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Author Topic: Critique  (Read 546 times)

wendisee

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Critique
« on: October 09, 2009, 11:10:14 AM »
I know everyone is busy, but I was wondering if anyone would be willing to read my personal statement and critique it.  Just so you know ahead of time, it doesn't mention law school because my profession (resume) speaks to that.  My husband and I own a real estate title abstracting business--hence, my desire to go to law school.  It's obvious from my work history that law school was eventually a given. (I'm also a non-trad).  So I chose to write about the other part of my life which can't really be displayed well on a resume.  Did I choose correctly?  Comments on writing style?

As we floated along the Bosporus taking in the nightscape of one of the world’s oldest cities, the Muslim call to prayer began echoing across the water.  Magical!  I surveyed the mystified faces of my ten companions.  How had we come to be in this place, travelling together with people of all ages and religions, people we had not even met three hours before?

Two years ago, I knew next to nothing about Islam.  Any knowledge I thought I had was based primarily on the media’s portrayal of Islam since September 11th, 2001, the predominately Arabic and militant version.  I wanted enlightenment--not realizing that knowledge would require change as well.  I decided to pursue an increased understanding of Islam and of dialogue between Christians and Muslims, an activity I also had no understanding of. 

My journey began in June 2008, when I was accepted to participate in the 4th Annual Institute on Christian-Muslim Relations sponsored the Prince Alwaleed bin Talal Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding at Georgetown University.  Christian participants of the Institute were introduced to the Qur’an, the life of Muhammad and the early history of Islam.  Both religions then came together for sessions on how each faith was perceived post-9/11 and post-Iraq war and how they are practiced in today’s society and political climate. 

Because of my participation at Georgetown, I was selected to travel to Turkey on an intercultural exchange sponsored by the Rumi Forum, a Washington D.C non-profit organization, with the mission of fostering interfaith and intercultural dialogue.  Our eight-day trip began with the awe-inspiring harbor tour.  We toured Istanbul (simultaneously ancient and strikingly modern), Izmir, Kayseri and the ancient cities of Ephesus and Cappadocia.  The sights, sounds and smells were at times overwhelming.  We were invited into the homes of the elite and ordinary alike.  The socioeconomic status of the host never changed the sincerity of their hospitality.  We went to sleep each night having added new Muslims to our expanding family.

I admit I was a skeptic.  I found it difficult to reconcile what I “knew” about the Islam of the twenty-first century with this moderate, tolerant version I was being shown in Turkey.  Many speak beautiful words espousing peace and love, but usually they are just words—action seems to evade them.  I found the synthesis of words and action I sought--in Turkey.  My many, now dear, Turkish friends embody love as a daily duty required of them as a form of worship, not just as empty speech. 
   
Since my return to the U.S., I have been invited to speak at colleges and civic gatherings all along the Mid-Atlantic region of the East Coast, defending the Muslim faith and advocating for an increased role for Turkey in the U.S.’s foreign policy considerations.  I still do not know much about Islam.  A true understanding of the faith would probably take a lifetime.  But that extraordinary journey to Turkey in the company of Christians, Muslims and Jews---a group destined to become like family—far surpassed any previous turning point in life I though I might have had.
   
This summer, there was another trip to Turkey.  The participants were people I had met during my speaking engagements who also struggled to understand how the Islam of the news media could be compatible with democracy, love and peace.  I imagined them floating on the Bosporus--different people, same confused faces.  I giggled.  I knew something they did not know.  In August, we gathered for a picnic to hear about their experiences.  Like me, they had not stayed confused for long.  Like me, their enlightenment had required change.

wendisee

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Re: Critique
« Reply #1 on: October 10, 2009, 08:13:18 PM »
14 views and no responses--is it that bad???

vesperholly

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Re: Critique
« Reply #2 on: October 11, 2009, 04:28:13 PM »
OK, blunt critique?

I was interested, and it was a good read, but I didn't walk away feeling like I really knew a lot about you. Your experiences, yes, but I didn't feel like I had significant insight into who you are. On the other hand, it offers a really strong resume of travel, engagement with interesting problems, and interaction with a broad community.

These bits felt vague:

- I wanted enlightenment--not realizing that knowledge would require change as well.  I decided to pursue an increased understanding of Islam and of dialogue between Christians and Muslims, an activity I also had no understanding of.

- I found the synthesis of words and action I sought--in Turkey.  My many, now dear, Turkish friends embody love as a daily duty required of them as a form of worship, not just as empty speech.

It feels like specificity, really fearlessly drilling down to what you mean here, the real prejudices you had to confront (or whatever) would make it feel as powerful to your readers as it was to you. And, if you have to edit down in order to make things fit, I would cut the travel itinerary. It's interesting, but rather beside your overall point.

Also, this:

Two years ago, I knew next to nothing about Islam.

followed by this:

> I still do not know much about Islam.

kind of derails your point about growth. I think what you mean is that you have a lot more to learn about Islam, not that you are right where you started.
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