Berkeley personal statement first draft

(BLS, URM status, non-traditional, GLBT)
serdog
Posts: 302
Joined: Wed Oct 13, 2010 8:21 pm

Berkeley personal statement first draft

Postby serdog » Sat Jan 15, 2011 3:01 pm

***** means personal information that I have removed for net

Drin hozo, shorze ***********, ****************** trat. Good day, my name is ********. I am of the ****************; more specifically, I am of the people who live at the place of ************, the mouth of ********* near ***********. I am of the Crow (or Raven) clan. Under traditional law, I am expected to introduce myself in this manner. For the ***, a person’s conduct reflects on the community as a whole, so when I meet new people, it is important that they understand these relationships.
From an early age, I was drawn to my traditional culture, the songs, dances and stories that tell us who we are. As I got older and we settled our final lands claim agreement, I was attracted to the ideas of traditional leadership. I have always held the view that maintaining governance of the old Indian Act chief and council does not truly reflect self-government, as true self government would have to ensure restoration of our traditional customs. As a youth in hopes of guiding the process towards the integration of traditional practices, I took a position on our Constitutional Committee, and although this process failed, I perceived a personal need to gain a solid understanding of both systems. Indeed, my Elder, *******, once sat me down to explain why this understanding was important. He said that too many lawyers were educated only in Common Law and had no knowledge of first nations traditional laws and therefore, could not truly understand what we were working towards, the restoration of our customary laws. From that point forward, I understood that I needed to educate myself in both systems in order to help integrate the two and further our intercultural relationships. Our community needs the healing that will come from restoration of traditional ways and Canadian Law needs these traditional laws to conform to Common Law. The Carcross Tagish First Nation has attempted to promote community understanding in a truly cultural context by supporting the common laws with Tlingit traditional stories that have the same moral sense. In my employment, I spearheaded a Yukon wide Elders Summit to record traditional knowledge before it is lost. At home, I began a project to record elders’ stories of the law so that when the time is right, these important values can be integrated in the creation of our new justice system. These ongoing projects made the decision to attend law school a difficult one, as the need to continue working for our people in core areas conflicted with my need for the knowledge and skills that I could only acquire through law school. In the end, the need for knowledge of both systems cemented my decision to become a lawyer.
Last February, I had the opportunity to participate in the Indigenous Youth Gathering in Vancouver. After spending two weeks living with 300 outstanding youth from across Canada and our involvement in the Olympics, I came to the realization that I had never quite understood the true interconnection of the international aboriginal experience. I can clearly remember thinking of the importance of connecting with and helping all the *** people no matter whether they live in Alaska or Yukon. Before attending this gathering, I had focused my advocacy and knowledge solely on the Yukon but after getting to know all these amazing young people helped me realize I could not be provincial; I wanted to work for all the people of Canada, even if I started at home. Our values are similar in many ways and it is important that we learn to value each other without allowing our uniqueness to be over powered. That insight helped me realize that building my community could help bring about change in others across Canada and that, in spite of the irreparable damage done by residential schools, it is possible and of paramount importance that our people educate themselves in both the western and indigenous sense. I hope to bring a greater understanding of western justice to the people of in a manner that truly reflects an understanding of the cultural structure of both systems. This dream for reconciliation has planted a desire to study international law, placing my vision into an international context.
Working on the Justice file for has given me an understanding of the justice issues that first nation people face under the colonial system, including the massive overrepresentation of aboriginal people in the justice system, the high rates of recidivism, and the need to address these issues. One of the solutions that I have worked with is restorative justice, which reflects a return towards the worldwide traditional system wherein harm is addressed in a manner that restores the community relationship, as opposed to the contemporary focus on punishment that often leads to further criminalization of the population. Unfortunately, the current formats of restorative justice are based on the Mauri systems and, I have found, a number of our people are uncomfortable with using this outside system. For this reason, I see a need to restore more local traditional content into the justice practice, and I dream of understanding, from a legal perspective, how restorative justice programs can interact with traditional legal systems to become a truly reflective system that will ensure the ******* citizens will be much more comfortable in accessing the system on a regular basis for help on their healing journey. In the long term, the level of criminal activity would decline as core intergenerational issues, or victimization, that led to the criminal activity are addressed in ways that are acceptable to the people. In this way, we will begin to build community capacity as healthy citizens become able to function within the education system without worrying about other harms that are taking place in their home or community.
Ultimately, I intend to become an elected leader in my community, in a position that will enable me to address the many areas I which I am interested and where I can best serve my people. During my attendance at Council of Yukon First Nations General Assemblies, I have seen that the most effective chiefs are those who are well educated, as well as trained in the traditional ways. I feel that a true understanding of the operations of government is a cornerstone of good leadership. As many of the matters which come before first nations leadership have a highly technical aspect to them, study of law would help me understand the issues and allow me to become a better leader. By ensuring that our leaders are educated, we ensure that they are able to truly lead rather than be guided and led by technical people employed the first nation. Too often following outside advice has been a step backwards in many communities including my own. Educated leaders First Nations can ensure that we are in control of our own destiny as determined by the traditional values of our people
I believe that my personal vision has guided me to where I need to be at the right moment in my life. At this time, I believe that the place I need to be is Law School. Over the time I have spent in the community, it has become clear to me that the Yukon needs more lawyers with an interest and knowledge of the importance of traditional values. I have worked to integrate these values into the emerging justice system being developed by ***********, I hope that by creating this structure, I will be able to inspire other Aboriginal communities to liberate themselves from the colonial mentality. I feel that by learning the law and leading my community, I will be a force for the change that we need to create truly self-governing communities. Through my past experiences, I have developed a clear vision of the future and the change I believe I must effect in my community. To this end, I know and understand that I must undertake the study of law in the present so that all of these experiences can come together to help me effect the changes that will truly liberate my people and make us a healthy nation once again.
Last edited by serdog on Sun Jan 16, 2011 1:59 am, edited 2 times in total.

