This is my home
The camp auditorium began to echo to the sound of national pride and loyalty. The commanding officer instructed all new enlistees to rise for the national anthem, I stood there, frozen. With a hand on my pounding heart, mumbling the words of the anthem, a single question lingered in my head. "How can I serve a country that doesn't feel like home?"
"There's our little soldier!" was the classic greeting I received from my parents' friends. On the outside, I had a fake grin on my face, but on the inside, the very thought of being a "soldier" made me quake. The two-year mandatory military service is deemed as a rite of passage for all Singaporean sons. I had heard stories about how the military made boys into men, and yet I couldn't see myself do the same.
For me, "home" was more of a concept rather than a place. Living in six countries over the span of 18 years, exposed me to different cultures and unique experiences. We were never too sure how long we would stay in one place, therefore I would make the most out of each opportunity. I learned to ride a bicycle on the cobbled streets of Amsterdam, ate a variety of tropical fruits in the Philippines, and mastered the art of the Chinese Yo-Yo in Hong Kong. All these experiences helped shape my character and made me the global citizen I am today.
When asked where I'm from, it's followed by a long explanation of my life and the places I've lived. It never felt right calling myself Singaporean. Although my passport says Singapore, it was never a place I identified as home. Walking through the "Citizens" immigration line and being greeted with the words "Welcome Home" just felt wrong.
When enlistment day finally arrived, my parents and I joined the flood of families into the army camp leading to a tour of my new home for the coming months. We were then brought to an auditorium for our oath taking. My heart dropped as we recited words pledging our allegiance to both Singapore and the armed forces. In a fearful daze, I gave an emotional hug to my parents then joined the rest of the recruits.
We were instantly thrust into a regime of discipline-rising at five, finishing breakfast by six, followed by hours of physical training. Our days were packed with lectures, practicals, and trainings on all facets of basic infantry skills. We were educated on our national security and well-being, bringing purpose to our training. Our commanders tested our limits but with each passing day, we carried our sore bodies and drained minds together as a platoon.
I was fearful my background would stop me from fitting in, but basic training became a place where I could embrace my differences. The army ingrained a deep sense of camaraderie and the ethos of having each other's back. I saw people from all walks of life bond over the one major similarity, Singapore is our home. Even with my very colorful background, I was able to connect with others and gained everlasting friendships with my batchmates. I even started acting more Singaporean, as far as gaining the local Singlish accent in my daily speech. I was seen as another "Bro" who suffered and persevered like all Singaporean sons.
The months of training came to a climactic end with our graduation parade. Marching in step, yelling army songs at the top of my lungs, I felt a great sense of pride wearing my uniform. I was surrounded by brothers in arms that helped me through this rite of passage. The national anthem began to echo once again, however this time, a strong sense of belonging welled up in me. With my hand on my heart, I could finally say the words that lacked meaning till this moment.
"This is my home."
Hi everyone, just wanted some input on my essay as I've been editing and reworking it since about end of July. I had already submitted this essay for my ED in NYU, however, I still am open to suggestions if I were to submit this essay to other schools outside of the common app. Greatly appreciate your input.