Personal Statement : Mai Nguyen Tran

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Mai Nguyen Personal Statement I still remember the last time back in 6th grade when I was holding onto a banana that two French tourists handed to me as I stood outside of Nguyen Tri Phuong middle school waiting for my parents to pick me up...I could still remember that sense of mesmerizing curiosity upon seeing people who were different from me…Having grown up in Hanoi, a very homogenous place where tourists scarcely come and where everyone I saw has black eyes, black hair, and similar skin complexion, I was always intrigued to see tourists walking by outside of my middle school, which was located on one of the streets in the center area of the city. I found pleasure in watching the tourists bring cameras all over the places, maneuver around places with very confused faces and intrigued curiosity, and excitedly attempt to say “Xin Chao” (hi) to local Vietnamese residents. I once thought to myself, “Why are these tourists so interested in seeing these seemingly ordinary buildings, trees, and places and found so much joy in walking long distance around the city? Don’t they get bored and tired?” I didn’t know what it meant to be tourist until I left Vietnam to study in the US and 2 years later came back to Vietnam with a “tourist” mindset. Having left one place, especially a place where I grew up and spent 12 years of my early childhood, allowed me to embrace the things that my previous self would consider as “ordinary.” I was beyond ecstatic to once again get to sit on a

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