My Life as a Third Culture Kid

The essay demonstrates your ability to write clearly and concisely on a selected topic and helps you distinguish yourself in your own voice. What do you want the readers of your application to know about you apart from courses, grades, and test scores? Choose the option that best helps you answer that question and write an essay of no more than 650 words, using the prompt to inspire and structure your response. Remember: 650 words is your limit, not your goal. Use the full range if you need it, but don’t feel obligated to do so. (The application won’t accept a response shorter than 250 words.)

Some students have a background or story that is so central to their identity that they believe their application would be incomplete without it. If this sounds like you, then please share your story.

My family faced tragedy shortly after we arrived in Afghanistan. We struggled through our first six months, but my parents were new missionaries filled with excitement for God’s work. Even when we timidly bought food from strangers who spoke Dari and ran around naked in the house because of the heat, we plowed through. One terrible night, I woke up in shock as I saw six masked robbers point guns and knives at my parents. I stared at the sharp glints of the knives so dangerously close to my parents’ necks. These six raggedy, armed men looked so out of place in my pink room that I did not believe they were there until my baby sisters started crying at the sight of them.

When my sisters continued to wail to high heaven, the men pointed their guns at my sisters and told my mother in Dari to shut them up. My mother bravely tried to soothe my sisters, but they took my mother and father so that they could guide them to our money. I, as a seven-year-old, was left with my sisters, but I watched everything in a dream-like state. The robbers literally carried out everything, including electronics, closets, and even our mini gas stove. Finally, they rounded up our family and locked us up in the basement. My head was in a whirl, so confused, and so afraid. We stayed all night in the basement, waiting to see if the robbers would come back and shoot us. Thankfully, we found out they left, and in the morning, we packed up what few belongings we had left and crossed the border to Uzbekistan.

I left Afghanistan with a lot of bitterness. Even as a seven-year-old, I felt an emptiness knowing that this place was now a place of could-have-beens. Not only that, but the good memories of Afghanistan were forever marred by images of robbers hurting my parents. My parents were the two people who had always been constant in my life no matter where we moved, and seeing them so vulnerable created a fear in me I had never experienced before. I did not know the meaning of “safe” anymore. I wanted justice against these six men who came in, took our possessions, stole our futures, and traumatized our whole family. The Middle East had changed into a land of painful memories.

Despite this pain I often associate with Afghanistan, as I lived in Uzbekistan, and now Turkey, the Middle East as a whole has become my home. Much of my cultural experiences in Uzbekistan and Turkey have been similar to Afghanistan, and living in these different Middle Eastern countries have allowed me to re-develop an appreciation for this culture despite my past hurt. As time passed, I could associate the familiar arid air that slaps my cheeks and the booming sounds of the call to prayer as elements of “home”. In a mass of olive-skinned men and women, I always stand unique with my shiny Asian hair, but these differences are a part of who I am now. Sometimes it is still hard to forget the past, especially when sights, smells, or people remind me of my last day in Afghanistan. However, I have learned to reconcile the bitterness of my past and cultivate a new heart of compassion for this land and for these people, acknowledging the unmistakable print the Middle East has left on my heart.

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