Describe an opportunity you have had to learn from or to teach someone different from yourself. What did you learn from this experience? How will the experience help you to be successful in your college career and beyond? Service, leadership, community, global citizenship, environmental stewardship, challenges
A fundamental manner in which I have grown as a person is through personal interaction, and I had an exceptional opportunity to expand my perspective of the world from inside my own home. When I was in sixth grade, my family hosted our first foreign exchange student, Ji Young, from South Korea. I had previously interacted with people who were not my immediate family, such as school friends or cousins, but this was completely new to me. Someone I knew nothing about and with whom I had no common background came to stay in my home, and, in the blink of an eye, I had a complete stranger living in the room next to mine. This was the first of three exchange students; these experiences taught me to broaden my thinking, adapt to different cultures, and recognize that lifelong friends can come from anywhere in the world.
When Ji Young arrived, I was unsure about her, because she took up space on my bathroom counter, interfered with my shower time, and took away some of my parents’ attention. As I got to know her, things changed to become one of the greatest experiences of my life thus far. Every day, we sat on her bed and talked until my bedtime and sometimes later. I quizzed her in chemistry and history, and we talked about the differences between her life in South Korea and my life in America. She taught me some Korean words and phrases, cooked Asian cuisine for us, and told me about North and South Korea, where even the more affluent people face hardships that few Americans routinely face, such as frequent power outages and not having heat in classrooms. Despite our age difference, we became quite close, and when the time came for her to leave, it was difficult for me to say goodbye. Not all of the things I learned from our exchange students were positive. Our second student, who came from Japan the following year, was a bit more trying, and the experience did not bring a great deal of camaraderie.
Even so, we learned to get along. Our final exchange student, Franzi, came a year later from Germany. She and I, although from different continents, were probably most alike; we were strong willed. This required yet another learned skillset, because we were both argumentative; however, we not only learned to compromise, but enjoyed spending time together. She has been back to visit twice, and my family visited her and her family in Germany to experience their culture. From these experiences, I learned many things about other cultures and appreciating people different from myself. I learned to better value what I have, to know I can adapt to overcome challenges, and to appreciate the world outside of the United States. Colorado State values diversity of thought, global citizenship, teamwork, and inclusion; my foreign exchange experiences have allowed me to grow into an individual who will contribute to that environment and be further taught by it.