Dear Mr. Vha,
This is my first draft for my personal statement.
I hope that you will take time to check it for me.
Topic of your choice:
There, near the corner of the bustling street where my house located, stands an archaic, dusty, but still-working loudspeaker. It was not until the age of seven did I first learn about the past of it from my mother. She said during the Vietnam War, the loudspeaker already stayed there to make early warnings of United States bombing raids; that way, people could in advance rush to the ramshackle dug-out nearby, hoping for the best that no one would be injured. As a young Vietnamese born in the post-war era, I might not be able to visualize clearly how horrible each time the bombs landed in my neighborhood, but always regarded the loudspeaker as a hero, who did save the lives of my parents.
As time went by many things changed, the loudspeaker no longer handles the task it once did three decades ago; now, it has become a news informer (as what I call it). Every morning, as the sun casts its light upon the balcony of my room, the loudspeaker begins to play its familiar greeting song with news announcements followed. When I was small, I often took notice of news about gold medals that Vietnam’s sports teams achieved in international competitions. What I saw from it was that though our country was poor, our people were less physically robust than those foreigners, we still had outstanding athletes; and this made me feel proud. As I turned from an elementary school kid into a teenager with seemingly more capable comprehension and thoughtful mind, news about social issues started capturing my attention. Instead of rushing for classes, I always woke up early and spent at least half an hour listening to the loudspeaker. Through it, I knew that my country had extraordinary economic growth with the rate exceeding 7 percent for years in succession. I knew that many strategic plans implemented had reduced poverty in rural areas significantly. I knew that the government, as always had been, made enormous effort to enhance the country’s education. They disbursed huge amount of national budget for new schools, new textbooks, new facility, helping me get access to decent education. All those things had nurtured in me a sense of national pride, and I did appreciate the government so much for what they had done for me, and for the country.
Then, in tenth grade, I went to Mr. Long’s English class, an after school class, with the mere goal to improve my English proficiency. 6 p.m., I entered the class while there were still thirty minutes to go. Looking around, I was quite taken a back at the classroom: it was spacious, air-conditioned, and had no platform; there were only similar chairs arranged neatly detached from each other. This image was so different from cram classes that I got used to: stifling, stinky, and platform-included for teachers to stand on. Just like that, I took a seat in middle row, feeling the odor of lily flowers lingering around my nostrils, and sensed that this class was so “Western”.
6:30, the door in front of me opened, and walking out of it was Mr. Long, with a bright smile upon his face. He sat in the chair at the center of the class, eagerly introducing himself without having the air of superiority inherited in typical Vietnamese teachers; and I feel like his style instantly. After that, he began his lesson by saying:
- I hope that after attending my class, all of you will understand that our country is in its worst shape with a corrupted government. And you have to stay out of the mainstream to revitalize our country.
Like a slap at my face, his statement happened like nothing but damage to my national pride. Not letting him carry on, I felt enraged and raised my voice:
- Do you know how fast our country’s economy grows? Do you know how hard the government has tried to reduce poverty, to enhance welfare services? Are you blind to all of those facts?
With knowing eyes, he looked at me then replied:
- I know what you are thinking. It is hard to accept the truth, but I will help you move on this rocky path.
It was such a soothing reply, from a teacher I had not made acquaintance with. I sat down, though still with anger, and let him continue his lesson. High inflation, corrupted state-owned enterprises, repression of speech, clam-down on religious community,… all those thing were tailored in Mr. Long class to depict a Vietnam I had not imagined before: a country in chaos with setbacks prevalent. I felt shocked and did not believe in any word he uttered this day. With a burning sense of nationalism inside, I decided to seek for references to prove him wrong. Nigh after night, I stayed up late till the world seemed silent searching, visiting endless website, craving for just a piece of information that contradicted his points in the lesson that day. But, it turned out to be that I was the wrong one. My country was indeed in economic crisis, state-owned enterprises did make huge loss for years, and many dissident journalists had to stand unfair trials. I felt so ashamed: partly because I made a ridiculously arrogant remark at Mr. Long’s class, partly because I was so passive an individual, who buried himself for so long in with the loudspeaker, without having a thought of questioning.
It’s almost three years since the day I first attended Mr. Long class; the three years seemed to offer me more knowledge than the fifteen years I had been through. Every time, I got home after his class, I go to my room, leaning again the window and listening to the loudspeaker echo its late night propaganda which I did so long fall in love with. Maybe the truth is not something ostensible that can be spoon-fed. It is something I have to find myself.
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