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Firecracker Moments: College Admission Essay Sample

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Quiet as thieves, Diego and I slipped unnoticed from the boisterous dining room full of clinking glasses and roaring parents into the warm Guatemalan night. It was the middle of the dry season but the air was heavy with the smell of sulfur. Snippets of conversation and laughter escaped over the high walls and barbed wire that surrounded the houses of our neighbors. Pushing our way through a stand of banana trees, we arrived at the edge of the canyon. Fireworks streaked the night sky in every direction, illuminating the villages below. With each passing minute, their intensity increased, reminding us that midnight was almost upon us.

As we raced back to Diego’s house, partygoers from the whole neighborhood came pouring out of their houses. Our families joined them in lining the streets with boxes of Roman candles and rockets, and outrageously long strands of Chinese firecrackers. Neighbors emerged from behind their walls and joined us in celebration, all of us merging into one great street party.

The countdown to midnight began. Five. Four. Tres! Dos! Uno! The night erupted in color with thousands of explosions. A deafening roar drowned out our shouts of Feliz Navidad. Shreds of firecracker paper rained down on us as we stumbled, teary-eyed through the acrid smoke to embrace each other. My lungs cried out but I tilted back my head in laughter and wrapped my arms around a stranger, who for that moment became someone I’d known my whole life. I shook my head, dumbfounded by the spectacle.

Growing up in a Foreign Service family, I was fortunate to have many other “firecracker moments” like that Christmas Eve in Guatemala. Among my earliest memories is the sound of monkeys running across the tin roof of our house in Barbados. I “survived” a red ant invasion in Mexico, a blizzard in the Austrian Alps, and a volcanic eruption in Guatemala that covered our house and yard with several inches of debris and ash. I remember the excitement my brother and I felt searching for caiman crocodiles at night by flashlight on the Madre de Dios River in Peru and overlooking the endless jungle canopy from a Kapok tree high above the Amazon basin.

Moving from place to place wasn’t always easy. On the other hand, my family’s nomadic lifestyle has shaped my appreciation for exotic food, my love of languages, and the comfort I feel being in the presence of a diverse group of people. My third-culture-kid experience is what led me to seek employment at the Hyatt hotel when I moved back to the United States for my two final years of high school. My job as a front desk receptionist allows me to meet people from all over the globe and use my Spanish. Working there even gives me the opportunity to throw in some of the Portuguese and French that I’ve been teaching myself online.I think being the new kid in class so often has also heightened my sympathy for outsiders. One of the things I’m most proud of is the club I started at my high school called Providing Aid to Immigrants and Refugees. Through PAIR, my fellow club members and I are trying in our own small way to help newcomers make the transition to a new life in our country.

Although it’s great to be back in the United States – the land of my birth – the people and places of my past bind me to the larger world. I hope that no matter where I go in the future or what I ultimately choose to do in life, I can continue to help others feel the same warmth and acceptance I felt that Christmas Eve in the arms of a Guatemalan stranger as a thousand colors streaked across the night sky.

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Firecracker Moments: College Admission Essay Sample. (2018, May 11). GradesFixer. Retrieved June 7, 2023, from
“Firecracker Moments: College Admission Essay Sample.” GradesFixer, 11 May 2018,
Firecracker Moments: College Admission Essay Sample. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 7 Jun. 2023].
Firecracker Moments: College Admission Essay Sample [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2018 May 11 [cited 2023 Jun 7]. Available from:
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