Student Essay Example: Defining Moments for Wisdom
by Story2 Guest Author, on Oct 11, 2016 6:33:35 PM
This blog is part of a series featuring supplemental college admission essays written by Story2 students. This essay by Cecile, a student at USC, was chosen because of its effectiveness in focusing on specific moments that build one another and her reflection on how her experiences changed who she is in her pursuit for wisdom.
By Cecile, University of Southern California '20
I like to be right. I want to get answers correct and to win debates. I am the vice president of Model UN at my school, which suits me, because I actually like researching subjects and amassing facts. I read op-eds online and routinely google topics of the day. I read the Discover page on Snapchat that covers news topics, National Geographic, CNN. I also have a photographic memory, so my brain actually retains all these facts, graphs, numbers, statistics. Getting an A in a class for me is the ultimate demonstration of having mastered a subject.
Recently, I traveled across the equator to Argentina, to a city called Córdoba. My reasons for taking the trip were to experience a new culture and to perfect my Spanish. I thought that I would come out of this trip with a native accent and close to flawless grammar. I am taking AP Spanish this year and wanted a head start. I was placed at a daycare center in a part of Córdoba with dirt roads and stray dogs, shacks for houses and broken down cars with smashed in windows. I bonded with the kids quickly. Already on the first day there, one boy, Yuthiel, wanted to stay in my arms for an hour. He gave me pictures that he drew and shared his crayons with other kids.
Santi, who was four, had an aggressive streak. Sometimes he threw toys and hit other kids, but I tried to consider his perspective, having grown up with a drug addicted mom and abuse. I never scolded him, and somehow he would always listen to me. During art, Santi drew gritty pictures of “women peeing” and handguns. I was taken aback. How could this little kid know such serious things? What happened to his innocence? He was more worldly than he should be. But I learned something from Santi that I could not have learned from a book. Not facts, but experience. He opened my eyes to compassion, a human bond, what it means to make a soul connection, and how rare and sacred that is.
In the second week, we taught a fourth grade class about dental hygiene and nutrition. The kids were jumping out of their seats with excitement when we arrived. One nine year old girl, Maria, threw her arms around me as soon as I walked in. Throughout the class the kids were smiling cheek to cheek as we talked about healthy foods and the importance of tooth brushing. When we handed out toothbrushes and strawberry toothpaste, they beamed. I marveled at how they were content with so little.
When we called on kids to come to the chalkboard, at first all hands went up vying for the privilege. But Thiago, who was eight, was illiterate and didn’t volunteer. Since he was so quiet, his friends started pointing at him so he could get a chance, sacrificing their own glory. They were eight years old and so selfless!
At four or eight years old, these kids lacked facts. They did not have computers in the village to learn about world history or global events. Thiago could not even read. But they were the teachers in this case. During the two weeks I spent in Córdoba, I looked up to them. They barely reached the height of my waist, but their wisdom made them role models to me. They knew how to value their friends; they knew how to draw their feelings; they knew how to share their cookies and they didn’t need to prove their worth.
True humanity can be considered a skill, but it goes so far beyond what can be learned in a textbook, so far beyond what has a clear-cut answer of correct or incorrect. I have always liked being “right”, so this type of skill was hard for me to quantify. But I discovered I want to be “wise”.
Image via pacificu.edu