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"The Moral Obligations of a Democratic Society" - Harvard/Princeton-The Nobel Prize


answers: 5
Prompt: (technically, this essay could fit in any of the first three essay topics for Princeton; but:)
Option 3 - Using the following quotation from "The Moral Obligations of Living in a Democratic Society" as a starting point, tell us about an event or experience that helped you define one of your values or changed how you approach the world:

"Empathy is not simply a matter of trying to imagine what others are going through, but having the will to muster enough courage to do something about it. In a way, empathy is predicated upon hope."
- Cornel West, Class of 1943 University Professor in the Center for African American Studies, Princeton University



It was the highest honor, bar none. On December 10th, 2010, in Oslo, Norway, the weather was particularly peaceful, the sky a pristine shade of blue that denizens of industrialized countries take for granted and those from nations in the throes of development remember only in distant memory. So naturally, few in the Oslo City Hall truly cared for the weather. No, the audience chamber was packed with diplomats and well-wishers from over 40 countries, intent on observing the award ceremony. Packed, that is, except for a single lone chair at near the center of the podium, forlorn. Empty. The winner's seat.

When I first read about the awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize to Liu Xiaobo, and his subsequent inability to receive it due to imprisonment, I was immediately intrigued, with a mixture of academic fascination and ethnocentric bias that my brain has long known as illogical but never truly suppressed. I followed all the events excitedly, scouring the internet for tangible sources, first in English, then in Chinese, researching it with an obsession that never once overcame me in my schoolwork, no matter how much of a perfectionist my teachers consider me to be.
The more I consulted the literature, the more I realized how unfair his eleven years' sentence is. Liu Xiaobo was above all a poet, and he advocated for change (in Charter 08, among others) through peaceful means. His focus was especially on human rights, with the suggestion that China's record in that regard is abysmal.

He was right. When my mother and I visited Changchun this summer (where most of my relatives are), I realized that my cousin (actually my mother's elder brother's son) was slow. "Slow", because no doctor was able to give a medical diagnosis for his illness. My aunt, who around her time of pregnancy worked with chemicals in the state-owned Jilin Petroleum Institute, tried her best to find a cure, or at least a proper diagnosis. She was unsuccessful, in no small part because the government had a "responsibility" to the mentally retarded, and the less people classified as such, the less it had to pay. My mother suggested that my cousin (who is 20 now) work at a novelty workplace designed for the handicapped, such as the "Sweet Home" I volunteered at in 2008, my aunt searched for one. In the entire city of Changchun, there were none.
China's facilities are rarely equipped to deal with the differently-abled. When my mother and I wanted to watch a movie, we had to go through the freight elevator to reach the theater on the fifth floor. A freight elevator that had to be opened manually, after a half hour's wait. And this was in no backwater village with a half-broken projector; this was the largest theater in Changchun, a city of over five million people.

These are not selective statistics, a few of the most extreme cases cherry-picked to showcase a point. Many other examples exist (such as the lack of access ramps in almost all forms of public transport anywhere or when went back to Beijing and my mother had a relapse and I realized that China's ambulances are not free). And this problem will only be exacerbated to families less fortunate than mine. What happens to people who can't afford ambulance fees, or down payment for the hospitals? What happens if a family won't, or can't take care of a retarded son? What happens if a construction worker goes jobless, or a penniless farmer gets amputated? Who will speak for them?

For much of my life, I have lived in a haze, rarely giving China much thought, secretly considering myself to be American. But ignoring a wrong does not make it go away, forgetting the past is a betrayal of sorts, and the inability of Liu Xiaobo to receive his Peace Prize finally shocked me into realizing that the CCP will not easily relinquish power, transition into an enlightened democracy with minority rights without prodding. For years, I had a general outline for my life: get into a decent college, become an economic analyst to support myself and pay my mother's medical bills, write as much as possible in my spare time. But there was no impetus to electrify me, no larger-than-life cause to fight for. Not anymore. I'll still keep the bare skeletons of my plan. But now, my economic analysis will be for a larger purpose, my stories will have a point.

This, then, is my cause: the peaceful democratization of China. And face it: only the education and opportunities from Princeton would be enough to let me achieve a millionth of this lofty goal.

