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What extracurricular activities do you find engaging?

What is your favorite nonacademic


activity?
I have a huge passion for the arts. My interests have driven me to try all different types of
art classes such as Chinese art brush, watercolor painting, oil painting, linoleum stamp art, and
pastel drawing from the time I was 10. I found that these classes could only take me so far and it
was only when I dedicated my free time to practicing that I could achieve more. Since I moved
from Westford, Massachusetts to Charlotte 3 years ago, I have been attending Braitman Art
Studios to study drawing the human figure from a model. The project that I am most proud of is
a linoleum slab carved out into a stamp that depicted a Banksy graffiti work.
I have played softball for 6 years, taken ballet since I was 8, and taken jazz dance lessons
since I was 10. In between days and seasons that these activities take place, I do intense interval
training on the treadmill for at least and hour a day depending on my energy level. Then I
normally wind down by stretching my muscles with 45-60 minutes of yoga/Pilates. I honestly do
this because it makes me feel great. I was never the type of child that could eat anything and stay
very thin. In fact, I was quite chubby when I was in elementary school. Around seventh grade I
started to be more conscious of how I treated my body in terms of diet and exercise, which was
quite a challenge at the time, but now my regimen has turned into habit. I enjoy the physical
discipline I gain from these activities and am very proud of myself for sticking with them when I
could have quit with consideration to my school schedule.
It wasnt until I entered high school that I independently chose to participate in charity.
Entering a Catholic high school with such a strongly generous community inspired me to
volounteer. I have raised $100 at my church for the Invisible Children Club, which helps child
soldiers in northern Uganda, however, I admit I am a much more active participant in Habitat for

Humanity, which is where I spend the majority of my weekends. I love it because it requires a lot
of manual labor, which most girls my age would not be fond of and, in this way, I feel that I am
more of a value to the organization. When I was younger my father used to make me go with him
to paint, clean, garden, shovel snow, etc. which truly did build my character in a sense that I am
no stranger to hard work. Perhaps this is why I am so zealous about my education- because,
though I get satisfaction out of completing a strenuous task, physical labor is not what I want to
do my whole life.
I also have found that I have a talent in the realm of digital artistry, which was introduced
to me by my mother, who is a professional web designer. I have found that experience with
Adobe products is an extremely useful skill when doing school projects and I often find myself
taking on whole extra projects, just to flaunt my artistic skills. Something I am most excited
about this is year being an editor of our schools literary magazine, the Amaryllis which is
normally a junior privilege. Hopefully it will turn out just as great as our newspaper.
Coming from a family where Catholicism was not strictly enforced but rather briefly
introduced, I found that when I entered Catholic School in the 9th grade, there was much more
history to Catholicism than I had previously assumed. Learning about the Old Testament was
fascinating to me and moved me to evaluate my morals and ethics according to how I interpreted
the scripture. For the first time, I took a deeper look at my morals which I had previously only
turned to when making the easiest of decisions. Taking an Advanced World History class, I was
required to analyze, compare, and contrast different religions. It became my favorite topic and
something I often researched. I was surprised to learn certain similarities/differences in early
Islam, Christianity and Judaism, such as their outlook on the divinity of Jesus Christ, moral code,
and so on. I feel that it is vital for an individual to be understanding of their beliefs as opposed to

simply accepting the doctrines that have been spoon-fed to them since they were able to think.
Religion, to me, is the most important cornerstone in civilization today. It affects how we think,
judge, act, and respond to our ever-changing society. Taking Religion class daily as a Catholic
school requirement along with the books I read about different congregations within Christianity
gave me a sufficient background knowledge to understand the Jewish and Christian churches.
The next religion that intrigued me was Muslim. The more I watched documentaries and read
historical texts about the Muslim people, the more interested I became in reading the Quran, and
so I did, in English. I found the treatment of women according to the Torah, Bible, and Quran
the most engaging subject of all and it is a subject that I am focusing on right now. However, as I
have experienced reading the English translation of French literature, I knew that I was not
getting the full experience and depth of the readings, and so I decided to take Arabic lessons,
which as of now, I have only had one: an introductory class. I do not underestimate the challenge
that it will be to learn a language that is not one of the Romance languages, but I am determined
to do it. Though I understand it will be very difficult to become fluent, it is a goal I am very
passionate about and I know that since many current events involve Middle East conflict, I
believe it will be a great advantage in the journalism field. There are only so many books you can
read and documentaries you can watch before you have reached your fact limit. The next step is
to experience these cultures first-hand, which is what I plan to do as a journalist. Thus I will be
able to expand my knowledge of world religions and develop my own educated ideals and
opinions about religion.
What is the most interesting book, apart from those assigned in class, that you have
read in the past year? Why?

