Two Personal Statements

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Two Personal Statements

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Dec 21, 2014 6:28 pm

Hi! I have two versions of my personal statements. Could you all help me edit either or both? And help me decide which one is better?


Personal Statement 1

The weeks leading up to college graduation were filled with mixed emotions of pride and joy, nostalgia and sadness. My friends and I regularly reminisced about everything we went through over the past four years. We did not want to leave - especially on those perfect spring days in Chapel Hill. But we couldn’t stay forever, and I was realizing that there were so many opportunities ahead. The seemingly endless possibilities were thrilling and daunting. Now was the time to jump into something with both feet. So there I was on a plane two days after graduation headed to take a summer position as a volunteer teaching assistant at an NGO in Amman, Jordan.

On paper, I was prepared for the experience: I took Arabic for three years; I tutored at an elementary school; I had even spent a semester in Istanbul. I was not facing anything I had not already done. I loved Arabic and had always wanted to live in an Arabic-speaking country, and my time in Istanbul made me long to be abroad again. I left for Jordan excited and confident. I knew I could handle whatever happened over the next 8-weeks.

But as soon as I stepped off the plane, my attitude changed. The customs guard asked where I was staying (in Arabic). I understood the question and knew the answer, but did not trust myself to say it aloud properly. The formal Arabic we learned in college barely resembled the colloquial Arabic of Jordan, so instead of using what I knew I kept quiet and let my nerves get the best of me. The one laps in confidence begat a spiral of self-doubt. By the time I started my first day teaching, I was so unsure of myself that I just knew that I was going to be a terrible teacher and my time there would be wasted. Doubting my abilities created a self-fulfilling prophecy where I could not understand anyone and was impatient with my students and myself. It was clear to me that I did not belong there and I had made a mistake even coming to Jordan. Looking back what did become clear was that I could not see that it wasn’t Jordan that sucked – it was my attitude.

The one thing I did like about Jordan was the program director, Nuha. She was always happy to see us in the mornings and brought energy to the community center. She started the community center almost 15 years ago to fill the needs of one of the poorest neighborhoods in Amman. Nuha designed the programs and raised the money needed to run the community center. She did so because she saw the need for extra educational programs in the neighborhood and believed that she could help. As I learned more about the hard work that Nuha had put in for 15 years, I really admired her dedication and enthusiasm.

My attitude began to reflect Nuha’s. As it changed I suddenly had an enthusiasm for Jordan and the community center that I never would have thought possible a week prior. I got excited to see our students everyday and was able to put all of my effort into making our lesson fun for the students. Instead of just droning on with new vocabulary, I started teaching games, songs, and how to Google the stars of the current season of Arab Idol. These lessons allowed the students and I to bond and made me feel closely connected to the community center.

As I grew more comfortable in my teaching abilities, I also was ready to go out and experience life in Amman. I was chatting with taxi drivers and could negotiate like a local at the market. I still felt like a foreigner, but one who was no longer afraid to actively participate. I went to my first Muslim wedding and never missed an opportunity to eat the best desert known to humankind – kanafeh.
Before I knew it my time at the community center ended, and I had to return home to again and address “what next?” I would be lying if I said that the last 8 weeks had made me feel invincible, and I was going forth to fearlessly face my future. I had my doubts about every path I could take – including law school. It was the same exhilaration and fear I felt just before graduation. But this time around, I knew that whatever I decided to do next, I just had to draw on my lesson from Nuha. If I kept a good attitude, I would find enjoyment and fulfillment in any situation.

Personal Statement 2

Whenever anyone would ask me what I wanted to be when I grew up, I would always say, “I’m not sure, but I have time to figure it out.” There were so many things I would like to be. I would bounce week to week wanting to work for the State Department to a non-profit that worked for education reform to joining an improv troupe. I was too focused on the question of what I wanted to be instead of what I wanted to do. I had done many things in the past, but the common theme was active participation in the community.

I was always involved with activities geared toward internationalism. In high school I was President of the Global Awareness club where we started our school’s recycling program and held screenings of movies like Invisible Children and Paradise Now. In college I took as many classes about the Middle East as I could, studied abroad in Turkey, was a member of the Turkish Student Association, and took Arabic for three years. All of my activities included community dinner and raising awareness about regional issues. My interest in the whole world was ever so slightly narrowing to the greater Middle East. After I graduated from college I took a summer volunteer position at an NGO in Amman, Jordan. I took the position to help me decide if a life of international work was for me. But it was in Jordan where my interest narrowed to working with a community for a specific cause.

The NGO was a community center in one of the poorest neighborhoods in Amman. The founder of the program, Nuha, had friends and family in that neighborhood and wanted to work to improve the lives of the people who lived there. She started the community center almost 15 years ago to do just that. Nuha designed the programs and raised the money needed to run the community center. She knew what she wanted to do and that was to provide extra educational programs in the neighborhood.
While I was working there, the most important thing I learned was the impact that dedicated people can have on the people they work with. The other volunteers and I taught in a special program for girls who had dropped out of school. We worked with them to gain basic literacy as well as taught them how to play dodge ball and how to use Google, which they solely used to look up pictures of the Arab Idol stars. I was only there for eight weeks, but I saw the girls learn math, reading, grammar, and English. They became more confident and close their fellow classmates.

When my time was over in Jordan, I came back to North Carolina and knew what I wanted to do. I wanted to work with my own community to have even one-tenth of the impact Nuha had on hers. Now the tables had turned. I knew what I wanted to do, so what was I going to be?

I started volunteering as a Guardian ad Litem in North Carolina District 15B. It was the most daunting volunteer work I had taken on. After weeks of training and certification, I was finally getting my first case. I was intimidated by the gravity of the work because I knew that my recommendation would permanently affect the lives of the child and her parents. But it was not solely my recommendation; it was also DSS’s recommendation, the input of the attorneys and ultimately the judge’s decision that would impact the family.

This was my only first-hand experience seeing how important government agencies and advocacy groups can be to peoples’ lives. And then I knew that this is what I wanted to be. I wanted to be an active participant with my community through Public Interest work. I want to carry my experience as a Guardian ad Litem into a career as an attorney who works to advance public interest issues.

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Re: Two Personal Statements.

Postby bretby » Sun Dec 21, 2014 8:15 pm

Thanks for sharing! Just a few comments/ideas:

Overall, I thought essay two was stronger, but could be improved upon still further. Heres's some specific suggestions:

1. Eliminate the opening paragraph - doesn't add to the narrative and introduces a problematic theme (don't know what I want to do with my life).
2. Eliminate the material about clubs, etc.
3. Incorporate some details from Essay 1 about the Jordan program into a beefed-up section on Jordan in Essay 2. Just don't use the details about your attitude.
4. The payoff is in the DSS experience. Expand, tie in with Jordan more closely and close with a forward-thinking idea.

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