University of California - Berkeley
Swallowing My Pride to Learn Chinese
Describe the most significant challenge you have faced and the steps you have taken to overcome this challenge. How has this challenge affected your academic achievement? (350 words)
I’m at Chinese school listening to my Laoshi, or teacher, Qian, berate me about my behavior: I brag about cheating on and failing tests, throw school supplies and generally wreak havoc. “Why do you even bother to show up?!” Feeling guilty, I temper my chaos, but underneath my guilt is anger and defensiveness. Every time you teach I’m reminded I’m a failure, that I’ll never speak Chinese fluently. So you deserve this. I couldn’t face my inadequacies, so I wreaked havoc to hide my self-resentment, anger and frustration.
It wouldn’t be until I quit Chinese school to take Chinese at Valley and work with different teachers that I actually embraced my inadequacies. As an underclassman, I’d brag about how I was acing Chinese without studying to hide my weakness: Chinese characters.
I can barely read and write Chinese, so when Lin Laoshi would force me to read and write full paragraphs, I’d snap at him and denigrate his assignments. Lin Laoshi responded calmly and logically, his voice soft as he pointed out how unreasonable I was acting and that he expected me to turn in quality work. He elicited guilt without anger or defensiveness, so I apologized and completed the assignment. He helped me realize snapping at teachers who reminded me...
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