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Determination and Hope

October 22, 2016, Hong Kong, X:

“Stop writing. We’re now going to collect your answer sheets…”

At the end call of ACT test, I stared at my essay just finished seconds before. This is the second battle, and also the last one for me in this type of test. In April, I had floundered seriously in the Reading and Writing, and I should correct the stigma in this one.

Of course I need to. I have high n Ach.

November 26, 2016, San Francisco, California, A:

“You have got a new email.”

Oh, let me see who is it. Opening the mailbox, I see a new person, or presumably, a teenager who is going to show his talents. All right, I would save his file to my documents, just like other hundreds of thousands of people.

Every year during this time, I am supposed to get into this job, which is collecting information from people who are interested in the community I work for. I know that from the large bundle of individuals, there are gonna be a lot of “competitions”. It’s really not easy to get into our community, because I received really a lot of people’s information for me to pile. The number has been dramatically increased from about 150,000 during the first year of my work to more than 200,000 last years. Fortunately, only 5 days left for me to repeat this work. Whoops, there is another email coming here, let me see…

November 28, 2016, San Francisco, California, B1:

“You have got a new email.”

I open up the mailbox and see a letter. This letter is written by a person who is intended for our community. Wow, greetings! What a great word. So let me have a check. Haha, really, you think our email guide helped you, that’s good. Hm… oh, the problem about ACT, you say your April ACT score has already been sent you us, and you are going to send another score in October after it is released. OK, as long as you could order the report to our community before the end of the year, it’s my pleasure to update your new score. Wish you will get the satisfactory result and join our big family!

“Click, click. Reply.”

December 1, 2016, Shenzhen, Guangdong, X:

“The October ACT score has been released, would you like to have a check, X?” My friend asks me.

“I haven’t really notice about that. So well, I may get to look how much I got.” I pick up my phone, going to the website for the search for the score.

Oh, why my heart is bumping so quickly. Last time, in April, my score wasn’t happy with me, and I even did not cross the benchmark for reading section. Surely, this is the last chance for me to prove my individual power to conquer this test, and pursue my dream. I have reached my TOEFL goal recently, just for one battle; I won’t fail this time. OK, now the website is open, I scroll down the page and stare at the screen to make sure that there isn’t any error. Two bold digits have slightly appeared, they look like the same digit, and… wow!

As if my body is paralyzed, the intense emotion flow into my mind, I can barely see and hear anything. But just seconds later, I calm down.

“Congratulations, X, you really deserve that score.” My friend cheers about this result.

“Thank you.” I say. Nevertheless, I have to take immediate actions to send the score to my dear dream school. Time doesn’t wait for me. Tonight I will ask my parents to order a report to it and this report would get there much earlier before December 31, 2016.

December 14, 2016, San Francisco, California, A:

“A, here’s a letter for you.” my colleague says.

What’s it? During this time the workload is smaller and I have more relaxing time, though I still may get many letters each day. I slowly tear open the envelope and find an ACT score report. Confirming it’s from one of our applicants, I simply update his new score into the system. But, wait, he gets more competitive this time. I also see that before the letter arrives, his score seems really unfit for taking part in our community. I guess now he will have a better shot at the eyes of those “judges”.

So many talented youths in this generation.

January 18, 2017, Shenzhen, Guangdong, X:

“The rejection letters from two early schools had been for nearly one month. But, I’m not depressed, because I know I’m not capable of that so-called high rankings and high standards – they are not my love, and it was impossible for them to receive my October ACT report before making decisions.

“Besides, my classmates recommended me to register for an interview that is administered not by the universities themselves, but by a third-party agent. Participating this interview was said to enhance my chance of getting into my dream school. I did not think about how enormous effects the interview would brought to me, but if it really could have any bonus for my love’s admission, I would do what I can to best show my abilities in front of the interviewer, as well as the ones who would decide whether I could get into my first-choice.

“Actually, I knew seniors who were already freshmen in universities took part in this kind of interview and got into what they dreamed of. As a result, I asked about how the interview goes down, and the strategies for succeeding this process. I also regarded the preparation as an opportunity to improve my speaking. It is a good way to compensate for my disadvantage of slightly low TOEFL Speaking score. Not even bad during the first week winter vacation.”

