Duke University Application Sample Essay on Racial or Cultural Differences

Home > College Admission > College Admission Essays > College Application Essay on Racial or Cultural Differences Duke University Application Essay

Duke University Application Sample Essay,College Application Essay on Racial or Cultural Differences

Essay by Anonymous

"Hello ! No. I'm at the movies." Translation: "Mom! No. I'm at the movies. The movies! I'll be home soon." If I'm with my friends, someone will ask: "What was that?" And I answer, "I was speaking in Korean to my mom." This answer is never enough, as I have learned. Only after a few rounds of saying odd phrases for their amusement is everyone's curiosity satisfied. "How do you say ______?" they say. I answer patiently in Korean. I am bilingual. Most of my friends have witnessed my trait in action many times. I speak English at school, and mostly Korean at home, but when the two are intertwined, the English and Korean are hard to separate. My internal Korean and the English, that has perhaps become internal now, blend smoothly. The blending of both languages occurs quite often and quite naturally, in and out of the house.

The problems arise when these two worlds start to fight with each other. One fights the other for more attention, and both struggle to pull me in and own me completely. Then these two different worlds can be quite confusing, especially when I blurt something out at the spur of the moment and it comes out in the wrong language. I might roll my eyes and with a sigh say, "Duh," to my parents when they don't really understand the connotation. Or I might yell, " !" (No!) while arguing with my friends. The fine line shrinks even thinner. Balancing is the challenge. When you are immersed in two completely separate worlds simultaneously, it is not a dichotomy or an absolute division. The trick is to be both while being one. The two entities are completely different but never alone. That is who I am. I have had to master this skill because I am bilingual and because I am a Korean living in America.

In the Korean realm, those who do not speak Korean can be rejected, ridiculed, or even ostracized. There is an unspoken expectation that a Korean must be able to speak his or her native language and still speak English. Although bad English is understandable, bad Korean is humiliating. Pronunciation, intonation, and grammar must be flawless. If it's not perfect, you are labeled a sell out or a "Twinkie," one who has yellow skin but feels white on the inside. So essentially, you are excluded from both. My friend Joel is the ultimate "Twinkie." Sadly for him, he speaks no Korean and his English is bad too; it has a tinge of an accent that shouldn't be there. Joel struggles with being "too American" or "too Korean" or not enough of both. He knows as well as I do that proficiency in both languages is very important: English is essential to live life in America, yet Korean is essential to retain our culture. That day when Joel asked me how I "found myself," I told him: "It's a blending of the two without compromising either, and I really think I've found the perfect balance. I'm in the best place that I could ever be: in both."

The author attends Duke University.

Essay Review

when two worlds collide

Anybody whose parents were immigrants can relate to—or write an essay about—living in two worlds. With the premium that colleges place on diversity, such essays generally hit the mark. In this essay, the author uses a phone conversation to introduce the reader to the way her American and Korean lives intersect. She adds depth by giving the reader a peek inside the Korean culture, at least with respect to the importance of speaking good Korean. "The trick is to be both while being one," she says, a pithy way of describing the challenge of living in two worlds at once.

More Information