Diversity Statement, African Applicant to Law School

April 13, 2014

My LSAT scores are on the low side, especially for XXXX. (Having English as a fifth language is a significant factor in this.) My diversity strengths are the key factor that I put forth towards my acceptance to Harvard. I am a man from Uganda who was born in a mud hut yet speaks fluent Korean. My life experiences will give me an opportunity to contribute something unique to multicultural and multilingual discussions. One sees very few Africans on the streets of Seoul.

 I anticipate encountering a certain degree of bewilderment initially, followed by curiosity and then appreciation for my efforts and experiences. I expect to be quizzed about Korean language, culture, history and my day-to-day life in Asia. I look forward to sharing some of my most memorable moments in Korea, like the time that several hundred school children became convinced that I was Michael Jordan. On a more serious note, maybe we will discuss what I learned listening to the “comfort women” tell their side of the story. Perhaps an African perspective might be useful on this most sensitive topic in Korean/Japanese relations.

 I became accustomed to standing out in Korea because of the unique color of my skin, especially when I participated in one of most intense rivalries in South Korea’s private university system - the friendship games of Yonsei-KU (between Yonsei University and Korea University). Various festivals are held before and after the friendship games between the two colleges and these festivals are celebrated by all businesses and residents in support of their school. I was the flag bearer for Yonsei University. When the games ended, I was asked by school officials to hold the flag of Korea University for photographs and news reporters. I came to greatly appreciate the Korean people - their hospitable culture, the way that they respect the elderly, and intensely value interpersonal relationships.

 I cherish the principal of diversity as foundational to the cultivation of a just community of nations. And I take pride in asking to participate in our celebration of diversity not just as a man who was born and raised in Africa, but also someone who began his life near the bottom of the African social and economic hierarchy. For the first eighteen years of my life, my home was a very small, square mud hut in a village located about 70 miles from Kampala, the capital city of Uganda. Our very rural community was tight nit and simple but nevertheless suffered from a great deal of insecurity, especially as a result of the widespread political violence in Uganda in the late 1980s and the 1990s, aggravated by the spillover form the Rwandan genocide. Because this is my heritage, I have studied this period of our history intensely and I feel issues of genocide and civil war very deeply, because it is the reality from which I come.

 I was raised by my aunt who was 70 years when I started attending school. I will never forget the enormous stamina that this old woman had, feeding us, clothing us, and always struggling to make sure we are safe on our way to school. I think about her every morning when I wake up and being to plan my day. Her strong work ethic has been an inspiration to me. Her desire to help others to improve their own lives is my vision as well, my inheritance.

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