Half a score and seven years ago, on February 11, 2000, I was born in Taipei, Taiwan. No I’m not Asian, at least, not ethnically. My family lived in Taiwan for nine years; I was born there, but we moved back to the US in 2001—when I was a year-and-a-half old—to Burlington, NC, which is where I grew up. When I was 10, I moved to Wake Forest so my dad could attend Southeastern Seminary. This was a big move of course; I had to leave everything I had known behind, and I was really upset about it at first. But I made friends, got used to Wake Forest, and loved it. After a while, I didn’t even like going back to Burlington because it was so boring compared to Wake Forest and Raleigh, and all my previous friends just kinda stopped talking to me. It made me sad. It taught me a lot about life; like how sometimes change is a really good thing and it opens you up to new opportunities and experiences that you never would have had otherwise. I don’t even want to think about the person I would be if I had stayed in Burlington. Moving so often has helped shape me into who I am and I like the person I’m becoming. As hard as those times were, I’m thankful for them. I was able to grow closer to my siblings through it all and learn that not having a lot is okay.
I can’t talk about me without talking about my passions: they define who I am. I’m passionate about a lot of different things, ranging from important issues like the refugee crisis to insignificant things like tea. I like tea. A lot. I think I own at least thirty different kinds of tea. I tend to enjoy things that have been a long time passed. like ‘40s jazz and record players. Or old-style clothes that I get from thrift stores. I enjoy designing and creating things. Graphic design is kinda my hobby. I handwrite and design prints and then I sell them at craft fairs. My biggest hobby, however, is photography. I love taking photos, displaying beauty and making ordinary things seem extraordinary. That’s my passion. Finding beauty in the little things is what life’s all about. Life is not made up of huge, significant events all the time. It’s finding excitement and appreciation for the little things you come across on a daily basis. That’s what I want to display: making the ordinary beautiful, breaking down barriers between cultures, and educating the ignorant. I love being outside in nature—I find it to be one of life’s most underrated aspects. We pass by beautiful nature scenes—yes, even in the suburbs—every day, and yet we don’t even notice. Adventuring in the great outdoors is my favorite: hiking, kayaking, biking, hammocking, skiing–the works. Another favorite of mine is music… but I mean, who doesn’t feel the same way? I love a wide range of music…all except for country and heavy metal. Jazz, particularly jazz from the 1940’s, is my all-time favorite. But I do enjoy some good ol’ rock, punk rock, alternative, folk, singer/songwriter…I could keep going.
But going back to the big things, I really care about the world. What’s going on in the world; what’s going on in people’s heads. I mentioned the refugee crisis, but I also care a lot about education. I really believe it to be one of the most important aspects of life, and possibly the answer to a lot of the world’s problems. Education leads to empathy;
, it leads to wisdom. Education leads to development and sustainability. Without education, we have nothing. No good professional can avoid education, just as no good inventor can avoid education. Education is the key and foundation to everything, and once people start to realize that, the world can start changing.
I think my interests say a lot about me, but they don’t contribute to my personality. At school, I’m not my full self, and I kinda hate that. I’m usually reserved, am good for discussing class topics but not so much for small talk. At school, I’m tired, and that diminishes my personality. I enjoy being social and being around my friends, but I need breaks, too. I need time by myself to recuperate and calm my anxieties. Being around too many people can be daunting and exhausting, especially if I have to force myself to be social and outgoing. I get easily burned out. It’s not until after I leave the confines and mass population of the school that I feel I can really be myself and be comfortable. I do so much outside of school. I’m a mini-entrepreneur, I’m a mini-photographer, I have lots of close friends that I go to coffee shops or adventure with, I’m very involved with my church, I spend a lot of time with my family. To be honest, I’m an incredibly cool, likeable person. It’s just that my school community doesn’t see half of that person. I’m more myself in environments like Operation Wisdom where I’m a leader, or Newspaper, which I’ve been a part of for four years. But my classes? Nope. And I hate that. I’m a naturally cynical person, and because of this, I try extra hard to be positive. I try to encourage my friends and the people around me as much as possible. I try to help others solve their issues and look at life in a positive way. But when it comes to myself, it’s difficult to apply the same advice. I’m very empathetic. Sometimes too much so. I care so much about other people.