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Knock
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Joined: Wed Jun 10, 2009 3:09 pm

Re: Berkeley personal statement first draft

Postby Knock » Sat Jan 15, 2011 10:50 pm

Umm, you should probably edit out identifying details, such as your real name.

serdog
Posts: 302
Joined: Wed Oct 13, 2010 8:21 pm

Re: Berkeley personal statement first draft

Postby serdog » Sun Jan 16, 2011 1:57 am

Knock wrote:Umm, you should probably edit out identifying details, such as your real name.

Thank you :oops: can believe I missed that :oops:

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pixytree
Posts: 175
Joined: Mon Dec 20, 2010 12:35 pm

Re: Berkeley personal statement first draft

Postby pixytree » Thu Jan 20, 2011 12:02 am

You should go through and double check punctuation. There are a few run-on sentences. Overall a very good essay and unique topic. I wish I had time to read through the whole thing now and edit it for you, but here's a little help. Feel free to pm me if you want more edits.

"As a youth, I took a position on our Constitutional Committee in hopes of guiding the process (WHAT PROCESS) towards the integration of traditional practices. Although this process failed (WHAT FAILED? WHY? WHY DID IT IMPACT YOU IN A SUCH A WAY), I came to feel a personal need to gain a solid understanding of both our traditional and the mainstream legal systems. Indeed, my Elder, *******, once sat me down to explain why this understanding was important. He said that too many lawyers were educated only in Common Law and had no knowledge of First Nations' traditional laws, and therefore could not truly understand what we were working towards: the restoration of our customary laws."

I chose this particular section because I think there's a good story you can pull from this and use to focus your essay.
Last edited by pixytree on Thu Jan 20, 2011 12:29 am, edited 1 time in total.

CanadianWolf
Posts: 10439
Joined: Wed Mar 24, 2010 4:54 pm

Re: Berkeley personal statement first draft

Postby CanadianWolf » Thu Jan 20, 2011 12:08 am

Consider deleting the first five of your six paragraphs. Then add a sentence or two to the last paragraph which captures the message of the first five paragraphs in a more succinct fashion. In short, your essay is too long, a touch boring & a bit repetitious.

P.S. I realize that you probably stretched this personal statement as much as possible in an attempt to satisfy Berkeley's four page "requirement", but you really need more substance written in crisp, clear sentences to make a positive impression.

serdog
Posts: 302
Joined: Wed Oct 13, 2010 8:21 pm

Re: Berkeley personal statement first draft

Postby serdog » Thu Jan 20, 2011 3:20 am

Thanks for the feedback :)




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