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Rice University - contributional perspective about diversity

jaybee 5 / 5  
Dec 30, 2011   #1
I find this essay daunting, and I'm the one who wrote it. Help, please! I had a lot of trouble gathering my thoughts together and just trying to explain my perspective in general. I hope it's not nearly as confusing as it threatens to be. Thank you in advance! (: oh yea and I hope I don't come off as angry...

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? (no max.)

Every time I went back, I could feel their eyes on me, staring at me. I can still remember them - those two girls on their way to school in their pink uniforms outside the grocery store. Pointing at me, bending over each other to get a better look. "Ni kan," they would say, "Look." As if I couldn't understand them. The old man, with his dark skin and white hair, his hands behind his back, at the outdoor marketplace. I remember wondering how someone with so many years, so much wisdom, could even look at me like that. I'd stare right back at them, and they would only stare more, because now I was only giving them a better look. I couldn't understand it. Yes, I was different, but I was still them in every sense of the word. Just with a little something extra. I am Taiwanese and Scotsirish. I do not favor saying that I am half and half. I am just as much Taiwanese as I am Scotsirish, and might I ask, how can anyone really be half of something?

When I was younger, I looked more Caucasian that I do now. With my wispy golden brown curls, hazel green eyes, and lashes like a giraffe's, I hardly resembled a Taiwanese. I understand now why they would stare, especially in the '90s; a little girl walking the busy streets of Taipei with those looks was not something you'd see everyday. Vendors would often ask if I was "when shui," mixed blood. As commonplace a term as it is, this question always disturbed my mother and me. I was not a mixture of anything, a lucky combination, perhaps. Then they would go on to comment how my combined looks made me resemble a porcelain doll. How mush less human could they make me feel? I would lash back and yell, "I'm not a doll, I'm REAL!" I hated be looked upon with what I felt was a shallow interpretation of who I was. Emotions and naivety aside, "when shui" would always prompt me to imagine a milkshake, chocolate and vanilla swirled in a cup, forming a spiraling pattern of alternating dark and light tones. But this was not me. Perhaps it was mixed even more, so that it looked like an iced mocha. But now my components were unrecognizable. I'd think of the alternative, a milkshake, with half of the cup containing vanilla, and the other half containing chocolate, split right down the middle. This fragmentation was not me either. Finally, I imagined who I was, but in two cups, one with chocolate, one with vanilla. I could see both of my hands full with something to hold, rather than holding one thing in one hand.

I understand diversity. When you are a diverse individual, be it by ethnicity, life experience, or personal beliefs, those components that make you diverse do not get diced up or placed in a blender with the rest to result in a piece of this, a piece of that, and a mixture of this. Those components are whole components. I say this even if you are 1/26th Inuit, that is, if you fully understand and have been affected by your Inuit background.

I still get a little hyped up when I am back at home, at a party of unfamiliar Taiwanese people, that switch from speaking Mandarin or Taiwanese to English when they say hello to me, and only me. Sometimes I'd like to say, I am fluent in Mandarin just like you. I love to eat radish cakes just as much as you do. I love to argue about the difference in being Taiwanese than in being Chinese just as vehemently. And I know all about the Chinese, Dutch, Japanese, and Aboriginal influences that make Taiwan what is today, and I have witnessed these influences in my family. Honestly, I could know less than you and be allergic to radishes, and it still would not matter, because my full heart is in it. All this is true, even though, biologically, I am "less" Taiwanese than you.

I bring this perspective with me wherever I go, and I will bring it to Rice, as well. My passion for being recognized for who I am and not what "makes me up" transfers to my interactions with others. I have an appreciation for diversity like no other. When I meet someone, I have an utmost respect for their entire background. I strive to be as least ignorant as possible about people's cultures and life experiences, and I try to be as understanding and considerate human being as I can. For someone to say that I am only half Asian, "so that doesn't count" in whatever argument that causes my palm to go to my head, it conjures a fulfilling spark in me to make others realize what I realize about diversity. Does that mean that my experiences with my Taiwanese culture are only half as meaningful? How can I be "when shui" when mixing Taiwan and Ulster is like mixing oil and water? I am not an individual of mixed values; they are combined in me, each one standing out in its own right. I could be 1/4th Taiwanese, 1/4th Tanzanian, and 1/2 Sioux, and it would not matter. It is only when I tell someone that I am Taiwanese and they respond by saying "Oh, I love Thai food" that I am not sure where to begin.
Notoman 20 / 419  
Dec 31, 2011   #2
The essay is well-written and entertaining, but I feel like the overall tone is too negative. Even though you say you don't go on angry rants about your identity, this sounds like a rant and might be leave a negative impression with the reader. What if the reader considers him or herself a mix of two races/cultures? Your essay implies that he or she would be wrong to do so. It is too defensive.

The last paragraph goes off on a tangent and is hard to follow.

P.S. A person cannot be 1/26 Inuit (or anything else for that matter). I don't know if this is an attempt at humor, and I am an idiot for not getting it. I had a professor tell the class that he was 1/3 Navajo. Really? How would that work? A person has two parents, four grandparents, eight great-grandparents, sixteen great-great grandparents, thirty-two great-great-great grandparents, etc.
ashatan 4 / 25  
Dec 31, 2011   #3
"others realize what I do about diversity..."
If I were you, I would delete the ...'s in front of what and exactly, and just make it either 'What? Exactly!' or '"What?" -Exactly!

Other than that- BRILLIANT! Honestly, the most unique and great essay I have read to date, and I have read plenty. Great job! I am sure you will get in based on this alone. I have no more corrections- the rest is absolutely perfect. again, great job! Good luck, although I doubt you'll need it! after these minor corrections that you can even ignore, I think it's ready to be submitted.

Check mine out, please? the NYU and Stanford supplements...

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