Youth Forward scholarship summer 2016 – It Takes a Village

Name: Cathy Wang
From: Newtown Square, Pennsylvania
Grade: 11
School: Episcopal Academy
Votes: 0

QUESTIONS
TO BE ANSWERED IN YOUR ESSAY / APPLICATION:

  • What is the area in which you have chosen to volunteer (e.g.,
    homelessness, anti-drunk driving, youth art programs, etc.).? Why
    did you choose it?

  • How many hours per year / week / month have you volunteered?

  • What are / were your responsibilities as a volunteer?

  • What has been your biggest challenge as a volunteer?

  • What has giving you the most satisfaction as a volunteer?

  • What have you learned from your volunteer position?

How are your interests and career goals in alignment with that volunteer
focus, or perhaps not?

  • Looking towards the future, how do you see your activities as “forward
    looking?” What does “forward looking” mean to you?

  • What change do you seek to foster in the world via your volunteer
    activities?

If you were to come back in ten, twenty, or even thirty, years do you
think your volunteer activities would have “made a difference?”
How so?

2. September 1st:
application deadline; winner chosen 9/30.

Word Cap: 500

In elementary school, I always brought lunches from home, usually
leftovers from last night’s dinner. Those lunches were my
definition of normal.

I wasn’t aware of how different my sense of normal was until school
lunchtime. I opened my lunchbox to reveal Lion’s Heads, small
meatballs resembling lions’ manes, when a grubby hand shot out and
grabbed one. “What is that? I bet that’s dog meat!” The thief
weaved in and out amongst the tables, showing his capture to others
craning their necks to gawk at the meatball or me.

“How do you even prepare dog’s meat? Must be a Chinese thing.”

“It’s lion’s meat!” I erupted, shoving my chopsticks into my bag. The
meatball clearly wasn’t lion’s meat, but it was returned and soon
lost appeal to the other students.

While a grubby hand can easily snatch a mere meatball, it cannot steal away
my gratitude for my identity as an Asian. My identity has brought me
to a tightly knit community that shares my heritage and “weird”
foods and provides me with opportunities to celebrate my heritage and
learn more about my people’s history and traditions. Because we
share the same culture, we are able to provide each other with a
distinctly personal support and understanding. I truly believe that
my community is the main reason that I now feel secure in who I am.

I’ve volunteered as a Chinese teacher’s assistant for 306 total hours
over 3 years to help fellow Asian children grow up feeling as
supported as possible through hands-on help for young students. One
of the biggest challenges is trying to help students maintain
enthusiasm for learning such a complex and ancient language, despite
the hardships that come with it. Oftentimes, students want to quit
out of frustration, but that wave of triumph when they finally master
a set of vocabulary words or ace a chapter test makes the tears and
tantrums wash away. Another frustration is watching these students
walk away from Chinese school at the end of the day, knowing that
there will be some returning next week having been freshly bullied
for the stereotypes that come with being Asian. These students only
have 2 hours per week to spend in the safe haven of Chinese school,
but ensuring they understand they have a loving community to return
to is some relief.

My activities provide for and protect the next Asian American
generation. By recognizing a supportive network from a young age,
these children grow up nurturing a strong sense of self worth and
while it may be too much to ask for no child to have to suffer for
his/her race, religious beliefs, or gender, those children should
have people they can turn to for unconditional acceptance. If I were
to come back in a few years, I hope to see my students turning around
and doing the same for the little ones who will come after them and
thus, I can continue my community’s code of mutual protection and
encouragement.


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