Notre Dame de Paris, better known as the Hunchback of Notre Dame was a steppingstone that heightened my level of reading to that of more sophistication. To start off, I had
originally read the abridged and, indicated by the title, English version and later decided to
revisit it after being introduced more French literature in English class this year. I learned French
when I was younger from my fathers parents when I lived with them, though the primary
language spoken in my house is English. Reading an 18th century French drama was much more
of a difficult challenge than I assumed, as I had only spoken the most casual form of the FrenchCanadian dialect. In order to read the first few chapters of this book I almost always had to have
a computer right beside me to get used to the language and most of all, the spelling. But all of the
work was well worth it, not just for literary reasons, but the chance to root myself further into
another language and read at a more sophisticated level than most bilingual youths.
The most obvious discrepancy between the French version and English translation I found was
the connotation and denotation of the words. For most basic French vocabulary, the dictionary
definition coincides with that of the English equivalent. Since the book was mostly comprised of
more complex words and phrases, understanding the history of the words was imperative. For
example, aimer literally means to love where as a writer such as Hugo would more likely use
the verb raffoler which literally translates to to adore though it evokes more of a emotive
meaning. Especially when reading the more poetic passages, one might misconstrue the deeper
message hidden within the subtext of the English version. This language is mostly utilized when
Hugo takes lengthy detours from the main story to detail the geography and architecture of Paris.
And yet, it are these detours which give the novel a sense of authenticity and depth.
Le cur humain ne peut absorber qu'une quantit limite de dsespoir. Une fois l'ponge
sature, la mer peut passer par dessus sans qu'une goutte de plus y pntre translates to: The

human heart can contain only a limited amount of despair. Once the sponge is saturated, the sea
can pass over it without another drop entering- one of my favorite quotes in the entire book. This
quote epitomizes the somber fiber that composes each character. What made this book inique is
that, throughout the story, everyone responds only to physical beauty, but no one, including
Quasimodo, responds to or is able to discern inner beauty. Phoebus is the perfect example of
superficial beauty but inner ugliness; Quasimodo is the perfect example of superficial ugliness
but inner beauty. These foils illustrate a cautionary tale against unrestrained, careless lust. It is
this blunt depiction of the characters' understandable yet self-destructive motivations which
really give the novel much of its worth. In allowing the story a great deal of scope, no one is
completely free of blame in the final outcome, as Quasimodo and Esmeralda ultimately choose
their own fates by giving in to their own weaknesses.
What surprised me most was the pessimistic tone towards Johanne Gutenburg and his
revolutionary printing press. One of the most famous quotes of the book is, The invention of
printing is the greatest event in history. It is the mother of revolutions. It is humanity's mode of
expression totally renewed, human thought discarding one form and putting on another... In the
form of printing, thought is more imperishable than ever; it is volatile, elusive, indestructible. It
blends with the air. In the time of architecture it became a mountain and took forceful possession
of an age and a space. Now it becomes a flock of birds, scatters to the four winds and
simultaneously occupies every point of air and space. For a tool that produced a drastically
higher literacy rate for the masses, it seems strange that one would abhor the replacement of
architecture as the historical language for human ideas. It is ironic that he would write " the
book will kill the building! ", in a reference to the printing press threat to the old ways of
religion established by the church, when in fact in this case it was the savior of the building. At

the time it was written, the Notre Dame cathedral was in a state of disrepair. Seen as a symbol of
the old monarchy, it was ransacked by various protestors and uprisings and there was an even
talk of tearing the old ruined cathedral down. Victor Hugo wrote this novel to install public
interest back into the well being of the church. I find this passage also is applicable to the
modern technological world. If one did not know Hugo wrote this in the nineteenth century, they
might easily think he was writing about the revolutionary nature of the internet as a vehicle for
the expression of human ideas when compared to traditional publishing. Hugo calls printing "the
second Tower of Babel of the human race." If he were still writing today, no doubt he might call
the internet "the Third Tower of Babel."
Of course I have read other novels in French after that experience. I fell in love with
another piece of wonderful French literature this year: The Count of Monte Cristo. The English
version was assigned in class, but once Christmas came around the French copy was at the top of
my list. Only this time, I read it in 4 nights.