李春燕 06/06 5775
S的简介：A is a 10th grader whose academic and extracurricular activities are very strong. He is nationally ranked in Lincoln Douglas (LD) debate and has gone to many prestigious debate competitions. One of these is the Sophomore Throwdown, a debate competition where only the top 18 incoming Sophomores for LD debate can enter. A is also an athlete. He is ranked for squash and tennis and continues to play squash at a high level. At his peak, he was ranked 75th in the nation for squash and 4th in the state for tennis. Talk about a high achiever! As most of you might know, debate and sports take up a significant part of one's time. This also shows A's great time management skills as his grades did not suffer one bit. His schedule was so packed, it was hard to even find time to interview him! I hope we can learn a lot from A during this interview.
Question 1: What are the different demands between middle school and high school? (Workload, social life)
The biggest difference between middle school and high school is the change in balance and pressure. Adolescent life is an everlasting struggle for balance between work, extra-curriculars, social life, etc, and high school is especially the time that tests this balance. While middle school is a time of relaxation and little work, and where academic pressures are light, high school is a time where everything counts. Every little test or assignment counts, be it for a semester grade or GPA. Because of the decreasing amount of free time, extra-curriculars are increasingly difficult as well, as one must choose which ones to hold onto and which ones to quit, and this was a struggle I found persistent. At the time when free time is less and less and when popularity and social interactions are more and more important, balancing social life is also extremely hard.
Question 2: What are some of the most important skills to develop in order to be better prepared for high school?
Of course, every incoming and current high schooler hears the same advice — better time management, no procrastination, focus only on schoolwork, etc, and while I agree that this is important, I admittedly never really picked up on that. I still suffer from chronic procrastination, but this hasn’t really hindered my performance. The most important skill is definitely motivation. There is no shortcut to balancing work with extracurriculars and social life, except for motivation. A constant desire for success is the best preparation for high school, because everything you do in high school matters.
Question 3: Given your packed schedule, how do you manage your sports and extracurricular activities with your school work?
Balancing extracurriculars with school work is probably the most delicate and most talked about balance in high school. There are those that focus too much on sports and let their academic performance suffer, and vice versa. For me, I managed the two through a combination of discipline with motivation, as I talked about above. I never thought of myself as a disciplined work robot, but knowing how much work I had to get done was enough motivation for me to finish my work when I had to. I was never one to set rigid schedules for myself, like when I would do what. All that mattered to me was what I still had to get done, and what I could hold off on. In the end, this was efficient for me in terms of getting all my schoolwork done while working hard in my extracurriculars.
Question 4: About how many hours do you spend on sports, debate and school work in a typical week?
Before my knee injury two months ago, I had three squash lessons a week, each of them an hour long. While this seems short, there’s also the time spent driving to and fro, eating beforehand at the right time, and stretching/resting afterwards. Squash tournaments would take up the entirety of Friday and Saturday, but to my regret, I did not participate in many. What I participated in more was definitely debate. The two hour weekly debate practice was minuscule in comparison to the hours spent cutting cards, compiling cases, and not to mention, at debate tournaments. Because I do the most time-consuming debate event, Lincoln Douglas, I found myself dedicating hours each week to create thousands of pages of prep. Going to several debate tournaments every month, each of which consume the entire weekend, I was in a constant state of preparation, and now I have thousands upon thousands of pages of prep. On the other hand, I find myself less strict when it comes to school. There is no set amount of time I spend working on schoolwork each week. Instead, the time I spend on school work is rather fluid, ranging from about 3 to 6+ hours a day, filling in the spaces between my extracurriculars and cutting into my sleep time.
Question 5: At what time do you usually sleep？
For the bulk of this year, I slept around 1:30 to 2:30, but as my AP exams and debate tournaments have come to a close, I find myself sleeping a bit earlier, around 12:30 to 1:30, which I'm proud of. I also sometimes take 1-2 hour long naps during the day to make up for my late sleep time.
