An individual’s personality is not only shaped by those around him or her but also by the environment that one grows in. Whereas some attributes are inborn, others can only be acquired through learning and continuous practice. My life has been shaped by both destiny and experience. Having been born in Vietnam, a country that the United States has ever been at war with, I have had more than my fair share of luck. However, that aside, I believe I am an honest, visionary and hardworking Vietnamese. Persistence, ambition and the desire to succeed have so far guided me in the pursuit of my academic goals though this has come at a cost. Time and again, I have been forced to leave what I hold dear in order to pursue important goals for my sake and my country’s, Vietnam. Nonetheless, our close-knit family has never failed in giving me advice and a helping hand when the going got tough.
Since my childhood, I have learnt to value both family and friends. We are a close-knit family of four: my father, mother, younger brother and I. My education and ambitions are very important to me. Since time immemorial, my family and friends have been very encouraging towards the attainment of my dreams. My close friends hold a special place in my heart. The transition from childhood to adulthood comes with its challenges. Some situations can only be shared with friends. I really value them for they are very supportive and encouraging. In addition, we share similar tastes, hobbies and preferences.
I have vivid memories of that day when my father first took me to school. Seeing that I was young and afraid, he was full of words of encouragement, which he punctuated with funny jokes about his first day at school. That marked the start of my life-long academic journey. Over the years, he has become more than a father figure to me; he is a role model, someone I look up to in both the good and desperate times. Were it not for the fact that he is a strict disciplinarian, an attribute that I hated during my childhood but which I have come to appreciate in my young adulthood, I would never have worked hard in high school. Indeed, not only has he been very encouraging but also served as a mentor. The fact that I am currently studying in the United States is proof enough of how hard he has worked to ensure that I become a distinguished person in the society.
My mother has always been there for me. Each time I suffered an emotional setback, I would always run to her side for consolation. I remember one particular instance in my seventh grade. Immediately after our English teacher left, I picked my books and joined the rest of the students as we rushed outside for lunch, only to get my shorts caught by a door hook. Coincidentally, someone pushed me and I went sprawling on the floor, my shorts torn. The ensuing laughter was too much for me to handle. I ran home and locked myself in my bedroom. The following day, I feigned sickness in order not to attend school. My mother, discovering what had happened, came to my room and we discussed the matter. Ever since, I have never failed to share my experiences with her.
Being the first born in our family comes with a sense of responsibility. Obviously, my brother looks up to me for guidance. Although at times I have failed to provide this, I believe that I have adequately made up for this in my adulthood. Adolescence came with a fair share of challenges. Having had an exemplary performance in my lower grades, I found myself confronted with a myriad of issues in high school. Never again in my life had I ever been faced by so much violence. I was forced to take sides. I did not want to join any of my neighborhood’s gangs and neither did I want to be regarded as a nerd. I had to seek my own identity. My upbringing, having been bred in a supportive and caring family, came in hardy. Surrounded by friends who never missed knives either in their bags or pockets, and who were always persuading me to join them in their endeavors to make ‘easy’ money, I felt vulnerable.
When one is making the transition from childhood to adulthood, one is bound to make several mistakes. I finally succumbed to their insistent pleas and decided to join them on one evening so as to make a quick buck. We successfully broke into a local shop and emptied the cashbox. As we were about to leave, the door suddenly swung open. The owner, accompanied by several other men, stormed in and immediately assaulted us. I dived between his legs and made for the door. Two of my friends made for the window. However, they were not as lucky as I was for they ended up badly cut by pieces of glass. Although we all managed to escape, I made a personal decision that I would never again participate in such criminal acts. Education, not violence, would be my destiny.
Growing up in Vietnam has not only shaped my character but has also granted me a sense of nationality. I feel proud of where I belong, my people, our culture and national heritage. These values are unique and define my personality and ethnicity. In Vietnam, the society teaches you to be truthful, trustworthy and honest. It shapes a man in an exceptional manner. I love my country with a passion. In fact, once I am through with my studies, I plan on returning to my home country. Leaving Vietnam for the United States was very painful. I remember waving to my family and friends at the airport as I boarded the plane. I felt alone and sad. My father never tired of informing me that a man does what needs to be done, no matter how painful it may be. Therefore, I knew that I had to relentlessly pursue my academic goals, and only after I had successfully completed my academics would I be in a position to return to my home country.
Vietnam is such a beautiful country. However, the government has failed in implementing certain policies. Some rights which are entrenched in the constitution have been ignored or manipulated to suit those in power. For instance, the people have not been granted their rights in regard to the freedom of speech and expression. The media has been gagged and manipulated towards broadcasting news which favors the government. I believe that the people should be enlightened on how to safeguard their rights. In addition, the government should not manipulate the law to suit its own ends; rather, the law should be applied for the benefit of the citizens. Despite all these hurdles, I plan on returning to Vietnam to work among my people in order to make my country a better place to live in.
In conclusion, my passion for my home country, Vietnam, makes life worth living. Through learning from my parents and the society at large, I have not only kept away from failure and drugs, but also been shaped into a sociable and morally upright individual. Their support is the main reason behind my academic success. I have a burning passion: to work with my fellow citizens in order to improve the living standards in Vietnam. I know that my dreams will require patience and hard work. Nonetheless, I believe that I have the passion and diligence to succeed.
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