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Please Help Me
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To The Language Teachers On This Website.

I am applying to go to The University of Chicago and have been asked to write some essays, one of which I have attached hereunder.

Please help me to make corrections wherever necessary. Thank you very much.

QUESTION (OPTION 2)

At a crucial point in his career, the writer James Baldwin withdrew to a secluded spot in the Swiss Alps. “There,” he later wrote, “in that absolutely alabaster landscape, armed with two Bessie Smith records and a typewriter, I began to recreate the life that I had first known as a child and from which I had spent so many years in flight…. It was Bessie Smith, through her tone and her cadence, who helped me to dig back to the way I myself must have spoken…and to remember the things I had heard and seen and felt.”

Inevitably, certain things - recordings, household objects, familiar smells - help us to “dig our way back” to our past. Write about something that has enabled you to return to a forgotten part of your past.

This is my essay.


THE KEYS

There they were, lying insipidly in a dark corner of my drawer, wearing a thin copper-hued coat of rust.

I took them out of my drawer and looked at them, amazed that they did not find their way into some rubbish dump after my family shifted its residence. I made a few half-hearted attempts to scrape off the rust with a coin, all the while thinking. Trying to remember. And as I continued to look at those keys, remember I did.

I grew up in an apartment in Taipei, in the midst of a housing estate that is relatively large by local standards. As a wide-eyed tot, I used to toddle all over the flat, admiring the pale yellow hues of the walls, and the colorful marble floor that stayed deliciously cold on those scorchingly warm afternoons. I was an exceptionally subdued baby (a fact that my friends now will never accept), and my quietness followed me into childhood. I was never autistic, just laconic, but my parents must have been a trifle worried that their only son was so hushed.

After I started schooling, I developed a habit of retreating into my own room once I reached home after school. My room was my cocoon, my little shell of existence, and I ventured outside only for meals with my family, to play the piano, and to answer the occasional phone call. Apart from school, I hardly step out of my home. Put simply, I was a veritable recluse.

I took great pains to bedeck my room with paintings and ornaments, and great pride in keeping it neat. I still have many memories of that room - the copy of the Mona Lisa above my table, the whirring ceiling fan that always seemed as if it was about to topple, and the antiquated computer that failed to boot up ever so often. I also recall the amazing number of drawers I had in my steel cupboard, my closet and under my table. Before I left the house in the morning, I used to lock them one by one with my keys.

The intruding rings from the phone interrupted my reminiscence. It was my classmate. We chatted for about an hour before we hung up, and all the while, I was looking at those old drawer keys.

I guess I never would have remembered how quiet I used to be if I had never unearthed them, for them to evoke those precious childhood memories. Life really is fascinating. Who would have thought that my reticent childhood alter ego would emerge from that tiny cocoon, and mature into a confident, loquacious young adult? Indeed, that metamorphosis would never have occurred if I had not attended junior and senior high schools. Some unknown, and I suspect, instinctive force warmed me up towards socializing. In my first few months in junior high school, I made small talk and formed friendships with an alacrity that defied my hitherto hermitic tendencies. Perhaps it was a natural response to a new environment. In any case, as I plowed through the vicissitudes of junior and senior high schools, I kept my readiness to bond with my peers and as such, made many friends who braved the challenges of schooling together with me. While I treasure these priceless friendships till this day, I have, on the other hand, taken my extroversion for granted since a long time ago. I am glad that the keys brought me momentarily back to those morbid days of living in virtual if not actual solitude, for I want to remind myself never to return to that kind of life.

As I continued to hold those keys in my hand on that sultry warm afternoon, more fond recollections surfaced. I recalled the contents of the drawers with relish, chuckling at some of the oddities, like my collections of lollipop wrappers and peanut shells. Maybe my hermitic lifestyle did affect my sanity after all! Weird collections notwithstanding, those very drawers also contained items that held great meaning for me as a child. The most important of these were my diary and scrapbooks, which I devoted to enshrining my childhood dreams and passions. I vividly remember that after I watched the gadget-laden Back to the Future, I developed an insatiable interest for science and invention, and dreamt of becoming a scientist or inventor myself. Subsequently I began flooding my diary with entries addressed to the likes of Thomas Edison, Albert Einstein, and of course, Dr. Emmet Brown from the film. Concurrently, I scoured scientific journals for interesting articles to paste in my scrapbook., discovering a tremendous amount in the process. In retrospect, this was to lay the foundation for my enthusiasm towards science in my early years of schooling. Ironically, much of that ardor for science was gradually replaced by a deepening passion for economics, through a process so subtle that I never took notice of it. Indeed, I would have forgotten my previous interest in science, had those rusty keys not brought Dr. Emmet Brown back to me.

