Any and all suggestions would be much appreciated
---Given your personal background, describe an experience that illustrates what you would bring to the diversity in a college community, or an encounter that demonstrated the importance of diversity to you.---
My cultural identity, personal background and overall perspective on life are not ones I share with many people, and they are ones I find unique among my peers. It is my childhood in Ethiopia, my mental and physical transition to the west, my consequently developed cross-cultural identity, and the Muslim faith and spirituality I have held on to that set me apart. This will collectively bring tremendous diversity to a college community and contribute to the creation of a more vibrant and diverse educational atmosphere.
I am the first born of a six member family, and was soon joined by a younger sister. Life in Addis Ababa, the crowded capital of Ethiopia, presented difficulties for my family. My parents tried to withhold from me the fact that we were struggling with money, while they attempted to keep us safe and, very importantly, in school. My dad was away for months at a time, driving trucks for the military during the Ethiopian-Eritrean War over mine infested grounds, just to support my family. I began to develop independence over time because my sister and I were usually left alone or in the care of a neighbor.
We all had to make many sacrifices. My mother started working a double shift to pay for my schooling, and I almost never got to see her. My parents could not even take me to school; they paid a man who drove about twenty of the neighborhood kids stuffed into a compact car. One morning as I ran out to the car, I fell and hit my head on the rocky ground. I could not get up afterwards. My mother was not home and the driver, afraid and not knowing what to do, stuffed me in with the rest and dropped me off at school. I walked in and collapsed on the floor with something warm trickling down my face; blood.
I was able to recover without falling behind in school, but soon after this catastrophe died down, another one surfaced. One day when my father was driving, he was hit by a hidden mine. Fortunately, he survived with only a few scratches, but the truck was blown in half by the explosion, leaving my father without work and unable to make a living. To add to the list of troubles, all of this occurred simultaneously with the arrival of a new brother. My parents realized they could no longer live in Ethiopia and educate their children while keeping them safe from the conflict that continued to rage on the border of Eritrea and Ethiopia.
We were lucky enough finally to win a visa to America, but we had to leave all of our loving family and friends who were our support system during the difficulties. Everyone was weeping at the airport. At first I did not understand the tears and was more interested in watching the airplanes take off, wondering how they stayed in the air. My excitement died when I saw my father crying for the first time in my life. I realized that I might never see the beloved people I had spent my whole life with ever again.
We arrived in the United States in February of 2000. I was enrolled in a Dallas public school as soon as possible, but the language and cultural barrier posed extreme difficulty for me and my family. Communication was a major issue because I did not know any English at the time, but I had learned how to read the English alphabet in Ethiopia. I began reading children's books every chance I had, often getting in trouble for reading during class. I always had a book on my person and quickly started to pick up the language. I became a translator for my parents and their connection to the new culture in which we found ourselves immersed. I found myself explaining American traditions and relating them to Ethiopian ones. In this way I developed a cross-cultural identity.
The adversities I have faced in adjusting to a new culture, breaking through a language barrier, and persevering through limiting economic disadvantages have borne in me a great determination to succeed. I was able to cope with and overcome these adversities through the support of my family. Despite being a first-generation student, the love of my devoted family has kept me focused on my future and kept my dreams alive.
My life experiences have endowed me with unending curiosity and insatiable passion for everything I do. I have developed an interest in mechanical engineering through my passion for math and science and my curiosity about how things operate. Rice University will help me research, develop, and test not only tools and machines, but also myself.