Bowdoin College Application Sample Essay about Politics and Religion

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College Application Essay on Politics and Religion

Essay by Madelyn Sullivan

I voted on November 2nd. As an eighteen-year-old woman in America, I am legally allowed to exercise my right to vote. Although my heart beat slightly fast, and my hands shook unsteadily at the polling booth, upon arriving home from my first voting experience, I was filled with a sense of accomplishment and relief. I sat on the couch that night, when I picked up a TIME magazine and began to read an article on Sudan by Massimo Calabresi.

The vast nation of Sudan is divided by both religion and culture, but mainly ethnicity: Arabs and Africans. While all citizens of Sudan are African, the nomadic tribes of Sudan are referred to as Arabs, while the sedentary tribes are called Africans.

The images I saw of the battling Arabs and Africans were stark and the stories I read were more horrific. The Janjaweed, "devils on horseback," is an Arabic group of local tribes funded by the Sudanese government to crush the radical Sudan Liberation Army. The group began attacking civilians, claiming that they were aiding insurgents. Janjaweed ride or fly into African villages, firing guns on men and children alike. They rape the women, leave most children, and kill all the men. These are of course, very loose rules. One woman described a Janjaweed rampage: "A fighter unwrapped a swaddling cloth and rolled a newborn baby onto the dirt. The baby was a girl, so they left her. Then the Janjaweed spotted a one-year-old boy and decided he was a future enemy. In front of a group of onlookers, a man tossed the boy into the air as another took aim and shot him dead."

Suddenly voting didn't seem as important as it had fifteen minutes earlier. Suddenly I didn't want to go to school the next day, but fly to Africa and give all my hot lunches to a starving family at a refugee camp. What surprised me the most, however, was a common theme throughout the article about the lack of world response. We cannot let another Rwanda or Holocaust occur while we are alive. Genocide is supposed to be a thing of the past. It is a story we read about in books or a special we watch on the history channel. Let Sudan be the one time that the world learned and said "never again" and meant it.

As I sat on the couch, brimming with tears and watching the muted images of election results, I felt a desperate sense of despair. I had to remind myself that I am able to affect what happens in my life.

I voted on Tuesday. I am a woman. I am eighteen. And I had a choice. I am lucky, and I have the obligation to help people without my same rights. On Tuesday, what I voted for will not only affect my local and national community, but also the world. I am indebted to the citizens of countries like Sudan to vote for them, to give a voice to the people who cannot speak above the gunfire and violence that reigns in their country.

I realized then that my trip to the ballot box was perhaps not so futile and that I would indeed attend school the next day, no matter how great my desire to flee the country and save the world as a self-proclaimed knight-errant. I reminded myself that although I am an adult with adult responsibilities, I am still a senior in high school with plans to go to college. I can only hope that the best possible use of my time right now is to attend school to better educate myself. I can only hope that what I learn today will give me the courage and knowledge to stop tomorrow's Holocaust.

Madelyn Sullivan attends Bowdoin College.

Essay Review

when you care about the world

Essays about international affairs can be dicey, but the rare student who genuinely cares about what happens in, say, Sudan, can pull it off. Madelyn Sullivan does so by connecting her first voting experience, which happened within weeks of when she wrote, with an article she read about human-rights atrocities in Sudan. The essay works because of her powerful idealism. At the polling place, her "heart beat slightly fast" and her hands "shook unsteadily." The article about the Sudan violence left her "brimming with tears." When Madelyn writes that she herself hopes to prevent tomorrow's Holocaust, most readers will believe her.

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