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Pressing Play to a New Playlist This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

The smell of Korean barbeque permeates my nose as I attempt to perform a Bollywood dance on the sidewalk. I cross the street to my local bakery as my ears are filled with French melodies from La Vie En Rose. My iTunes playlist waits patiently in my palm as I decide which country to visit next. Shuffle. The serene sound of classical Italian tunes serenade my ears and I instantly find myself in an elegant gondola, drifting down the Grand Canal.

My imagination can often get the best of me. Imagining diversity is the only thing I can achieve when growing up in a town that is predominantly Caucasian. Though I have been attending the same school and living day to day with the same people since preschool, I have always considered myself overtly different from my peers. While they would listen to the Backstreet Boys, my ears would be enchanted by the foreign melodies of China, Cambodia, and Vietnam. While my friends would go home to pizzas and steaks, a traditional bowl of hot and sour catfish soup would be waiting for me on my dining room table. Peers look at my life with curiosity but I view it with great appreciation.

The plethora of cultures in my life has contributed significantly to my ability to view situations with different perspectives. My multi-Asian background along with my participation in global service projects have both helped to expand my ability to understand and discuss the development of humanity and its cultures in an insightful way. Traveling to El Salvador in 2011 with my Project Humanitarian Involvement group was the first time I realized I was capable of changing the world. I accomplished wonders in El Salvador and I built lasting relationships with the amigos I made there. Seeing the power of simple deeds being accomplished, such as building homes, change so many lives made me wonder, “If I can build a home to transform a life in El Salvador…what else can I do? And where”?

As I press play to a new playlist in my life, I plan on further immersing myself into different communities and cultures of the world by focusing on international relations. I hope to surround myself with individuals from different cultures who will help me challenge and develop my own beliefs about myself and the changing world. I also plan to further advance my Spanish studies and improve my literary skills in Chinese and Vietnamese. My aspiration of learning languages is not only driven by my passion for seeking diversity, but also by the fact that I do not know where the shuffle setting in my life will take me.

An amazing aspect of the shuffle setting on my iPod is that I never know what song to expect next. I do not know what extraordinary things my education will lead me to accomplish or what wondrous lands I will set foot in, but I do know that I am ready to escape this little peninsula that I call home and embark on new adventures into the world. I hope to encounter new experiences every day and that the shuffle setting in my life never ceases to quench my thirst for diversity. My expectation for my future is that there will no longer be a need to imagine myself riding on a gondola or hearing Bollywood music from my headphones. I am ready to turn the shuffle setting off on my iPod, and on in my life.



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