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The spring of my sophomore year I applied for a research course that required me to learn to scuba dive. Through this course I was certified as a PADI open water diver and was able to go to the island of San Salvador in the Bahamas. In San Salvador I was part of a team that conducted research on the island's coral reefs, which involved surveying them for disease and damage, through a program called Reef Check. That summer I also received a scholarship through Mythic University's Biogeochemical Research Ohio Wesleyan University Writing Center © 2011 Page 17 Initiative for Education to continue the geochemistry research I started as a freshman. Later that summer I left for a semester abroad at the University of Western Australia in Perth, Australia. Before returning home, I visited Thailand for over a month to satisfy my curiosity about Asian cultures and to obtain my advanced and rescue diver certifications.
To say the least, my study abroad experience dramatically changed my life. I had never really been away from home for very long at one time other than college, but even there I was only an hour away from home and had close friends who also attend Mythic University. Being in Australia taught me the true meaning of independence and gave me a new sense of confidence. In addition, I gained an international perspective on many issues that I had never considered before. My experience in Thailand opened my eyes to many misconceptions I had about Asian people, and it gave me a new appreciation for the term "culture."
The spring semester of my junior year I was accepted into a collaborative research class in which we began to prepare an online geology course for Mythic University's world campus classroom. In the summer we spent three weeks in many of the southwestern US national parks producing short educational films to be used in the class. This fall we are editing the films and giving presentations about our experiences with the class. As I write this I am in the first semester of my senior year and I have just started my thesis research with a grant from the National Science Foundation. My work investigates uplift in the Himalayan Plateau.
Since studying abroad, I have gained a more compassionate outlook on life, which has caused me to re-evaluate my career choices. For a short time I considered changing fields to a major that would be more beneficial to humanity and thus more self-fulfilling. But after contemplating the issue for some time, I decided that I can make a difference in the world with any career choice. Now, I am devoted to using my geologic knowledge for the betterment of humanity. This is the main reason why I have chosen a project dealing with earthquakes in Taiwan. The research is not just about geology but about advances that will help to save people's lives.
In addition, I am very excited to learn more about the Asian culture, which I have taken a special interest in since my short visit to Thailand. I believe I am highly qualified to conduct my proposed research. Although my research interactions will be done in English, I have started Chinese lessons this fall at Mythic University to make my experience in Taiwan even more meaningful. I will have completed Chinese II by the time I graduate and I hope to take personal language lessons over the summer before traveling to Taiwan. After this experience I plan to obtain my PhD at a geology school in California, integrating the knowledge I obtained in Taiwan to studies on fault zones in the United States.
Essay Eleven At the age of twelve, I visited my parents' home country of Lebanon. Confined to my grandfather's apartment due to a heavy Syrian military presence outside (and the drivers are particularly wild), I decided to use the elevator and get a view of the world outside. As the slow Otis elevator ground to a halt, the elevator door opened to reveal an entire story that was no longer in existence. Rubble was everywhere, and my mind, already processing the bullet holes that marked almost every building that did not get the fashionable facelift of downtown, was reeling as I stared from the edge of the 9th floor to the ground below. The devastation and destruction wrought by years of ethnic and religious conflict had a deep impression on my psyche. I could not imagine how such appalling acts could occur or how people could live in such an atmosphere of apprehension. Returning to her old mountain home overlooking Beirut a few days later, my mother could only cry as she saw old rusted bullets in her bedroom, and she Ohio Wesleyan University Writing Center © 2011 Page 18 could only scream at us in Arabic to stay away from the rockets in the bathroom. To help ease my apparent distress, my father gave me a hug, telling me, "You are safe in America. It is our new home. Just remember this: Anger does not solve anything, an eye for an eye and the world goes blind."
As I grew older in America I recognized that the lines of communication and understanding in Lebanon had been undermined and replaced by bigotry, religious intolerance, and hatred. During my high-school years, I was a bilingual speaker of English and Arabic, with a cadre of friends who spoke French, Spanish, Russian, Hebrew, Hindi and Swahili. My world broadened with the many heated talks on international politics, and growing up near Washington, DC, I was drawn to the history and politics of the region, visiting the various museums and the Kennedy Center, and keeping abreast of political news.
In my spare time (summer break), I spent my money on books and travel, visiting Japan, Spain, Australia, England, and New Zealand. I readily admit my life is sheltered, yet I have encountered many obstacles in my young life.
My multicultural experiences as a child and teen gave me inner strength to overcome the hurdles.
From blatant racism in high school from teachers and students because of my name, to people discounting my ability to speak English, I have learned that respect is earned and patience and understanding are a necessity. Before visiting my parents' home country, I was an angry child. Students who would make fun of my name or call me 'camel-rider' were often hit. My anger led to numerous black eyes. Until I visited real suffering, I could not imagine a worse existence. Yet my world was radically altered when I could no longer look at myself in the mirror and see someone to pity. That day anger was replaced with a promise to do better for myself and others.
For these reasons, upon arriving at the University of Rochester, I was naturally drawn to History, Neuroscience and Political Science. My majors are a reflection of the self I have become and the futureself I still strive for. I want to be able to understand both theoretically and scientifically what drives world society towards horrific acts. I want to understand why anger can lead to violence. Most importantly, I want to gain the skills that will help implement solutions towards fixing such problems. Agonizing over game theory, learning about centers of the brain, and understanding the historical roots of regional conflict all help further my aim of applying my education in real-world situations.
