Monday, June 13, 2016

Gilman Scholarship

First off, I would like to thank Gilman Scholarship for choosing me as a recipient.
Below are sample essays that I used for my application, (including my follow-on service proposal).

Statement of Purpose Essay (7000 Character(s))
The Statement of Purpose essay is a very important factor in the selection process. You should carefully review your essay and ask an advisor to proofread your essay for spelling, grammar, and content prior to submission. In the text box provided below, please address the following questions, in no particular order. Be specific in describing your individual reasons for studying abroad keeping in mind that this is a scholarship for academic study abroad. 
  1. Why do you wish to study or intern abroad and what factors led you to this decision? What do you hope to gain from and what do you anticipate will be the impact of your experience abroad? 
  2. Describe your study or intern abroad program. What factors led you to select this program and length of study?  
  3. Why have you chosen your country of study? What factors led you to select this country? 
  4. How will this study or intern abroad program and the coursework you take abroad impact your academic and future professional goals? 
  5. Are there any distinctive components to this program, beyond coursework, that will impact your overall learning experience abroad? (i.e. home-stays, internships, field research, volunteer activities, extra-curricular activities, etc.) 
  6. What challenges, if any, did you face in your decision to study or intern abroad? How did you meet these challenges and what impact do you foresee them having on your experience abroad? These could include, but are not limited to, being a parent, being a non-traditional student, having a learning or physical disability, being in a field of study for which it is difficult to incorporate study abroad, etc.

As a first-generation Chinese-American, there is a lot of pressure for me to succeed and achieve more than my parents were able to. My parents had few opportunities to follow their dreams because they were limited by the fact that they were immigrants without a proper education. My uncle once described the bitter truth about the older generation of Chinese immigrants—our parents and our grandparents immigrated to chase after the American dream, only to find themselves with merely two career options to choose from: either working in a Chinese restaurant or a Chinese Laundromat. Though they were limited by their career opportunities, one goal never changed: devoting their whole life and earnings to support their family and create unlimited possibilities for the future generations while giving up their own possibilities. Knowing that my parents sacrificed a lot in order for me to have a proper education and climb up the social pyramid, I was inspired to explore beyond my immediate environment. I hope to travel as much as I can and learn about more various career paths options before it’s too late. I also hope to obtain more networking experience and become more comfortable interacting with new people because networking on a professional level is important for career development.
The main reason why I am applying for Seoul, South Korea is because I am intrigued from what I have learned so far about Korean culture from watching Korean television shows. I am also a fan of Korean music and cuisine. I really appreciate how Koreans place emphasis on values of selflessness, generosity and family. This is evident through careful meal preparations that often consist of numerous side dishes, and the abundant servings at restaurants. I wanted to choose a country that reminds me of home, and Korea’s value system aligned with my expectations of a host country. I am confident that this welcoming attitude will allow me to adapt to the environment more easily. I mentioned earlier about my desire to explore different career paths—growing up, I have always had a passion for cooking and learning about various cuisines. Though I am currently majoring in accounting, I do envision myself possibly opening a start-up in the food industry. As a long-term goal, one of the important factors is really doing research and coming up with innovative ideas. Seoul is the prime spot for trends, whether it is a fashion items or a simple street snack. I want to take this opportunity to observe various trends of Korea and utilize what I’ve learned to achieve my long-term goal after I return. My inspiration comes from the recent trends in dessert pop-ups in New York City such as Hong Kong style waffles served with ice cream and Thai-inspired ice cream rolls. There is a limited exposure to Korean cuisine in the city, which is one thing I hope to change. I want to raise awareness about other cultures by offering customers a basic necessity—food.
This leads me to challenges I faced as I was applying for study abroad. Aside from the high costs of studying abroad, I was also unsure how to incorporate classes that would relate to my major because my university does not allow me to take core accounting courses at an international university. I plan on studying international economics because I think it would be helpful to understand the global economic view as a business major. Countries miles away from each other are tightly knit together through international trade, the internet, and art. By studying economics in a foreign country, I think it will offer a different perspective than how economics would be taught in the United States. In addition to economics, I plan on taking a psychology course for my minor. Studying this in South Korea will be a unique experience because the news media culture Is very different from New York’s. It will be interesting to explore the psychology behind Korea’s celebrity culture and the drastic reactions of the public to scandals. Aside from social psychology, there is also marketing psychology that will be another fun topic to explore because Koreans invest in different industries that we don’t regards as highly. Some examples are dermatology and cosmetic/reconstructive surgery. I overcame my challenge by viewing the study abroad experience as a cultural learning opportunity rather than as a direct step to further my accounting career choice. As for finances, I plan on borrowing a portion of the tuition and housing fee from my parents and then paying for the traveling and food expenses myself. I think this is the best solution because I can focus on saving up to invest in more activities to fund my cultural curiosity. Though my academic career path in accounting will be temporarily halted, the benefits of a unique cultural experience are far greater than the cons.
Beyond the coursework offered at Yonsei University, the program also offers weekend field trips to various parts of Seoul that will impact my cultural learning experience. Some of these field trips include touring traditional villages in the city, visiting the the de-militarized zone at the border between North and South Korea, and traveling to another province for the annual summer mud festival. These field trips will be a great cultural learning experience because I will not only learn about the political tension between North and South Korea, but I can also explore the adventurous cultural events. These trips will improve my cultural learning experience because I get to actively participate in the cultural activities.
Lastly, I am very excited about exploring Korea further because I admire how South Korea balances their modern lifestyle with the more traditional neighborhoods and breathtaking nature preservation. I have always been fascinated by the stunning landscape and seemingly untouched gardens, waterfalls, and mountain trails found in Asia. Unfortunately, since I was born and raised in New York City, I did not have many chances to escape the busy city streets or experience the tranquility of nature. By studying abroad in Korea, I hope to visit the farm villages on the outskirts of the city or hike up Mount Halla. It will be a new and exciting experience because in the New York, there is a larger focus on constant economic growth and gentrification. As a result, a majority of older buildings are often torn down and there are barely any reminisces of the past American culture or history. In comparison, Korea really takes pride in their history and puts in more effort to preserve their history and landscape. With the growing environmental concerns for businesses in the U.S., I view my study abroad experience as an opportunity bring back the knowledge I’ve learned through Korea’s nature preservation to really help out and contributing to this “green movement” whether it is contributing ideas for community service or inspiring firms and students to make the change happen.