So many thoughts come out, I really have to fight for this interview. Stay determined, OK, you can do this…

“X, it’s time for your interview.” the manager called me.

I stand up from the chair, walking straightly to the room for my interview. I greet the interviewer, who is an honest and kind woman. Sitting down, she begins asking me questions, “What plan do you have during this spring break (winter vacation)?”

“Well,” as the large pile of information flow through my mind, I suddenly remember a thing that has been scheduled for me just days after the interview, “I am going to play violin in theater…”

The answer sounds so fluent that even I could not believe what’s going on in my mouth. As expected, or unexpected, I talk about a lot of things that show great significance for me and for shaping my whole person. Academic performance, extracuricullar activies, and future plans … they seem really solidified into my unconsciousness that whenever mentioned, I would give out concrete responses. My dream is … bright!

Stay determined, and I will wait for you.

January 25, 2017, San Francisco, California, A:

“You have got a new email.”

Let me see … Huh, it’s him again. This applicant notifies me about his sending an interview video of himself, and his mid-year grade report is in here. So, I will just be sure to upload the new information into the system. Record his mid-year grades … Well, he shows something good for us again: his GPA seems to have a great boost compared to his performances during grade 11.

Anyway, time to go on working. After all, I cannot decide whether he will be into our community. But I still expect the “judges” will consider about him.

February 4, 2017, Kunming, Yunnan, X:

I am traveling outside during this winter vacation. Not to talk about the relaxation, but it’s also a great experience to break my new personal report – I had been on a mountain that is 4680 m tall.

Now in the hotel, I have nothing to do except playing with my phone. Suddenly, a news break out, there is a protest in UCB. Reading throughout the text, I contact one of my seniors who are now in that university with concerns about that incidence.

“I hear about a big event in Berkeley lately, does that really happened? I’m concerned about how you are affected.” I immediately send out the message.

A reply comes out minutes later, “Yes, you are right. Recently, our Berkeley college republicans invited a person who supports white male superiority to hold a hate speech. Then, students who were dissatisfied go through a dance protest, but during this protest, a group of masked and shielded people bursted out and used violence, making our school chaotic for a moment.

“But I’m not much affected by that, because there were many helicopters and policemen to maintain this situation, and my university quickly closed all the campus buildings and restaurants…”

What she says to me are dramatic, but realistic. On the other hand, even she can stay calm during this turbulent situation, and what she imparts me is, basically, that UCB is fine. After this wave of assault, it “still shines under the sunlight of California”.

“Thank you for your information. I wish you will be safe during the campus life.”

Would this incidence make my dream ramshackle? No, it would not. My senior has already let me know. I will still determinedly chase my goal.

February 26, 2017, San Diego, California, S:

“Aha, next I would like to discuss about this student.” I say to one of my colleagues.

“So what’s important about him, S? We got only about a few minutes.”

“First, he has a decently high standardized test scores and GPA, which already satisfy, and even exceed our requirements.” I point to the information file and explain, “Like in this test he is not so excellent in English language and art, but his STEM outcompetes nearly 100% test takers.”

“We got many of the similar students, keep saying.”

Next I look into his activites and awards, “You see, he has done a lot of researches into the field of natural science, and there are also interdisciplinary activities. His awards are also generally centered on the major he chooses for.”

“Um, so he has made a rational and decisive choice, huh.”

“What’s important is, he gives us with the interview video and attaches a virtual star to it. I take time to watch his response to the “notable” question, which also relates to his selected profession. So overall I think it is very probable for him to attend our school if he gets our admission. Besides, his score is not too perfect that otherwise he definitely will reject our invitation. So, do you agree to let him in?”

“All right, admission given. Two weeks later he will know about this happy news. Phew, it’s a gain if he really gets into our school. But we should also care about the restricted proportion of international students in our campus now.”

“Yeah I think so.” I ruminate about this problem a while, “Anyway, I guess he is also possible to get into one of the two “big” schools in our system. If that is the case, I will still be glad to offer him a hope of getting a small step into our big family.” I make a grandieur pose and exclaim, “Welcome to California!”

“All right, all right.” my colleague says, “Who’s the next one?”

March 12, 2017, Los Angeles, California, L:

I’m so tired recently, reviewing over hundreds, and hundreds, and hundreds of materials everyday. What happen to those applicants? It’s awkward for them to like all point to our campus for admission.

