The Child Who Opened My Eyes

Boston College: What contemporary issue or trend relating to politics, culture, and society, or foreign policy particularly concerns you and why? Yale: Please reflect on something you would like us to know about you that we might not learn from the rest of your application, or on something about which you would like to say more. You may write about anything—from personal experiences or goals to interests or intellectual pursuits.

Disgusted by the foul urban odors of Pakistan, my younger brother and I became possessed by the utility of our iPhones and remained confined within the walls of our uncle’s apartment. Eventually, my uncle became frustrated with our self-isolation and offered to take us on an “adventure.” In the minds of children, an adventure consists of going to a park or a skating arena. But we were in for a not-so-pleasant surprise.

After a bumpy rickshaw ride through narrow streets and arid fields, we arrived at a plantation. Wandering through the rows of crops, I saw children using sharp tools in the scorching sun. We took a seat on a haystack and were joined by a young boy, whom I had seen working in the fields earlier. He told us about the long hours. He told us about the life-threatening injuries he suffered. He told us about the school he attended and the quality time his family used to spend together before a multinational company built a factory in town. Soon, the azan began to play, signaling the time for prayer. My brother and I headed home, both touched and troubled by the boy’s stories.

The image of the boy stuck with me even after I returned to Dallas. To ease my queasy conscience, I began researching child labor, hoping this...

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