Diversity Statement opinions?

(Personal Statement Examples, Advice, Critique, . . . )
melsaye
Posts: 23
Joined: Wed Oct 12, 2011 11:20 pm

Diversity Statement opinions?

Postby melsaye » Wed Oct 12, 2011 11:28 pm

Hello all,
been looking around on the forum for awhile, up in Canada...I am applying to Harvard, Stanford, Columbia, in the top 5 and NYU, Boalt, and UPenn. I have both a personal statement and a diversity statement, this is the latter. I would really appreciate some opinions. Mind you, this letter is much less formal than my personal statement. Thanks to everyone, hope it's a good read!

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I love Cairo in the winter because the air reminds me of cool Canadian autumns and damp Parisian rains. Savouring my deep breaths, I listened intently over the rumble of the crowd, trying to make out what the sermon was about. I could decipher a few words, “Tahrir”, “Mubarak”, and “Nizam” (Nizam translates to “the system”). I looked around to see if I could find the group I was with. Ramez was easiest to notice; he was wearing a straw cowboy hat, aviator sunglasses, a red t-shirt with a hammer and sickle emblem, and an Egyptian flag for a cape. I spotted him leaning against a tank, chewing on a toothpick and holding an animated discussion with a veiled lady and his fiancée. I waved at him, he yelled across the crowd, motioning for me to come over with both hands in the manner typical of an excited Egyptian. He presumptuously introduced me as the only Marxist Capitalist he knew and then quickly cajoled me into their conversation on gender equality.
Ramez, an engineer and son of a construction magnate, provoked a new and unique rationality. Growing up across North America, Europe, Asia, and Africa, I had become accustomed to the contradictions of culture. In the 2nd grade, I received my first lesson in physics at my father’s workplace, watching a Porsche 911 in a giant wind tunnel. I lived through the Gulf War, attending the 6th grade with a gas mask in my knapsack, teaching ESL to my Japanese friend Yoshihiro, and picking hibiscus flowers stained with oily rain to woo my first crush. Fast food for me is the sight of McDonalds’ grand opening in a desert metropolis. Mercedes cars lined up at the drive through and women robed in black wearing the scent of Chanel No5, ordering Happy Meals and Big Macs. In whatever memory my mind can recall, the influence of globalization is prevalent, as a child I understood this as a fact of life, as a man I see it as force of nature, merging the disparate, and leaving behind artefacts of dialectic.
After giving my listeners a brief rendition of T.H. Marshall’s theory on the relation of social rights to capitalism, something dawned on me. This revolution was not about Mubarak or the Nizam, this was globalization manifesting its will in the voice of the Egyptian people. The rapid advancement of telecommunications, internet, and the dissemination of information to all levels of society, created a cohesive awareness of the human condition as a whole. We were not only demanding the removal of the Regime; more importantly we wanted to dissolve the barriers between us and our potential, we wanted our rights. Standing in the shadow of the pyramids, Egyptians demonstrated to the world, that they had a contribution to make to the rest of humanity. I smiled at the conclusion, and took a deep breath of satisfaction. The sermon had subsided to the melodic drone of the prayer call, and the rumble of the crowd gave way to the sound of hurried feet to a rendezvous.
I had just met Christine and Bassel, and now our hands were clasped as we formed part of a protective circle around the prostrated lines of worshippers. The scene evoked a dramatic frame, an instant crystallized in time, etched for a purpose. No matter the moment; walking in the spirals of Mecca, standing beneath the awe inspiring columns of the Vatican, or at the feet of the Lincoln Memorial, spirituality has always seemed a historical force to me. Religion has been an integral part of Egypt’s history. Walking the streets of Cairo, one sees the cosmopolitan wisdom that temples, mosques, churches, and synagogues have all brought to the city. Our hands linked together a chain of beliefs that found its anchor in the beginning of civilization itself. Something grand was expressing itself through us, with a new voice, and we were part of its song. I took a deep breath and smiled, the prayer was over, and the purpose was clear. I decided to wade through this sea of hopes, listening for the waves of discussion to rise again.
Ibrahim was a taxi driver; he had six kids; four girls and two boys. They had all been camped out in the square for days. His oldest daughter, Abeer, was a student at Cairo University, the first of her kin to educate herself; she worked as a live-in maid to pay her way. Her aspiration was to become a medical doctor. Hossam was a surgeon and his wife was a teacher at a German language school. They had just gotten married a few weeks before, and were both at the square every day since the end of January. Sami, a retired engineer who owned a successful high end furniture chain, was camped out with some of the workers from one of his factories. An old woman selling tissues was carrying her granddaughter on delicate shoulders to see the masses. In one ear I could hear Oum Kulthoum recordings, and in the other Pink Floyd tunes being strummed out on a guitar. I was reminded of Gaudi’s Park Guell; a mosaic of irregular colors and shapes that transcended aesthetic norms. In Tahrir, the mosaic was dynamic and fleeting; a state of nature held together by an ever so delicate balance of tensions. All that we needed was a sovereign will to induce harmony from the multitude of voices. I took a deep breath and smiled, for the composition would be difficult, but the coda would be grand.
As I got into the taxi, I tapped my feet on the edge of the door to shake off the snow. The driver probed to see if he could bait me into conversation. I gladly acquiesced to his efforts and began to expound the details of my trip. He was French-Canadian, and had a natural affinity for the idea of revolution. As I watched his emotive gestures and bright eyes, I realized the potential of my experience to ignite a certain kind of inspiration. The idea of change elicits in people a shared hope in the face of uncertain prospects. So much of our motivation to endeavour forward comes from belief in hope. My story was a chance to remind people of that shared human conviction. My phone buzzed; 19 new messages. I took a lozenge into my mouth, breathed deeply and smiled. Over the next few days, my voice was sure to give out.

addy11
Posts: 479
Joined: Wed Oct 12, 2011 11:01 pm

Re: Diversity Statement opinions?