Question 6: What motivates you in sports and in school? Have you ever felt defeated? If so , how did you pick yourself up?
What motivates me the most in sports and school is definitely a thirst for success, and perhaps even more-so, a fear of failure. By nature, I am an extremely competitive person, and this helped me compete and work hard in all of my activities. The biggest defeat in my sports career came two months ago, when I suffered from a major knee dislocation in a squash tournament. Tearing multiple ligaments and tendons and damaging other parts of my knee, I was in crutches for weeks and therapy three times a week. And while I could talk about the effects of this injury for hours upon hours, I managed to pick myself up because I was able to accept what happened and move on, rather than being angry at myself.
Even though I won’t be able to play squash again due to the severity of the damage in my knee, I am able to accept this as a part of my life, and I plan on going back to my old sport, tennis, after I recover. Most importantly, I was able to mentally recover because I know that what matters most in these sports isn’t just a number or ranking, but the joy I derive from playing them and the team I play them with. I’ll always be grateful to the lessons I learned in squash, and I know that I'll be happy and grateful with whichever sport I play in the future. It’s this mentality that motivates me in my extracurriculars, and my motivation in school comes from my competitiveness with other students and my thirst for a good performance.
Question 7: How do you work efficiently in school and what are some tips and advice for time management?
To be frank, I do much of my work in school, on the day that assignments are due. In my mind, I am very, very clear on the important assignments I have to do at home, and those that I can finish in school, in periods before they are due. Furthermore, rather than spending massive amounts of time studying, as many of my peers do, I find that being able to pay a lot of attention in class and absorbing it then means that I can cut down on the time spent reviewing. It’s not a question of memorizing the material before the test, but actually learning it.
Question 8: What is your secret to being good at debate?
My success in debate definitely comes from my love for the event. My event is not one in which you can just fool around in and be successful. It requires passion and creativity, being able to make arguments that others haven’t heard before, and being able to always be prepared for an argument. As mentioned above, this means making thousands and thousands of pages of prep, and doing countless hours of drills with others. Being able to think on the spot is also integral to success because of the nature of my event. This was a skill that I had honed since I was young, whether from communicating with friends and parents or thinking on the spot in squash and tennis. Ultimately, I believe that my success in debate is part of my nature, because being able to communicate with others rationally is a strength of mine.
Question 9: What is the most important thing you learned from sports and debate?
My most important lesson in sports and debate came to me this year. Freshman year, all I cared about was performance, performance, performance. In sports and debate, all that mattered was what place I ended up in the tournament, and if I didn’t do well, then it was a waste. All that mattered was rankings, simple numbers. However, this year, I learned that in these events, what is most important isn’t those rankings but the act of doing that event itself. In debate, this meant working with my friends and being able to have fun with them every weekend, sharing joy in events we were passionate about. Especially in sports, after my injury, I learned how truly grateful I was and should have been that I had the gift of being active, of being able to run, swing rackets, hit balls, etc. Before, I thought that something only had meaning if the results were good, but the most important lesson is that those numbers are trivial, that being truly passionate about something means that it will always be important and joyful, no matter the end results.
Question 10: Other than debate and sports, are there any other extracurricular activities that you are involved in?
Other than doing debate and sports, I'm also dedicated to the younger generation. This means teaching debate at the Millburn Institute of Talent and the Millburn Middle School, and helping younger children with public speaking skills through the Voice Club that I created.
S added Q11 and 12 on the spot, which shows his ability to respond quickly.
Question 11: Can you tell us more about the Voice Club?
I started the Voice Club several years ago because I noticed that many younger children, especially in our community, could benefit immensely from being better at speaking and interacting with others. To break down barriers, I created this club to help the younger generation be more comfortable with others and to be able to express their ideas effectively. I believe that these skills are vital not only as a foundation for future activities such as debate, but also for day to day life and communication.
Question 12: How does the Voice Club work? What activities do you do?
