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Free Sample Personal Statement in Eastern Asian Studies

It's not often that a kid growing up in New Mexico strikes up a passion for Chinese civilization. Nevertheless, my interest in different cultures flourished during my childhood and adolescence in New Mexico. The beauty and breathtakingly scenic landscape of this state is enriched with the pronounced cultural diversity brought about by Pueblo, Hopi and Navajo nations and a large Hispanic population that represents close to 50% of state. When I was in kindergarten I attended a bilingual school in Lemitar, a small town in southern New Mexico. Most of the children at this school were Hispanic. This allowed me at a very early age to experience a language and culture different from mine. My father has always had a keen interest in people from other countries and cultural backgrounds. As a librarian, my father has always encouraged me to read not only Western Philosophy, but Eastern Philosophy as well. In addition, he inspired me to see life from a different perspective.

To a large extent, and by most definitions, I have always been a non-traditional and unconventional student. I went to a high school with a curriculum that was as challenging for me as any course I have taken in college. This high school was unique because we studied everything from the origin of Western Civilization to modern-day Western thought. Another unique feature of this school was that at the end of our senior year we had to give an oral presentation in front of a host of panelists from St. John's College in Santa Fe, New Mexico. This experience helped me develop my ability to think critically and present a cogent thesis. It forced me to grow not only as a student, but more importantly, as an individual.

When I graduated from high school I rebelled against traditional education and decided not to apply to college. This decision was to the great dismay of my parents, who had entered college immediately after high school. With much resistance, I enrolled at Santa Fe Community College. This was just to satisfy my parents' wishes, and I spent only one semester there. Although I wanted to study and continue to learn, I yearned to reach out to people and find a different mode of study--one which would allow me to understand myself better so that I could relate better to the world around me. With this goal, I decided to attend the New Mexico Academy of Massage and Advanced Healing Arts. The school provided me with a unique mind/body balance that has helped me become a more well-rounded person. I studied subjects that ranged from Anatomy and Physiology to Yoga and Tai Chi. After graduating, I got a job at the Santa Fe Sport Medicine Institute as a Physical Therapy Assistant. I used Massage techniques to help people who were injured in auto accidents or sporting events. This type of work allowed me to directly help people-- the people I massaged told me that the pain they experienced prior to the massage had subsided. Relieving the pains of these people nurtured in me a sense of purpose. In addition, it increased my interest in Eastern Philosophy, making me want to learn more about Asia.

I began to read many classical Chinese texts to further my knowledge about Chinese Philosophy. Soon I developed a profound interest in learning how to read and speak the Chinese language. The opportunities for studying Chinese were very limited, however. At 22, I had saved up some money and now decided to go live in Asia to experience a Chinese culture first-hand, and to learn how to speak Mandarin Chinese. My desire to go to Asia was spawned by a genuine interest in reconciling differences I found between Eastern and Western cultures. Similarly, I wanted to pursue this experience because it would provide me with a unique opportunity to broaden the perspective I had on the world as a whole. This is how I ended living in Taichung, Taiwan and visiting mainland China.

When I arrived in Taiwan, I remember getting off the airplane and hearing everyone speaking Chinese. Everything I saw and heard was unfamiliar to me. Seeing a different world made a huge impact on me; I can still recall how exotic my environment was. In Taiwan, I went through an intensive Chinese language immersion program. Slowly I began to feel more comfortable living there, as I learned to communicate with people in Chinese. I was invited to teach English at a private school for children, but I told the school that I had no teaching experience. The school informed me that if I took a short teaching training class, I would be ready to teach. And they even offered to pay me for the training classes. However, I refused to be paid for the training. The school was so impressed by this that after I completed the training, they appointed me director of the English Language program. I was astounded by the generosity and honesty that I received from the people in Taiwan. This was a truly remarkable experience.

In Taiwan, I lived with a Chinese family. This allowed me to assimilate my culture with the customs and habits of this particular Chinese family. We had long conversations about fundamental aspects of Chinese culture and philosophy. The family also brought me to all the Chinese festivals and celebrations. It was in Taiwan that I realized I must return to college in the United States, and earn a degree in East Asian Studies.

After spending a year in Taiwan, I returned to the United States to complete my degree. My time in Taiwan taught me so much about myself, and it gave me the perspective to see things from both a Western and Eastern point of view. Since my return to the United States, my life has seen some exciting changes. I got married about a year after I returned from Taiwan. My wife is originally from Venezuela, and she has introduced a new host of cultural norms that I am learning about. During my free time I teach my mother-in-law English. She, of course, insists that I need to attain fluency in both Spanish and Chinese. And that is exactly what I am doing. My wife and I are both students at Rutgers University, and we share our ambitions, hopes and expectation of attending graduate school.

Currently I am a senior, majoring in East Asian Studies with a minor in Political Science. The growing importance of Asia as a determining factor in global economy and the increasing interaction and commerce of the U.S. with China, suggests to me that pursuing a career in law would be pertinent and appealing. My knowledge of Chinese culture and mastery of the Chinese language would be a very strong asset, and it would let me make a significant contribution to the political, commercial and cultural exchange between the U.S. and Asia.


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