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As a result of my father’s business, my family moved to France in May of 1995. From France, we moved to Singapore, back to France, to Spain in 2001, and finally to our current location on a farm in rural Upstate New York in late 2002. Over the course of my seventeen years, I have lived in eight municipalities and have attended six schools. Because it was the first of my foreign peregrinations, I credit the initial move to France as the crucial turning point in determining the kind of person I have become. Living and traveling throughout different parts of the world has been an experience and opportunity with which the majority of American high school students have not been graced, and has provided me with knowledge one can only attain through empiricism.
The pilgrimage to France created a domino-like effect. I made new friends, and then learned a new language. My parents did not tolerate or subscribe to any television, so I learned to spend my time in ways that were much more educational. The subsequent moves and trips simply added new dominoes to the chain. I made a whole new set of friends five more times, and learned what it was like to live in the suburbs of a major European city, in small towns, in the country, in the tropics, in the snow, and on an island. In Singapore, especially, I went to school and became friends with children from all over the world. My three closest friends were an American, an Israeli, and a Venezuelan. I have learned what it is like to go to a small French private school, a small public school, and a large international private school. I have learned how different the culture of India is from that of Italy, and Italy’s from America’s.
Having grown up in France, Spain, and Singapore, and having traveled to nations such as India, Italy, Japan, Denmark and several more, I have learned to appreciate other cultures, and to incorporate others’ opinions and views into my own. In essence, I have learned to open my mind. When I first moved to my present home in Salem, New York, I did not realize how important my expatriate experiences had been to shaping my being. Now that I am older, however, I have noticed that many of my peers have a somewhat parochial view of the world. This is not because they are uneducated or less intelligent than I, but because I have been gifted with the opportunity to experience other parts of the world.
These immersions in other cultures have provided me with an education unparalleled by that which any one school or one region could offer. A picture may be worth a thousand words, but an experience is worth a million pictures. I can never repay my parents for the worldview they have provided for me. My international experiences and family history have set me on my path. My maternal grandfather, Fred Wacker, was Assistant Secretary of Defense, Comptroller of the Pentagon, and Vice President and Treasurer of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. My paternal grandfather, Louis Padgett, was a steelworker, and my father worked his way up from humble origins to become a successful lawyer, business executive and entrepreneur. Like my father, I am not motivated by money. There is nothing wrong with wealth, but I do not intend to waste the time of my life simply accumulating money. Rather, I know three things: I wish to achieve great success in the field I choose; I plan to contribute to society; and I will strive to have an interesting life.
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