The Voice Club uses a variety of activities to delve into the skills and ideas of children. This involves asking them to interview parents and present information to others, holding informal debates, and holding presentations about a topic that they have prepared beforehand. This wide variety is specifically tailored to their age and their skill level, and is effective at including everyone.
Question 13: How did having a dog affect your life?
I’ve always wanted a dog, and two years ago, my dad drove me to Delaware to buy one with my own money. My mother always told me that I was not responsible enough, as in the end, I would rarely walk the dog myself. She was right. I admit that I only walk the dog when I have to, a few times a week, while she handles the brunt of the work. However, having a dog did serve as company and stress-relief. With my brother in college now, having a dog gives me someone to love and care about on a daily basis.
Impromptu questions from the parents.
Question 14: What are the top qualities that your parents instill in you? Can you share a couple of influential interactions with your parents that have shaped the person you become today?
One of the most important qualities that my parents instilled in me is hard work. While this sounds cliché, I learned from a young age that my parents came to America with little, and that my father worked as a waiter to make ends meet, that he worked tirelessly and now is a partner in a gigantic firm. I always admired this feat, and to me, this was the embodiment of the American Dream. I never forgot that interaction with my father, and to this day, I know that what I do now has repercussions into my future, that while I may think that any given moment may be trivial, it truly does matter. Especially in high school, working hard now means so much more than just a good grade, but it means a foundation for my future college enrollment, future employment, and most importantly, future family.
On the note of family, my mother instilled in me the other most important quality I learned — not to be useless, not to be a burden. I commonly was on the receiving end of the phrase “废物”, or useless person, and I was, on multiple occasions, little more than a burden. This truly taught me that not everything revolved around me, that I also had to contribute, not just take. This meant being more independent myself, and the independence and freedom that my parents gave me was vital in shaping my life as a more productive and useful human being.
Question 15: What do you want your parents (or maybe parents in general) do more of? What do you want them do less?
In general, I think that parents hover too much over their kids and control them too much. While this wasn’t an issue for me, as my parents gave me large amounts of freedom, I observe on many occasions that parents control what their kids do and who/how they interact with others. This is very detrimental to an adolescent and child’s development, because they must be allowed to explore and pursue what they are passionate in. Furthermore, this issue is especially prevalent when it comes to social life. My parents gave me reasonable freedom when it came to social life, and to this day, I hang out with friends a lot. This freedom not only helped my social life and popularity/presence in my grade and school, it also helped shape my skills in interacting with others and being exposed to diverse groups of people.
Question 16: What advice do you have for the dads on how to guide their sons?
I think the best advice for dads to guide their sons is to reach a balance between protectiveness and freedom. Giving them enough freedom is again, crucial for their development. I don’t mean this from a selfish point of view, but allowing them to explore life is the best that they can get. I am grateful that my father never tried to control what I did, but instead was supportive of everything I did. Be it squash or tennis, he was there to support me, to drive me to tournaments, etc. When it came to social life, my father also gave me much freedom, allowing me to go out with friends a lot, and even letting me come home at around 3 in the morning after an entire Friday out with friends. Not only did this make life enjoyable, I believe that the freedom and support a father can give is the most delicate yet important thing he can give to a son.
Question 17: What do you do to relax?
My favorite way to relax is definitely to hang out with friends. With many different friend groups, being with them is never an issue. Going out to get food, watching movies, spending the entire day out, and the like are the best ways that I can relax after a stressful day/week of work. While I prefer this the most, I also enjoy spending time with myself and my family, be it watching House of Cards on Netflix with my mother, having fun and going out with my brother, or simply chilling by myself, on my phone. And of course, as a high school student, sleeping is one of my favorite things to do when I have free time.
Question 18: As a long time family friend, I knew you have a very close relationship with your mom, what did you do to keep such good relationship? Can you please share the secret with us?
