Here it is. I am really nervous about it since English is not my first language. Hope it's not too boring for you!
As I walked out the doors of Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport with one hundred and fifty pounds luggage, I felt the dry late summer breeze blowing on my face. For the past 36 hours, I had been on the plane by myself across the Pacific Ocean, from Shanghai to Chicago, then from Chicago to Minneapolis, one flight delayed, the other flight cancelled. I arrived one day later than planned, but as I stood outside the airport and took a deep breath of the fresh air, I forgot my frustration of trying to get on the last flight that night, my tiredness from carrying four heavy suitcases alone, and my exhaustion from hunger, thirst, and air sickness. I only remembered that every obstacle was there for one reason – to overcome it. The land below my feet, thousands of miles away from Singapore and China, was where my new journey started. There was no fear to this unknown journey, only excitement, for more challenges, more obstacles to overcome, and a stronger self.
I have been a solo traveler on journeys all my life. While I know that everyone goes on journeys and faces obstacles on these journeys, I believe that the success of these journeys is based on the preparation before each journey- how deliberate and complete it is. “Chance favors only the prepared mind.” As I look back, I realize that the journeys I have gone through have prepared me to find a strong footing even in unstable situations, positively learn from mistakes to prepare for future journeys, and constantly challenge myself to go on further journeys.
At the age of seven I started to fly across China alone to visit my mother; At the age of eleven, I took a train to North Korea to attend an international summer camp; At the age of fifteen I moved to Singapore by myself to explore the world outside China; At the age of twenty I flew to America to explore the world outside Asia. My journeys have never been smooth and easy. Challenges have been everywhere, in the emergence into new social environment, the growth as a person, the development of self identity, the exploration of life goals and the choice of future journeys. However, failures hindered me but never defeat me, obstacles challenged me but never scare me. Though these journeys, I have developed into a passionate, thoughtful, adaptable and motivated person.
Before I started my college education, my goal was to become an economist, to study the subject that links every pieces of society together, provide explanation to the demand of every person’s life. After studying sociology, I realized that only law can enforce the proper function of (the) society. Economics and sociology analyze the society, law, on the other hand, maintains the balance of (the) society, constrains the negative impact and ensure the sustainability of the social growth. Fifteen years in China, five years in Singapore and three years in Minnesota have given me invaluable insights into the difference in judicial systems in these three places.
China, my hometown, is a society that weights general social values and morals over laws. The emotional motivation behind crimes could potentially change the punishment due to social pressure. However, last summer I conducted the project of “Job seeking and social network” surveys in China and during the in-depth interviews with local Chinese people, I heard their insatisfactions towards the laws and judicial system, the frustrations towards the inability of the system to protect normal people in China. I realized the current Chinese judicial system no longer sufficiently answers the growing dilemmatic social problems due to the change in social stratification and power structure.
Conversely, Singapore, which is constructed by multi-ethnic multi-religious immigrant populations, uses its strict law regulations and heavy punishment system to ensure equality in society regardless of language, race and religion. The judicial system in Singapore has sometimes been described as “inhumane”, as I remembered from the caning punishment incident of American citizen Michael Fay in 1994. However, during my five years there, I did not feel any disturbance from the system of “law above all”; instead, my Singapore friends and I felt well protected by the country and held strong support for the current judicial system. Since I came to America, the emphasis of freedom, personal privacy, and human rights in American judicial system strikes me as an opposition to the systems I have experienced in China and Singapore. The difference in judicial systems in different countries and social forces behind the formations of such systems interest me to pursue a further study in law and become passionate to learn from various law systems, understand different needs of people from diverse social backgrounds, and finally contribute my knowledge to assist those whose voice needs to be heard.
After so many challenges, I'm now emotionally and mentally ready for new obstacles to overcome and new oceans to cross, law school will be one of them. A traditional Chinese saying my mother told me when I was young always alerts me that there is always a hill higher than the current one I am standing on and only by climbing higher and facing more challenges, will I be able to observe new aspects of myself and gain greater perspectives of life. I believe that with my determination I will successfully complete law school and with my passion I will be able to assist those who also face difficulties and challenges in their life journeys. As for me, my direction has been more definite and my luggage has been packed well for this journey ahead. I am ready to depart again.