Taken from the Common App:
Some students have a background or story that is so central to their identity that they believe their application would be incomplete without it. If this sounds like you, then please share your story
I had never dreamed that my teaching would have such an impact, but when my students and I stepped forward with increased confidence, it endowed meaning to the hard work of our team.
My experiences have taught me the benefits of teamwork and the merits of challenging myself with ambitious goals; I have learned to further strengthen my own resolve through the efforts of a community. As a child, I shunned collaboration and focus. I barely had a sense of teamwork, nor did I feel strong passion towards any field. This all gradually changed when I realized a dream that I could not achieve on my own, a dream that was just beyond my comfort zone. Inspired by my own experiences accustoming to different languages and cultures, I developed a great desire to teach. I wanted to act as a resource for students in China who also might struggle learning a new language, so I took the initiative. Over the summer, I was joined by some friends to co-found English programs in China. This experience helped to shape my perspective on teamwork and allowed me to seriously pursue one of my greatest passions – teaching.
That risk of venturing into the unknown land of teaching has forever changed me, and I am grateful to my friends who made it possible to start our own teaching programs together. After many complicated preparations and late nights working to perfect every detail of our programs, we completed two tasks: 1) we founded and conducted the first Youth Toastmasters Club in Xi’an, and 2) we taught an original ESL program. The ESL program helped students improve in three key areas – reading, writing, and spoken communication. The Toastmasters Club developed students’ leadership skills and cultivated creative thinking through public speaking and practical exercises. We worked with more than fifty students from both secondary and post-secondary schools, as we conducted two classes in parallel over two months. I could see that our work was paying off, and I personally felt inspired by the collaborative success from witnessing firsthand how these students had improved their English and their confidence. The community took great interest as well, with provincial newspapers and TV stations visiting to report on our programs.
Our team had a clear vision beyond teaching English: to combine the best ideas of both Eastern and Western thought. Throughout both programs, one primary goal was to help students generate innovative ideas by encouraging competent, open expression of their personal feeling and character. Our dream was to help students gain the confidence to speak up in public without fear. The students grew closer, and our team grew closer, working hard anytime we were available to create the best possible experience for those whom we served. Our students also inspired us to deliver the best program we could. From the collective conscience of that team, from the energy of that community, my own passion for teaching took shape and has grown stronger with the team effort. I believe that my students will pass on what they have gained, just as I strive to continue passing on all I have learned.
Having this dream become a reality has strengthened my confidence. I have learned to teach effectively, and learned to work in a team environment. I realized how inspiring teaching can be and I hoped that I inspired those that I have taught, just like how I was inspired by a few great teachers who have really touched my life – including one in China who helped me adapt to cultural change. But that’s another story, one detailed on here –evanshang.com/influence/. I look back on my experience teaching with immense satisfaction, and it continues to motivate me to pursue my dreams today. Through the life-changing experience that is everyday teaching, I have discovered the magic of teamwork, and I have challenged myself to chase my passion.