Follow-on Service Project Proposal (7000 Character(s))
Should you be selected to receive a Gilman Scholarship, you will be required to carry out a Follow-on Service Project upon your return to the U.S. which promotes the Gilman Program and international education on your home campus and/or in your community.  All applicants will be required to write a proposal explaining how you will give back by inspiring others to pursue their own experiences abroad. Projects should maximize the impact of your experience abroad by extending the benefits you received to your campus and community. Projects should be clear, able to be completed in approximately one semester, and have obtainable goals. Examples of Follow-on Service Projects can be found 
here. You should carefully review your essay and ask an advisor to proofread your essay for spelling, grammar and content prior to submission. Summarize your Follow-on Service Project Proposal in paragraph format by addressing the following questions. 
  1. Briefly outline your proposed project to promote the Gilman Scholarship and international education. How will this project impact your home university or home community? What are your project goals? 
  2. What is your target population and how will your project impact this group? 
  3. How will you integrate the impact of your experiences abroad into your project? 
  4. What, if any, campus departments, student organizations, and/or community organizations will you collaborate with in promoting the Gilman Scholarship and international education? Have you already made contact with these groups? 
  5. Upon completion of your project you will be required to submit a two-page final report summarizing your experience abroad and the impact of your Follow-on project. 

My target population includes students from low-income families who are interested in studying abroad (specifically in Asia), but are often discouraged by the high costs. The purpose of my virtual guidebook and blogging entries is to inspire students to apply to the non-traditional programs and obtain an unforgettable experience. I often hear alumni from my home campus talk about their regrets, and a common one is not taking the chance to study abroad before starting full-time. I hope that by providing useful information to complete their application process, more applicants will be motivated to apply instead of having one more regret when they reflect upon their college years. The main goal of my Follow-on Service Proposal is to minimize the confusion for applicants and show that though the application process may be tiring, the benefits of studying abroad and the experiences obtained there are worth it in the end.
For my Follow-on Service Proposal, I plan to create a virtual guidebook, for future applicants applying to non-traditional countries. During my application process to Yonsei University, I encountered several obstacles that I had to overcome without any guidance, such as figuring out how to pay fees directly to the international university, or clarifying a specific section of the application. Though my study abroad advisors provided a lot of helpful feedback, there was a limitation to the intent in which they would be able to walk the applicants through every step of their application process. That’s when I realized, I want to provide that additional help for future applicants who require immediate assistance. My goal is to offer answers to questions that are missing from the Frequently Asked Question List on the Study Abroad Office Website.
My projected plan is to implement multiple parts to virtual guidebook—first, I will be documenting my own my application process. This includes both the study abroad application for my home campus and my direct enrollment application to the international university. I will be posting a detailed step by step process that is versatile for multiple study abroad programs, not just my own. I plan on working together with my study abroad advisors to ensure that the information I am posting is correct. After confirming the information for the first application with my study abroad advisors, I will branch off by continuing with the steps I took for my direct enrollment process.
            One of the major disadvantages of applying for non-traditional countries is that it often requires a process that is lengthy and confusing. My project goal is to reduce applicants’ stress by listing the documents they will need to prepare in advance and tips for ensuring that their paperwork is completed in time. One issue I faced was figuring out how to pay the university for my direct enrollment application fee. Thus another part of my guidebook will include information that I used—how to complete foreign wiring transactions and a quick comparison analysis on bank rates of common American banks. For low-income families, the main issue is minimizing costs. I will include tips for how to save money for the trip (such as by applying for scholarships), finding banks that are better for international use, finding cheaper plane flights, etc.
            Aside from the virtual journey from the beginning of the application process to the packing for the actual flight, I also want to share my experience studying abroad by uploading videos that capture various activities I took part in. This will have a bigger impact on motivating students to apply for studying abroad because they get to visualize exactly what living in a foreign country will be like through my own experiences. I hope that this can encourage them to visit non-traditional countries for studying abroad, such as South Korea.
I will be coordinating with my study abroad advisor to figure out ways to distribute a condensed brochure of my project proposal, such as at the study abroad and scholarship fairs held on our campus every semester. These events are great opportunities to promote the Gilman Scholarship and share my own personal experiences. Another way is by sharing my project website directly via organizations such as K-style to reach out to my target audience directly because members of this organization are also interested in Korean culture. I will be reaching out to these students via email. This list of students consists those currently in my classes and members of the clubs I am associated with. 

Process After Receiving Reward:
You have to login to the Gilman website again and fill out more information on how you wish to receive your scholarship (direct deposit/check), and also create an account for STEP (Safe Travel Enrollment Program) and fill out information about your travel/study abroad contact information.

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