Next up in our series of college application personal statements from buildOn alums is Alan Lin, a student from California whose life was changed by service. A very moving story, Alan! Read Allison Garvey’s essay from last week.
I grew up with severe asthma as a child. I was imprisoned in my home, connected to a machine that allowed me to breathe. This confinement left me with no social interactions with my peers to harvest essential life-experiences for my growth as a person. For the majority of my rueful childhood, I would end each day of school by going home and play videogames until my mind would rot.
My parents were born and raised in Burma (Myanmar), so they did not know how to help me out of this depression I developed. They did not understand what I was going through and they did not seem to care too much, because they were too focused on my older brother’s growth and education. It is the traditional Burmese custom of putting all the effort into raising the perfect, eldest son. I am the second eldest son. I only got the leftovers, along with the asthma. My view of the world spiraled downward and in turn, I isolated myself from all my peers, not having any dreams or aspirations.
[pullquote]In buildOn, I learned to become a leader and gained really powerful public speaking skills.[/pullquote]
During my sophomore year in high school, I attended a meeting for buildOn. I had found out about this program from a flier on that was lying on my desk during homeroom. I thought I might as well attend the meeting, since I had nothing better to do. This single event would be a revitalizing breeze in my self-loathing life. During the meeting I met Jimmy Chen, a senior from my high school with a marvelous and radiating personality, who walked right over, introduced himself and shook my hand. He asked me a few general questions; who I was, how had I found out about the club, and how my day was. The most amazing thing I liked about him was that in the next meeting, he remembered my name. He acknowledged my existence. Jimmy is remarkable, not only for his ability to run a highly successful club, but his confidence and strong affirmation as a leader. He is my role-model, the pinnacle of my dreams; he is who I want to be.
In buildOn, I learned to become a leader and gained really powerful public speaking skills. The biggest experience I gained in the conversing arts was when I canvassed crowded public streets for donations. I was canvassing at San Francisco’s Powell Station on a bright and sunny afternoon. I already had trouble simply talking to my peers, so requesting money from strangers was a herculean difficulty. I had to force myself to push out all negative thoughts and focus only on the goal and, like Jimmy, have a strong affirmation for the cause. Luckily, there was an abundance of foot-traffic that day, so I was able to practice continually with many people until it became verbatim in my mind. At the end of the day I counted the money and found I raised $600 dollars for schools in Malawi. I became overwhelmed with a warm glow of accomplishment.
[pullquote]To be completely honest, my dream is to save the world.[/pullquote]
My experiences with buildOn greatly shaped my dreams and aspirations. Not only did I gain social and life skills, but I met my life-long role-model. As far as “shaping my dreams and aspirations,” buildOn opened my heart to do good for the local and global community. To be completely honest, my dream is to save the world. I have dreams of becoming a doctor, of saving lives. I have dreams of becoming a pharmaceutical researcher, of developing cheaper medicine for those who cannot afford it. I have dreams of becoming an ecologist, of saving the planet. My aspiration is to do positive things for our global community.
One of the greatest and proudest talents that I have developed throughout high school is my charisma. Before, I was unable to talk anyone because of my asthma. However, after long hours of discipline and courageous practice, I am now able to engage with everyone. buildOn gave me experience in speaking to crowds, grasping their attention and motivation.
In buildOn, I give weekly presentations with my fellow officers to our members. I teach them about local and global issues that plague our society with the fundamental principles concerning issues of the lack of education. If a child attends at least primary school, that child will earn twice as much than if he or she had not attended primary school. If a girl attends primary school, her chance of contracting HIV/AIDS decreases by fifty percent. This is a small introduction of an activity called, Stand in Solidarity, in which I shout these alarming statistics into wandering crowds of people and ask, “Who will stand in solidarity with those without access to education?” Inspired by my speech, the people stand up to represent our conviction to spread education. It is a very powerful and soul-moving activity.
-Alan Lin, attended California Balboa High School, now attending UC Davis
Posted September 30, 2011 in News by buildOn