Feedback Needed!

(Personal Statement Examples, Advice, Critique, . . . )
MLJack
Posts: 1
Joined: Wed Sep 21, 2011 8:02 pm

Feedback Needed!

Postby MLJack » Wed Sep 21, 2011 8:05 pm

On my final day I realized that I never slept through the call to prayer, despite the fact that I have never been an early riser. The song was so beguiling that I cared little for my loss of sleep. During my time in Bangladesh the first call to prayer was the time when my thoughts would spiral and eventually I siphoned them to answer what I am frequently asked; why did I care so much? The undulating tones that called thoughts heavenward prompted me to solidify my philosophy and goals. The call always brought me back to what I consider my real wake up call.
A dirty bandaged hand was rapping against my car window. I was a naïve 16 year old squished in the back of a small taxi with my dad and younger brother. It being my second week in India, I was well adjusted to the constant gawking at my pale skin as well as the beggars, who might have thought a pale, wide-eyed teenager an easily solicited benefactor. However, I was told that giving handouts was illegal in Mumbai, so I averted my eyes, staring at the taxi’s floor, my shoes, my hands, anything to keep from seeing. The hand kept knocking. There were only so many things to look at in the cab. I glanced up. The eyes of a girl with a half naked baby slung low on her bony hips stared at me. She was my age but it was clear that the world I have only seen through a window had jaded her. Her face was gaunt and her eyes sunken. Behind her was a smoldering pile of trash that children and stray dogs were picking through. Her piercing eyes are seared into my brain, as is the thought that was coursing through every fiber of my being while looking at her: I could just as easily have been her had I been born here. But I wasn’t, I was born a world away some several thousand miles to the west, this automatically put a barrier between us. Her life was belittled and put in a glass box and through no volition of her own could that fact be significantly altered.
This ephemeral moment altered the lens through which I viewed the world and informed my academic path. During college I became positively engrossed with issues of international human rights, women’s rights, and how international law acted as an obstacle or a foundation for equality. Looking back I remember spending late nights not cramming for a future exam, but reading journals about women in developing countries. I poured over laws and traced their effects. Plans for development projects by Non-Governmental Organizations littered my room and my bookshelf was overflowing with books, most of which had been voraciously read and highlighted within a day. It was because of this insatiable need to experience what I had only read about and challenge my views that I decided to take a month to research the civil participation of women in Bangladesh.
Simply writing the stories I heard while in the villages could never truthfully show their worth. Some were hopeful and indicative of a more positive future, numerous daughters had a better education than their mothers who genuinely valued their daughters’ abilities to read and write. Other stories highlighted the long road ahead. Walking through the slums in Dhaka with a friend from a local college she told me that within a few years the girls I was talking to in the slums would most likely have to turn to prostitution. One girl in the village was married off illegally at a young age. When I met her she was malnourished and pregnant at 16, back home with her family because her husband had left. Her parents stated that they did not feel her education was very important, largely because there were no women in positions of power. At 16 her life had been robbed from her.
Talking to the women in the village reinvigorated the inspiration that motivated me to pursue this academic path years ago. Many of the women I spoke to shared the qualities with one another and with me- tenacity, passion, and the intrinsic drive to improve the phenomena they saw on a daily basis. Again I struggled with the fact that because these women were born in a different place, they would rarely be privileged with the same opportunities that I have. I do not pity the women I have spoken to; I detest the squandering of their minds and mourn the loss of the precious resource of their talent. The barrier that reigns in their potential, although transparent, is palpable.
I want to tell each one of these stories, and do them justice. I want to fight for these women’s futures that could be so much brighter if only believed in and advocated for. I have no doubt that I can be a catalyst for this change and that I can be a powerful advocate. I have the skills, talent, ambition, passion and drive that is necessary to take on this task; I now need to earn the tools that will enable me to actively advocate and cultivate the talent that is so overlooked in our world.
The reality is I went to Bangladesh to challenge myself, and to test out the knowledge I had acquired during college. One of my strongest convictions is that women, myself included, are key component in the security and sustainability of a society, but we are also among those most frequently handicapped by laws. I believe that I stand upon the shoulders of the women who have come before me, and I owe it those who fought for my rights to use my advantage and become the shoulders for the next generation. I knew my education mean little if I could not only actively apply it, but also advance it.
My last day in Bangladesh was routine in that I woke up before the call to prayer. The cacophony from the perpetual stream of traffic quieted as the call started up at Mosques across Dhaka.

dani_burhop
Posts: 64
Joined: Wed Sep 21, 2011 5:14 pm

Re: Feedback Needed!

Postby dani_burhop » Thu Sep 22, 2011 11:10 am

Try diagramming this - the topic is good, but the essay is hard to follow. Starting in media res is a good idea, but the call to prayer ends up being a red herring for the reader. If the topic at hand is a deep interest in human rights, do what you can to introduce that idea earlier. (Twinning the call to prayer with your 'real wake up call' is quite nice, so do save that and find a place for it in the essay.)

I'd recommend something like:

In media res opening: Human rights visual
Orient the reader to the specifics of your experience without having a pity party for the locals
Get into your college experience more quickly and deeply, and focus not on the scattered details, but depth of experience and commitment - what did you read? What did you commit to? Ex: were you into Martha Nussbaum?
Wrap it up quickly; don't overdo the ending. The content of the essay should speak for itself, without you needing to say much more than "This experience informs my current decision," etc etc.

Avoid this sort of PS-type-cliched jargon: "I want to fight for these women’s futures that could be so much brighter if only believed in and advocated for. I have no doubt that I can be a catalyst for this change and that I can be a powerful advocate. I have the skills, talent, ambition, passion and drive that is necessary to take on this task; I now need to earn the tools that will enable me to actively advocate and cultivate the talent that is so overlooked in our world"; "Again I struggled with the fact that because these women were born in a different place, they would rarely be privileged with the same opportunities that I have. I do not pity the women I have spoken to; I detest the squandering of their minds and mourn the loss of the precious resource of their talent. The barrier that reigns (sic) in their potential, although transparent, is palpable."

There is some good content in here - after a few drafts, I imagine you'll have a very strong essay. Best, Dani




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