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Thanksgiving night; UC Prompt #1 - Traditions


gumdrop41 6 / 30  
Nov 17, 2009   #1
Describe the world you come from ï for example, your family, community or school ï and tell us how your world has shaped your dreams and aspirations.

I would really try to cut it shorter. Also, I'm not sure if I talk too much in the beginning and not enough about my actual dreams and aspirations. All criticism and edits are welcomed :D thank you!!

I was at a friend's house one thanksgiving when she introduced me to the turkey. And not much later, I was introduced to the wishbone. I had eaten turkey before, but usually in thin strips of circles, and was baffled by this monstrous sight before me, as my own family never celebrated Thanksgiving. The traditions of her family fascinated me, the meal was delicious, and afterwards, she handed me a thin piece of bone in the shape of a V, explaining that whoever got the longer end when we pulled would get a wish granted. I laughed at her words, and told her that I longed for traditions of turkeys and cranberry sauce, of family songs and traditions. She smiled and handed me an end of the bone. We pulled.

It's been seven years since that Thanksgiving night, yet it still shines vividly in my mind because it was one of the few times I took part in a tradition. Growing up as the child of immigrants, I've always felt that the customs my parents grew up with as children were left behind with my family in Taiwan. Here, in America, it was too hard to find excitement in passing out red envelopes when the rest of the community was distributing Easter eggs. And though my face and my skin color define me as Taiwanese, nothing in the style of my life or the traditions that my family and I uphold reinforce that. I am Chinese, but I don't celebrate my country's new year. I have never placed a glowing candle inside a paper lantern, and I have never lit firecrackers. The closest thing I have to my culture is the yearly visits to Chinatown where I gaze at those cloth dragons and red symbols, wondering what it has to do with me.

But if I am not truly Chinese, I cannot call myself American either. On Easter, I used to sit on the front lawn and messily decorate eggs with only the help of three dollar do-it-yourself kits. Every Halloween, my house remains as bare as the other 364 nights, and every Christmas my father clumsily throws yellow lights onto the roof while I decorate the same faded plastic tree we've had since I was eight. An individual is defined by their actions, personality, and individuality, but I feel that a family is supposed to be defined by the traditions that hold us all together, the customs that I'm supposed to pass down to my children. But my hands are empty.

Though this lack culture drove me crazy as a child, it has indirectly affected both my interests and dreams. I am undeniably attracted to the customs of all cultures, documenting them in the words of my writing and the pictures in my albums each time I visit a festival or tour a foreign country. My desire to write and record comes from the desire to hold onto whatever custom I am lucky enough to witness, in hopes that I'll no longer be the child without an identity, but rather an individual rich with the traditions of the world around me. There is so much culture in every society, and I long to discover more. Every dream that I have of the future involve traveling, whether it be for photojournalism, to create a documentary for National Geographics, or just to be able to go of my own accord. It would be too much of a pity to stay in just one place when there's the rest of the world to discover.

Though my future is uncertain, I am sure that one day my dreams will be achieved, because seven years ago, I pulled apart a wishbone with my friend. And I got the longer end

XLZ 2 / 10  
Nov 17, 2009   #2
I cant tell... but it seems like your essay was cut off at the end. Is it not finished?

From what I COULD read you did some nice work. Everything seems good to me. You touch upon a universal theme that everyone can relate to. Yet, you also provide enough insight into yourself to allow the readers to experience your own unique dilemma.

Your sentence:"An individual is defined by their actions, personality, and individuality, but I feel that a family is supposed to be defined by the traditions that hold us all together, the customs that I'm supposed to pass down to my children. But my hands are empty." Really stood out to me.

Please read my essay. Thanks!
OP gumdrop41 6 / 30  
Nov 17, 2009   #3
Thanks a lot Alexander! Oh i don't think my end is clear enough, it's supposed to tie back in to the first paragraph, concluding that I got the longer end of the wishbone, and therefore my dreams and aspirations will come true :)

I shall read your essay after school :D thanks!
OP gumdrop41 6 / 30  
Nov 18, 2009   #4
Does anyone think I didn't reflect enough? Some people told me that the beginning doesn't tie in to my message enough, and that I should take it out
OP gumdrop41 6 / 30  
Nov 18, 2009   #5
could anyone else edit my essay a bit more? I've been editting other peoples but no one seems to come back D:
amaryrose 2 / 16  
Nov 18, 2009   #6
"And i got the longer end."
It clashes with the rest of your style and I am not sure what that is supposed to represent. If it has a point, you could reword it to something like "The longer end broke off in my hand" and then put your reasoning for how that ties into your essay. That sentence can't just stand alone, although the imagery is very nice and if it can tie everything together neatly.

Now that I reread it, I see it should be simple enough to add a wish type statement that will work work. Otherwise, I really like this essay!
Pikafu 4 / 15  
Nov 18, 2009   #7
I disagree with amaryrose. I think that the ending sentence is just the right way to end the essay, to connect the introduction with the rest of the essay in the most succinct way possible. For me, at least, the reference was pretty clear, as the introduction was different from the rest of the essay (so I kept it in my mind). Therefore, when I got to the end of the essay, I was pleasantly surprised by the reference to the beginning. It gives the essay a satisfying finish, a literary "echo", if you will, in my mind.

Also, I think the beginning is fine. If anything, I would make this correction:

"And not much later, I was introduced to the wishbone. Although I had eaten small strips of turkey beforeturkey before, but usually in thin strips of circles, andI was baffled by this monstrous sight before me, as my own family never celebrated Thanksgiving."

It's a bit shorter now, but not by much.

Great essay, I like it a lot.


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