Evaluate a signiﬁcant experience, achievement, risk you have taken, or ethical dilemma you have faced and its impact on you.
“We’re moving,” my father announced to me, a happy eleven-year-old boy being picked up from his first summer at sleepaway camp. Excited that we might finally be moving out of our too-familiar house in Miami and into a house closer to all of my friends a few blocks away, I asked, “What street are we moving to?” “No,” my father responded, laughing, “London! We’re moving to London!” I couldn’t stop crying. When I got home, my room was filled with sealed boxes containing what the packers had perceived to be my favorite toys. Adding to that trauma, my doctor announced that he’d have to remove my tonsils in three days since they would swell in the cold London climate. I was hardly able to speak after the tonsillectomy, but I somehow had to say goodbye to my friends over the course of the next two weeks. At the time, that was the most horrid week of my life — what an inauspicious beginning to my life as an expatriate. The misery of those two weeks carried on for the next two years of my new life in London. My future was rigidly established for me, though I was presented with one decision to make for myself: upon transferring to the American School in London, I was asked by my band teacher, “What instrument would you like to play?” Instinctively, my hyperactivity led me to choose the instrument that would require the most energy and make the most ruckus: the drums. The drums were my retreat from my dreary reality and became a priority over school. Throughout fifth and sixth grade, I constantly struggled with the rigor of my international school. I was placed on academic probation; friends called me stupid and my teachers thought I was a lost cause. That was when my father set me up for the greatest opportunity of my life to that point. At the beginning of seventh grade — my third year in London — my father sarcastically said, “If you get straight A’s, I will get you the best drum set I can find.” Rather than disregarding what he said, I accepted the challenge. I focused my energy on my studies rather than on getting the drum set; I was determined to prove that I could rekindle the joy I had once possessed. I worked endlessly, day and night, concluding each day with the satisfaction of achievement. The D’s, C’s, and B’s melted away until straight A’s were finally within my grasp. My trajectory had turned toward success. With ambition and focus, my limits were boundless. The gift of the new drum set could not compare with the satisfaction of achievement.After I graduated from middle school, my father’s work took us to Israel, where I am presently a senior at the American International School. Here I have not only sought out A’s in school, but also A’s in life. Knowing that progress could be achieved in any field, I decided to take initiative in my surrounding community. For example, I started volunteering at a dog shelter. Many of the dogs suffer from abuse and flinch at the sight of a hand; others suffer from the depression of abandonment. By spending one-on-one time with the dogs, I help them become more sociable, increasing their chances of adoption by helping them to overcome past suffering. The dogs possess a great potential for happiness, and I help them to realize that happiness. I am also passionate about learning economics, though no economics classes are available at my school. Rather than abandoning my interest, I created an economics club in collaboration with one of my teachers. Now students meet informally for weekly lectures from guests and teachers. Finally, I’ve spent the last three summers waking at six AM and driving from Deal, New Jersey to Brooklyn, where I have worked ten exhausting hours a day in a wholesale warehouse. I faced many challenges in starting off as a stock boy. My coworkers viewed me as an intruder, and my tasks were strenuous: lifting thousands of boxes and counting tens of thousands of delivered items. The exhaustion made me realize something important, however: earning an “honest buck” is no easy task. It requires hard work. The more I worked, the more self-respect and self-satisfaction I earned. I’ll be back there on July 1.When my father picked me up from that first summer at sleepaway camp, I was told to guess the surprise waiting for me when I arrived home — what an auspicious beginning to allow me to find my true potential.