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For most of my life, I have resided in two worlds – the first with gorgeous virgin jungles as far as the eye could see, petroleum scented air, and no shortage of locally farmed delicacies; the second with pristinely kept roads lined with palm trees, space rocket launches, and genuinely endless mosquitoes. As soon as I became accustomed to one of my homes, forgetting about the latter and beginning to understand my surroundings, learning to appreciate the unique beauty of each, I was exiled to fly back to another reality.
As I grew older, I traveled around the country my ancestors had called home for centuries, visiting the Amazon, attending cultural folklore and dance festivals, and spending afternoons swimming in pristine rivers. When we arrived back to my grandmother’s home, and my curiosity couldn’t be quenched with adventures, my grandmother pulled out one of the many photo albums from an old closet, and recounted stories of our indigenous beginnings generations before, her father’s stories of working in the first oil fields in the 1920s, and the story of the traditions and history we celebrated. I felt incomparable pride in being Venezuelan.
Growing into my teens, I continued to travel back and forth between Venezuela and the United States during school breaks and at-times to complete a partial school year. Each time I went back I began to witness increasingly desperate situations that, as a child, no one wanted or cared to clue me into. I’m sure my parents thought that they were protecting me, but as an insatiably curious child, it only served to frustrate me. I witnessed days-long lines for gasoline, the food shortages began shortly after, and eventually missing groceries and toiletries were an average fact of life in Venezuela. And with the county’s growing hostility, I could no longer travel to back for fear of being robbed, or worse.
In 2013, with the death of sitting President Hugo Chavez, the political and socioeconomic situation worsened considerably, in a way few could have foreseen. A hand-selected successor, Nicolas Maduro, did not have any of the concerns of the international community’s criticism that his predecessor did, and acted accordingly. The great pride that I felt in being Venezuelan was destroyed. And slowly, I was physically isolated from Venezuela, and all the beauty and adventure I grew accustomed to was taken from me.
To replace my time abroad, I channeled my focus into my love of history and politics. As most do, I began with ancient Greece, and I discovered Plato’s “Allegory of the Cave” in Republic, which tells of the allegory of a prisoner freed from a cave to witness, for the first time, his true surroundings. And not the dark shadows that misshaped reality. In attempting to return to the cave of his imprisonment, he finds that he cannot reason his existence in the cave any longer and is freed to begin a new journey. Beginning with this allegory, and further discovering text from George Orwell, Ignazio Silone, and Albert Camus, while delving into many of history’s lessons I found myself becoming a freed prisoner from my cave of childhood ignorance. As a child, I learned so appreciate the duplicity of being from two very different places, and as a teenager, I learned to reconcile my isolation from Venezuela and redefine my own world by educating myself with facts and attempting to make the world around me a better place. From this point on, I actively sought opportunities to learn and develop myself: I volunteered in my community often asking difficult questions to those thrice my age in order to better understand their own worldview. My human geography teacher saw my love of differences, and selected me, along with 9 other students, to partake in an ongoing exchange with one of the first schools for girls built in Kabul, Afghanistan after warring with the Taliban for decades. I learned from these insightful Afghani girls that education was truly a privilege offered to few, but more often denied or hidden from many in efforts to rule an ignorant population.
Naturally, when it came time for applying for college, I enrolled in a program that suited my love of politics, culture, and history, political science seemed to fit the bill. I felt that I needed the tools to learn how to become a global citizen, and I also wanted to begin my journey of attempting to affect tangible change in my community, my county, and the world.
I first became interested in law as a means of finding my place in the international community. I believe the culmination of my meaningful life experience, curiosity, education, and respect for human life fosters the ideal foundation of an attorney in international law and will make me an asset to your college of law. As of now, I am uncertain which sector of International Law that I wish to pursue, but I know that I am heading in the right direction and pursuing a career that I truly love will not steer me wrong.