Feeling close to a final draft- comments/criticism welcome!!

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

Feeling close to a final draft- comments/criticism welcome!!

Postby jp2013 » Sun Sep 23, 2012 3:47 am

Previous draft:
viewtopic.php?f=18&t=193840

I'm feeling a lot better about the general l flow of the statement in this draft; however, I'm wondering if the connection I see and develop my theme upon is something obvious to the general reader.

Questions/comments/criticism all appreciated!
-------------------------------------------

“If China tried to liberate Taiwan, do you think America would stop us?”
For many of my friends in China, I was the only Westerner with whom they ever discussed such topics, and I’ll never forget explaining that Americans would see it as invasion rather than liberation. At first I spent a lot of effort trying to distance myself from their concept of a typical American and present myself merely as an individual; however, I eventually found it undeniable how much my cultural history has shaped me. Our ideas weren’t always diametrically opposed, unlike our positions on the “liberation” of Taiwan, but there were several times we reached a head that would exemplify the fundamental difference in our perception of the world.
I certainly could not deny my Americanness when I reflected upon my reaction to meeting the North Koreans. There they were, the suited henchmen of the hermit kingdom, always proudly bearing a pin of Kim Il Sung on their lapels. To see these men in the flesh, and to have a casual conversation with them no less, was surreal.
We had shared greetings a few times, but it was during a North Korean World Cup soccer match that we had our most intimate exchange. It was a strange juxtaposition to see them brimming with smiles cheering their hearts out for a country that treats its people so harshly. The biggest surprise came when they began asking the South Koreans to cheer with them for the “Chosun people,” a reference to a shared ethnic Korean heritage.
Looking back, I realized the situation on the Korean peninsula must be infinitely more complex than I had previously imagined. I wanted explanations, and so I resolved that my next expatriate experience would be in South Korea.
“I can tell you the entire life story of Kim Il Sung, but I don’t know where Rome is!”
XX often made quips like this while we took a break from our weekly English tutoring sessions to sip on the instant coffee that is stocked in every South Korean conference room. The statements are a reminder of the psychological scars she carries with her, yet we had to laugh at their absurdity all the same. From her appearance alone, nobody can tell that SH is a North Korean defector.
After meeting North Koreans in China, I was eager to volunteer with defectors when I finally arrived in South Korea. The ordeals XX faced during her escape are unimaginable, and yet South Korea is not as welcoming as she expected: if she allows her true identity to be revealed she is often confronted with looks of distrust and sometimes even ridiculed for the actions of a country she worked so hard to escape. While being an ethnic Korean may have allowed her to enter South Korea society as an equal on paper, it does not change the reality that being a North Korean is an indisputable part of her identity.
The exposure to these diverse lives has shown me that the bonds that connect us to the society and culture in which we were raised are truly unbreakable. This relationship can burden us, but at the same time our society suffers if we only view the association as a burden in an effort to define ourselves as individuals. As a white American, I have only ever been empowered by society, and even my ability to disagree with popular American views is a reflection of my attachment to democratic American culture. For XX things are not so simple, to voice her opposition aloud in North Korea would certainly result in severe punishment, and now in South Korea she would be seen as ungrateful or untrustworthy were she to air her grievances. In China, the risks of outspoken opposition are well known as well. America presents me with a powerful connection to society: I have the ability to play a role in defining freedom and justice. Through law I hope to explore the relationship between individual and society while transcending my role as a simple beneficiary of my community to become an advocate for those who instead find themselves shackled by these unbreakable bonds that link us all to society.

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Mr. Elshal
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Joined: Thu Sep 20, 2012 11:30 pm

Re: Feeling close to a final draft- comments/criticism welcome!!

Postby Mr. Elshal » Sun Sep 23, 2012 4:09 am

While the narrative is interesting, I get only the slightest idea of who you are as a person. I understand that you are curious about different societies' impacts on people and that you are a white American who went to a World Cup match and visited South Korea.

I think you should spend more time speaking about how all of this impacted you, and much less time telling the story. Maybe shoot for a ratio of about 2:1 (you:narrative). Otherwise, I like the concept and I have to assume it is a unique situation in which to realize just how much society shapes who we are as people. Most applicants will not have a story like this one, but the admissions officers will be looking to this paper not just for an interesting story, but also (and primarily) to find an interesting applicant.

Good luck!

Edit: I also agree with everything that Swimp and WhiskeynCoke said about your last draft. I would probably begin with the quote about not knowing where Rome is, and I would probably remove the quote that you currently begin with. It just doesn't seem to fit.

powder
Posts: 463
Joined: Mon Dec 19, 2011 6:32 am

Re: Feeling close to a final draft- comments/criticism welcome!!

Postby powder » Sun Sep 23, 2012 7:19 am

Your writing is somewhat prolix; there's a fair bit of tightening possible.
Original wrote:For many of my friends in China, I was the only Westerner with whom they ever discussed such topics, and I’ll never forget explaining that Americans would see it as invasion rather than liberation. At first I spent a lot of effort trying to distance myself from their concept of a typical American and present myself merely as an individual; however, I eventually found it undeniable how much my cultural history has shaped me. Our ideas weren’t always diametrically opposed, unlike our positions on the “liberation” of Taiwan, but there were several times we reached a head that would exemplify the fundamental difference in our perception of the world.
I certainly could not deny my Americanness when I reflected upon my reaction to meeting the North Koreans. There they were, the suited henchmen of the hermit kingdom, always proudly bearing a pin of Kim Il Sung on their lapels. To see these men in the flesh, and to have a casual conversation with them no less, was surreal. [168 words]

Re-written wrote:In China, I was often the only Westerner with whom my Chinese friends could discuss such topics, and I explained, with some surprise, that Americans would not see liberation, but an invasion. At first I tried to present myself as an individual--a person separate from a broader American identity--eventually, however, I accepted the influence of my cultural history. Our ideas were not always irreconcilable, unlike our positions on the liberation of Taiwan, but there were times our disagreements uncovered fundamental differences in our perception of the world. My Americanness was never more apparent in my encounter with North Koreans. There they were, the suited henchmen of the hermit kingdom, proudly bearing a pin of Kilm Il Sung on their lapels. To see these men in the flesh, to have a casual conversation with them, was surreal. [138 words]

Even if you consider the re-write terrible, it conveys substantially the same ideas in thirty less words. The original seems conversational, or perhaps a direct reflection of your thought process, either way your sentence construction is inefficient.
Also, I thought it amusing that liberation was encased in quotation marks. I doubt anyone would think anything of it, but it hints, despite your encounters in strange lands, that you returned more convinced of the rightness of the parochial land you left. (For the record, I think an invasion of Taiwan is terrible and unnecessary.)

ETA: I agree with what the above poster said. There's a lot of story and not much you. Still, be more efficient with your words.




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