Topic: In the space provided, please write a concise narrative in which you describe a meaningful event, experience or accomplishment in your life and how it will affect your college experience or your contribution to the UF campus community. You may want to reflect on your family, your school or community activities, or your involvement in areas outside of school
“Hurry up! The plane leaves in two hours,” my mom reminded me as I swiftly, yet reluctantly continued to stuff more and more belongings into the tiny taxi. Waving good-bye to family members and friends, who I had spent my whole life with, was an exceptionally uncomfortable and difficult task. On the way to the airport as my mom tried to comfort me, she constantly reminded me, “Life will be no different in the Dominican Republic than in the USA.” However, this proved to be false as soon as I stepped off that plane. Not understanding a single word being said around me, I realized I would have to adapt to a new culture, but at the same time carry on my own.
“Class, this is Alberto and he will be joining our class for this last month of the school year,” the teacher yelled as I stood next to her puzzled and embarrassed. For a few hours, I plainly sat in my chair without saying a word, reflecting on my already missed memories of school in Rhode Island, until another student named Luis approached me. Of course, I was expecting him to say something in Spanish, but shockingly he spoke to me in English. Without hesitation, I responded to him and we quickly became close friends.
As time went on, I realized that all those Spanish classes I had taken in Hendricken were not a waste of time, and were finally beginning to pay off. After just a few weeks I accomplished my goal of speaking a different language, and was able to exchange a few words with my teacher and other classmates in Spanish. From then on, my fear turned into a desire to learn more and more about the Dominican culture and teach others about mine.
As the school year came to a close, we were told to bring food for a party we were going to have to celebrate a successful year. Hot dogs, hamburgers, pizza, just to name a few different things, were set on the table. The shy whispers of my classmates showed their eagerness for what I had brought. “These are called meatball surprise; they are a meatball sandwich mixed with pasta and topped off with grated cheese” I proudly announced, as people tried and promptly fell in love with the food. It felt great to be able to teach others about my own culture and heritage while learning about theirs.
It didn’t take long to overcome my fear and turn it into a desire to adapt to a new world and teach others about mine. I went to the Dominican Republic as a boy just trying to get service hours but I left a man and understanding that everybody needs help and if you give it, you will be rewarded somehow. Now, three years after this life-changing event, I am reminded everyday by my habits and actions about my American roots and my newly acquired Dominican traditions. What happened in the D.R will always be a part of me because when I think of the Dominican Republic I can think to myself that I helped family have a house and food and water and that will always be a positive thing to me. Whether at the University of Florida, or anywhere else, I will always carry, teach, and expand on my distinct heritage.