U Michigan Supplement!

Share experiences through which you have gained respect for cultural, social differences. Comment on how your experience would contribute to the diversity of UMich.(250 words)

As I tuned into a news channel on television, all I saw was Barack Obama. Every channel spoke about him, his wife and even his figure. But a channel that caught my particular attention was the one showing Obama’s history. It was showing his Kenyan Family celebrating his Presidential win. The moment I saw those images of Kenya I was lost. Lost in the lanes of my memories. Lost in the depths of my past. Lost in remembering  those 15 days of magic.

I was working on this site where we were building the school in Ilbisill, when I took a break to cool myself off the high temperatures. Sitting on a window ledge, I was sipping my energy drink when I was joined by Jacob. I had got to know him quite a bit by then, so I asked him,” Tell me Jacob, How is life in Kenya?” and he replied with a smile” I will tell you my life, and it will be similar to life of all Kenyans”. He said, “I was a boy of four when I first realized I lived in an orphanage. I had grown up with people similar to me, so never actually realized that I was different from the rest. I spent my childhood years working in a nearby mine. It gave me some pocket money and allowed my friends and me to keep ourselves full.” I couldn’t help asking, “But don’t orphanages give u food?” He smiled,” In Kenya orphanages are not like in your white world. Here nothing is for free, to kids or to adults. So at age 12 I ran away from the orphanage. Not because I did not like it, but because I did not want to be caged. I wanted to see the world outside. So, I ran to the nearby village without thinking where I would sleep or what I would eat. It was once that I reached the village I actually learnt how I was different. I saw families, children with their mothers and fathers. I saw babies, sisters and grandmothers. I saw love, I saw affection and feeling. Things I had never been given. Things I had never felt.  I did not feel sad, but I felt lonely. Very lonely. The chief of that village gratefully let me stay, at a price of course. I was to give him most of my earnings from my mine. The little that was left, I managed to get a meal a day. Years passed and all that changed was my height. It was some day; I don’t remember the date, that this man met me in the mine. He was rich I could see. He came in a car, and was wearing a gold bracelet. He took me away with him to Ilbisill, the village where we now stand. Till today, I work at his home, cleaning his house and his shoes.

A gleeful shout brought me back to the present. I could see singing and dancing going on in Obama’s home town. I flipped the channel and saw a man test driving the Rolls Royce. I had only seen the car once in a place I will never forget.

It was the fourth of June festival. Perhaps the biggest festival of the year at Eton College U.K.  It was that day that I realized how fortunate I was to be an exchange student to Eton. As a student, I was to wear a three piece suit with a red rose put inside my top pocket. I felt like a King that day. I saw big cars and big people with big bodyguards. In Eton, everybody is a somebody, known for their wealth or their legacy. Eton was different, it had its own uniqueness.. One day I asked a friend I had managed to make in Eton, ““  Tom, it has been a couple of weeks here, but I yet have to see a single etonian  teasing, playing or missing a class. This school seems to have everything yet it misses that something.  I feel more a novice in a finishing college than a student in a high school. Where is the fun?? Tom raised an eyebrow and smirked,” Look dev, Eton is not only a school; it’s a lifestyle, a society. Over here sophistication and panache rule the school and fun for us is a game of golf or a stint at the casino.  Maybe at times even a Champagne party” I didn’t say a thing as I thought nothing wrong of it, just that it was different for me. My school is not half an Eton in size or in name but it has closeness, a homely feeling Eton was devoid of. My classmates at Eton missed that spark to learn, that naughty innocence of a child and that motivation to excel, to succeed that every child is usually brimming with.


I consider myself fortunate to have experienced both Eton as well as Kenya.  They changed me in little ways and taught me life’s lessons that would have taken years to learn. I learnt a lot about tolerance and acceptance. Moreover ,I got a chance to know people from across the world.  University of Michigan is an already diverse university brimming with different colors. I only hope to add my color and make the university even more diverse than it already is. My experiences in Kenya and Eton will only help me feel homely in an environment of different cultures and traditions. They will allow me to make UMich my home away from home.