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'The word: eclectic' - Ga tech 5000 word essay


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Dec 15, 2011   #1
Tell us about the neighborhood that you grew up in and how it helped shape you into the kind of person you are today.

If I were asked to describe my childhood, or my life in general for that matter, in one word I would choose eclectic. I did not grow up with what most people would call a "normal" childhood; this is primarily because of the neighborhood I grew up in. As a child, I had the privilege of living in many different places around the world, so the "neighborhood" I grew up in spans not only countries, but continents.

Although I was born in Amman, Jordan, I did not spend much of my childhood there. Two years after I was born we moved to Athens, Greece, which became the first place I considered home. However, I cannot say I was ever able to become completely integrated into Greek society, not only because neither of my parents were Greek, but also because I was homeschooled and learned only a few words of Greek. Some may see this as a disadvantage, being socially disconnected due to the fact that I was unable to communicate with anyone who did not speak English (or Arabic) in a country that predominantly spoke Greek. But looking back at it, the advantages I gained from this experience far outweighed the draw backs.

The first and most obvious of these was the fact that I needed to find ways to communicate with others that were creative, to say the least. I remember going to a small market in our neighborhood once a week to pick up milk and a few other small groceries. The store was run by an elderly couple who could not speak English; this made explaining that I needed a few kilos of chicken an interesting experience. I would flap my hands and make sounds like a chicken and he would nod that he understood what I needed; I would then use my fingers to explain how many kilos I needed. After I had done this a few times, the store owner took pity on me; he picked up a piece of chicken, pointed to it, and said: "katopola." At first I was confused, I thought to myself "is there something wrong with the chicken? Had I done something wrong?" I'm sure the owner saw the confusion on my face, because he repeated himself a few times until I understood.

The second major advantage I gained was my objective view of society and culture. I grew up in a Greek society, but neither of my parents were Greek. To amplify this, one of my parents was American while the other was Arab. Because of this, I was able to distinguish between the similarities and differences in various cultures, as well as being able to look at issues from many different points of view, at a young age. Not only did this mean that I had less bias towards other cultures growing up, but it also meant that I could accept these new cultures, customs, and ideas much more quickly than most, a skill that helped me tremendously later on in my life.

In 2003, I moved back to Jordan. Although I had visited Jordan at least once a year, and was familiar with its culture, it still required a lot of adjusting. Having been homeschooled for all of my education thus far, going to a school for the first time was a daunting experience. To intensify the situation, most of my schooling had been in English, and this new school was taught primarily in Arabic. Despite this, I was not only able to adapt to this school and pass, but I was able to thrive. By the end of the year I was able to master all my classes to such an extent that most people could not guess that I had been educated in another language prior to entering an Arab classroom. But I was not only doing well academically but socially. I had made many friends and had learned a great deal about Arabic culture. However, the greatest challenge was still ahead, one that would truly test my ability to adapt and accept new ideas and cultures like never before. America.

In mid-2004, at the age of ten, I arrived in what would become my home for almost seven years, Las Cruces, New Mexico. America was a very different experience in comparison to Greece and Jordan, not simply because of its much more diverse culture and people, but also because I had only been to America twice in my life prior to moving there. Moreover, these two times were during my childhood. This meant that, unlike Jordan, America was a completely new experience for me. Although I had been raised with its culture, I had never actually lived in its society, so although I was not completely surprised by the American way of life, it was still fairly alien.

Growing up in America had a tremendous impact on my life. Because of how diverse its culture and people are I have been able to learn so much about how different people view the world. I feel I have also been able to improve myself with what I have learned. Ralph Waldo Emerson once wrote "Shall I tell you the secret of the true scholar? It is this : Every man I meet is my superior in some point, and in that I learn of him". I believe this quote sums up what my neighborhood has taught me, that I should look for and emulate the best of every society, culture, and person I encounter, and in this way I better myself.
wintahtimee 1 / 9  
Dec 15, 2011   #2
This is definitely a memorable essay. I love the first sentence of the first paragraph. It definitely made me want to keep reading. I also really like your example of going to the market in Greece. Your last paragraph wraps things up nicely.

A few suggestions:

Some may see this as a disadvantage, being socially disconnected due to the fact that I was unable to communicate with anyone who did not speak English (or Arabic) in a country that predominantly spoke Greek.

After disadvantage, I would cut the rest of the sentence. It would be less wordy and stronger.

At first I was confused, I thought to myself

Change the comma to a period. Otherwise it's a run-on

"is there something wrong with the chicken? Had I done something wrong?"

Capitalize is. Consider removing "I thought to myself" and the quotations around the questions.

By the end of the year I was able to master all my classes to such an extent that most people could not guess that I had been educated in another language prior to entering an Arab classroom

This sentence is a bit wordy

but also because I had only been to America twice in my life prior to moving

Eliminate also and because

I would also try to stay away from starting sentences with Because and But and replace a lot with a different adjective when you use it. It's definitely correctly used, but it would strengthen your essay to eliminate them.

Overall, nice work. I enjoyed reading it :) If you could take a look at my essay, that would be great.


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