Very well thought and deep analysis of modern China. Above all, the essay conveys your seriousness in an important matter such as democratization of China. "Differently abled," such a good phrase.
It was the highest honor, bar none. On December 10th, 2010, in Oslo, Norway, the weather was particularly peaceful, the sky a pristine shade of blue that denizens of industrialized countries take for granted and those from nations in the throes of development remember only in distant memory. So naturally, few in the Oslo City Hall truly cared for the weather. No, the audience chamber was packed with diplomats and well-wishers from over 40 countries, intent on observing the award ceremony. Packed, that is, except for a single lone chair at near the center of the podium, forlorn. Empty. The winner's seat. Excellent introductory paragraph!

When I first read about the awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize to Liu Xiaobo, and his subsequent inability to receive it due to his imprisonment, I was immediately intrigued, with a mixture of academic fascination and ethnocentric bias that my brain has long known as illogical but never truly suppressed. I followed all the events excitedly, scouring the internet for tangible sources, first in English, then in Chinese, researching it with an obsession that never once overcame me in my schoolwork, no matter how much of a perfectionist my teachers consider me to be.
The more I consulted the literature I would remove these words and simply replace them with "researched", the more I realized how the unfairness of his eleven year sentence is. Liu Xiaobo was above all a poet, and he advocated for change (in Charter 08, Forgive my ignorance, but what is Charter 08? If there's a chance of an AO not knowing, too, it'd be a good idea to specify what it is among others) through peaceful means. His He focused was especially on human rights, with the suggestion that China's record in that regard is abysmal.

He was right. When my mother and I visited Changchun this summer (where most of my relatives are I'd replace the stricken word with "reside" or "live" - just makes the sentence a bit smoother), I realized that my cousin (actually my mother's elder brother's son) was slow. "Slow," (comma inside the quotation marks, always) because no doctor was able to give a medical diagnosis for his illness. My aunt, who around her time of pregnancy worked with chemicals in the state-owned Jilin Petroleum Institute during her pregnancy, tried her best to find a cure, or at least a proper diagnosis. She was unsuccessful, in no small part because the government had a "responsibility" to the mentally retarded, and the less fewer people classified as such, the less it had to pay. My mother suggested that my cousin (who is 20 twenty now) work at a novelty workplace designed for the handicapped, such as the "Sweet Home" I volunteered at in 2008. My aunt searched for one, but in the entire city of Changchun, there were none.
China's facilities are rarely equipped to deal with the differently abled. Don't hyphenate adverbs - don't worry, I just found out recently, too!When my mother and I wanted to watch a movie, we had to go through the freight elevator to reach the theater on the fifth floor. A freight elevator that had to be opened manually, after a half hour's wait. And this was in no backwater village with a half-broken projector; this was the largest theater in Changchun, a city of over five million people. Did you need to use this elevator because it could fit a wheelchair? I'm slightly confused (I may not be reading correctly, though!)

These are not selective statistics, or a few of the most extreme cases cherry-picked to showcase a point. Many other examples exist, such as the lack of access ramps in almost all forms of public transport anywhere, or when went back to Beijing, my mother relapsed and I realized that China's ambulances are not free. And this problem will only be exacerbated to families less fortunate than mine. What happens to people who can't afford ambulance fees, or a down payment for the hospitals? What happens if a family won't, or can't take care of a retarded son? What happens if a construction worker goes jobless, or a penniless farmer gets amputated? Who will speak for them?

For much of my life, I have lived in a haze, rarely giving China much thought, secretly considering myself to be American. But ignoring a wrong does not make it go away, forgetting the past is a betrayal of sorts, and the inability of Liu Xiaobo to receive his Peace Prize finally shocked me into realizing that the CCP will not easily relinquish power, and make the transition into an enlightened democracy with minority rights without prodding. For years, I had a general outline for my life: get into a decent college, become an economic analyst to support myself, and pay my mother's medical bills, while writing as much as possible in my spare time. But there was no impetus to electrify me, no larger-than-life cause to fight for. Not anymore. I'll still keep the bare skeletons of my plan. But now, my economic analysis will be for a larger purpose, my stories will have a point.

This, then, is my cause: the peaceful democratization of China. And face it: only the education and opportunities from Princeton would be enough to let me achieve a millionth of this lofty goal.

VERY, VERY strong! I enjoyed reading your essay immensely, and I hope my edits weren't too harsh. I would mention earlier on in the essay that your mother has medical issues (I didn't understand the section about the elevator in Changchun because of this), and work to develop a more gripping conclusion. Other than that, excellent job, especially the opening paragraph, and especially at tying it all together in the end. Princeton would be luck to have you!
THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR THE HELP! I'm actually quite good at grammar, but the haze of admissions time makes it almost impossible to micro-edit my own work.

