Student of the Week, Nov. 28, 2016
Favorite book and its author: “Autobiography of Red” by Anne Carson
Favorite TV show: “Friday Night Lights”
Favorite band or musician: Joanna Newsom
After-school activities: Prose editor of online literary magazine, president of Help Light the Night (a local service organization that sends solar lamps to developing countries), Palisade High School orchestra member, senior leader in Palisade’s environmental club, and co-president of National Honors Society.
Parents: Bo Yu & Hua Zhao
Personal hero and why: Amandla Stenberg. She played Rue in “The Hunger Games” and now spends time speaking out on racial and LGBT issues using her social media platform. As a fellow person of color, I admire Amandla’s resolve to practice self-love in a culture that often makes it hard to do so, and in the future I hope that I can be half as confident and inspiring and eloquent as she is when it comes to defending the rights of minorities and other underrepresented groups.
Preferred career: Writer, filmmaker, or professor
Highlight of your high school experience: During my sophomore year, I won top honors in a national creative writing contest and got to go to an awards ceremony at Carnegie Hall in New York City. I even had the opportunity to stand on the stage for a few minutes, and waving to my parents from beneath the spotlight was the most incredible feeling.
Q: If you could create your own high school course, what would it be called and what would it teach?
A: My class would be called “What’s Poppin’: Pop Culture as a Reflection of Our Life and Times.” I think we often think of moments in pop culture as unworthy of critical study, but investigating films/books/memes that seem like fleeting cultural phenomena can be a good way to examine current national and international sentiments. I also think this class would be a good introduction to the arts in general; in high school, we often study artistic works that originate from white, Western perspectives, which can sometimes be off-putting for students who are growing up in a world that is becoming more and more diverse. A pop culture class could help rectify the inaccessibility of the arts world and encourage students to implement art/culture more readily into their lives.
Q: Describe a time you turned what could have been a negative situation into a positive one, or at least got something positive out of it.
A: During my junior year I tried to start a literary magazine at Palisade, but we were only able to get five submissions for our first issue. Although I ended up shelving the literary magazine idea, the whole process — talking to administration, researching publication ideas, advertising the mag and getting together a group of editors — was a valuable leadership experience for me, and affirmed for me that I was capable of organizing a big project. I still have hope that some kind of creative writing club will be started at Palisade someday.
Q: Name three things you would like to accomplish by age 30.
A: Write a fantasy novel, become fluent in Chinese and volunteer for Teach for America (or another service corp.)
Q: If you could spend one year abroad, where would you go and why?
A: I would love to visit Turkey. My dad goes there a lot on business trips, and he says the food and the people and the culture are A++. It would also be a good opportunity to learn more about the Middle East, which over the years has become the nexus of so much economic and political activity.
Q: What would you tell a freshman who wants to make the most of his or her high school years?
A: Talk to your teachers. I think sometimes students (including me) get the impression that our teachers are out to get us, but I’ve learned over the years that 99.9 percent of them are in school to make sure that you learn and succeed in life. If you are struggling with an assignment or have a problem with the way a class is run, don’t be afraid to address it to your teachers in a respectful manner. Having a good relationship with the adults in your life is a big part of getting the best experience from your time in school.