“OK, this student.” I languidly hand out another piece of material to my colleague for review. “Let’s see, he has a nice school performance, a good test scores, a list of what the ever activities, academic awards. Wow, he is kind of intriguing…”

“L, do you notice that our applicants become really strong that we hardly can make any decisions?” my colleague interrupts me.

“But we still have to make, it’s our job. Go on, personal statements … It’s not bad that he loves about biology and chemistry and I’m glad he gives us an interview video to show that. I think he is feasible for our school. What’s your opinion?”

“Surely. Just make it quick.”

“Yes, so … But, oh,” a slight hesitation, “I think he might choose that school. You know, I mean, that school. According to his selection for his academic major, he may get better at, still, that school.”

“So, what’s your opinion?”

“I think we may not offer him a chance into our school. Really, that doesn’t mean we don’t like him, but he is more likely to like that school. You see, he applies to chemical biology as his major, and we really could not has such great experience for him in UCLA. Again, in the face of college competitiveness, we shold not only consider about the quality of admitted individuals, but we also need to take care of our enrollment rate.”

“But isn’t that depressing?”

“I don’t know if this decision is distressful for him. But if I can, I really want to tell him he is already acknowledged by us. I did many similar decisions like that for him these days.”

“OK. Hope this student will get to UCB. Next one.”

March 15, 2017, San Francisco, California, B2:

“Hmm, so you say he is fit for us, B2? I don’t really think so.”

“But I think he’s very dedicated.” As I talk about X with my colleague, we make a really long debate about whether to admit this student. “Yes his standardized test scores are plain, but don’t you notice the pattern shown in his GPA? He is naturally good during his first year in high school, and he also shows a great strike during last semester. You shouldn’t take his grade slide last year before the striking semester as indicative of his unfitness. Besides, the list of activities has not reached a full capacity, but the time taken for each one is adequate enough for fulfilling his life. Therefore I think he has the potential to reach a high goal.”

“So what, he is even applying for the college that is lack of money and also rare of students. Is it good to give him such a precious seat?”

“I met so many students who decide to apply for a college that is said to be easy to get in, like College of Arts and Science. I don’t know, but I think his choice for College of Chemistry fits his abilities and experiences. You see he has good test and competition results related to biology and chemistry, with the exception of AP Biology Test, which I myself think it’s difficult. Additionally, Chinese students hardly choose to attend SAT Biology Subject Test, and among those test takers, hardly anyone can achieve that high high score. He expresses everything he devoted into these fields among all the contents, like his wetland investigation project, and devising of a new product. Even in the sent InitialView interview video, he explicates on his research and activity experience that closely links to the two disciplines, as well as his future plan.

“Oh, and he is not that strictly confined to academic studies, as proven by his experience of playing violin and making translation magazines, etc. Many of these things illustrate he is not a simple person. He is capable of bring the campus with a unique temperament.”

“Hm … your evidence almost persuades me.” my colleague confesses, “But how can you know he is keen on our Berkeley campus? We need to focus on restricted proportion of international students proposed by the state government as well as the proportion of enrollment.”

“Here is an important thing.” I open his InitialView file and show my colleague an object – a virtual star. “You have known that applicants who send us the star is greatly enthralled by our academic environments, as many predecessors said.” I pause for a while and get into deep thought. “Yeah, the star is a symbolization of a hope to getting into the community where the giver can achieve what he or she wants in order to ultimately promote the world’s development just in this seemingly small area compared to the entire surface of the Earth. In this place, people are arduously studying to strive for the personal and social betterness. He can take this mission. Yes, he surely can. How happy he would be to have the opportunity to be involved and welcomed to this community. X, do you hear me, you are a hope…”

“Hey, B2, what’s wrong with you? Are you okay?” My colleague shakes his hand in front of me.

“Oh, nothing. I’m just thinking about X. He should be admitted, don’t he?”

“Yes. You really take a lot of time to argue with me just for getting me to accept his fitness. I have no excuse to decline your hard work for him.”

“Thanks for your sincerity; I wish he will start his new life here, passing through the unforgettable four year undergraduate program … Now let’s progress toward to see the next applicant.”

“OK, let’s go on.”

