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Volunteering Experience (Duke Essay) - With A Free Essay Review

Explain In Detail Your Volunteering Experience And Describe How It Made You Realize The Changes You Need To Make To Succeed As College Student.

I visited Bangladesh for the first time since I immigrated to USA, and this visit rewarded me with a truly memorable experience. I got the opportunity to intern at Rishilpi, an NGO in a rural village in Satkhira that focuses on the needs of disabled children and general welfare of the rural community. I spent my days working in various departments of Rishilpi; assisting the physiotherapists in their consultations with the children, volunteering at the office of the doctor, organizing community and institute based awareness sessions about early signs and proper care of disabilities, travelling with the nurses to attend traditional birth attendant trainings, visiting the homes of many disabled children with the teachers to follow up treatment and most importantly – spending time with the children, whether by tutoring some to catch up with their classmates in the mainstream schools or just by fixing the DVD player so that everyone could watch Spiderman. It was an incredible opportunity to learn about the current treatments available for the physically disabled, as well as to be a part of the activities to address this issue as a society.

The days were exhausting as I ran around frantically throughout the working hours. There were cardboards to be cut for APT chairs, stretching exercises to be done with the children, banners to be made for the seminars held throughout Satkhira, and countless other activities. There were new discoveries too. Once I went to a community based awareness session, and started speaking about the necessity of rest and absence of strenuous work for pregnant women. It was quite common in rural culture to let the pregnant woman do all the work of the house, since wives of the family always did all the chores. At that point, all the women insisted that they already knew it, time has changed and families, especially mothers-in-law do not make their wives work during their pregnancy anymore. Interestingly, many started their own speeches about the nutritional needs of a pregnant mother. One person even got extremely offended that we were lecturing at all about this subject, because it pointed an accusatory finger on that woman and that community specifically. I turned to a nurse who accompanied me in this seminar and told her it was impressive that rural communities know so much these days – things have really improved over time. She shrugged, and remarked that yes, they know many things, but they hardly put them into actions. They did not even wash hands before meals; not because they did not know better, but just that they are too habituated to old ways. She mentioned that Satkhira still had an extremely high mortality rate of women and children during labor, despite government and private efforts.

Even with its limited capacity, Rishilpi provided innovative and resourceful solutions in its field. Their activities are focused on solving a problem from its root to its end. For example, when they started the physiotherapy center, a lot of the children came with disabilities due to complications during delivery. Most deliveries in villages are done at home, with mid-wives, and many such mid-wives were not trained and were uneducated. This is why Rishilpi started a training workshop to train these traditional birth attendants. They also provided transportation for many children who could not afford the expense of public transportation to get to their physiotherapy sessions. Several specialized schools were established to educate children with learning disabilities, visual and hearing impairments because Satkhira did not have any such schools. Rishilpi also started a sponsorship program for the children to cover their costs and for those families who could not support their children, they initiated Income Generating Activities program to help those families to be come self-dependent. There was a great deal to learn about problem-solving skills and effective innovation from their activities.

I realized that my experience taught me much more than designing chairs or therapeutic exercises; they taught me to be a different person altogether. Every day, I worked with these children who came from extremely poor families, travelling miles in the hope that hours of exercise will help them overcome the challenges from polio or cerebral palsy. Their progress maybe slow, and the harsh reality of their future might be disheartening, especially in an underdeveloped country, but their enthusiasm and hope overcame all odds and their determination gave them the power to persevere. Despite the cries and protests of the children, their mothers patiently helped them to walk with Velcro straps and rollators, and exercise them for hours everyday. They faced the problem of a child’s disability together as an entire family, and were united in the face of adversity. I realized that I needed these factors; the passion, conviction and dedication to return to Duke after missing one year due to illness.

I have also learned the crucial factor to succeed in college – balance. My 9 hours a day, 6 days a week internship not only taught me time management which is central to balance, but also the exposure it gave me to a real field really changed my view about balancing my priorities. I realized that everyday life in a real career does not function on one sole aspect such as high GPA. Personal character and insight often overrules theoretical knowledge, and true success comes from balancing all the different aspects. Throughout high school, I was obsessed with grades and my resume, and neglected my health, but I now I know I need to balance all of these to be successful in college. This internship not only taught me a lot about public health in Bangladesh, but also strengthened my passion for global health. Although I am still open to explore various subjects and fields until I choose my major, I think it is also beneficial to have a specific interest to make the most of what a large research university like Duke has to offer.

