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By Jenny Shan, VI Form
Rebel with a Cause: Delving into Comic Books
Crammed into the tiny pocket of space behind the painting hanging in my study lies one of my greatest secrets: a magazine of weekly comics. As a child, I would purchase a new one from the local newsstand every week after school. On the twenty-minute bus ride from home, I would quickly consume the updated stories featuring young detectives investigating unsolved murder cases, or sentient toys mediating domestic disputes for maltreated children. My favorites were the grand adventures, in particular about the cursed pirate families searching for a place to bury their treasure.
Unlike those pirates, the treasure I would be burying was a bit more personal than gold. Every time I brought home a magazine, my immediate response was to conceal it: in the drawers, on top of the bookshelf. But these would all inevitably be found. When I noticed a secret crevice between the painting and the wall, it was as if the most perfect coastline had finally revealed itself from the mist. I could not let another one of my treasures fall into the hands of other marauders and hijackers, the most notorious of whom was my forbidding mother. (more…)
By Angela Li, VI Form
A Journey to My Own Version of Christopher Boone’s London
The ground spun, quite literally, on wheels beneath my feet as I looked into Siobhan’s eyes. In those few hours, this rotating stage made from plywood was not just a platform, it was a house, a classroom, and a train station. And at this moment I was not myself—I was Christopher Boone, a young man who had overcome the confines of his known reality and broadened his horizons by finding his way to London. This was the last scene in the school play, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, the denouement. The plywood creaked slightly under our weight, and the lights dimmed to allow glow-in-the-dark stars to shine and illuminate the final moments of this chapter. As Christopher reflected on his adventures, I saw how I had made my own journey of growth through theater. (more…)
By Mei-Mei Arms, VI Form
自来 – From the Beginning
6,156 days ago, I was in an orphanage in China. 6,155 days ago, I met a family of three looking for number four. I didn’t know their language, nor they mine, and when they called me Mackenzie, I am told that I responded with looks of uninterested confusion. My older brother, Richard, who was six at the time, attempted Mandarin and called me his mèimei (little sister), I responded to the word, and with that, I got my name. The name’s meaning, to me, is fated, not to sound superstitious, but everyone in my family is the oldest. My mom’s the oldest of seven, my dad’s the oldest of three, my brother’s the oldest of two, and even our dog’s the oldest of nine. At first, my parents didn’t see it that way, they thought they’d call me Mei-Mei for a bit then switch to my legal name, Mackenzie, but here we are 6,155 days later, and it’s safe to say it’s not switching.
In elementary school, I loved being Mei-Mei, I thought it was cool to have a unique nickname, and in time, I grew to dislike ‘Mackenzie.’ I always dreaded roll calls when new teachers and substitutes said Mackenzie, resulting in either my saying ‘I go by Mei-Mei’ or another student annoyingly saying it for me. I was embarrassed that I had a “real name.” For years, I couldn’t wait to turn eighteen for the sole reason that being eighteen gave me the power to get rid of ‘Mackenzie’ because I’ve always thought it important that if you have the power to change something you don’t like, take action. However, I grew to understand that erasing Mackenzie wouldn’t solve my problems. (more…)
By Tianyu Zhao, VI Form
My Quest: Uphold the Values of Martial Arts and Xing Yi
My grandfather’s bungalow in my hometown hides many secrets, including a sword behind a towering closet in the storeroom. When I was only seven, I felt its weight when my grandfather first placed it in my small hands. It had belonged to Liu Qilan, my ancestor from the Qing Dynasty, a martial arts master who later became of great importance to me.
And yet, my interest in martial arts didn’t come from him. Like many of my peers, I was sent to a kungfu studio by my mom at an early age. Years later, I began to watch Bruce Lee’s films and gradually grew obsessed, spending hours every night exercising my strength and flexibility. I looked for more professional and systematic training in kickboxing classes and made my neighbors suffer the noise of my punches after my uncle fixed a huge standing sandbag for me outside the door. (more…)
By Nikole Klodowska, VI Form
A Lesson from Fish Fillet
I am afraid of fish. No one can remember what childhood trauma could have caused me to physically shake in the presence of these scaly creatures. Over the years, I have slowly made progress – from being unable to be in the mere vicinity of fish, to tolerating a walk past the seafood section at supermarkets, to interning at a one star Michelin restaurant where I spent the day working up close with my biggest fear.
During my internship at Warsaw’s Amber Room, I worked every section of the kitchen, including what I had dreaded my entire life: seafood. One morning, I was assigned to fillet salmon for a small banquet. I winced as I inserted the knife at an angle between the fish’s skull and fleshy body, my gloved hands trembling. After successfully filleting two fish, my mentor noticed my trepidation and asked me what was wrong. I was determined not to quit, but admitted I felt utterly uncomfortable around fish. He decided to spare me the additional trauma and moved me to another position where I would feel more comfortable: to weigh and prepare the fish for cold storage. I felt an enormous weight lifted off of my shoulders, knowing I would no longer have to feel the bumps of the bones as they scraped against the knife, or see the glossy, lifeless eyes staring back at me. (more…)
By Leon Shi, VI Form
Keeping Up with the Komodos
For a whole month, I had no running water, no electricity, and no internet connection. I had to prepare for flooding, menacing reptiles, and even medical emergencies. Some days were truly difficult to persist through with only two meals to fuel over six hours of kayaking. A single wave could easily capsize my kayak and leave me helpless in the ocean. I constantly feared for supply shortage or, worse, being stranded. This is my life for a month on the Komodo Islands of Indonesia. Despite the numerous hardships, it was the best trip of my life. Away from the noise of the world, the Komodo Island wilderness allowed me to embark on a journey of growth and self-discovery about what is most important in life: living purposefully. (more…)
By Julia Danielsen, VI Form
The Joy (and Responsibility) of Moving from Camper to Staff
For six years, arriving at Camp Coniston in New Hampshire meant pure excitement, but this year was different. I was now part of the staff. While still excited, I also felt proud, nervous, and apprehensive because I would be teaching Ecology and Swimming. I knew that I would not have a problem sharing my love of nature with the campers, but how was I going to plan and teach several compelling Ecology classes? I was in what was formerly my safe haven, now nervous because of these new added responsibilities. (more…)