The Antidote to the Troubles of Life

Tell us about a talent, experience, contribution or personal quality you will bring to the University of California.

I was out of my element. Alcoholic fathers and abusive mothers? Gangs and drugs?! I had been thrust, suddenly, into the real world, exposed to all its horrors.

It was two years ago, and I had entered the Confirmation program at my church. The two-year program was designed to prepare me for the religious ceremony that would officially confirm my faith.

But it did much more than that. Through interaction with one hundred and fifty other teenagers, I became exposed to people who grew up in vastly different circumstances--from agreeable pacifists to raging belligerents, pious Bible thumpers to juvenile delinquents, gangsters to drug addicts.

I had grown up in a conservative Christian family, fostered by the values of traditional Vietnamese culture. Unsurprisingly, when first thrown into my startlingly new environment, I distanced myself from those who were different. However, as the course progressed, relationships developed between me and my peers.

I discovered that though we were raised in different ways, we all could benefit from the program. Firsthand interaction with juvenile delinquents, gangsters, and drug addicts showed me the repercussions of bad decisions. Stealing shoes or smoking marijuana may never have been on my list of...

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