Explaining in essays?

<p>Is it detrimental to the overall quality of an essay to provide some background on other people involved in it?</p>

<p>For instance, I'm writing the common "cultural difference" essay, about how a foreign exchange student's "personal (stemmed from her culture) motto" so to speak, changed my view of things. I feel like if I don't say something about her roots, none of it will make any sense.</p>

<p>I added a small paragraph pretty much saying "she's from x country, she grew up with x culture, and that's why she is the way she is" (only in a few more words, more scholarly sounding, and not as listy).</p>

<p>Yeah I know the essay is about ME and what I LEARNED from the experience, which I will talk about. But how can I show how she changed me, without saying who she is as a person?</p>

<p>Small paragraph sounds reasonable to me.</p>

<p>You should definitely provide a brief background where it's necessary for understanding. Otherwise, they won't understand it, and that's worse than providing brief background (which isn't bad where it's relevant and helps with understanding, like it is in this case).</p>