This is a secondary essay for Boston University. I have included the prompt.
3. Please provide a narrative or timeline to describe any features of your educational history that you think may be part of particular interest to us. For example, have you lived in another country or experienced a culture unlike your own, or worked in a field that contributed to your understanding of people unlike yourself? Or, have you experienced advanced training in any area, including the fields of art, music, or sports? This is an opportunity to describe learning experiences that may not be covered in other areas of this application. It is not necessary to write anything in this section. (2000 character limit, approximately 400 words)
As physicians we seek to do justice in the community and to treat others with compassion, but these goals are often inhibited by the separation of culture. The ability to bridge the gap between cultures is not a natural pursuit, but it is a skill that must be obtained in order to thrive in today’s increasingly multicultural world. My father gave me two very important things as I grew up: an early exposure to people of different backgrounds and a strong desire to learn how to work cross-culturally. However, the most important thing he taught me was to be a life-long learner through interaction with people from diverse backgrounds.
Throughout my childhood, I remember our house being a second home for international students studying at nearby universities. I fondly recall playing Jenga with Russian engineering students from Cleveland State University one Thanksgiving, and I clearly remember seeing our kitchen taken over by Korean music students from Oberlin Conservatory. While in college, I continued to learn how to relate to people from many backgrounds through Streetlight, a mission to the inner city of Minneapolis, and through an intercultural studies internship in 2006. Through the internship I was able to connect with people from Japan, Thailand, Indonesia, and Malaysia. I found that humility and a genuine desire to learn about someone else’s customs, traditions, language, and background opened doors to relationships that would have otherwise remained closed.
My friendships with the people of Asia began with knowledge, but knowing someone else’s language, customs, or cultural nuances alone will not break the walls between conflicting societies. These barriers are broken down through humility and the commitment to learn about another’s life. Knowledge is the beginning, but it must be guided by wisdom, driven by humility, accompanied by perseverance, and exercised with patience if we are to cross the cultural gaps and do justice among humanity.