If at all possible, also look at my Williams essay. It has exactly the same point, except shorter and funnier. Also, since it's exactly the same point, if you think that one's better, I'll submit it instead of this one for Harvard/Princeton.

btw, could you tell me whether Prompt 1 is a better fit? Because this essay is about a person and helping the oppressed.

EDITED:



It was the highest honor, bar none. On December 10th, 2010, in Oslo, Norway, the weather was particularly peaceful, the sky a pristine shade of blue that denizens of industrialized countries take for granted and those from nations in the throes of development remember only in distant memory. So naturally, few in the Oslo City Hall truly cared for the weather. No, the audience chamber was packed with diplomats and well-wishers from over 40 countries, intent on observing the award ceremony. Packed, that is, except for a single lone chair at near the center of the podium, forlorn. Empty. The winner's seat.

When I first read about the awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize to Liu Xiaobo, and his subsequent inability to receive it due to his imprisonment, I was immediately intrigued, with a mixture of academic fascination and ethnocentric bias that my brain has long known as illogical but never truly suppressed. I followed all the events excitedly, scouring the internet for tangible sources, first in English, then in Chinese, researching it with an obsession that never once overcame me in my schoolwork, no matter how much of a perfectionist my teachers consider me to be.

The more I researched, the more I realized how unfair his eleven years' sentence is. Liu Xiaobo was above all a poet, and he advocated for change (in, among others Charter 08, a manifesto for democracy and civil rights) through peaceful means. His focused especially on human rights, with the suggestion that China's record in that regard is abysmal.

He was right. When my mother and I visited Changchun this summer (where most of my relatives reside), I realized that my cousin (actually my mother's elder brother's son) was slow. "Slow," because no doctor was able to give a medical diagnosis for his illness. My aunt, who worked with chemicals in the state-owned Jilin Petroleum Institute during her pregnancy, tried her best to find a cure, or at least a proper diagnosis. She was unsuccessful, in no small part because the government had a "responsibility" to the mentally retarded, and the less people classified as such, the less it had to pay. My mother suggested that my cousin (who is twenty now) work at a novelty workplace designed for the handicapped, such as the "Sweet Home" I volunteered at in 2008. My aunt searched for one, but in the entire city of Changchun, there were none.

China's facilities are rarely equipped to deal with the differently abled. When my mother and I wanted to watch a movie, we had to go through the freight elevator to reach the theater on the fifth floor. A freight elevator that had to be opened manually, after a half hour's wait. And this was in no backwater village with a half-broken projector; this was the largest theater in Changchun, a city of over five million people.

These are not selective statistics, or a few of the most extreme cases cherry-picked to showcase a point. Many other examples exist (such as the lack of access ramps in almost all forms of public transport anywhere or when went back to Beijing and my mother had a relapse and I realized that China's ambulances are not free). And this problem will only be exacerbated to families less fortunate than mine. What happens to people who can't afford ambulance fees, or down payment for the hospitals? What happens if a family won't, or can't take care of a retarded son? What happens if a construction worker goes jobless, or a penniless farmer gets amputated? Who will speak for them?

For much of my life, I have lived in a haze, rarely giving China much thought, secretly considering myself to be American. But ignoring a wrong does not make it go away, forgetting the past is a betrayal of sorts, and the inability of Liu Xiaobo to receive his Peace Prize finally shocked me into realizing that the CCP will not easily relinquish power and make the transition into an enlightened democracy with minority rights without prodding. For years, I had a general outline for my life: get into a decent college, become an economic analyst to support myself and pay my mother's medical bills, while writing as much as possible in my spare time. But there was no impetus to electrify me, no larger-than-life cause to fight for.

Not anymore. Liu Xiaobo's struggle has become mine. I'll still keep the bare skeletons of my plan. But now, my economic analysis will be for a larger purpose, my stories will have a point.

This, then, is my cause: the peaceful democratization of China. And face it: only the education and opportunities from Princeton would be enough to let me achieve a millionth of this lofty goal.
No worries, I understand completely - this is a very stressful time of the year!

Your essay will work with prompts 1, 2, or 3, I believe. The story you share is interesting and the essay is well-written, and when it comes down to it, that's what matters the most.

I did glance at your Williams College prompt, and I believe you should take advantage of the lack of a word limit for the H/P prompts and submit this (i.e. the longer) one. I will try to edit your Williams prompt in a few minutes.

Again, excellent job!



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