2,000 People, Infinite Community

Sometimes asking the right question makes all the difference. If you were a college admission counselor, what essay question would you ask? Please craft and answer your own essay prompt – in your response, reflect on what your chosen question reveals about you.

“Colleges are selecting from a large pool of applicants to form their own campus community. Tell us about what you personally love about your current community and any changes you would make.

The wind billows through the eaves and tractors bide their time along country roads. Apples are ready for plucking and cider is brewing at the Rinker farm. The smell of manure during spring and mountains of leaves during autumn—that’s home, every quirk, nook, and cranny of it. My home is anything but a city, though our love for one another easily dwarfs the New York City skyline.

Our love is given in a myriad of forms, through tough talks or thoughtful gestures. Ironically, as a Mexican girl living in a majority-white town, it’s the only place I’ve ever felt apart of. Hard work has always been a hallmark of our community, and in a Conservative Christian town, hard work and struggle is a fact of life. Ideologically, My town is the last place someone with my views would want to be, but I cherish my community not for agreeing with me but engaging with me. When I succumbed to woes and excuses, Mrs. Mayberry would chide me to dry my tears and figure it out. When I expressed my dreams and doubts, she would urge me to work toward my goals, saying, “God helps those who help themselves.” My folks have never comforted me, and despite our differences, they have never once doubted me either. It is this zealous faith and affection that is waning in our times, only forged and nurtured by towns like mine with no more than 2,000 people.

Love is blinding, however, as my community often forgets there is a magnificent world beyond our piece of Appalachia. My town is content to enjoy the motions of life and ignore issues outside the bubble. Places with a just a bit too many minorities is revered as the “ghetto,” even if the streets are perfectly paved and crime is hardly running amuck. The people’s attention should expand beyond the county, beyond the valley, and beyond the state.

Time tutoring middle school students only confirmed my suspicion surrounding my town’s faults. One boy I tutored was a newcomer, recently arriving from El Salvador. He knew not a lick of English and after a month or two tutoring him, teachers regarded him peculiarly for not being fluent in English. But while the fault was glaring, the welcome under which he was received cannot be ignored. There were no questions prying at his life nor remarks of disdain, simply a smile and a desire to help. That’s a trait I want to carry with me wherever I go.

My nature is to relate to others, inspired by my experiences in such a small community. College presents a similar dynamic, in which I plunge in yet another community, but instead of chance it is crafted through careful consideration. While college is centered around academics, remembering that all students contribute to the greatest form of learning—Interaction—lends me to ask how a student views their own area. This thoughtful prying reflects my own ability to learn from others and expand my outlooks, be it in science, literature, politics, philosophy, or even the YouTube channels I follow. Likewise, focusing beyond the accomplishments of students fosters not only an engaging class, but a microcosm of the world and all its quirks.

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