But the thing I deem most important about myself is my faith in God. I’ve grown up in a Christian family but this is a personal choice that I’ve made. It’s the thing that keeps me going, knowing that I was created with a special purpose, that I’m loved by a God who wanted a relationship with me enough to die for it. It’s given me a hope and peace that I can’t find in anything else, and I know that it’s something that lasts.
My family is my most prized possession, although I don’t possess them. They are what makes me me. It’s a unique culture that does not exist anywhere else in the world. It consists of my dad, mom, brother, and sister. Our story started in Alabama, moved to Taiwan, then traveled to North Carolina in several different cities, and now exists in Raleigh. The various transitions we’ve made and places we’ve lived have made my family who it is today. Living in Taiwan for nine years gave my siblings, now 26 and 23, the chance to grow up in a culture completely different from their ethnicity. In moving back to America, they took the culture they grew up in and mixed it with another. This is a third culture—one that is the combination of two completely different cultures. This culture lives inside my house. It’s what I’ve grown up in. I was born in Taiwan, but wasn’t given the chance to grow up there. But being apart of this family, has given me my own experience. While not as concrete and first-hand as my parents or siblings, I’ve “inherited” the memories of our life in Taiwan. I’ve experienced the third culture that has been incubating and hatching in my home, starting 26 years ago. I love it. My family values a lot of things that have oftentimes been replaced in our society: things like eating dinner together around a table and talking. Playing board games. Reading together. My Thanksgiving and Christmas breaks consist of sitting around and just talking about life, what we’re thankful for, telling stories, playing games like Dutch Blitz and Go to the Head of the Class, and watching our favorite movies. Sunday night traditions involve eating homemade quesadillas and playing card games. (This happens actually every Sunday night.) We study the Bible together. We have a lot of inside jokes and often quote movies or stories. My dad brings in the dad jokes. Music is important to us; it’s something we bond over. Everyone in my family plays at least one instrument, and we all appreciate classical music. We have intelligent conversations about education, world issues, politics, literature, and so on. But ever since I was little, I’ve always experienced occasionally, or sometimes frequently, always having our house full with international students or people. With them, we do pretty much the same things we do as a family: play games, talk, eat, and discuss cultures, the differences, but most importantly the similarities. Our Thanksgiving meals don’t usually just involve the traditional staple items, but also different dishes from the cultures of those we invite over to join us.
I’m not involved in much, but the things I am involved with, I’m involved a lot. As you can see, I’m the editor of The Heritage Herald. I’ve been on staff all four years of high school, starting my second semester of freshman year. It’s the place I’ve found a voice, it’s what has made me who I am. I joined on a whim in freshman year. I wanted to replace one of my classes, and looked at all my options for second period, and what do you know! Newspaper was one of them. I applied, and amazingly got accepted. Accepting freshman was not usual for the class, but there I was. I found that I really enjoyed the format. The freedom to write about whatever I wanted (within limits) was something new, but pleasant. I discovered passions this way. I discovered a talent. I discovered I’m gifted at expressing myself in a unique way and educating people on important matters. I discovered that’s what I enjoy writing about best. I discovered that I enjoy talking to people even those who are different from me and those I don’t necessarily agree with all the time. Newspaper is one of the reasons that I’ve enjoyed high school. And I believe I’m a better person because of this class.
The other reason that I’ve enjoyed high school: Operation Wisdom (or Project Wisdom). It’s so cool that our school has a club where students are encouraged and taught how to be global leaders, making a difference in their community in the world. Through my involvement with his club, I’ve discovered more and more of the world and more and more of myself. The experience of being in OW is so unique and incredible, being a leader in it is the thing I’m most proud of. I’ve made some great friends through it as well—people who are genuine, caring, interested in the world and the things that matter in life. It’s been so encouraging to me, teaching me that I can do things that matter, I can make a difference, even it’s a small one. And while it’s not all up to me, I can still work to make the world a more informed, involved place.
The one thing I think is so cool about life is how everything comes together. I’ve been able to see how certain experiences I’ve had and interests I’ve gained have influenced what I want to do with my life. Newspaper and AP Psychology and GLS were some classes that really helped me figure out what I want to do. But also living in a third culture home contributed to my love of the world and other people. And my artistic abilities that have been encouraged by my friends and family have lead me to believe that my goal is possible. My dream of being an ethnographic photojournalist is something within my reach. Finding a way to combine all my passions is something I’m so incredibly proud of, and I can’t wait.