria, I will invite them to join my table to converse just about anything. And unlike my preschool days, I plan on going to the cafeteria three times a day so that I will not be wasting any of my meal plans.Should I delete the second paragraph? The essay seems a little too long. Also any thoughts, comments, or suggestions?