I think Joshua did a great job with this essay for one of his college applications. Describe an encounter that illustrates the importance of diversity to you. He gave me permission to share it. And I added a few pictures from our time in Gaoli Village last year...
During the actual meal, speed was essential as young men jockeyed for position in order to acquire the necessary food items at different “stations” and then rushed back to their assigned table, so as not to get behind schedule. Attempting to join the young men of the community in serving during these festivals initially caused me no small degree of confusion and stress. However, after successfully fulfilling my role, I found true enjoyment and satisfaction in accomplishing the task, not only for the sake of a job well done, but also because of the common bond I was able to form with the other young men of the village.
This experience was hugely significant in stretching me well beyond my comfort zone and in teaching me the importance of adaptability. While my participation in Model United Nation conferences taught me how to adapt while representing the diverse opinions of different countries, my experience of serving in the village taught me how to adapt, not merely with words, but through fulfilling my role in a diverse context in a very real and practical way. I have found that adaptability is not simply the ability to be a chameleon by always changing myself in order to fit into the surrounding environment, but that rather it is the ability to grow myself through living life in somebody else’s shoes.
Growing through such adaptability has made me appreciate the importance and power of unity within diversity. Through embracing the diversity of life in the village by serving alongside other young men, I realized that in spite of all our differences, we were still united by a common desire to serve others. I believe that this common desire extends beyond my specific experience of serving in the village and is in fact something that we all share in common. While this desire manifests itself in a variety of ways in different cultural contexts, it nonetheless can serve as a unifying factor to spur collective action. I hope to use my life experiences and exposure to diversity to build bridges across cultures to help others discover the significance of such unity within diversity.