PS about building a martial arts gym in Costa Rica

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Sciamach
Posts: 6
Joined: Mon Feb 27, 2012 4:01 am

PS about building a martial arts gym in Costa Rica

Postby Sciamach » Mon Feb 27, 2012 4:26 am

Hi! I've been reading a lot of sample personal statements and the deadline for my school is March 1. Here is a copy of mine. If anyone can give me feedback I would be very grateful :)

Thanks, guys!


It had been months since I had seen a paved road, much less cars, electricity or running water. I had been living in a rural Costa Rican village where I volunteered as an English teacher. Now that the school year was officially over, I said my goodbyes and embarked on the seven hour hike out of town. By the time I reached the two lane highway the sun was already starting to slip behind the moss covered trees. I did not have any set destination; I only yearned to see the ocean.
I stood in the gravel shoulder of the southbound lane and timidly stuck my thumb out in hopes of soliciting a ride. Several cars slowed but didn’t stop as I stood there cradling my stray puppy in one arm with a pair of boxing gloves strapped to my bag and a buck knife clipped onto my belt.
It was almost dark when a grey jeep pulled up beside me. A smiling woman with sunglasses rolled down the passenger side window. She looked at me and asked, “where are you going, kid?” I told her I was just heading towards the ocean; I had no destination. Her husband, who was driving, motioned for me to climb into the back seat. John and Maria introduced them selves and we exchanged many stories that helped the long drive pass by quickly. When we were nearing the coastal area, they both advised me not to wander around by myself as this area of the country was not very safe for a naïve American girl. They offered me their guest house in exchange for my company. I was very fortunate they picked me up on the side of that desolate road. Whenever I asked for a way to repay their generosity, both merely asked me to help other people I meet in life.
From my new location I was able to make frequent visits to the nearby town of Dominical. Nestled at the end of a dirt road shaded by thin coconut trees was a youth hostel with an open view of the ocean at its doorstep. I noticed that on the second floor there was a man punching a heavy bag in the shadows. He had a stocky build with short brown hair and intense dark eyes. Three tattooed koi were wrapped around his right shoulder and glistened from his sweat as he expertly jabbed and slipped around the bag. Little did I know that this man would later become my coach, mentor, and business partner.
Sasa let me participate in his daily training sessions and spent hours teaching me techniques he had gleaned from competitors throughout the years to help me achieve my goal of becoming a pro Mixed Martial Arts fighter. We spent countless hours in the shade of the palm trees sparring until the sun disappeared behind the ocean waves. Slowly, our training session attracted spectators, some of whom later became students. Within a month, Sasa and I were training not only local people but also the Dominical police force in basic self defense and overall fitness. Training people in martial arts had always been a passion of mine; in the back of my mind hibernated a life dream of starting a gym.
It was a foggy morning in early November and I jogged along shoreline where the ocean meets the land, my feet sinking into the sand, and my puppy struggling to follow along headfirst against the cooling ocean breeze. Sasa was at my side; after a mile of silence he casually mentioned, “I’ve always wanted to build a gym.” I blurted out immediately that this had also been my dream for a very long time. That afternoon we started planning a gym that taught martial arts and surfing. Although neither of us had formally studied business, we were armed with passion, tenacity, and an unwavering work ethic.
Our first task was to find a location. Sasa and I had been training on a vacant oceanside lot that belonged to a friend who was a hotel owner. I decided to negotiate with him to see if we could use the land to build our gym. To my surprise he gave us permission to use the land in exchange for promoting his hotel in our martial arts and surfing vacation packages.
With a location solidified, the next part was to discuss our budget and subsequent construction plan for our outdoor gym we called the Panther Den. Since neither of us had much money to spare, we had to rely on creativity and improvisation for almost every part of the construction process. Some of out materials were donated by friends, such as my gracious hosts, John and Maria. The fencing and structural support of the gym was made of bamboo, which we cut with machetes. Wooden posts for pullup bars and speedbags were made of very heavy trees Sasa and I tethered in ropes and dragged out of the ocean with the help of the tide. Since we did not have access to power tools, all of the gym was built by manual labor. Many of our trainees volunteered to help with the construction in exchange for free lessons. As the only female and American of the group, I experienced some ostracism and had to work hard every day to prove I could contribute to the grueling physical labor of construction. At the same time I had to navigate around a language and cultural barrier to explain details of how we envisioned the plans. With patience and an open minded approach, our entire crew worked in unison to complete the Panther Den.
Soon, news of the gym spread throughout the town. Supporters who owned businesses such as scuba tours or who led waterfall trips on horseback offered to sponsor us if we included their attraction in our vacation package. Local gym members who were proficient surfers worked as our surf instructors. Within three weeks we led our first successful seminar.
I still help run the Panther Den remotely from the United States. It was my first experiment in starting, building, and running a business and I aspire to try again in the future. To aid in this endeavor I want to study business law with an international application. Through my experiences abroad I have gained important skills such as connecting with people of different cultures and honing foreign language skills. My persistence to achieve a goal through hard work will also make me a good candidate for the University of Oregon’s law program.

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buckilaw
Posts: 840
Joined: Fri May 07, 2010 1:27 am

Re: PS about building a martial arts gym in Costa Rica

Postby buckilaw » Mon Feb 27, 2012 5:40 am

Your story seems pretty unique, so that's a definite plus.

However, the phrasing in a few parts reads like a dime store romance novel:

When we were nearing the coastal area, they both advised me not to wander around by myself as this area of the country was not very safe for a naïve American girl.


Three tattooed koi were wrapped around his right shoulder and glistened from his sweat as he expertly jabbed and slipped around the bag


I think you are trying to provide local color with these sentences. It's a nice touch but you could do it with a bit more subtly.

Finally, your first paragraph could be eliminated. It doesn't really play into building a gym. Right now you have (how I got to X in Y country + I built a gym). You don't want to detract from your main theme. I suggest you use an introductory paragraph detailing one of your sparring sessions and then immediately transition into the conversation you have with Sasa about building a gym.

Sciamach
Posts: 6
Joined: Mon Feb 27, 2012 4:01 am

Re: PS about building a martial arts gym in Costa Rica

Postby Sciamach » Mon Feb 27, 2012 5:46 am

Thank you so much! You are absolutely right...the hitchhiking part and even the people who picked me up and gave me a place to stay is irrelevant and, at most, could be briefly mentioned somewhere along the line. My biggest struggle has been focusing on my topic and not going off on tangents or back stories. I appreciate you taking the time to read this.




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