Significant Experience College Essay

I judged her to be a heartless, soulless, two-dimensional figure: she was a representation of my loneliness and pain.I left whenever she entered a room, I slammed car doors in her face.

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These were all tourist experiences that I, at first, found spellbinding.

My truths were the truths of the tourist brochures: beautiful hotels, beaches, and cities. I did not appreciate how being held hostage by the beauty of the surface—the beaches and cities—blinded me to the absence of Puerto Rican natives on the streets of San Juan; I did not understand how the prevalence and familiarity of English conspired to veil the beauty of the Spanish language beneath volumes of English translations.

I believed that what was missing was a lack of understanding between our two cultures, and that acceptance of our differences would come only with knowledge.

My first impression of Cuba was the absence of commercialism.

The first three years of our relationship were characterized solely by my hatred toward her, manifested in my hurting her, each moment hurting myself twice as much.

From the moment I laid eyes on her, she was the object of my unabated hatred, not because of anything she had ever done, but because of everything she represented.I saw no giant golden arch enticing hungry Cubans with beef-laced fries; I did see billboards of Che Guevara and signposts exhorting unity and love. Perhaps my experience is my truth and the more truths I hear from everyone else, the closer I will get to harmonization.I realized, however, that much of the uniqueness that I relished here might be gone if the trade blockades in Cuba were ever lifted. I was stepping out of an American political cave that shrouded the beauty of Cuba and stepping into another, one built on patriotic socialism, one where truths were just as ideological as, yet very different from, mine. The journeys I have taken have been colored by my prior experiences and by what my feelings were in those moments. Maybe there is no harmony, and I must go through life challenging and being challenged, perhaps finding perspectives from which I can extract—but never call—truth.I, accustomed to viewing her as the embodiment of my pain, was afraid to let go of the anger and hate, afraid to love the person who allowed me to hold onto my anger, afraid that if I gave her a chance, I might love her.For those three years, Laura didn’t hate me; she understood me.She understood my anger and my confusion, and Laura put her faith in me, although she had every reason not to. Instead, over the next two years, the one-dimensional image of her in my mind began to take the shape of a person. She became a woman who, like me, loves and drinks a lot of coffee; who, unlike me, buys things advertised on infomercials.To her, I was essentially a good person, just confused and scared; trying to do her best, but just not able to get a hold of herself. Three weeks ago, I saw that same Mother Teresa quote again, but this time I smiled.Laura never gave up on me, and the chance she gave me to like her was a chance that changed my life.Because of this, I know the value of a chance, of having faith in a person, of seeing others as they wish they could see themselves. Lighthearted me hangs upside-down, off the back of my recliner. Plus, I was thinking of college as a social clean slate.I have remained the naïve American who saw Castro as some distant enemy of my country, accepting this as fact because this seemed to be the accepted wisdom.I soon became intrigued, however, with this supposed plague to my freedom, my culture, and everything good and decent. What’s so bad about Castro and Cuba—and I hear they have good coffee.

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