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Under the shadow of a magnificent mango tree at the heart of communist Cuba was the place where I learned to appreciate the beauty of the art of chess. When I was five years old, my father taught me the theory of chess, how the pieces moved and the strategies needed to defeat your opponent. I was perplexed by this intriguingly complex game. However, it was not until I grew older that I discovered that aside from teaching me chess, my father showed me something even more significant- the blueprints of the inner workings of life and the structure of our society.
Growing up in a socialist nation was nothing out of the ordinary, or so I thought. I did not know the real face of communism until that fateful exchange with my father under that shielding tree. As I learned the precise movements of the pieces and rules of the game, I thought- it’s wrong! It’s wrong, dad! The pieces are not equal! My father very calmly and with an expression which showed understanding began to remove the blind that kept me in the darkness.
He commenced. Cuba has embarked on many revolutions. The primary cause being the unrealistic desire for a utopian society in which all people are equal in every aspect of life. Although no single group has ever been able to accomplish such a dare, many mad idealists have tried to defeat Fate. Hence the formation of a society allocated to three fundamental parts, the high, the medium, and the low but who are forced to believe are equal. Cuba has remained immobile from this position for 57 years, with the high comprised of only two handfuls of people, the medium of corrupt followers, and the low of most of the population while vigilant eyes watch their movements, and claims of equality hang on every corner.
Chess follows this same pattern and is governed by the same rules. Cuba has been playing this tentative match since its beginnings and has always adhered this restriction. The ingrained belief of equality for all has brought equality to none. The central entity of the country is always the winner, and it made sure to include that in the rules of their game. But luckily at the end of every game, the pieces always go back in the box, and a new match holds the possibility for a different outcome.
At that particular moment in time, I couldn’t imagine a world in which people were free to do as they pleased and could elect their leader or be part of the high without being a government official. I didn’t think I would ever get to see such a thing. Until my dad lost everything, the state took his hard earned money and his land. Thus, having nothing left we turned to the American embassy and appealed as refugees. On October 18, 2012, we flew to America and began our journey as free peoples. It was challenging at first because I did not speak the language, I was not familiar with the culture nor the traditions, and I knew nothing of democracy. However, that did not stop me; I was determined to be part of a fair nation.
It’s been five years and one month since I left my homeland. Today I am a better version of myself; today I am part of the culture, I speak the language, I celebrate the same traditions, today I am part of a fair nation. And that is why I want to be part of North Carolina State University. I want to be part of a community in which the values for which I traveled 1,587 km are celebrated and upheld. I want to be part of a community who stands for Integrity—in the pursuit, creation, application, and dissemination of knowledge; Freedom—of thought and expression; Respect—for cultural and intellectual diversity.
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