Dear Mr vha08,
My name is Le Ly. I am in grade 11, Hanoi Amsterdam High school, Vietnam. A friend of mine told me about you and he said that you helped him a lot with his application essay. I have just finished my app essay and I hope that you would give me some useful advice on how to improve it. Thank you a lot and looking forward to hearing from you.
I was sitting tiredly on the train with my mom and dad on a scorching summer day, July, 2007. It was an old train with no air conditioning. Only the ceiling fans twirled around slowly and helplessly. The heat and dust of this old poor province really got on my nerves. Ah! Here came my grandfather’s house. Like other people in this small village, my grandfather had to work hard all day long to earn his living. For many times, my parents tried to persuade him to go to the city and live with us, but with no success. Whenever I visited him, he would always take me around the old neighborhood and showed me a lot of things that I had never known. And that time was no exception.
We were walking on this worn-out path when an old skinny man approached. Under the intense heat of the unforgiving sun, he was drenched in sweat, and his torn clothes made him look so miserable. Without saying a word, I tried to walk pass him as fast as possible with a look full of annoyance and disrespect. I got the scary feeling that he knew what I was thinking. His eyes turned teary and unfocused. But I did not really care. Then, my grandfather gave that man a little money at my surprise. The poor man was astonished, too. His eyes flashed and the smile on his lips made the winkles appeared even more obvious.
At home, my grandfather would not talk to me. I tried to sneak into his room and asked sulkily: “Are you angry with me because of that man? Why do you give him your money? He can work and make money for himself. I think that he is really lazy”. He turned his brown eyes towards me, and placed his huge hand on my little fingers:” My dear, whoever he is, you should at least show some respect to him. I have known him for quite a long time. He lives here alone with an incurable cancer. He can’t do hard work. Walking is already an enormous effort for him. He is a pitiful man hopelessly asking for your help. He may not expect your money or any valuable things. The only thing he wants is the empathy from you to warm his lonely heart”.
Returning to the city, I could not focus on anything. The noisy and busy life here could not wipe the old man’s teary eyes off my mind for a single second. A breeze made it way through the glass window, filling the whole room with a sense of remorse and uneasiness. I felt so stuffy and decided that I had to go out.
My eyes were blurred by the summer day’s intense blaze. The sky poured a flow of honey light onto the ground when the old building’s roof reflected the sunbeam gloriously. Wandering along the golden street, I tried to avoid all the traffic noise and gave myself the chance to hear my own voice. All of a sudden, I heard a weary call from behind and turned back immediately just to find a boy standing in front of me. He was a little boy with sun-burnt skin, looking exhausted in a wet and dirty t-shirt. His brown eyes were strikingly beautiful with drops of sweat falling down from his forehead. I was quite taken aback when he smiled broadly and asked me to choose a something from the heavy bunch of newspaper on his feeble arms. “Isn’t he too small to go out alone and sell things like this? What about his parents? Does anyone knows that he is here?”. I quickly asked for a magazine and took the chance to find out the answer to the puzzling questions on my mind. The boy looked rather suspicious at first, but then told me his name was Nam. Nam was 5 years old and had been living in an orphanage since he was small. Therefore, he could not know who his parents were. Selling newspaper was a way for him and other orphans to earn money. I wanted to know where the orphanage was, but Nam refused and ran away hurriedly. The last sunlight of the afternoon had faded into the far horizon. I walked home quietly with the image of the boy filling my head.
The next day, the temperature was less intense. The sky was stunning with glowing rays of sunlight. The street was more crowded with busy people moving back and forth. I went to the same place at the same time that I met the mysterious boy, patiently waiting for him to come. “You, again?”, a familiar sound caught my attention. I looked back and saw Nam. I repeatedly asked him why he would not tell me where he was living. “It…It…It is not beautiful. It is ugly.”, he whispered as silently as he could, as if he was really afraid that the whole world would know about it. I felt so strange. “What am I doing? Why do I care about someone who is not my family, not my friend and not even my acquaintance?”. I remembered myself trying to stay away from poor children on the street begging for my help. I remembered how sacred I used to be at the sights of poor people in torn clothes approaching me. But at that moment, everything was simply beyond my comprehension. As soon as the sunbeam reached the ground, bringing the glimmer back into my eyes, I came back to consciousness, and saw Nam running away swiftly. For the next whole week, my legs would forcefully lead me to that golden street corner looking for Nam. But he never came back again.
I was sitting on a stifling old train. The heat and dust of the old countryside were right next to me. The only boundary between us was the transparent window shimmering beautifully before my sleepy eyes. I put the glass panel down, just a little bit, to be a little bit closer to the heat and dust that I used to loathe, to hear my heart fluttering like never before. My grandfather’s house was only 2 miles away. I thought I would have to tell him that everything was changing rapidly before my very eyes. I would ask him to help me work out the answer to this strange feeling. But suddenly I realized that the world around me was still the same. It was me who was changing. The train had stopped with a scary sound. Grandfather! Here I come!
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