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"Ruin is a gift" / "see my family in the summer" - Princeton CommonApps


AU0594 15 / 31  
Oct 30, 2011   #1
Please help, any positive or negative feedback will be greatly appreciated :)

Using a favorite quotation from an essay or book you have read in the last three years as a starting point, tell us about an event or experience that helped you define one of your values or changed how you approach the world. Please write the quotation at the beginning of your essay.

"Ruin is a gift. Ruin is the road to transformation." "Eat, Pray, Love", the book the quote derives from, may not match the literary complexity of Finnegans Wake or The Sound and the Fury. However, its quotes are

In fifth grade, I was a stereotypical nerd- chubby, awkward, frizzy curls in a ponytail every day. My classmate Amy was the opposite: slim, graceful, beautiful wavy hair. We danced ballet together; I yearned to be just like her, especially when our ballet instructor showered her with compliments and then proceeded to tell me I need to eat more yogurt and fruit if I want a dancer's body. So when Amy suggested we do a ballet duo for our elementary school's talent show, I agreed, subconsciously hoping some of her perfect traits would rub off on me. When I took out my dance bag on the day of the show, I realized I had brought only one ballet slipper. Unfortunately, it was too late to back out. I had to dance next to the prettiest girl in school in one shoe. I was ruined. My nerves led me to forget the choreography; I watched Amy's every move in a desperate attempt to do the pirouettes at the correct time. I can still feel my face flush at the thought of this moment; I can still see the gawking faces of cruel elementary-schoolers. This traumatizing experience caused me to dedicate myself to performances affiliated solely with dance studios; I vowed to never perform in school again.

Fast forward to last week. The National Technical Honors Society announced their $500 pageant; I decided to terminate my vow and join- it was time for me to break the boundaries I'd set. At the pageant's "group dance" practice, I was the klutz who repeatedly got pulled aside for lack of coordination. As humiliating as this was, I didn't give up; I was determined to face my fears. Today was the pageant. After days of practicing, all the contestants nailed the group dance. This success gave me the adrenaline rush I hadn't experienced since my life-altering trauma in fifth grade. So when Tchaikovsky's Swan Lake came on, signifying my solo, I confidently ran onto the stage in my pointe shoes. I was no longer an awkward nerd- I'd morphed into a graceful ballerina. Then tragedy struck. I looked down to see the string of my shoe hanging loose, threatening to trip me at every plié . The audience laughed; suddenly, I was back in fifth grade. My insecurities came flooding back; I wanted to run off the stage and never return. Instead, I persisted. I dance with an untied shoe, ignoring the snickers, concentrating solely on the music. In the end, I didn't win the pageant. I won something far more important: self-respect. I refused to escape a ruined performance. Instead, I continued to hold my head high, transforming myself into a more confident person. For there is valuable lesson hidden inside every ruined moment.

Please tell us how you have spent the last two summers (or vacations between school years), including any jobs you have held, if not already detailed on the Common Application.

While most people attempt summer college programs; I attempt to see my family in the summer. The summer of 2010, I visited my relatives that I had only seen once in the past nine years. Moments spent with them are gold; they treat me like an "American" princess, failing to realize that I'm still the same simple bug-eyed girl that left them years ago. On my visit, I ate exquisite homemade food like ceviche (raw lemon-marinated fish), quail eggs with "huancaina"(a spicy cheese sauce) and a myriad of other delights unique to Peru. My family often lacks money to feed themselves, yet they never hesitate to throw feasts in honor of our visit. In addition to staying with family in Lima, I also visited the Chavín de Huántar archeological site in Huascar, Peru. The ancient Chavin culture, also known as the "mother culture" of the Andes, existed from 900 BC to 200 BC. Visiting the ruins was an inexplicable, unforgettable experience. I could feel the connections to my majestic ancestors heightening with every breath I took. I could taste the almost painful purity of the untainted air; the same air they'd once breathed. I could see the gargantuan snow-peaked Andes Mountains and beautiful azure rivers crawling around the ancient civilization. That visit changed my aspect of Peru. It's a third-world country not because it is underdeveloped, but because it's completely out of this world.

My visit to Peru in 2011 was more stationary; I stayed in Lima to work a full time internship. Without this internship, I wouldn't have been able to afford my "vacation". It was a humbling experience; some days I was privileged enough to work in the office, other days I worked in the factory. In the factory, I was given mundane tasks like picking loose threads off vests. In order to entertain myself, I rapidly made friends with my surrounding coworkers. One of them, Jose, was twenty and had started college when he was only fifteen! When I was fifteen, I was only a high-school freshman! He is graduating with a masters degree in microbiology at approximately the same time I will be obtaining my high school diploma.

Most people misinterpret impoverished countries as countries with no opportunities. My 2011 trip demonstrated you can be successful anywhere, even if you begin as a thread-picker. One day,Jose will be wealthy enough to own that factory. If Jose can succeed with such limited opportunities, then just imagine what we are capable of in America-the land of unlimited resources!
desm2012 6 / 36  
Oct 30, 2011   #2
Most people misinterpret impoverished countries as countries with no opportunities. My 2011 trip demonstrated you can be successful anywhere, even if you begin as a thread-picker. One day,Jose will be wealthy enough to own that factory. If Jose can succeed with such limited opportunities, then just imagine what we are capable of in America-the land of unlimited resources!

I feel like this cheapens the essay by coming out and saying what is already the obvious meaning of the essay. You should talk about how you took the inspiration Jose gave you back to America and did _______________ with it, or it made you work harder or blahblahblah. Remember, this essay is about you- not Jose, not we. On a side note, change "My 2011 trip" to "My trip." because you a) you already said when the trip was and b) you say the trip was in 2010, not 2011.

While most people attempt summer college programs; I attempt to see my family in the summer.
This is kind of confusing because it seems like you meant to "attend," not "attempt" in the first phrase. Also, that ";" should be a ",".


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