At the Table | Harvard University Undergraduate Application Essay

To the foreigner’s eye it was war, but to any Lozano family member it was a Socratic discussion. As I sat with cousins, aunts, uncles, great aunts and great uncles, answers to the questions of the afterlife, the importance of living, the health of the soul, and the evils and sanctity of worldly pleasures were flinging across the table. Although I mostly remained silent, my mind was busy interrogating the others. The whirl of ideas was speckled with laughter and exclamations, but never anger. Finally, someone’s remark would lead the discussion to an impasse, a moment when we would nod our heads or slap a neighbor’s back until a subtle interjection began a new thread of queries. Only at the table’s edge, with her arms crossed, my Tia Martha, ghostly white and clad in inky black down to her shoes, looked on in reproach. To her, the world could only be dressed in her shades.

Labels are not uncommon in my family: Catholics, Protestants, Jehovah’s Witnesses, atheists, Buddhist-Hindu-mystics, agnostics, and one Sathya Sai Babba devotee. Our coming-of-age initiation has always been a flame-proof test of one’s beliefs. One could pass by not abandoning individuality, but learning to simultaneously leave room to build and change. The…

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