The Puzzle

This was the common app question from the 2006-2007 application period.

“Peux-j'aller à... el baño? No… Me Permite ir…à la toilette? No…” My head spun, my bladder throbbed and my voice stuttered in some incomprehensible, newly invented language. Regretting all the water I drank at morning swim practice, I attempted to separate the French and Spanish vying for control of my thoughts and words. Like trying to make one puzzle from two separate boxes, studying both French and Spanish can lead to confusing and frustrating sentences. However, the rewards of two years in French and four years in Spanish--learning new points of view, understanding and communicating with other cultures, and developing a global attitude--benefit both others and me.

Before taking foreign languages, I struggled to find Nicaragua or Haiti on a map, yet after learning French and Spanish I could not only find them, but I knew about their cultures. In Spanish, I watched videos showing Mexican workers struggle to provide for their families in Mexico, travel north and then struggle again to adjust economically and socially. I listened to an immigrant from Nicaragua speak about the Somoza, Sandinistas and American involvement from a personal and touching point of view. In French, I acted out boarding a train in France and then...

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