Quality of Rice's Academic Life Essay

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¶ … quality of Rice's academic life and the Residential College System are heavily influenced by the unique life experiences and cultural traditions each student brings. What perspective do you feel that you will contribute to life at Rice?

The structure of Rice's Residential College System is based upon community spirit and service. Building and rebuilding communities have defined my life. This summer, I worked as part of a youth missionary team assigned to repair houses for impoverished people in South Texas. Doing so forced me to leave my comfort zone and proceed, if not to a different national culture, then a culture of poverty in a hidden America where life is a daily struggle and what most Americans consider necessities are viewed as gifts.

Such co-mingling and sacrifice for the sake of the community has always come naturally to me: as part of my service for my school's National Honor Society, I have always striven to become involved in the most hands-on projects. I participated in toy and food drives where I could witness the fruits of my efforts being enjoyed by the populations they were designed to help. I loved seeing the 'a-ha' expression in elementary student's eyes when I tutored children in chess for NHS. And designing games to keep the hearts and minds of the residents of a local retirement home young was perhaps the most rewarding task of all.

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Whether helping the old or the young, I do not see myself as someone who is just a servant, but also a learner -- I strive to learn from the people I am aiding. This helps me in my volunteer work, of course: I can better teach a child how to cry 'checkmate' if I understand how a child thinks; if I understand the past and experiences of the elderly person, then I am better able to bring him or her enjoyment. But service is not simply a sacrifice on my part. One of the great joys of volunteerism is that it is an educational experience for me as a servant. I learn about myself, looking into the eyes of a child, and I have also learned a great deal about this nation's past, listening to the stories of individuals far older than myself.

TOPIC: Essay on Quality of Rice's Academic Life and the Assignment

Rice University students are encouraged to learn through their residence hall system, from their fellow students. I look forward to assimilating into a mosaic of ethnicities and cultures on a daily basis, simply by being part of the communal feeling that exists at the dorms. Amongst my friends and family, I am known as the person willing to take a risk -- I am the one always willing to try fried alligator, or to say hello to a stranger. To be unafraid in the face of the new, particularly new people, is essential in making life meaningful.

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