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Personal Statement--My childhood dream...was a luxury to me


martinmengqian 3 / 6  
Dec 19, 2016   #1
Hi everyone! Here's my personal statement of common application, and any suggestion is strongly welcomed!

Prompt: Some students have a background, identity, interest, or talent that is so meaningful they believe their application would be incomplete without it. If this sounds like you, then please share your story.

My childhood dream was to sit in a circle with my parents and watch TV together after dinner on an ordinary Saturday night, or every night-to be so immersed in happiness that nothing else seemed to matter. Yet such a humble wish, to be with my parents, was a luxury to me.

I was born in a small village in the mountains in Hunan, China. Unlike normal nuclear families where children lived with their parents, my parents were working in Guangzhou, a city on the south coast, leaving me in the care of my grandparents. Only once a year during Spring Festival, the Chinese New Year, was I reunited with my parents. The wait for them to come home was a time of both extreme excitement and utmost torture. For nights I would lie in bed wide awake buzzing with joy, occasionally peeking through a crack in the window as the buses passed by, hoping that it was my parents, only to be disappointed by strangers getting off.

When my parents finally greeted me through the doors with armful of new toys, I would rush to their side and cling to my mother's leg like a koala clings to a tree, following her step by step. For the few days that my parents stay with me, the new toys were of minimal significance compared to their companion. However, such happiness always ended abruptly when my grandparents pull me away from my mother's arm and out of the bus to Guangzhou. I then returned to my life of playing in the village and hoped for our next reunion. But every night I would fall asleep missing my mother's soft arm and my father's bedtime stories. The cycle of reuniting and departing with my parents lasted until I finally moved to Guangzhou. Surrounded by the love of my parents, I found happiness even when I had to overcome the obstacles of adapting to a new environment.

However, not all families were like ours. When I returned to my hometown years later, I found that many of my old playmates remained separated from their parents. This separation not only led to their emotional breakdowns, but also caused them to become disoriented about life. As more and more of my friends began smoking, drinking, and dropping out of school, I could not help but wonder about the reason that I was able to live with my parents while my friends could not. I then learned that I could stay with my parents only because I became a legal citizen of Guangzhou city after my father got promotion in his new job. Apparently, university graduates in the 1989's China were forced to work as factory workers or farmers without promotion chances, whose children were unqualified for citizenship of the city that they worked in, and thus families had to split.

Gradually, I realized that it was the awful public policy that had torn so many families apart, and had such negative effects on these people's lives. Although my family got reunited due to my father's endeavor, other families were not so lucky like ours, and I wished to do more for them. While I could not reunite their families, I hoped that by giving the left-behind children access to some of the resources that villages lacked, I could alleviate their pain from the absence of their parents. I have collected over 3,000 books to construct libraries, tutored over 60 children from various villages, and even organized a special donation event for left-behind children. However, my efforts are only minimal compared to what is necessary to actually change the lives of these kids. In order to make bigger contribution, I determine to learn how our government operates and how to improve decision-making of public policies to address the problem fundamentally. I want to make sure that no children will be left behind again.

Holt  Educational Consultant - / 10,107 3258  
Dec 19, 2016   #2
Martin, the way that I read your essay, you somehow got your wish to sit in front of the TV at night with your parents. You were able to bask in their love during the times when they were with your for the Spring Festival. Therefore, saying that such events, no matter how few and far between was a luxury for you is not true. It is only a luxury to you if you cannot do it often or at all. You were able to do this at least during the Spring Festival every year so you cannot say it is a luxury for you. That is why I think that you should remove the reminiscing paragraph at the start of the essay. You have something more important to say about it in the succeeding paragraph so it is best to draw the attention of the reviewer immediately to that aspect of the essay.

Overall, the essay is strong and successfully combines the background, identity, and interest aspects of the prompt. That is not something that most essays manage to accomplish so you really did a good job on this essay. You just need to beef up the opening paragraph so that the reviewer's time is not wasted looking for the actual subject of your essay.
bmb_orgil 3 / 3  
Dec 19, 2016   #3
Hmm I like where you are going, but personally, the last paragraph is not appealing to me because in my opinion it kind of makes your essay little bit weak! Overall, I can really see your main point and it was fun reading it!
OP martinmengqian 3 / 6  
Dec 20, 2016   #4
@bmb_orgil
I also think that the last paragraphs are weak, but I have no idea how to modify it, so may you give me more suggestion about it? Thank you a lot!

@Holt
Thank you again! Starting my essay from the second paragraph is much more direct. However, I still cannot decide whether keeping the first paragraph or not, for I want to emphasize that my parents' company is rare to me. I think for the first paragraph, watching TV with parents on a normal Saturday is truly a luxury to the early me, for during the 7-days Spring Festival, parents have to visit relatives during day time and playing cards (mahjong) at night.
Holt  Educational Consultant - / 10,107 3258  
Dec 20, 2016   #5
If you really want to keep the reference to the yearly Spring Festival as a memory from your childhood, then you will have to present is not as a luxury, but rather as an event that you look forward to, more than the Spring Festival itself. Again, keep in mind that a luxury is something you wish to have but cannot really attain because you are being prevented from doing so by some reason. Since you experience it as a highlight to your year then it can be better described as a yearly event on your part. Just like your birthday is a one a year event that is commemorated, so is the time you spend with your parents once a year.

Again, do not concentrate so much on the anecdote and if possible, remove the reference to your childhood so that the reviewer will not think of the event as something irrelevant that you are trying to make sound important. Just mention the event, sans any time reference. That way, you can also play more with the reasons as to why this event was all too important to you. Maybe say something about your parents only being able to influence your development as a person, not as a child, but as a person, for 7 days out of the year. Which is why the time spent together is memorable for all of you.
realtalk 2 / 15 5  
Dec 20, 2016   #6
@martinmengqian
I am determined to learn how~

also, your accomplishment in the last paragraph could seem a little condescending to those who are reading your essay, so you could work on indirectly portraying the works that you have done.

Other than that, I thought your essay was great both grammatically and sentimentally; I was quite moved by it!


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