I think the secret to a close relationship with my mom was to be very open with her, and to never doubt her intentions as a caring parent. We always spend a lot of time together, and her support and freedom she gave me was key for our relationship.
Question 19: Could you comment on Snapchat and social media?
I think Snapchat and social media are very important to any teenager's high school life. Controlling this isn't possible, and I agree that I myself spend a lot of time on these, but I believe that I reach a good balance and do not waste too much time.
Question 20: I am very impressed by the mindset you held dealing with injury. I am sure you will become stronger and more successful arising from the setbacks. I am curious how is your relationship with your brother? Any sibling fight ever?
I've always had a really close relationship with my brother, unlike most of my friends. We always did so much together, from traveling to China together or being in summer classes at Newark Academy together. With him in college now, it's much harder but he still comes back to visit, and I can communicate with him through Snapchat and social media 😉
Question 21: Could you talk about dating in high school?
I think that high school is a good time for this, as long as it does not waste too much time. I myself find that I can reach a balance between this, my friends, schoolwork and extracurriculars because I'm very clear on my priorities as well as how to enjoy my time as a teenager. This is another reason I believe that being given freedom from parents is very important.
Question 22: Do you know what you are going to do for your career in the future? What do you see yourself ten years from now?
Since I was young, I've always wanted to be a surgeon. I love working with my hands and being active in that way, and I've always wanted to help people. I think that being a surgeon is something I can do each day without it feeling like a "job". Especially after my injury, I really want to be an orthopedic surgeon, as it speaks to me on a personal level. I hope that I can be a successful surgeon in the future. I also really like money :)
Question 23: While being competitive is a great trait, how would you handle defeats or imperfection?
Being able to accept defeat or imperfection is something that takes time and effort. Every time I lose a match or debate round, I can accept that I'm not perfect, that it's not always someone else's fault. I think that's the most important thing to learn, that you have to take responsibilities for your own faults. After all, no one is perfect and failure is an inevitable part of life. Wanting success but being able to learn from defeat is the best trait for an athlete, debater, student, etc.
Question 24: Just want to clarify what you talked above, you noticed a lot of your friends do not have close sibling relationship? Do you notice why?
I think that siblings fight a lot for small reasons, such as being competitive with each other. Younger siblings hate to have to be bossed around, and older siblings fear being overshadowed. Many of my friends find siblings to be a chore, to need "taking care of", and do not appreciate the time they spend together before one of them goes to college. I'm sure that many of my friends think that they would have more resources and time and attention to themselves if they had no siblings.
Question 25: What do you think of your Chinese heritage? How important is it to you? Is there any occasion that you wish your behavior or thinking is "less Chinese"?
This was definitely something I struggled with a lot. In our society, especially at younger ages, we are vulnerable to views that being Chinese isn't desirable, and the like. We are conditioned to believe that Chinese men aren't attractive, etc, and sometimes I would feel less proud to be Chinese. But, I strongly believe that my Chinese heritage is not only something I can be proud of but part of my character, part of my work ethic and everything that I do. Having gone back to China about 13 times, I truly appreciate my family and culture there, and I'm proud to show that here as well.
群友评论：Chinese heritage 的回答很阳刚，很成熟，太有志气了！
Question 26: Do you remember or know anything your parents did for you when you were a pre-term baby? How do you feel about it?
I know that being two months premature brought about so many troubles. Mainly, my seemingly inability to gain weight through my poor digestive system caused immense struggle. My mom has told me that she would chase me and try to feed me, and my grandma would do the same in Harbin.
Furthermore, I know the struggles from my hindered speech development. Not being able to speak until I was about 4 years old, my parents tried speech therapy and the like to get me to speak. Knowing this, I've always tried to be able to be strong myself, because I was so weak before. This meant training hard in sports to be physically stronger and even doing debate as I'm grateful for my ability to speak well.
Question 27: When you go to China in summer, how do you typically spend time there? BTW, I read your article about grandpa before, it is a very touching story.
