College Essay Example Seven from an accepted Northwestern, Washington University in St. Louis and Tufts Student

There is a Wall in Belfast, Ireland that is twenty feet tall. No barbed wire stretches across it because humans cannot climb its slippery surface. On either side there is a constant reminder of death. I stood on the Nationalist side, where one is inescapably aware of the green, orange and white of the Nationalist flag. It can be seen on each house’s banner of cotton, or in the overgrown grass, the approaching sunset, and a lonesome cloud. Death is in the grey sky and in the murals that cover the Wall.

I stood staring at one mural that depicted the faces of Nationalists who died during hunger strikes. I was suddenly a young girl, wearing a cloth dress and ragged shoes, watching brazen unionists take out their anger on a boy in the street, beating him until his eyes were glazed like those on a mural. Nationalists came with guns and shot them dead. There were more unblinking eyes.

I spiraled to other daydreams seamlessly. I was a girl in East Berlin and I was hungry. The sun beat down on my exposed neck as I crossed the Mexican-American border. I drank from a labeled fountain in 1955 Arkansas, while an invisible wall of racism separated me from an identical one.

I woke on the other side of the Wall, the Unionist side, where one cannot escape the red, white and blue of the Union Jack flag. It is plastered in every shop window but inherently present in the raspberries on a bush, the foam of a river, and the ripples of a dark rushing stream. My Irish culture teacher lectured and my friends chatted about the Shepherds’ Pie at the Crown Pub. I couldn’t stop thinking about the tension, the deaths, the Wall, the murals. How had I missed an entire chapter of the world as I flipped through the New York Times or my European History textbook? My purpose for coming to Ireland had been to study Irish theatre, but I had stumbled upon a history knee-deep in political turmoil. While the poetic language of the Irish playwrights mesmerized me, I was equally intrigued by the culture of the people. I was haunted by the seeming competition between the clashing parties to appear more patriotic than the other by hanging flags on every spare surface. The anger of the people, displayed on beautiful murals painted carefully on a twenty foot Wall, was riveting. And oddest of all, was that within the city of death, I had discovered an equal amount of hope.

I continued to dream. I was a teenage girl hiding behind a brick house while men in black masks strode through the empty street. A camera was positioned overhead, capturing the whole scene. “Rolling…. Action,” said the Director. As directed, I slowly turned my head upwards to look upon a painted mural. The Irish word Saorise, meaning freedom, was written elegantly above. Instinctly, I gazed at the rainbow forming overhead and smiled with hope. 


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Picture by Amerique


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