The Fortune Spiders

personal statement

When the clear automatic doors opened to the humid air of New York City, my life would never be the same. The busy traffic with dozens of yellow cabs overwhelmed a girl who grew up in a place where a bike is an expensive transportation tool. While my parents drove past an endless chain of fast food restaurants, I marveled at the luxurious American lifestyle. Adjusting to my new home in New York City, after flying thousands of miles from rural China, exposed me to unforeseen lavishness and extravagance. Living in the United States, what was previously impossible became possible. Most people have access to food and water all the time. They can go to work in skyscrapers and drive luxurious cars. Gradually, the city’s wastefulness and consumption brainwashed me into thinking that I do not have to consider those who lack the simple basic necessities. While all of my demands were satisfied, I forgot the values I grew up with and ignored the plight of others in developing countries. Shelter, healthcare, and education came easily. What a fortune to live here, I thought. At the same time, it is also a curse. I slowly lost my native culture’s values, such as frugality and determination that enable the Chinese people to become the next world leaders. As my grandmother’s diabetic conditions worsened each day, I reluctantly flew to China to visit her. When I arrived at her house, a second culture shock daunted me. I no longer recalled the summer nights when I sat in the yard listening to my grandmother’s anecdotes that teach moral lessons. Rather, I focused on the old stench slowly diffusing across the yard. I saw my grandmother, albeit with serious diabetes and failing eyesight, washing dishes. Her strong muscles, from working as a migrant worker, now became limp. She turned around and gave me a smile that exposed her rotting teeth. Her excitement to see me was overwhelming. She commented on how much I had changed. Unfortunately, she could not see how dramatically I had changed on the outside. She soon found out, however, that I had forgotten the qualities she had instilled in me; I grimaced at the food she prepared and complained about how dirty the toilet looked. When eating lunch, I panicked when I saw a spider crawling on the wall. My grandmother calmly picked up the spider and chanted an ancient poem. The words and rhyme of the poem tickled my memory. The poem asks the fortune spider to bring food and guests to the house. The spider traps its own food with the web it weaves. If the web breaks, it will fix it. Its independence and resolution to support itself won admiration. The poem also made me recall my grandmother’s hospitality and friendship despite hunger and hardships. I once loved this story, believing that someday I will overcome obstacles with perseverance. The spoiled lifestyle in the big city, however, distracted me from setting and achieving long-term goals. My grandmother cannot even read or write but my mother became a successful doctor. I realized that my mother must possess the qualities I was ignoring to overcome the poverty cycle that trapped my ancestors. This trip to visit my grandmother in China forever changed my attitude on the so-called fortunate life in the pompous city. My grandmother helped me recover my roots and values that I have resolved to never forget. As I learn and grow in a competitive world, the rekindling of the rich cultural ties I have with my grandmother, and with China, is absolutely priceless.

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