College Essay – Two Cans of Beer

Prompt:  The lessons we take from obstacles we encounter can be fundamental to later success. Recount a time when you faced a challenge, setback, or failure. How did it affect you, and what did you learn from the experience?

Two Cans of Beer

It was the last weekend of my summer break. On a Saturday evening, sitting in my mother’s shop at the front of our house,  my family discussed about education. We rarely spend time together. As the discussion came to an end, my sister cracked a joke about me and we all burst out laughing. I felt content and was enjoying the moment.


Abruptly, a man approached, with two cans of beer, and asked my dad if he wanted to drink with him. Immediately, the feeling of cheerfulness shifted to stress when he grabbed the beer. I glanced at my mom, her smile dropped as she knew what was coming.


As more people joined this impromptu party, my dad ordered me to buy more beers and my mom to cook dinner. He drank for hours then became increasingly loud and rambunctious. I sat quietly and observed my father turned from being responsible to irresponsible, sweet to aggressive, and respectful to disgraceful.


I knew I had to do something; however, I felt like if I did so I would be disrespectful. In Cambodian culture, the young have limited voice within the family. To me that is unacceptable! Kids should respect the experiences of elders while being able to share their ideas. My mind raced as my heart beats rapidly, worrying about what should I do. After the party, I gathered the courage to confront my dad and told him how I felt.


This moment of confrontation and change has shaped me in every facet of my life. As a future change maker of my country, I have placed myself in many uncomfortable and challenging situations for personal growth as well as the betterment of my country. With this vision, I performed in the school full-length play called The Network to raise awareness of the harmfulness of social media. I developed an educational add ons for a school to enhance student comprehension, collaboration, and creativity through experiential activities. I argued with my neighbors about gender equity and the equity of the world. I thoroughly educated different communities about the topic of malnutrition and sanitation after I went into the project not knowing much about it.


I knew that breaking the silence and making positive change for the world isn’t easy. Being a change agent requires time, commitment, and resilience, but I feel the duty to both start and carry out positive changes to myself, my community, and my country.

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