This rewarding experience and the lessons that I have learned in the meantime made me truly believe I am completely ready to return to Duke. I am in excellent condition, both physically and mentally, and much more focused and determined to make the most out of my college experience. Even in Bangladesh, I have continued my treatment for hypothyroidism and PCOS by visiting a doctor 4-5 times. I do not feel any side effects of the medicine.

After spending a few months abroad in the country where I grew up, I was reminded of all the reasons for which I left my home, my family and my friends to immigrate to the USA. I came for the sole purpose of better education. When I was finally accepted to Duke after two years of hard work, it seemed to me that all the sacrifices I made were worthwhile. I confess that delaying my entry to college was disappointing, but I am also grateful for all the lessons I have learned and the differences they made to me. This empowered me to return to school with a new purpose. I consider myself extremely fortunate to have been accepted to Duke University and I intend to take advantage of all the opportunities that Duke offers to learn and grow, take that knowledge and experience to truly engage in a real world issue. I now know that I do not want to work only to serve my needs, but I want a career that will serve for the welfare of others.



The essay as a whole is pretty good but you do a better job of explaining in detail your volunteering experience than you do of describing how it made you realize the changes you need to make to succeed as a college student.

The prompt is an odd one, in that it seems to presuppose that you do need to make changes in order to succeed as a college student. I don't want to speculate on the reason for that, beyond saying that if it is the case that there was ever any question of your succeeding as a college student, then you might want to devote more effort to elucidating whatever pertains specifically to "making changes."

Right now, you talk about having learned about balance, and you clarify that that will result in your thinking not only about grades but also about taking care of your health. That may not be enough, and other parts of your paper dealing with what you have learned from your volunteering experience tend to be vague.

I get the sense, for instance, whenever I read something like "There was a great deal to learn about problem-solving skills and effective innovation," that the author really means something like "I was in a situation we people had to solve problems and be innovative, and I hope I will be successful as a consequence in other situations where I need to solve problems and be innovative." The first sentence, in any case, doesn't really identify anything specific that you learned (understandably, since it is not easy to name the specific skills that would help one solve problems or be innovative).

In another sentence, where you appear to answer directly the second part of the prompt, you say "I realized that I needed these factors; the passion, conviction and dedication to return to Duke after missing one year due to illness." That stuff is not so much vague as it is generic, which means its the kind of thing that you probably should have realized before your volunteering experience. If you want to respond with that sentence even more directly to the prompt, then the thing to say (if it were true), would be something like, "I've become more passionate, and so on," and, perhaps, "and realized that I lacked that passion before."

And you could also do a slightly better job of tying your burgeoning passion and conviction to the experience. You tell us what happened. You tell us what you learned. But you don't really explain how what happened actually taught you what learned. You begin the paragraph from which I've just cited with the (also vague) claim that "they taught me to be a different person altogether," (where "they" refers to "experience[s]"?), so I presume the stuff about passion and conviction and determination, as the conclusion to that paragraph, is supposed to clarify the difference. The problem is that the rest of the paragraph doesn't really lead up to that conclusion. It's about "enthusiasm and hope" and "the power to persevere."

Your bit about "balance" comes in the next paragraph, and it is generally a successful paragraph, although it would be more successful if you clarified what balancing "all the different aspects" really means. So far I know that it means worrying about your grades and taking care of your health, but what does that entail? How were you neglecting your health before? What will you do differently now?

I call that paragraph successful, but note that you do awkwardly switch topics towards the end: "This internship not only taught me a lot about public health etc." That's a separate issue, and should be dealt with in a separate paragraph. Doing that will allow you expand on the issue, and perhaps make explicit (if you think this is necessary, which I say because it is difficult for me to know without understanding the real purpose of the essay, or the reason for the weird prompt) how your growing interest in "global health" constitutes the kind of change in your outlook that you expect to contribute to your success at Duke. I don't see why you couldn't also explain just a little your interest in global health by identifying what for you are the important issues in that field.

I'm going to stop there. If you think I've been quibbling over minor details, take that as confirmation of what I said at the outset. It's a good essay.

Best, EJ.
Submitted by: ssh29

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