"I wanted to go somewhere
with a small, close-knit community like SCLS."
G12 Graduate of SCLS International Division
I joined SCLS a couple weeks before my 12th birthday. I had only been in China for about three weeks, so I hadn’t yet made any friends. However, since my mom was a new teacher here, I had spent a lot of time with other staff members. I celebrated by inviting the teachers and cooking pancakes for them. The next year, after I had settled in more, I invited my friends to watch Black Panther and have lunch. When I think about what I love most about my time here, I think of the closeness that allowed me to have these strong relationships and how they taught me to enjoy life. It is those connections, formed through the Drama program and photography, that I will miss the most when I am gone.
My drama career began in 7th grade, when I signed up for the drama elective taught by Mrs. Harper, the first drama teacher at SCLS. At the end of the year, we put on SCLS’s very first drama production: Musicville. I continued drama class every year since then and signed up for the after-school performances, as well. Every year, the program grew a little bit and we performed bigger, better shows like A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Seussical Jr., Honk! Jr., and Somewhere Nowhere. When Mrs. Harper left, the drama students were worried about not being able to continue drama the way she had taught us. So, I created an Improv ECA for myself and other students who were a part of the drama program to continue what Ms. Harper had started. At the end of the year, we put on a show. My classmate and I will be running this ECA again this year with the same goal. This is how I met my closest friends for the next few years, working side by side with them every year to create fantastical characters and places. As the program expanded, I was also able to meet and work with great students from other grades. Through these connections, I was able to work with many of them in other areas, such as the SCLS Wings Frisbee team and Student Council, and even create long-lasting connections with people from outside of Shanghai through the Educational Theater Association Festival.
I benefitted greatly from having small classes (and great teachers) at SCLS. They offer a safe environment for intellectual growth and experimentation. My Chinese classes specifically, allowed me to focus on learning because I was the only student. This also helped me build close relationships with my teachers Joanna Jiang and Grace Zhang, making class more fun. Last year, I took AP Chinese with Grace Zhang. She helped me expand my cultural perspective by engaging in genuine and authentic conversations with me. She asked me many questions about my perspectives as a foreigner from Argentina and the U.S living in Shanghai. These deep discussions allowed for me to practice my Chinese language skills and also to score a 5 on the AP Chinese Language and Culture exam. Additionally, seeing her willingness and eagerness to learn about western culture and the English language motivated me even more. This, as well as that Ms. Zhang never underestimated me and adjusted assignments accordingly, made learning feel easy! One of my favorite memories in this class was rehearsing my TEDx Talk with her after the AP exam was over. I could not have achieved a 5 on the exam or given a successful speech without her!
photo by Mr.Jim Litherland
My photography journey began in Shanghai when my grandfather gifted me my first camera, a tiny Canon Powershot SFX170 for my 12th birthday. I took it with me everywhere, and it was small enough to fit in my coat pocket. I took pictures pretty frequently for about two years. Then gradually, I began to take less and less photos. I stopped for about a year, maybe a year and a half even. Even though I didn’t have a clear reason for this at the time, I later realized that the reason for this was because I felt somewhat clueless and incompetent. I became frustrated as I thought I didn’t know how to “do photography correctly,” and I thought I wasn’t smart enough to learn or succeed. But as I saw other people posting their pictures on social media, my thinking began to change. Whenever I looked at them, I felt so calm. The more I saw, the more I realized I wanted to be able to produce something like that. So, I went out and resumed my photography.
Just by trying and experimenting, I was already improving and learning! I began noticing things through my Canon EOS 200DII’s viewfinder, finding views from new angles which I previously would have ignored. In this way, I gained a new perspective.
Photography has given me a connection to Shanghai such that no other activity could offer me. When I photograph something, I capture something, be it a person, an animal, a moment, a flower, or even just a feeling, and freeze it in time to be able to hold forever, creating intimacy between me and that thing. Therefore, some of my favorite photographs are ones I have taken in Shanghai because they contain the connection I feel with this city. In capturing these moments, I capture pieces of Shanghai not only for the world to see, but also to keep with me forever.
My Future Made by SCLS & Shanghai
This is how I knew in my journey of applying to college that I wanted to go somewhere with a small, close-knit community like SCLS but that would also give me the opportunities of a big city like Shanghai. Luckily, located in St. Paul, one of the Twin Cities of Minnesota, and with a student body of 2,049 students, Macalester does just that. And so, even though I am sad to leave, I know the Drama program at SCLS will continue growing, and I know that I will be able to participate in many new activities and connect with many new people, the same way I connected here. Just like roads I haven’t yet traveled lead me places I have been before, people I haven’t yet met will connect with the ‘old’ parts of me, the parts that Shanghai and SCLS have made.
HELLO, FUTURE !
photo by Mr.Jim Litherland