Friday, May 2, 2014

SMART Goes to College 2014 Student Speech: Angela Xie

Hello, my name is Angela Xie, and I am extremely honored to speak on behalf of SMART and The San Francisco Friends School, two communities that have been such an integral part of my life.

I began my journey at Jean Parker Elementary School, a community filled with students who, like me, are Chinese American. The teachers were great, I excelled in school, and both my parents and I had lots of friends who were able to communicate in our native language. Imagine my surprise when my parents suddenly decided I will be transferring to San Francisco Friends School! At such a young age, I did not understand why my parents would pull me from a school where all my friends were and enter me into a brand new environment where I didn't know anyone. I was angry and I was sad.

Reluctantly, I walked through these doors my first day determined to prove to my parents they made a terrible mistake. I was pleasantly surprised when the teacher walked up and handed me a laptop, explaining that we could use them for class. There were Smart boards, new textbooks and an incredible library. Most significantly, I was no longer expected to memorize facts only to forget them a short while later. I learned formulas because I learned why they work. Creativity, technology, even student participation were all expected aspects of the Friends school curriculum. While my success in a public school relied on being good at taking notes and memorizing, at Friends I became more engaged and wanted to work even harder.

I learned to love learning.

In the midst of all these opportunities, I faced some hardships and challenges vastly different from what I expected on my first day at Friends. I translated often for my parents who were unable to communicate to my teachers. I quickly noticed how my peers around me were more affluent and unlike Jean Parker, at that time, I was the only Chinese speaking student. These differences I noticed could have easily put a damper on this new exciting opportunity, but it didn't - because of SMART.

At SMART I quickly made new friends who also felt that their transition into private school was difficult. I received a tutor, who to this day is one of my closest friends. Most importantly, SMART helped me see that Friends school is actually a community that embraces and celebrates differences. I learned that being different is a gift and SMART has helped me find my pride in being Asian and tri-lingual.

Through the incredible education I received at Friends and the support my family and I received at SMART, I am proud and extremely excited to enroll in my first choice high school - The Bay School of San Francisco. While I am sad to say goodbye to Friends this year, I feel I can continue to get what I love most about Friends at Bay, which are strong academics combined with a close community of students and teachers. I attribute my success to Friends, who set the framework, and SMART will still be here with me as I begin my high school journey.

I’ve already made a decision on what college I want to go to. In four years, I hope to see myself at Stanford University because they have a strong science program. I have a dream to give back and help others by advancing medicine.

Thank you Friends and thank you SMART for shaping and influencing who I am today, and for all of your time tonight in supporting these incredible communities.

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