This is my personal statement that I submitted with other documents for my application to Purdue University in 2006, where I spent my freshman year. Purdue was my only choice because my older brother was there. My parents wanted me to have someone taking care of their youngest child and only daughter. So the year after, I secretly applied to Academy of Art University to pursue my Bachelor’s degree in the Arts, rebelled with the folks a little, and got to continue my studies in San Francisco, the escapist artist’s classic getaway. It may be where I discover that my passion lives in the media, the journalistic journey as a foreigner, and in communications at large – but this essay is where it all started.
Enjoy the ride.
- Image courtesy of glass_pieces via Flickr
Harry Truman, Doris Day, Red China, Johnnie Ray… – We didn’t start the fire, but somehow the lyrics ignited me to thump my feet on the parquet floor relentlessly, following its rhythm. Nevertheless, Joel’s beat didn’t tag along my pace any longer as soon as I advanced upon the threshold into the Grande Galerie of Musée du Louvre. I decelerated to marvel at the exquisite design of the corridor that lay before me, in which, on either side of the walls, there arrayed some of the most remarkable works of the preceding generations. The walls, floor, and ceiling were constructed with flawless precision. All these can only be done through excellent artistry and craftsmenship, I thought. Maybe this field trip isn’t that bad at all, as suggested by the Art Department. I was quickly aroused by the idea, and so I stepped forth, ready to browse the art galore while still humming Joel’s catchy tune in gay… South Pacific, Walter Winchell, Joe DiMaggio!
In the midst of all adornments, there was one painting that grabbed my attention. It’s the most famous painting in history and was done by the most renowned artist of all times – It’s the Mona Lisa. I studied her with composure, calmed just by noticing her enigmatic smile. It wasn’t the most mystifying feature though. Wondering what could make her so intricate, I tried to be experimental – I moved to the left, and then shifted to the right while gazing at her face; I squatted down, and then rose up, still gazing at her face. Then it hit me: It’s her eyes! They darted from one corner to the other, following each of my directions. Learning this wasn’t enough for me. I placed my palm on the protective glass to conceal her right eye, assuming that might explain why her eyes bore life. Negative – Instead, I was astonished to see a masculine countenance! Even so, I did the same with her left eye, only to find her feminine features back again. That was amazing! I had just discovered why the pop culture regards her as androgynous; then again maybe it was just my imagination. When I was about to verify my discoveries, whom should I find eyeing me at a distance while mumbling something that lets my mind wandering elsewhere but two gabby girls I reckoned from my school. “Isn’t that the girl who drew the still life drawing for the guest who visited Broadrick on Thanksgivings? I heard she’s a dear to Madam Amnah!” one of them murmured as both were walking past me. How true.
During my first year in junior high school, I volunteered to draw a flower arrangement as a token of appreciation to the guest-of-honor for paying a visit to my school. At that time I was interested in abstract art, specifically the various ways I could combine different colors, shapes and sizes to give a touch of life on canvas. Our class was due for a session on this topic in the coming semester. But considering my enthusiasm in learning, Madam Amnah offered to spare some time of her busy schedule to deliver a brief lecture about the fundamentals of abstract art and lent me a handful of flower catalogues for references. I was not the only one who was thrilled to bring about my new project; Madam Amnah was glad too to have a student taking the initiative and truly eager to learn and thence did not hesitate to disseminate her knowledge to me through her courtesy.
I incorporated the skills acquired from Madam Amnah with my observant nature to produce the masterpiece. First, I broadened my mind to unleash distinctive views, of which I discarded the norms and reviewed the eccentricities to pick out an interesting outlook of the Sunflowers, Delphiniums, Lilacs, Daylilies, and Gladiolus. In the process, I observed each structure of the petals, stalks and leaves from a deviating angle, just like how I discovered the living eyes of Mona Lisa. I uncovered each shade that were hidden and shielded each hue that were too vibrant, just like how I noticed Mona Lisa’s androgyny. Eventually, the piece was finished within just three days. I couldn’t be more pleased with the result and felt triumphed when Madam Amnah proved her pride of me by holding an exhibition of my class works in the school for a month. This has yet proven that I was fast to grasp the concept of abstract art. Just the thought of it made me feel victorious, even though there weren’t any prizes rewarded to me. There was though; the guest was overwhelmed with gratitude upon receiving the piece, and this has led to Madam Amnah acknowledging me to have completed one full semester of courses on abstracts – in just 3 days!
Einstein, James Dean… Elvis Presley, Disneyland – Satisfied with the last hint of Mona Lisa’s delicate smile, I left the portrait and finish my notes about it on my collection of the most admirable characters of all times. Upon mopping up the final sentences, I was about to close the book when I found the presence of the same elegant beauty of another character on the opposite page: Jane Eyre.
