Critique away - international experience PS

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jp2013
Posts: 13
Joined: Sat Jun 09, 2012 2:47 am

Critique away - international experience PS

Postby jp2013 » Sat Aug 04, 2012 9:15 pm

I took the advice of my university's law school adviser and wrote the first draft in a more conversational self-intro style.

My personal problems with the PS are as follows:
-It needs a better intro to draw the reader in.
-It tells a lot about me, but it’s boring. I'm also worried that it may just sound repetitious given that much of the information will appear on my resume.
-It’s not very specific: my conclusion attempts to sum up the overall theme I’m trying to convey (working hard on specific goals), but I still feel like without a second read (something I’m unlikely to get) it’ll seem like it’s something completely irrelevant just tagged onto the end.
-It’s slightly long.
-I hate that I mention high school, but it's really what drew me in to Chinese, which seems like an important fact to me.
-And my biggest issue: I talk about working hard because I really did, and I feel like the amount of effort I put into my endeavors is really my most valuable asset. However, I still feel like the "I work hard" angle is too easy to fabricate and doesn't come off as sincere.

I'm actually still volunteering at that Buddhist temple, so this has come together from scribblings on scraps of paper in my free time. I've only just typed it up on a computer without any spelling or grammar checking so please forgive any glaring errors.

And for final reference: I'm a 172/3.8

After studying German, Latin, and Russian in high school, I knew I wanted to pursue foreign language studies in college, and a spur of the moment decision to enroll in Chinese ended up having a huge impact on my life. I fell in love with the language after the first week; it was intriguing, exotic, and challenging. I became determined to attain fluency during my the course of my college career, but I knew that at the normal pace of university study I would never realize this goal. I took summer courses in the hope of quickening the pace of my study, and after only one year since learning my first Chinese character I found myself in a class that was taught entirely in Chinese, and the majority of my classmates either spoke Chinese at home or had been studying since a young age. I struggled to keep pace with the class, but I still knew that I wasn’t progressing quickly enough. That fall the university announced a new study abroad program in China, and I knew that a year in China would ensure the realization of my goal/dream. I was the only student to enroll and prepared to head to the other side of the world alone.

Almost nobody spoke English at the office, dorm, or in class. The first month I worked harder than ever before in my life; not only in class but in simply accomplishing everyday tasks. However, there were quick returns on my efforts, and I could feel myself getting closer to my goal every day. In the end, I slept peacefully on the flight home knowing that I had accomplished my goal, but I didn’t dwell on my achievement; I was already dreaming of my next adventure abroad.

During the course of my year in China I had the opportunity to witness the extraordinary interactions between the North Korean and South Korean students. The intense love-hate relationship between these two groups of identical cultural heritage hailing from nationals still very much at war was truly one of the strangest things I have ever seen, and I was driven to learn more about the the complex political and social situation of the two Koreas. I eventually resolved to head to Korea next to further increase my understanding.

I didn’t have to wait long: less than a year after returning to the US I was headed for South Korea as a Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship grantee. The seven weeks of teaching, culture, and language training passed by like a blur, and before I knew it I was standing in the front of a classroom staring down 40 rowdy high school boys. Despite the intense training, I struggled to keep the class on task, and I often felt that my limited Korean skills hindered my effectiveness as a teacher. The very first Friday afternoon I sought out the local library and walked out with a stack of books on applied linguistics and English as a foreign language teaching methodology. Determined to make myself the best teacher possible, I spent the entire weekend ingesting as much information as possible, planning my lessons, and studying Korean.

Teaching quickly became the focus of my grant year. In addition to my regular classes, I taught two discussion classes and a bi-weekly Saturday class. I was also able to fuse my newfound passion for teaching with my desire to learn more about North Korea by volunteering with North Korean defectors, teaching them English and American culture. I learned a tremendous amount by listening to their stories of struggle, which did not end with their escape to South Korea. Through my conversations with these individuals I developed a strong interest in the human rights of immigrant and refugee groups.

After the conclusion of my Fulbright grant I remained in Korea to continue learn more about the culture and society. I spent 5 weeks volunteering as at a Buddhist temple, where I served as a summer camp counselor, English teacher, and photographer. From my experience in China I know that it is impossible to comprehend the thoughts and culture of a society without a solid knowledge of its language, and so I have enrolled in an intensive Korean language program, taking 7 hours of class a day.

It is not the accomplishment of a goal that motivates me, but the pursuit of a difficult goal worth struggling for that gives my life meaning. However, I do not pursue these goals with a single-minded passion; I am always on the lookout for new challenges that will improve both myself and the world around me. In attending law school I not only want the opportunity to pursue my current interests, but I also want to be introduced to new challenges in which I can find goals worth struggling for.


Rip it apart! (and thanks in advance!)

-JP

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SaintsTheMetal
Posts: 429
Joined: Mon Mar 05, 2012 5:08 am

Re: Critique away - international experience PS

Postby SaintsTheMetal » Sat Aug 04, 2012 11:46 pm

I'm sure better writers than me will come along, but I felt like this was primarily a chronology of how you spent a few years, and doesn't seem to add a lot that's not already on your resume. Didn't seem to have much personal introspection in it.

I think it would be better to focus more of the essay on the most significant experience, and cut a lot of the paragraphs that are frankly just resume sumarization

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CorkBoard
Posts: 3216
Joined: Sat Sep 03, 2011 6:05 pm

Re: Critique away - international experience PS

Postby CorkBoard » Sun Aug 05, 2012 12:02 pm

SaintsTheMetal wrote:I'm sure better writers than me will come along, but I felt like this was primarily a chronology of how you spent a few years, and doesn't seem to add a lot that's not already on your resume. Didn't seem to have much personal introspection in it.

I think it would be better to focus more of the essay on the most significant experience, and cut a lot of the paragraphs that are frankly just resume sumarization

Yep, this. This is pretty much resume regurgitation.

I think you could probably write about one of these experiences though. Maybe the North Korean/South Korean interactions would be a good idea? You'd just have to make sure that it was about you and not them.

CanadianWolf
Posts: 10439
Joined: Wed Mar 24, 2010 4:54 pm

Re: Critique away - international experience PS

Postby CanadianWolf » Sun Aug 05, 2012 12:20 pm

Your PS is primarily an explanation of your resume. Try to develop a better theme & incorporate insights into your learning & development rather than simply offering observations. The final two paragraphs are very poorly done, in my opinion.

The practice of law as well as law school is, in large part, about learning to teach oneself; in this respect, your PS should appeal to law school admissions officers.

jp2013
Posts: 13
Joined: Sat Jun 09, 2012 2:47 am

Re: Critique away - international experience PS

Postby jp2013 » Sun Aug 05, 2012 9:44 pm

I have thought about focusing more on my volunteer work with North Korean defectors like CorkBoard mentioned, but like you said, the I feel like I would end up having to give so much explanation that it would end up being more about the defectors than myself.

And yes, CanadianWolf, I wrote the last two pretty hastily. I just wanted to get it up here so I could get some general critiques (like that I wrote it too objectively). This volunteer gig is way more work than I thought it'd be, but I've got to get the ball rolling on this PS!

I'll try to narrow it down (a lot) and get something more workable up, but I'm curious as to whether there's anyone out there who feels like a story with a long timeline is workable into a decent PS.




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