Dhrupad Bhardwaj's UPenn CommonApp essay

The Table

When I was seven my father wrote the following quote in my birthday card - “Life is all about a few moments, it’s figuring out which ones, is what counts”. Eight years later that line rang in my head.

11th May 2008. It was the last day of my first Model United Nations. The Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) had done a stellar job of breaking down a complex multi-angled problem and finding solutions for it. Never the less the committee was divided into a number of parties and with the best debaters in the country all packed into one room, egos and pride were at stake. It was fairly certain no one was going to give up their place in the limelight for the larger purpose. Time wasn’t on our side either and we had just 4 hours of committee time that day. Finally the German delegate broached the topic of formulating the resolution. The executive board called for an un-moderated caucus for 2 hours. And then broke out the frenzy.

I wasn’t exactly afraid of public speaking. I’d spent more time on stage than I care to admit. I’d done everything from eating pie to simulating murder while reciting memorised lines. In high school I went a step further and took up debating. The spontaneity the task demanded came to me naturally and I enjoyed locking horns with the sharpest minds India’s finest schools had to offer. MUNs were unchartered territory until my school decided to host one. La Martiniere College Model United Nations was the first of its kind and every school worth its salt sent a team to engage in three days of riveting debate. After rigorous screening, I was selected as the Delegate of Iraq in ECOSOC.

The chaos in committee was getting uncontrollable. People were arguing about issues remotely related to our topic. Each was out to protect their egos in a futile battle. I was running from one team to another getting them to consider and negotiate a consolidated resolution. Unfortunately a rookie representing a relatively insignificant country is hardly in a position to advise seasoned delegates. On the far side of the room I saw the executive board’s table. Seizing the moment, I climbed up on it, took the microphone and said “Okay listen up, we have exactly one hour to draft a, but unfortunately you all are too busy squabbling about irrelevant rubbish. And it’s morons like you in important places who make sure the world goes to the dogs. This is my MUN and this simulation will only fail over my corpse. It’s time you listen to the rookie.”

My first MUN taught me plenty. Working as a member of the organising committee I learned of the rewards of hard work, the joys of teamwork, the value of patience and most importantly the ability to stand out. 20 odd MUNs later and a few awards, I’d say I did well for myself. I look at a college education as a table which will allow me to stand above the rest. It will put me in a position to voice my opinion where everyone can hear me, yet it will give me humility that it is thanks to some of the brightest minds in the world that I am where I am. And I’m certain, a strong education by my side, I have a lot to say on top of that table.

Also, in case you’re curious, we did get a resolution drafted. And then we passed it, unanimously.