Keys would be keys. Rusty as they were, the ones that I re-stumbled upon on that afternoon opened the door to my past, and urged me to ponder about my future.

May God bless them.

Posted on: 2007/4/16 17:49
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Re: Please Help Me
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Hi Aspirant,

Good job! I enjoyed reading your essay and could hardly find what to correct. However, there are some minor revisions to suggest.

<<PART ONE>>

THE KEYS

There they were, lying insipidly in a dark corner of my drawer, wearing a thin copper-hued coat of rust.

I took them out of my drawer and looked at them, amazed that they did not find their way into some rubbish dump after my family shifted its residence. I made a few half-hearted attempts to scrape off the rust with a coin, all the while thinking. Trying to remember. And as I continued to look at those keys, remember I did pick up gradually.

I grew up in an apartment in Taipei, in the midst of a housing estate that is was relatively large by local standards. As a wide-eyed tot, I used to toddle all over the flat, admiring the pale yellow hues of the walls, and the colorful marble floor that stayed deliciously cold on easingly cool in those scorchingly warm afternoons. I was an exceptionally subdued baby (a fact that my friends now will never accept), and my quietness followed me into childhood. I was never autistic, just but laconic, but while my parents must have been a trifle worried that their only son was so hushed.

After I started schooling, I developed a habit of retreating into my own room once I reached home after school. My room was my cocoon, my little shell of existence, and I ventured outside only for to have meals with my family, to play the piano, and to answer the occasional phone calls. Apart from going to school, I hardly stepped out of my home. Put simply, I was a veritable recluse.

I took great pains(strength??) to bedeck in bedecking my room with paintings and ornaments, and great pride in keeping it neat. I still have many keep vivid memories of that room - the copy of the Mona Lisa above my table, the whirring ceiling fan that always seemed as if it was about to topple, and the antiquated computer that failed to boot up ever so often. I also recall the amazing number of drawers I had in my steel cupboard, my closet and under my table top. Before I left the house in the morning, I used to lock them one by one with my keys.

The intruding rings from the phone interrupted my reminiscence. It was my classmate. We chatted for about an hour before we hung up, and all the while, I was looking at those old drawer keys.


-- To be continued --

Posted on: 2007/4/17 1:14
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Re: Please Help Me
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A Big Thank You Mr Glotynn, Sir (hope I have addressed you correctly)

While I look forward to your changes and revisions in Part Two, I must say you are a great scholar in your own rights.

I have here another short passage and would appreciate it if you, and/or other language specialists with high proficiency in the English language, help me make changes and revisions. Thank you again.

QUESTION 1.

How does the University of Chicago, as you know it now, satisfy your desire for a particular kind of learning, community, and future? Your response should address with some particularity your own wishes and how they relate to Chicago.

MY ANSWER

As Professor Dennis Hutchinson puts it, “Chicago undergraduates are fearless learners and relentlessly uncomfortable with received wisdom”. This is the kind of learning spirit that draws me to Chicago, for it is upon such intellectual intrepidity and skepticism that economics, my intended major, is built. Indeed, I find economics fascinating precisely because of the endless emergence of bold ideas that fly in the face of conventional economic wisdom; thus, the dauntless Chicago spirit, by complementing such dynamism, promises to satisfy my intellectual yearning for economics. Moreover, the learning spirit is not lost on the professors, who encourage students to know “more than just the facts” (Professor Lorna Straus), and to be aware of perspectives that might differ from those discussed in lectures. There is thus a plenitude of opportunities for Chicago professors and students to either convene or diverge in opinion. These opportunities give rise to a community in which these two groups can explore new frontiers in academic concentrations as well as engage in mutually stimulating intellectual debate together. Such a bilateral approach to learning is not only more edifying to the student than conventional, one-way lessons; it also raises the professor-student relationship towards a more intimate level. This intimacy nurtures a warm learning community, in which I can not only enjoy intellectual gratification but also camaraderie with professors and fellow students alike. In the distinguished company of these Nobel laureates and nominees, brilliant peers and sincere learners, I will certainly feel closer to greatness in more ways than one. It is little wonder Chicago beckons to my future.

Posted on: 2007/4/17 10:28
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Re: Please Help Me
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Hi Aspirant,

Your essay was so well written that I could only give some negligible suggestions. The last two paragraphs are perfect except the wrong spelling of hermetic (instead of "hermitic").

As to the other passage you just posted, it looks great and doesn't seem to need a correction.

Please don't call me a scholar as I'm far from one. I'm merely an ordinary merchant doing international trade business. What I could do on your essay was to pick typos or minor errors. I have to say that your writing skill is even above mine indeed. Keep up the good work, and no school can afford the loss of crossing you out.


