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Discuss an accomplishment or an event, formal or informal, that marked your transition from childhood to adulthood within your culture, community, or family.
Tell us about a personal quality, talent, accomplishment, contribution or experience that is important to you. What about this quality or accomplishment makes you proud and how does it relate to the person you are?
The moment my mother burst into tears because my older sister was leaving to the United States for her studies, I realized I was in a big trouble. As known, I was the selfish and spoiled one, while Amaal, my older sister, was the exact opposite. She was the one who would take care of our meals while my mother was gone, and the one who would tell us what color of socks would match our uniforms. At that exact moment, I realized that I was expected to fill her shoes, which I was not remotely willing to do. I thought that if I were to do something, like cleaning up after myself or helping my ADHD brother with his homework, I were to do it out of kindness rather than a sense of obligation. I knew I was a smart kid since I was the one who greatly planned in details all the pranks and troubles my friends and I got into, and I knew longstanding that I should focus my energy on greater purposes. But instead, my main concerns revolved around surprise birthday parties, cats, and very reckless adventures.
My mother succeeded to convince my stubborn head to take few exams that were designed for the gifted. As a result to my score, I was chosen to enroll in CTY Mawhiba PPpn All Girls Summer Camp in Malaysia. Being more excited than I should have been, I arrived at the airport 3 hours earlier. After 8 hours of deep sleeping 28,000 feet off the ground, I was finally in Malaysia. The first thing I did was to check if my dorm room was spacious enough to please my sense of freedom. Instead, I entered a 2x1.5m room crowded by the smallest bed I had ever seen in my life. I slept that night planning to call my family first thing in the morning and beg them to take me back. Alternatively, I woke up to the great news that phones and laptops were taken away; there was no Internet access, or any way of communication with my friends and family.
It was a different kind of environment, where holes in the walls were trademarks, monkeys jumping into the bathroom while you were showering was considered fun, and finding insects in the food you almost finished was a daily incident. Trying to find a way out, I acted against all rules, complained about the circumstances, did not interact well with my colleagues, stole my phone the nights I could, and I survived on Nutella sandwiches for two weeks as I thought the food was too weird to be eaten. It figures, my plan to rebel did not work as I expected; the more I resisted the harder it became and the more depressed I got. I convinced myself that it was only a three-week program that I could survive; I considered it as a challenge and a phase that I had and can go through, and I thought that I might as well get the best out of it.
One time, as an outdoor activity, we went camping. We set up our tents that we shared with 5 other Malaysian, Indian, and Chinese students. As I could not sleep for various reasons, we started talking and sharing our stories without seeing each other's faces due to the aphotic surrounding. I learned that they attended a boarding school that had only a two-week vacation in a year. One student I got to know, Jie Qi Loo, did not see her mother for more than 3 years because they could not afford travel expenses, while Nur Samantha Aman had two sisters that passed away from leukemia, and two more stories that made me stop and question my life.
After that night, I woke up different. I started enjoying my time and becoming open to new experiences a step by step, as I first tried the food, learned few Malay words, sang and danced together to Negaraku, the Malaysian national anthem, and I finally memorized all their 30 names. I made friends, I felt content, and I was grateful and happy.
I realized afterwards that these 504 hours made me grow intellectually and as an individual. With every unfortunate incident that happened, I was slowly shaping and figuring who I am. I understood that every experience you have, whether it was attending your grandfather's 70th birthday party or saving someone's life, and every person you come across, whether it was your teacher or the bus driver, has a lesson to convey, all we have to do is open our eyes and minds and grasp that lesson.