Living in Jordan as a Fulbright Scholar will give me the opportunity to interact with a new generation of young adults, providing me with the opportunity to learn and impart knowledge by acting as a bridge between cultures. As part of my community outreach, I will establish a rapport with local schools around my university, in order to engage in community service activities with secondary students. I will also volunteer in the community at hospitals, schools and shelters (in conjunction with the Public Services Club of JUST), much as I did in high-school at Suburban Hospital or Bannockburn Elementary, both located in Bethesda, Maryland. By directly establishing a relationship with secondary students, I will learn how teenagers view democracy and what they see for the future politically. Understanding how younger generations of Jordan will adapt and implement democratic processes is essential in a region that is volatile, since the alternative is death, destruction, and needless suffering.
Ohio Wesleyan University Writing Center © 2011 Page 19 Sample Opening Paragraphs Read and compare the sample introduction listed below. Different writing occasions call for different
kinds of beginning paragraphs. The lead of any document, however, will do the following:
“Grab” the reader with an attention-getter, such as an example, an anecdote, a description, a definition, a question, or some other technique or device. Begin with a compelling first sentence.
Introduce the main point or governing idea—stated or implied—and possibly contextualize the topic or include relevant background material.
Provide “signal” information, such as organizational “guideposts” or an “umbrella” statement, and a compelling transitional sentence or two.
Establish the tone of the essay.
1. During the summer of tenth grade, I took a number theory course at Johns Hopkins University with students from Alaska, California, and Bogota, Colombia. My attendance of the New Jersey Governor's School in the Sciences is another accomplishment that exemplifies my dedication to knowledge. During the summer following eleventh grade, I took courses in molecular orbital theory, special relativity, cognitive psychology, and I participated in an astrophysics research project. For my independent research project, I used a telescope to find the angular velocity of Pluto. With the angular velocity determined, I used Einstein's field equations and Kepler's laws to place an upper bound on the magnitude of the cosmological constant, which describes the curvature of space and the rate of the universe's expansion.
2. I lived until the age of 18 in Lacey, Washington, a small town made up mostly of the strip malls and fast food restaurants that line Interstate 5 from Portland to Seattle. Very few of my high school classmates left this town, and instead moved back into the service industries and lower rungs of state bureaucracy where their parents had worked before them.
For those of us who wanted to leave, the only routes, at the time, seemed to be the military or higher education. Since, by middle school, I had been tracked into college prep courses, I assumed that I would go to college but did not know where or what to study.
3. The life of an urban dweller is a patchwork of sorts. You may live in one square of the quilt but be unaware of surrounding swatches. My patch was Brooklyn—a patch buried within the dense urban quilt of New York City.
4. I grew up in the upstate New York town of Saratoga Springs, a Victorian spa resort whose motto, "Health, horses and history," announces its glamorous origins. My family's Empire-style home, built in 1836, exemplified the cloudy mingling of reality, culture and history that continues to inform my work today. Victorian architecture embraced not only the connection between interior and exterior decoration, but also the design of everything from furniture to rugs to silverware, generally believing that all things necessary to life should be made beautiful. Yet, the Victorian era — as it is understood through literature, religion and philosophy — was a time of doubt, brought about by a quickly changing era of industrialization and historicism. In my paintings, I explore the contradictions of bourgeois longings, the clash between the reality of everyday life and the histories that we invent and cling to, as exemplified by the contradictory Victorian era. My immersive, large-scale canvases contain disjointed images - of contemporary and historic rooms inexplicably installed as if in a single home - that balance representation and abstraction. Melding the public and private, the handcrafted with the anonymously mass-produced, I create paintings Ohio Wesleyan University Writing Center © 2011 Page 20 that are connected to history and to my experience as a woman in America.
5. When I first saw a skeleton hanging on the window of a house, I shrugged and wondered what type of neighborhood my family had moved into. What else could I think? I was a recent immigrant from Israel and the concept of Halloween was one of those American cultural entities which I had yet to learn about. It was the start of several years' worth of an interplay involving mutual ignorance on my part, regarding American culture, and on my American peers' part, regarding mine.
6. My grandparents have touched many lives: former drug addicts, refugees, neighbors, and my own. They have an uncommon ability to build relationships; they are a paradigm of service—where service is more than what you do and is also defined by who you are. In my own life, I have aspired to affect people in the manner of my grandparents and others in the Mennonite Church. I still have that aspiration, but my vision has expanded. Prior to attending Mythic College, I pictured myself living in Mythic County near my family and my roots. I grew up attached to the local way of life, working at my family's snack food business, raising crops to earn money, and leading the local Future Farmers of America. During high school, I read the international section of the paper but the people and events seemed a world away. At Mythic College, professors challenged me with realities such as the fate of 500 million people who are chronically malnourished. I began to ask myself, "Why will I have thirty food options at breakfast tomorrow while whole populations around the world will wake up with almost nothing to eat?"
7. My two defining passions are my loves of music and foreign languages. I began playing flute at age nine. I was fortunate to be talented enough to make it into several youth ensembles including the prestigious Greater Boston Youth Symphony Orchestra. Music has taught me dedication and perseverance. It has brought me together with people from all walks of life and helped me to develop an international perspective on life. I love music because it allows me to create a bit of beauty in the world. Wherever in the world I have been, my flute has come along, and it will accompany me to Poland if I receive a Fulbright grant.