On Open-Mindedness

“One of the great challenges of our time is that the disparities we face today have more complex causes and point less straightforwardly to solutions.” Omar Wasow, Assistant Professor, Politics. This quote is taken from Professor Wasow's January 2014 speech at the Martin Luther King Day celebration at Princeton University. Using one theme as a starting point, write about a person, event or experience that helped you define one of your values or in some way changed how you approach the world. Please do not repeat, in full or in part, the essay you wrote for the Common Application.


Infrastructure. Cuban tourism. NSA. Global warming. The words flow out of my mouth, scripted, rehearsed. For the nth time, the eighth year, I recite, "Hello, my name is Katie Liu, and I represent the Mount Olive Affirmative Team. My partner and I support the resolution, be it resolved..."

The familiarity in these first ten seconds is short-lived. Soon, counter-arguments are improvised, under the pressure and scrutiny of our adversaries. Questions are fired, each one aiming to subdue and render the other speechless. Each debate yields its own unique twists and turns; although our affirmative case remains verbatim, the variety of responses that are received opens our minds to overlooked obstacles. It expands our horizons and forces us to think on our feet, attempting to articulate on an infinite amount of possibilities. The manner in which we present ourselves determines the victor of the round. Nevertheless, one inevitable truth rings clear. The victor neither yields a solution in any form, nor gives the slightest indication of what is "right". In the end, the negatives may seem like our worst enemy, yet they are our closest friend. In the midst of pressure, an underlying notion remains constant: we are all on the same side. The...

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