Describe an achievement that sparked your personal growth.

As Tai moved through the strange garden, scarcely breathing in wonderment, I moved with him. When Tai’s classmates mocked him for drinking tea with his grandmother instead of attending sporting events, I flinched as though I was the recipient of the insults. And when the cable car Tai used to go to the island where his school was located encountered a fatal mechanical error, I bit my cheeks as I hurtled towards the ocean, blinded by a nebula of fine glass particles.

Tai was a fictional character I invented. However, I lived vicariously through him, using his advantageous position to express the feelings I often kept buried. While Tai was able to maintain a healthy sense of self in spite of his peers’ taunts that his intellect was a sign of abnormality, I withdrew deeper into myself each time a classmate asked why my skin bore a ‘dirty’ colour, or why the packed lunches I ate at school bore a pungent smell.

As a mixed-race, Afro-European child in a British school, I grappled with the mere thought that I had a rightful place in society. I was startled when my English teacher encouraged me to participate in the Leyla Beban International Writing Contest. “Maybe a platform such as this will enable you to find your voice. And I must...

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