This site has been amazing - thanks again to those who have helped me get to this "almost" last version. Please provide me with any critiques, I don't take any of it personal. I'll be glad to review yours if you want to swap. Thanks!!
Three years ago I stood on a dirt road in Kampala, Uganda wearing shorts, a tank top, and my orange backpack. In front of me were five armed police soldiers, each with rifles pointed at my chest. Behind me stood three more soldiers, one with a pistol pointed at my head and two with machetes tapping their shoulders. In the distance was a crowd of locals, including a local volunteer I had just met, who spoke very little English. Between the heat and multiple dialects being spoken, I was having difficulty understanding the situation. My brain registered the following words: “military,” “spy,” and “kill you.” Slowly, I realized that the police were accusing me of being an American military spy. I tried to defend myself by explaining my volunteer status but the police refused to hear me and arrested me under the notion that I was a spy. I was denied phone calls to the Embassy and legal representation. It was at that pivotal moment I realized what it felt like to have no voice.
I had only learned of the plight of the Batwa, an indigenous tribe of forest people of Central Africa, six weeks prior. Since the 1990s the government has forcibly removed the Batwa from the forests and given them no reparations. Instead, they have been classified as “sub-humans” to ensure that they receive no rights as human beings and have no voice. This, in my opinion, was a legal form of genocide and it consumed my thoughts. Soon after learning of their condition, I arrived in Uganda and immediately started filing paperwork in hopes of regaining rights for the Batwa. These actions were against the advice of the local people and on my second day in Kampala, I found myself under siege by an array of weaponry. Through careful negotiation, my Ugandan companion was able to secure my release with financial compensation to the police. Although I was advised again to stop my efforts, the attempt made to keep me silent compelled me even more to continue aiding the Batwa.
I spent two months in the Bwindi Mountains teaching the Batwa self-sustaining skills to improve their quality of life. I brought them chickens and built chicken coops. With my local companion, we taught the Batwa how to feed the chickens to live off their eggs. With the money I raised, I purchased medication and materials to build huts. The achievement that I am most proud of was the monumental task of getting four Batwa children enrolled in a local school for villagers. It was the first time that the Batwa had been allowed to attend the same school as the local village children in Kabale.
Over the next year, I continued my travels around the world in hopes of gaining a better perspective on the way humans were kept silent and mistreated. I witnessed the destitution in the Brazilian favelas, watched children become slaves in the brothels of Thailand and observed the ever-increasing population of the homeless in the United States. I have seen the inequality of treatment received by human beings: women treated as cattle, children sold as merchandise, people classified as sub-human. These experiences have furthered my passion and drive to continue my devotion to service throughout my life.
What stands out most in my mind is an interview with the Batwa. When I asked the oldest member of the tribe what she wanted more than anything, this was her translated response: “I breathe the same air and I have the same blood as you. I want to be treated like you but I have no voice. I want to be heard.” Then she and several tribe members began singing, as if to make sure that I heard their voices. My passion to help people combined with the knowledge I have gained has led to my pursuit of becoming a legal scholar in the field of human rights and public interest law. I have been fortunate enough to find my voice; it is time that silence ends for those who have not found theirs. It is with my sincerest hope that I can use this education to help be the voice for those who need to be heard.
(Personal Statement Examples, Advice, Critique, . . . )
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keithkeating wrote:Slowly, I realized that the police were accusing me of being an American military spy. I tried to defend myself by explaining my volunteer status but the police refused to hear me and arrested me under the notion that I was a spy. I was denied phone calls to the Embassy and legal representation. It was at that pivotal moment I realized what it felt like to have no voice.
I think you need to explain this a little better. I think it can be a very compelling story, but the way you're telling it, it makes it sound like it was a 5 minute ordeal, and you had an "aha" moment there.
I would definitely parse this out a little more, with a little more emotion and description.
Also, I would tie in the Batwa a little better, i'm a little confused as to the sequence of it all. Did you arrive in Uganda to help the Batwa and you were then arrested, or you were arrested, and then resolved to help them...
But again, compelling story if tweaked...
PS: GET YOUR APPLICATIONS OUT ALREADY!
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