My Own Teacher

Describe a problem you’ve solved or a problem you’d like to solve. It can be an intellectual challenge, a research query, an ethical dilemma-anything that is of personal importance, no matter the scale. Explain its significance to you and what steps you took or could be taken to identify a solution.

According to tradition, every Chinese New Year children receive lucky money in red envelopes from older relatives and friends. In my toddler years, finding the crisp, red envelopes embossed with gold characters to be aesthetically superior to and more valuable than the worn and wrinkled bills they held, I habitually kept the envelopes and returned the money. Yet as I learned the function of money in society, it still seemed magical that we handed pieces of old paper to a department store clerk, a street-side food vendor, or a toyshop owner in exchange for winter coats, roasted yams, or a plush tiger twice my size. My parents explained that money could be used in exchange for a seemingly limitless variety of goods because everyone simply agreed on its value. This only resulted in more questions, to which they could only say that they worked in film, not finance, for a reason.

School was no better at providing answers. Economics is not a core subject. My lack of exposure and access to the field of economics made it an enigma to my mind. Completely shrouded in mystery, it beckoned me, enticingly, to explore it. My curiosity in the subject soon reached a level I had never before experienced, having previously had access to all the...

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