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UC ESSAY-The world you come from; understanding of my identity was a bipolar rollercoaster

askelliott 4 / 8 1  
Nov 28, 2012   #1
IF THERE IS ANYTHING AT ALL THAT CAN BE TAKEN OUT, FEEL FREE TO DO SO. cause sadly since im the writer, i want to keep everything. but both together are well over the limit( about 250 words). so please cut out anything that is unnecessary please.

#1 Describe the world you come from - for example, your family, community or school - and tell us how your world has shaped your dreams and aspirations.

As I was growing up, my understanding of my identity was a bipolar rollercoaster. "Elliott, be proud you're Korean" my dad would reiterate to me, but in actuality, I was never truly proud of my ethnicity. It's not that I hated being Korean; I mean the food was great but I never really interacted with other Koreans much outside of family reunions. During my years in grade school, I had grown up in the city of Cumming, Georgia. Cumming was predominantly white compared to the diversity in California. My influences revolved around the life of a southern white individual and soon I began to adapt to their culture.

My parents were worried due to the fact that I began to be consumed with popularity and secular things, rather than being focused towards school like a stereotypical Asian. "Asian" became a surface, rather than an identity and I began to convince myself that I was "white". There was a moment when my own lacrosse coach had forgotten my ethnicity when he nonchalantly labeled our team, "all white." I earned the label, "white-washed", which I disliked because it gave the notion that I had neglected my own identity. The label served as a nickname to my peers, but as a reality check to me. Who was I trying to be? I started to realize that I was deceiving myself into thinking I was someone entirely different. Had I intentionally tried to be avoidant of my own race?

My family had recently discovered a distant Korean church and I took this as an opportunity to affiliate myself with people of my race. I unexpectedly grew a relationship with the Korean youth group in a brief time.

I noticed that with Koreans there was a sense of "relatability" absent with my school friends. Whenever my school friends came over, I was always embarrassed to even open my fridge since the majority of it's content, such as the jar of pickled cabbage, would put them in disgust. But with Koreans, my fridge was paradise containing pickled cabbage to rice cakes. When with Koreans, I was introduced to so many things that I had been missing out on. From all you can eat Korean BBQ to singing Karaoke; I began to gradually understand Korean culture. The language was becoming more familiar to me since they spoke "Konglish", a mix of both Korean and English, which allowed me to add Korean words to my own vocabulary. Each new thing I encountered created an inexplicable sense of nostalgia that enticed me to want to know more of my heritage.

Since I was one of the few Asians at my school, I was vulnerable to criticism by my peers. I had the fear of being judged constantly, but with my Korean friends, that fear became nonexistent. I began to realize there was no need to try to be someone I was not, rather I embraced my true identity openly.

At first, my world was a formed by my attempt of conformity. But this simple Korean Church allowed me to finally understanding my father's words, "Be proud you're Korean" and I was more than ever. I was unashamed of my ethnicity and my world became molded through my newfound love of my culture. [how should I conclude?]


#2 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?

How true is it that many times we let our prejudices deface a person we barely know? We criticize people through accusations towards their actions, but we never question their motives. Or rather we let their clever facades trick us into thinking their lives are perfect and that they're fine, but in reality they are likely going insane due to problems at home or at school. [Should I just cut that out?] As a student who was naturally gifted at putting up facades in times of grief, I understood that sometimes we need someone that will just "listen".

In the beginning of my junior year, I entered school with burdens fabricated by my parents. My parents, through circumstances, were at the brink of a divorce, which took a detrimental toll on the lives of my brothers and I. After a summer of inexplicable chaos, the signing of legal documents seemed imminent and I felt powerless. All I could do was stay strong for my brothers, to be their leader and comforter.

In addition to my parent's situation, my junior year started off simply terrible. I was the new kid so my focus was more in finding friends, than in preparations for college. I came to school each day, emotionally drained and physically tired. I had what you called "surface" friends, daily peers that greeted you with nothing more than a hi and an inappropriate gossip/comment. I desired a "true friend".

Given this situation, I pursued to make a change in my life at school and with that attitude, become a change in others as well. I applied for ASB, the most involved program at school, and went to my interview with one goal: to be a change in the lives of students at RBHS. Immediately I was considered for HRC Commissioner, a position that hosted and facilitated the Humans Relations Conference, which can be described almost as an "emotional therapy" for sophomores. I was ecstatic since HRC was exactly the change I wanted to see in the school.

As we organized this year's Humans Relations Conference, my co-commissioner and I chose the theme "Your Story Matters", effortlessly expressing the fact that in HRC, your story truly matters to us. Since rumors are spread so easily, we hoped that our theme would lead sophomores to understand that they'll be embraced with open arms and listening ears. Through nights of reading applications in search of our facilitators, laborious hours of financing, and early morning set ups, the day soon came and everyone was full of energy. We began HRC with a quote from Aristotle, "You get out what you put in", I was given the chance to witness actions people would never have made before. During our "shout out" period we gave the stage to the sophomores, allowing them to get something off their chests if they needed to. More than 10 sophomores apologized to someone that they may have hurt in previous years, an action that never crossed their mind initially when they entered HRC.

HRC exceeded my expectations undoubtedly. The day concluded with sophomores approaching their facilitators with smiles and tears thanking them for making this a memorable day in their lives. Students who assumed HRC was just "a stupid room filled with sad people and tears" came out knowing it was much more than that. Yes, it was a room full of sad people and tears, but that room was full of people who'd changed their outlooks on their surroundings. Many "new" students, whom I was able to relate to, came out with loyal and true friends.

Being a part of HRC allowed me to fulfill my expectations to be that change I set out to be. I witnessed the unthinkable and with that I feel blessed to have been both a commissioner and a part of HRC. HRC not only affected me as a person, but also it set the foundation for future positions of leadership I may be given in the future as I enter my senior year and college career.

college134nj - / 44 7  
Nov 29, 2012   #2
its really really good. even i dont know where to cut down, but if i were an adcom, id admit u. u have very personal, touching stories to share. gl :)

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