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Any Topic - "Growing Up With Dumplings"

stixandstones 1 / 2  
Dec 20, 2010   #1
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!

MaKeVi 2 / 4  
Dec 20, 2010   #2
In your opening paragraph, you talk about your first dumpling being at two years old, and then later on you mention how it appeals to your five-year-old self. Is that a typo or do you mean that?

Overall I think it's a good essay, but it can do with some editing.

"Growing older and acquiring new skills meant greater responsibilities, but at five years old, I was proud to accept this change and work alongside the adults. " I'm not very sure about how the first part of this sentence relates to the second the way that the word "but" would imply.

Overall I like the concept of the dumpling. I am a Chinese American as well, and I understand the importance of dumplings in family life, and the central role of the kitchen as well. Every year, my family cooks dumplings for thanksgiving instead of turkey XD.

I agree with you in that your conclusion needs touching up. Personally, I think that you should take out the statement "when I become a mother, i will pass the tradition on to my children" and instead put in a statement talking about how dumplings will guide your general future. This will make your final sentence, which reminisces the origin of things, that much more powerful.
OP stixandstones 1 / 2  
Dec 20, 2010   #3
Thanks for the advice Kevin! Yeah I know those are weak points in my essay. I'll edit and post up a newer version. As for the age conflict, I "made" my first dumpling for fun when I was 2 years old; 5 marked the age when I began to participate in preparing the meal regularly.

ALSO, this is super weird. You don't live in Austin, Texas do you? I know a guy in my school who is ALSO Chinese and ALSO named Kevin Ma. Haha, it would be creepy if you were him.
MaKeVi 2 / 4  
Dec 20, 2010   #4
Nope, I live in New Jersey! And yeah though you made your first dumpling when you were two, and five was when you began participating regularly, that sentence does leave an air of ambiguity and allows the reader (aka the AO) to guess and put their own bias into this. NEVER give them that chance, make it more clear.

Look forward to seeing another version!
mynameisrena 2 / 9  
Dec 21, 2010   #5
A few grammar/spelling mistakes:

It was easy to looselose yourself amidst the chaos of relocating, finding jobs, and surviving school. However, even when we were inundated bywith work and stress, our family always found time to make some dumplingsfor dinner together.

I think this sounds a bit better. By the way, I'm Chinese as well. :)
OP stixandstones 1 / 2  
Dec 30, 2010   #6
Ugh, I swear procrastination will be the death of me... Here is my edited version (finally).
It's about 30 words over the limit, so I definitely need to cut down. Any suggestions guys?
EF_Kevin 8 / 13,334 129  
Dec 31, 2010   #7
has been as pervasive in the generations of our family as it has been beloved.

Nice job!

I challenge you to move this sentence to the end of the first paragraph. That first para needs a thesis statement that will establish the theme of the essay. Move this sentence, and the reader will appreciate every step of the way as an explanation for this main idea.

Really, it is an excellent essay already. You have a great way of writing... and hey, culture is very different in different parts of the country. I wonder where you are planning to go to college. Check out California, Rhode Island, or Massachusetts, some of my favorite states.

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