Prompt: Tell us something that you would like us to know about you that we might not get from the rest of your application - or something that you would like a chance to say more about. Please limit your essay to fewer than 500 words.
Oh by the way, that's not the actual title of my essay. I'm still brainstorming :)"Tell me what you eat, and I'll tell you who you are" -- Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin, 1825.
I made my first pseudo-dumpling when I was two years old. According to my grandmother, I literally fell over with laughter when the soft dough oozed out between my fingers. I suppose that's why I've loved dumplings for as long as I can recall: it was one of the few dishes that a toddler could help with.
The tradition of dumpling-making has been as pervasive in the generations of our family as it has been beloved. The rich aroma of sesame oil, white dough, and Chinese leek always transports me back to the snowy night of Lunar New Year at my grandmother's village in east China. After sunset, my grandmother, mother, and I would light the fire and huddle on the kang, a bed-stove, to make dumplings from scratch. At that early age, few things in my life inspired as much admiration and envy as watching my grandmother and mother work. In effort to emulate their mastery over both the taste and beauty, I worked hard to contribute the occasional misshapen dumpling, which always received generous examination and praise at the dinner table. Eventually, the turning point arrived where I would work alongside my grandmother and mother. It was a rather taxing time commitment for a five year old, but I saw it as an accomplishment.
When I moved to the U.S., the New Year celebration lost its charm but dumplings served an even more important purpose in my family. We were literally "aliens" in Texas, without any relations or friends close by. It was easy to lose yourself amidst the chaos of relocating, finding jobs, and surviving school. But even when we were inundated by work and stress, our family always found time to make some dumplings for dinner. My father would roll out dough while telling long-winded jokes. My mother and I would laugh and gossip as we stuffed the dough with filling. By then a monthly tradition, dumplings amended past conflicts and allowed us to regain a sense of home and identity. The delicious aromas also reminded me of the culture that will always be as fundamental to me as the roots of a tree. As my culinary skills improved, I openly shared this aspect of myself with my friends. When our Girl Scout troop hosted a benefit brunch, I made dozens of batches of dumplings using my own recipe. During our in-class Iron Chef competition, I taught many of my teachers how to fold dumplings and my pot stickers were deemed "Most Tasty Dish." What had been to me a beloved family tradition became an expression of my cultural diversity to others.
The significance of dumplings in my heart has changed through every stage of my development, from my first childhood achievement to a symbol of my identity in my community. While dumplings constitute just a small piece of the heritage that I will carry into college and adulthood, I'm also prepared to open my horizon to new tastes, new flavors, and new experiences. Life is a long and winding journey, but everyone has a starting point. For me, it was those cozy New Year nights long ago, when I'd squish dough between my fingers and cover myself with flour as white as the snow falling outside.
So what do you think? Is this essay too shallow? Should I try to "dig dipper?" I have a problem with conclusions because either I end without any closure or I end with a really cliche statement. Does this conclusion work?
Thanks so much for your help!