Jane was the character that influenced me to set a new paradigm for my life and impelled me to think like a woman. Her idea of women’s stagnancy to constrain themselves to do and learn only what their custom has pronounced necessary inspired me to do and learn more than a girl needs, that is to make things happen instead of just dreaming. Women feel just as men feel, and I feel that there is no right for people to condemn women who yearn for more than just being a housewife. This explains why I hold a relish for reading. Books are adventuresome, because they provide vast knowledge beyond imagination. It gives me the pleasure to monitor a character’s actions that cause a series of events, for there is always a lesson behind them.
As from Charlotte Brontë’s novel, I perceived an image of the class conflicts in the olden days, yet the days have changed. Today, people no longer discriminate the roles of men and women. We exploit differences among us to achieve the greatest possible advantage, as I’ve experienced. I’m an Indonesian-born Chinese who has a great interest in the culture of Japan and had underwent cultural differences while I was in Singapore. But I had never experienced working together with the Westerners, and when now I get the chance to, I’ll bring this thrill of encountering cultural differences into America. I see everyone equally, just like through Jane’s eyes where women are of no difference with men.
Fiction or non-fiction, there will always be sources of inspiration for all of us. I closed my book after spending the minute mulling over Brontë’s character in awe. I peered at the hidden eyes staring back at me behind a mask. On the front cover of my book there depicted another character worthy of reverence. He might not appeal much if you regard him as a childhood companion, but to me, Spider-Man is more than just a crawling superhero. I recognized the same spirit in him when confronting overwhelming obstacles. Each time, I recall his refusal to quit and his humility after a victory, and also sensed the responsibility in order not to blunder the duties I hold with my personal happiness. Only through enduring with this determination that I have imbibed comprehensive knowledge along the way that aided me to surmount those obstacles, as learning is not only about memorizing word for word from the materials given in school. In this way, I have not much difficulty overcoming all sorts of problems anymore. I am certain that this perspective will help me conquer adversity I will encounter later in life, especially if I behave in a responsible manner.
Pope Paul, Malcolm X, JFK, blown away – Not to forget John Fitzgerald Kennedy who made me feel obliged for having the chance to receive education when he let me think of education as the means of developing our greatest abilities, because in each of us there is a private hope and dream which, fulfilled, can be translated into benefit for everyone and greater strength for our nation. It’s because of school that I have discovered my potentials, and utilize the new knowledge disseminated to enhance these capabilities into talents that might contribute the school itself or even the society. I have been educated in different environments, of which I’ve seen various achievements attained by talented people and have developed discernments. This fosters rationality to appreciate the diversity of human capabilities, and promoted many other areas of studies I’m enticed to learn. Since my areas of strength are related to expressing creativity, I was willing to study many languages so that I could verbalize ideas at ease, as scribbling journal notes, posting blog entries, and writing poetries have proven to be simpler. I’m most familiar with English, and being brought up by Chinese parents in Indonesia, I’m also literate in Mandarin and Indonesian. Yet I’m still working on my Japanese, and am thinking of learning French in the near future.
By being multilingual, expressions can be conveyed in many ways. However, they’re not always delivered by means of words.
I’m always fascinated in the world of music. Whether or not a song has a lyric, it’s the instruments that make me feel what the composer was feeling. I shout out that feeling through playing piano or guitar by letting my fingers dance on the notes and stringing the cords to produce ranging tones, each revealing the ups and downs of life. But at times of impatience, I couldn’t bear to conceal how I feel before arranging the chords and keys in my own style. That’s when I would sing.
Birth control… Terror on the airline… Heavy metal suicide… AIDS… Crack… Rock and roller cola wars, I can’t take it anymore! – Alas! I think I must go back to reality! I’ve been mooning over Spider-Man while allowing my mind drifting away for the past hours. There’s no wonder those passers-by eyed me with confusion as I was standing there, gawking stupidly at my book when my legs went numb. Outside the opposing windows dusk was falling. I’d better hie me to the shuttle bus before my teachers and friends leave me here. So I stretched my calves and began to run, but stopped short when I reached the central courtyard where the glass pyramid lay. I drew in the cool night air, and then breathed out slowly, trying not to pant after speeding all the way here. The air condensed on the surface of the glass, and soon it misted over. I could never stop being experimental, so I rubbed the surface to see what would happen. It flashed a silhouette beneath the twilight; it’s a figure of a girl. It’s neither of Paris Hilton, Goldie Hawn, Audrey Hepburn, nor any other ladies in the spotlight; it’s a girl metamorphosing into a notable lady. A reflection, I see – but the bus was already honking! Anyhow, the girl was smiling to me as if to say goodbye, so I left her and ran as fast as possible, knowing I could reach my destination.
- Image courtesy of weheartit