In China, I typically go sightseeing with my family for a bit before settling in Harbin. There, besides good food and shopping, I would spend time with my relatives with my brother, and I appreciate all those moments I spent with my grandparents.
【注：三年前夏天的文章--Cycle of Life】
Question 28: Your mom has been working with many others fighting race-based college admissions. What is your thought on that?
I am strongly against race-based admissions, and I've also fought against it, through educating my peers, and even speaking to an associate editor of the Economist magazine. I detest the thought that I have to work so much harder for just an equal opportunity, and I think that this just puts us at a vicious cycle. The harder we have to work to get into college, the more the stereotypes of Asians as just academic freaks are perpetuated, damaging our image even more. I admire my mom's efforts in fighting this abuse of AA, and I hope to emulate those efforts in the future myself as well.
C：這段是成熟的轉变：“My most important lesson in sports and debate came to me this year. Freshman year, all I cared about was performance, performance, performance. In sports and debate, all that mattered was what place I ended up in the tournament, and if I didn’t do well, then it was a waste. All that mattered was rankings, simple numbers. However, this year, I learned that in these events, what is most important isn’t those rankings but the act of doing that event itself. In debate, this meant working with my friends and being able to have fun with them every weekend, sharing joy in events we were passionate about. Especially in sports, after my injury, I learned how truly grateful I was and should have been that I had the gift of being active, of being able to run, swing rackets, hit balls, etc. Before, I thought that something only had meaning if the results were good, but the most important lesson is that those numbers are trivial, that being truly passionate about something means that it will always be important and joyful, no matter the end results.”
E：Wonderful guest speaker and host！The host is very organized with good questions; Arnold's answers are mature, intelligent, and humorous.
F：Mom's Q: snapchat 24/7? Mom's Q again: Could you comment on Snapchat and social media?
Son: I think Snapchat and social media are very important to any teenager's high school life. Controlling this isn't possible, and I agree that I myself spend a lot of time on these, but I believe that I reach a good balance and do not waste too much time.
Calm and confident. I like that! 看到那里，我差点没笑出声！坦荡荡！
I：A努力向着成功，但被打败，受傷后沒有放棄，忧郁，却認識到參與debate, 運動更深层次的意义。還有Strong social life and leadership, 阳光男孩genius 成功的前奏！
A妈妈：说到打击积极性，我真在反思，儿子坚持这个squash，我最近两年不停让他quit，要不是他老爸支持，唉。所以他把我曾带他去网球比赛的陈年旧事忘了，把credit给了爸爸。我才发现，正郁闷呢。确实这几年我没有支持A打球（包括辩论），老是负能量地说应该quit squash, 从不带他去比赛。当他受伤我本能还觉得高兴，说总算不用再去这劳什子squash了。还以为他是轻伤，就膝盖出位呗，我自己也出去三次，看了MRI和专家才得知他的joints都是very loose（也许跟早产有关），伤得很重。下周好像要再去看是否需要手术。这俩月他真是很坚强。
P：另外spend quality time with kids is more important than spending quantity time 的。我们家我是属于后者，孩子们对她们爸的感激远高于对我的。
A妈妈回复：我希望儿子睡觉啊，不是跟辩论或squash 过不去。这点上和那些上心的妈妈不一样，我是属于拖后腿的。而他爸爸就是不说这些quit quit的话。也许给大伙的印象是我更鼓励孩子做这做那，但实际上我最喜欢他做的就是和我看电视。这个他也提了俺俩看House of Cards。还有很多，比如三生三世、琅琊榜、小爸爸、射雕、神雕侠侣等等。他说我is such a fan girl 整天放《凉凉》的音乐，追赵又廷😄。看来像我这样看电视的quantity time 不作数😄。
W：Thank you S and A for the interview. It is extremely important for us，as parents, to hear your thoughts and benefit from the communication. I am touched that A is so proud of Chinese Heritage. 这个太给力了！2 wonderful young men!