================================================

Suggested Revisions

<< PART TWO >>

I guess I never would have remembered how quiet I used to be if I had never unearthed them, for allowing them to evoke those precious childhood memories of mine. Life really is fascinating. Who would have thought ever think that how my reticent childhood alter ego would emerge from that tiny cocoon, and mature into a confident, loquacious young adult? Indeed, that metamorphosis would never have occurred if I had not attended junior and senior high schools. Some unknown, and as I suspect, instinctive force warmed me up towards socializing. In my first few months in junior high school, I made small talks and formed friendships with an alacrity that defied my hitherto hermetic tendencies. Perhaps it was a natural response to a new environment. In any case, as I plowed through the vicissitudes of junior and senior high schools, I kept my readiness to bond with my peers and as such, made many friends who braved the challenges of schooling together with me. While I treasure these priceless friendships till this day, I have, on the other hand, taken my extroversion for granted since a long time ago. I am glad that the keys brought me momentarily back to those morbid days of living in virtual if not actual solitude, for I want to remind myself never to return to that kind of life.

As I continued to hold those keys in my hand on that sultry warm afternoon, more fond recollections surfaced. I recalled the contents of the drawers with relish, chuckling at some of the oddities, like my collections of lollipop wrappers and peanut shells. Maybe my hermetic lifestyle did affect my sanity after all! Weird collections notwithstanding, those very drawers also contained items that held great meaning for me as a child. The most important of these were my diary and scrapbooks, which I devoted to enshrining my childhood dreams and passions. I vividly remember that after I watched the gadget-laden Back to the Future, I developed an insatiable interest for in science and invention, and dreamt of becoming a scientist or inventor myself. Subsequently I began flooding my diary with entries addressed to the likes of Thomas Edison, Albert Einstein, and of course, Dr. Emmet Brown from the film. Concurrently, I scoured scientific journals for interesting articles to paste in my scrapbook, discovering a tremendous amount in the process. In retrospect, this was served to lay the foundation for my enthusiasm towards science in my early years of schooling. Ironically, much of that ardor for science was gradually replaced by a deepening passion for economics, through a process so subtle that I never took notice of it. Indeed, I would have forgotten my previous interest in science, had those rusty keys not brought Dr. Emmet Brown back to me.

Keys would be keys. Rusty as they were, the ones that I re-stumbled upon on that afternoon opened the door to my past, and urged me to ponder about my future.

May God bless them.

Posted on: 2007/4/17 17:34
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Re: Please Help Me
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Mr Glotynn, Sir

I wish to express my profound gratitude to you for having taken time to rid of the impurities of my essay. It now looks very good to me. I shall have it adopted for final submission with my other documents.

Admittedly, I find writing essays in American English so much like chalk and cheese as compared with Australian English which I am used to. For me to be able to write acceptable American English is still a far cry. Nonetheless, I am blessed with the discovery of this website where I have found an erudite person in you who has so spontaneously offered a lending hand.

Many thanks again Sir, for those very kind words.

Posted on: 2007/4/17 19:36
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Re: Please Help Me
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Hi Aspirant,

As reminded by Futari, the word hermitic or hermitical does exist, being the adjective form of hermit. I'm sorry for regarding it wrongly spelt.

Posted on: 2007/4/18 15:24
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Re: Please Help Me
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Dear Mr Glotynn, Sir

Please, no apologies, Sir.

Thank you for the information. I will now revert to the original word 'hermitic' as advised.

May I also know if there are professionals and/or career masters who are in a position to provide expert advice on economic jargons and equation-laden theories?

Thank you again.

Posted on: 2007/4/18 21:20
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Re: Please Help Me
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Dear Aspirant,

Though this is an English learning and language-fun pursuing website, I'm sure there exist experts here who can give useful advices on your desired subjects if and when any of them gets free time. Just lay them here and try your luck.

Posted on: 2007/4/18 22:53
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Re: Please Help Me
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Dear Mr Glotynn, Sir

Thanks again.

If and when the occasion for solutions to problematic economic questions arises, I will certainly come back to this website for advice.

You have been a great help and a tremendous cyber-mentor.

My heartfelt and sincere thanks to you.

Posted on: 2007/4/19 18:33
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Re: Please Help Me
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Dear Mr Glotyynn, Sir

Could you or some experts in the field of economics please assist me with this question?

“Academia do not like to think about the most difficult questions, they like to think about the most basic theories, since the most basic questions would have the most complex answers as they have more grounds to cover. The following statement covers many aspects of the complexities of emerging economies.

‘TAIWAN AND CHINA ARE DRIFTING TOGETHER SPURRED BY ECONOMIES UNITING THE TWO’

In your own words write an account of how you think the global economists will perceive the development of the future economies of these two countries.”

Posted on: 2007/4/20 21:01
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