Close to Final Draft, please critique

(Personal Statement Examples, Advice, Critique, . . . )
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keeran23
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Joined: Sat Jul 03, 2010 3:29 pm

Close to Final Draft, please critique

Postby keeran23 » Fri Oct 15, 2010 2:55 pm

As my family and I landed in Johannesburg awaiting our relatives to receive us at the terminal, I found myself in a familiar place, preparing to adjust to the culture I would be residing in for the remainder of my summer. The months preceding were spent in the rural villages of Madurai, a city in one of the southern states of India. I had come to accept this as a normal flow of events as every other summer of mine was spent with my immediate family visiting relatives from both India and South Africa. With each visit came the cultural transitions that I had become accustomed to being born to a family widely dispersed throughout the world. From the traditional farm villages of India, deeply rooted in the archaic caste system, to the post-apartheid era filled with uncertainties in everyday life about the relations between whites and blacks in South Africa, every summer was a test of my ability to adapt and coexist with my complex cultural surroundings.

The ability to adapt has proven time and time again to be invaluable to me in embracing adverse conditions. My upbringing, by analogy, is a very real example of this priceless asset. Specifically, my college experience has been shaped by my ability to adapt to an array of challenging circumstances.
My choice to attend the University of Connecticut was greatly influenced by the fact that my father was a professor of engineering at the institution. It made economic sense to attend the university as my four years of undergraduate studies would be tuition-free. However, tuition-free did not imply problem-free. Having been exposed to a variety of cultural circumstances throughout my summer vacations, I found it hard to adjust to a majority culture in which the norm was little to no international exposure. I constantly found myself privy to remarks with a strong racial undertone. Recurring examples included, but were not limited to, snide remarks about whites ruling over blacks in situations such as the apartheid system of South Africa and American slavery or ill-informed comparisons of Indians to the terrorists of 9/11.

Despite the rash comments, I learned to keep an open mind; a crucial lesson learned from my interactions with my family. Constantly throughout my travels I was exposed to norms that seemed almost conflicting. At first glance, India and South Africa seem to present a dichotomy of cultures, but only by keeping an open mind was I able to relate to both dimensions of my family while relating to them the Western culture which I was exposed to back in the United States. Similarly, I was able to combat seemingly ignorant remarks by learning what kind of cultural norms were presented to my peers growing up. Through personal interaction I was able to explain to them the significance of their remarks and generally my efforts were successful in opening their perspectives and in turn I made valuable friends in the process.

Keeping my experience in the foreground, I was inspired to attend law school by my grandfather. Trained in the law at Chennai, India my grandfather always kept himself up to date on legal proceedings not only in India but also the U.S. He always taught me that the only way the world’s problems would be solved is if we all truly understood one another’s cultures and relationships with one another. While my grandfather’s vision is very ambitious, I find merit in the idea of keeping myself abreast about international events. Coupled with my understanding of keeping an open mind, the practice of law seemed like a perfect fit for me.

As a law school student I look forward to comparing my diverse experiences with those of other students in a never-ending effort to broaden my own horizons. I feel as though my unique outlook, stemming from my diverse background, is well-suited for the study and practice of law. Although I do not yet know exactly how my background will shape my experience of law school I am confident that my multicultural experiences, combined with keeping an open mind will only help in my endeavors.


The bit about my grandfather is still under tweaking. Please feel free to shred it.

ck3ku
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Joined: Thu Jul 22, 2010 11:22 pm

Re: Close to Final Draft, please critique

Postby ck3ku » Fri Oct 15, 2010 4:19 pm

this should be your diversity statement and not your personal.

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yuzu
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Re: Close to Final Draft, please critique

Postby yuzu » Sat Oct 16, 2010 7:45 pm

My biggest concern is that you are speaking in generalities and not in detailed examples: you're describing rather than showing. Who said these remarks, and in what context? Can you quote them? How exactly did you respond?

Rather than give a general statement about culture ("there is casteism in Indian villages" and "there is post-Apartheid tension in SA") can you give specific examples showing how those cultures have impacted your life? There's not a single concrete example in here of something unique that you experienced outside the US.

You imply that UConn was the first place you'd heard many racially insensitive comments. I don't believe it: you also suggest that you saw racial tension in SA. And in India I've heard many well-educated people disparage certain ethnic groups.

Rather than hear about how poorly Americans understand other cultures, I'd rather hear about how deeply you understand them and how that understanding influences your life and adds to a law school class. It means very little that you corrected your classmate who thought a turban-wearing Sikh was an Islamic fundamentalist - anyone can do that. It would mean far more if you then explained to your classmate what you learned from the unique philosophy of the Sikhs you met when living in India and how it's impacted your life. Then, perhaps, you can truly broaden the understanding of your law school classmates when they express ignorance toward that particular culture. If I were on an adcomm, that's what I'd be looking for with this kind of statement.

And yes, I would consider making this a separate diversity statement, and talking about some other aspect of your life for the PS.

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keeran23
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Re: Close to Final Draft, please critique

Postby keeran23 » Mon Oct 18, 2010 2:12 pm

Thanks for the advice yuzu. I do have very concrete examples which express my deep understanding of both countries which, I am incorporating into my statement right away. One question I do have though is, why should I make this my diversity statement? Wouldn't it serve well as my personal statement, as some schools don't explicitly say they have an optional diversity statement that you can write for their application?




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