« on: December 22, 2006, 12:16:20 AM »
ok im so sick of looking at and working on my personal statement. this is gonna be my final draft so whatever comments you have just post reply here! thank you!!!
Reading would prove to be a necessary guide and comfort throughout my life. Perhaps it started when I six years old and sitting in a beanbag as a form of punishment. It was a day of many firsts: my first day at a public school, in first grade, and my first time without my mother. The tears came (from me) and the frustration set in (from my teacher). Somehow, I ended up in the corner on a beanbag chair with only a book to keep me from screaming. As I was being amused by all the proposed consequences of giving a mouse a cookie, my misery quickly dissipated. This comfort would come in handy at some of the worst points of my life.
It was a no brainer that I decided to major in English. But the hardest part of majoring in English was deciding on what to do with my degree. Of course, as all English majors’ story go, I was constantly asked in college if I was going to graduate to become an English teacher. To that I always thought, “Sure, why not?” but I was a far cry from being sure. I explored a few career paths: I interned at Whittier hospital in high school, I worked at a real estate office, and I dabbed my toes in publishing. In my senior year of college, I decided to explore what life would be like as a teacher.
Upon my arrival at UCLA, I felt a little lost amongst some 40,000 students. I was a bit overwhelmed by the change in classroom size and the atmosphere of it all. But every Saturday morning, there was a place where I always felt welcomed. The Korean American Student Educational Outreach (KASEO) was a group on the UCLA campus that, through tutoring and mentoring, sought to improve the lives of children in Los Angeles' Koreatown. KASEO received a small amount of funding from UCLA and a large amount of compassion from student volunteers. The group consisted of 30 UCLA students, selected because they genuinely cared and had a common goal for the kids. Helping kids learn to read was important to me because the memory of missing my mom in first grade was so vivid. Many kids were in situations ten fold worse than anything I’ve ever lived through. But so many could not find comfort in much because they were being denied the opportunity to learn and just be kids.
KASEO limited its group to about 30 to maximize efficiency and keep its priorities straight. I felt like I had done all I could with KASEO and wanted to give others a chance. I started working with the Los Angeles Unified School District under the No Child Left Behind Act. The goals of the No Child Left Behind Act were to bridge the achievement gap and improve literacy all over America by 2015. This would involve free one-on-one tutoring in the homes of families that needed it the most. To date, this has been the highest investment that the government has spent per child. However, compared to KASEO, the children seem to improve much less. The books provided were too easy for their grade level and the tutoring often took place in noisy homes. My concerns were often addressed by some unforeseen voice on the other end of the line promising to call me back (eventually). There was plenty of money but it was being put into all the wrong places: into the pockets of the tutoring corporation that hired tutors.
An episode of “20/20” summarized all I had experienced with KASEO and the No Child Left Behind Act. The episode “Myth, Lies and Downright Stupidity” debunked the myth of foreign aid ending global poverty. Foreign aid from Western government runs in the tens of billions of dollars each year. However, so many countries are still rattled with poverty. Despite popular belief, putting money into a program just isn’t enough. Bad policies, weak enforcement and an absence of a watchful eye over money is all it takes for a program to not succeed.
It is often said that the law is the glue that holds society together. I want to study law to know what that glue is. How can a program that is so heavily funded not work as well as a program with little funding? Why did these things happen without any repercussions? I lived in a world where all my pain could be solved by reading about James and his giant peach. I’m not sure if it’s just a part of growing up, but the world just feels like a different place now. It is a grandeur thing to say that one wants to change the world. But it is another thing to actually go out and do something about the world. By studying law, I hope one day I can at least understand enough to go out and try.