Postby addy11 » Wed Oct 12, 2011 11:47 pm

I really think that what you've written here is pretty magnificent. It is beautifully written and really captures the zeitgeist of a moment in time that resonated very recently throughout the world.

My concern is that - having enjoyed it immensely - I am not sure how exactly what you have written is related to the diversity of your future law school. It might not be difficult to add in, but I think that as of now the reader is left guessing as to how this connects to that goal. Also, I wonder whether this might be too long. Every "DS" I have seen is delimited to 1-2 pages.

A few other, smaller call-outs:

- I would get rid of the first sentence. In contrast with the rest of your writing, it seems cliched and hoary, and makes for an awkward transition between tenses between it and the next sentence.
- The Gaudi reference is apt and well-written, but it might come off as a bit pretentious and unnecessary. I think you might also reconsider revising your sentence re: Marshall.
- I think Americans are generally fine with non-American spelling ("savour" instead of "savor"), but I think that "artefact" (instead of "artifact") is so uncommon that it might end up looking like a typo.
- Maybe be a little more descriptive about the geographic transition in the last paragraph. The first time I read it I thought "A Quebecois taxi driver with snow on his car... in North Africa?"... it could be as simple as "As I got into the taxi at Montreal-Trudeau..."

Great job. Good luck!

kublaikahn
Posts: 647
Joined: Wed Feb 09, 2011 12:47 am

Re: Diversity Statement opinions?

Postby kublaikahn » Thu Oct 13, 2011 1:53 am

Wow, you are an amazing writer. Truly. And I love a good story about revolutionary tourism. Although, I have to disagree with one point. A wealthy playboy wearing a cowboy hat and Raybans in the midst of revolution, talking shop with the other weekend provocateurs, provokes a rationality that has been around for a long, long, long, long, long time. However, the expat elites at Yale should love it!

melsaye
Posts: 23
Joined: Wed Oct 12, 2011 11:20 pm

Re: Diversity Statement opinions?

Postby melsaye » Thu Oct 13, 2011 10:10 am

I am glad it was an enjoyable read. I tried to be a bit subtle about what I could bring to the law school. I figured the actual experience says all that needs to be said about what I have to offer in terms of "uniqueness". As I was writing it, I kept thinking a mix between Steinbeck, Faulkner and Dostoevsky. My personal statement is exactly two pages, but more tended towards professional experiences, hence the length for the diversity statement. I was going to post that as well as a contrast to this one.
Thanks again for the critique!

addy11
Posts: 479
Joined: Wed Oct 12, 2011 11:01 pm

Re: Diversity Statement opinions?

Postby addy11 » Thu Oct 13, 2011 12:13 pm

Ha, yes... I see it evocative of Steinbeck, Dostoevsky and Faulkner in that order. My statements tend to emulate Dickens - fun to read if you can endure some baroque, circuitous sentences... A bit maddening if you are more of a Hemmingway fan. It's been a challenge to hammer my voice and message into a more deliberate, straightforward style, but i hope it will pay off.

I still think you are taking a gamble on the ambiguity part; I don't know that I have a firm grasp on what you're trying to say, or why your being there is substantially more additive than someone who tool a college seminar on Egypt... and my disposition is to be less exacting about such things than I would imagine an admissions counselor would be. Also, if you don't trim it at all for most schools, at least look out for any explicit proscriptions on length. However if you change nothing, you can at least sleep soundly knowing that you will likely be furnishing the adcomms with one of the best written and engaging essays they will come across.

Best of luck. I hope that if we end up at the same t10 school, I will be able to continue to enjoy your writing.

melsaye
Posts: 23
Joined: Wed Oct 12, 2011 11:20 pm

Re: Diversity Statement opinions?

Postby melsaye » Thu Oct 13, 2011 12:32 pm

You know what, you make a good point. I am going to stew over how I can alter the ending a bit to push my statement about uniqueness a bit. I am applying to get into international business law. Specifically I would like to use trade law to structure foreign direct investments in a way that can contribute to both economic growth and long term development. Essentially, I think that globalization is a solution not a problem. This perspective is rooted in my experiences. Hence the contradictions that are rational...What I was trying to do was present the reader with my perspective. I see everything for what it is, not what I think it should be. I see change as an opportunity. That's why the conclusion about change leading to hope etc...
Which law schools are you applying to?

addy11
Posts: 479
Joined: Wed Oct 12, 2011 11:01 pm

Re: Diversity Statement opinions?

Postby addy11 » Thu Oct 13, 2011 3:29 pm

Likely the same ones that you're applying to, plus a few more in the 6-20 range.

I have my heart set on New York, though.

Aeolia Schenberg
Posts: 4
Joined: Tue Sep 20, 2011 11:48 am

Re: Diversity Statement opinions?

Postby Aeolia Schenberg » Fri Oct 14, 2011 12:49 pm

WOW. I enjoyed reading you diversity statement. Good luck with your applications.

sven
Posts: 133
Joined: Mon Oct 05, 2009 8:11 am

Re: Diversity Statement opinions?

Postby sven » Fri Oct 14, 2011 4:38 pm

My advice contains both good and bad news for you.

Bad news:This is way too long for a DS.
Good news: Even as it stands now, this would be a fantastic PS. It's very well written and tells the reader a lot about you.




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