The quality of Rice’s academic, cultural, and social life is heavily influenced by the unique life experiences and cultural traditions each student brings. What perspective do you feel that you will contribute to life at Rice? Most applicants are able to respond successfully in two to three double-spaced pages.
I was white. I was so unbearably white. I walked into this madhouse – this dizzyingly varied place, filled with new and different sights, sounds, and even smells. I plunged into the teeming throng of diversity with apprehension. Jostling my way to my first ever high school class, I could hear snippets of strong, terse Russian, scraps of lyrical, singsong Chinese, and bits of a melodic, rapid-fire language I would later learn to identify as Hindi. Never before had I felt so out of place, never before had I been in an environment so utterly foreign. This cavernous edifice of red and white painted cinder blocks and dreary, decaying concrete enveloped me, taking me far away from the homogenous existence I had been living for the entirety of my life. I was thrust into a completely new world, a world filled with foods I’d never tasted, words I’d never heard, and viewpoints I’d never considered. And it was invigorating. It was deeply, rapturously intoxicating. I have since made this new world my own. I quickly found that my classes at Bellaire HS were filled with the kind of diversity usually reserved for television. This was an exciting, yet intimidating prospect. I plowed ahead and busied myself by becoming involved with all of these disparate cultures. It was to my advantage that I came to Bellaire not knowing anyone – all my friends from middle school had gone on to private schools. I was able to leave my old ways behind, though it took me a while to gain the confidence necessary to make this transition. Eventually, I became particularly involved in the South and East Asian communities of my school and my neighborhood. I joined the West Asian Students’ Association, becoming the first white member in many years, and inspiring many additional non-Indian people to join. Each year, WASA puts on a pair of cultural festivals celebrating Hindu holidays. I take an active leadership role in these events, though I am ineligible for official officership in the club because I do not take Hindi. Another cultural association I found myself drawn to, the Korean Club, welcomed me with open arms, though again I was a rarity due to the color of my skin. I also became interested in religions I had not been previously exposed to. I joined the Hindu Student Council and the Muslim Students’ Association, of which I am now Vice President. Recently, my friends and I spearheaded an initiative to form a chapter of Interfaith at my school. I was voted Secretary, a position I value deeply because it is an opportunity to promote religious harmony and understanding between people of differing faiths. These new experiences were not all formal. A couple years ago, my friends and I started a weekly pickup game of cricket, a sport introduced to me by my friends from the former British Empire. The game has since grown into the Bellaire City Cricket Club, a rapidly expanding organization with over twenty members.I walked in the doors of Bellaire a frightened boy, feeling different, isolated, alone; I now walk out of those doors comfortable in any company, confident in any crowd, for I know now that all of us, no matter our language, creed, or skin color, are the same people; we are all fundamentally human. The variety of people with whom I have come into contact have convinced me that to look at someone as anything other than an individual, the result of an extraordinary confluence of personal, genetic, cultural, and social factors, is to invite stereotypes and discrimination. The world is a diverse place that produces vastly different individuals, and we must recognize that in our treatment of one another. This is what Bellaire has taught me, and this is the knowledge with which I approach the outside world.