Using the statement below 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:
"Princeton in the Nation's Service" was the title of a speech given by Woodrow Wilson on the 150th anniversary of the University. It became the unofficial Princeton motto and was expanded for the University's 250th anniversary to "Princeton in the nation's service and in the service of all nations."
- Woodrow Wilson, Princeton Class of 1879, served on the faculty and was Princeton's president from 1902 to 1910.
Serving others has always played a large role in my life. When I was young my mom and I would take regular trips to the local homeless shelter to drop off food and clothes, or help prepare a holiday meal. I loved regularly volunteering at the animal shelter, helping animals find new homes. Additionally, throughout high school I have been involved in a community service club, participating in many fun events, from buying and wrapping Christmas presents for underprivileged children to the Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service in Philadelphia. While I have always loved activities such as these, where service is the main focus, recently I discovered that serving others is often the result of something other than an organized event.
People say that little things can make a big difference, but I did not truly understand what this meant until a few weeks ago. I have been dancing since I was around six years old, tap dance being my favorite style. At the beginning of the winter term of my senior year I was given the opportunity to co-teach and choreograph tap, with my friend Ivy, for the dance team at my school. At first, I was nervous about the time commitment; during the fall term I was involved in what was on the verge of too many extracurricular activities. However, I loved tap, and I thought it would be fun to dance again.
The dance team consisted of only eight girls, plus Ivy and myself. One girl who had persistently danced for every term was Sage, a junior. Sage wasn't your typical sixteen-year-old girl; I had tutored her the year prior, and lived with her in the girls' dorm, through which I discovered her astonishing pessimism and difficulty with authority, as well as her disabilities, which I still knew little about. Even though she had difficulty picking up choreography and was consistently a few steps behind the group, dance was what caused her to want to go to school every day. However, she hated tap dance. Knowing that Sage would be one of the girls we had to teach, I was nervous about having the dance ready in time for the concert three weeks later.
Ivy and I quickly pieced together a "Rockette"-style tap number, and began teaching it to the team. Ranging in experience from ten years to never having taken a lesson, each girl learned the dance at a different pace and required different amounts of attention. Sage, of course, continually needed more time and consideration, even when placed with the less advanced girls. Nevertheless, I wanted to make sure that she felt confident enough to go on stage at the concert. Once we had finished teaching everyone the choreography, I felt considerably accomplished; I had successfully choreographed my first dance, and the team seemed to have fun in the process. I didn't think I had made that much of an impact, however, until I talked to Sage after the concert.
With a huge smile on her face, Sage approached me and began gushing about how much fun she had. Suddenly, Sage loved tap dance! I was incredibly surprised in her change in attitude, but simultaneously thrilled to see her so enthusiastic. Before that moment, I thought of my experience with dance team as something I was doing for myself, a fun yet challenging way to work dancing back into my life. Through Sage's brief moment of joy and optimism, I realized that I was able to reach out to someone who I had previously thought would never emerge from her negative, withdrawn state. Taking part in something that seemed small to me turned out to cause a great impact in someone else's life.I wrote this essay, but after reading a few others online and thinking about it more, I decided to start another one. I'm on a bit of a time crunch (obviously!) and I was wondering if it was worth reviving this one...? Also, any revisions much appreciated. Thanks! :)