March 31, 2017, Shenzhen, Guangdong, X:

Last week was my dear mother’s birthday. My family went for a happy dinner that night, talking endlessly about the life progresses of my parents and me. My father, being a proprietor of a company striving for three-party quality service, has now been busy for receiving orders from a lot of factories. My mother, being an engineer for the city landscape and hydrology of the city of Shenzhen, succeeds in leading a group of her peers to design a plan to treat a severe pollution in a river.

So how about me? My parents appreciated me for being a DIY student who, without the direct help of educational agent, had achieved several university admissions. Well, I myself thought this is not a big progress, because I have not reached my dream yet. Or, maybe I will reach it very soon.

It’s 12 o’clock now, I open the student portal of University of California, Berkeley. As the admission decision website slightly emerges from the screen, I cannot suppress my sudden surges of my sympathetic nerverous system’s response.

Calm down, calm down. I scroll down the page and I …

Congratulations! …

Is that real? I cannot imagine I finally reached this goal. Three years of dedicated thriving have proven me. Now, it’s time to tell my family about this joyful news.

Wait, my seniors say life there is very busy, and students need to finish a lot of assignments, projects, and researches. Can I endure the so-called “business”?

Why I can’t? Everything seems bright for me now.

UCB, here I come.

Compare and Contrast the Force from A New Hope and the Way from Taoist ideals

The Force from A New Hope and the Way in Taoism present two great distinctive beliefs. The Force, an energy field created by all li

ving things that bestows individuals with idealistic courage, surrounds and penetrates them; the Way, on the other hand, is the mysterious, unnamable process through which everything in the universe happens, teaching people to be less attentive to the glory from material world.

The Force provides people with means of completing some challenging quests that could render great results, regardless of what they have. In A New Hope, it is a natural power contrary to a more technological power the Death Star uses. To show this, the Rebels and heroes are seen in more natural settings like deserts and forests while the Empire is seen in large technological settings. As the mentor Obi-wan Kenobi always says to Luke, “May the Force be with you.”, this sentence acts as a spiritual guide to Luke’s journey and gives him determination, which is a clear distinction with Darth Vader’s emphasis on brutal destruction. For instance, when he is going for a mission to destroy the Death Star, there are many missiles from his enemies that block his way. Commonly, he is not able to handle this situation by himself, but every moment the sentence flashes back to his mind, he can pay more attention toward the mission and be less stressed. In a way, the Force goes beyond the superiority of technology and makes something impossible come true.

By contrast, the Way emphasizes more about the balance between gain and loss throughout lifetime. If people is enlightened by it, they will be guided to understand the benefits and drawbacks of certain deeds. Also, the Way reduces the distinction between different things but rather integrate them into a whole. “Heaven and earth are ruthless, and treat the myriad creatures as straw dogs; the sage is ruthless, and treats the people as straw dogs.” (5.1-2) Under Taoist view, all the living things are under the same world, that they should be treated equally, since their existences have certain meanings that people should not depreciate. To reinforce the idea, Daodejing points out that the Way in which stricter and stricter laws create crime and stifle a country’s productivity. As people are members of the society, they need to obey the law of nature regardless of how powerful they are. In conclusion, it is feasible to say that the Way goes beyond the superiority of rules – the confinement – and makes something absurd explicable.

Though the Force and the Way differ in many perspectives, they share the ideal intellect of having people completing certain important goals. As Luke is able to defeat dreadful enemies and finally save princess Leia and her planet behind so many challenges through the encouragement of the Force, he has to think about the negative effects about his journey, like what the Way considers. Even though A New Hope does not have any mention about the Way, it actually exists throughout the storyline: As the Death Star’s evil plan irritates the Rebels, the Force comes into action to urge the heroes wiping out the vicious authority, giving Darth Vader a painful compensation.

In general, the Force and the Way both in a degree present people’s ideals about the right behaviors, but the Force can also be seen as a metaphysical power that prompts individuals to be dedicated to their actions, while the Way puts more emphasis on the two sides of a single event, benefiting, also punishing, the person who takes part in it.

 

Works Cited

“Star Wars: A New Hope” 20th Century Fox. Washington D.C.: L. George, 1977.

“Daodejing.” The Norton Anthology of World Literature. Trans. D.C. Lau. Third ed. Vol.A. New York and London: W. W. Norton, 2012, 1347-1354. Print.