Le Yang Professor Anderson English 110 February 24, 2005 School and Me School, to me and among many peers of my age, is not a distant term. I have spent one-third of my life time sitting in classrooms, every week since I was seven years old. After spending this much time in school, many things and experiences that happened there have left their mark in my memory. Some are small incidences while some have had great impact on me.

However, regardless the degree of significance, things that happened all contributed to shape the person that I am now. I was accused of cheating for the first time when I was seven years old. It was during the term final where the performance of the test indicates all the progress the student had made throughout the semester, so its importance was never over emphasized. Though I haven^aEURTMt been in school long enough to emerge myself into the brutal competitive environment, I certain did study the materials well to make my parents happy. During the exam I was rather confident. The material wasn^aEURTMt that challenging so I quickly finished writing my answer.

With nothing to do I started to look around: birds singing outside the window, people walk by the door, and the answers on the paper of my fellow classmate behind me. Though my action looked suspicious, I had no plan to cheat because even the concept of cheating was new to me. I was confident in my answer and has already finished the exam. I turned around simply to check up on my classmate.

Certainly the teachers didn^aEURTMt agree with me. They had to take me outside of the room and hold onto my test for the time being. My parents were informed to come to school for discussion. It was a really a big deal - how dare someone cheat on the final exam? I don^aEURTMt remember the details of what happened afterward, but somehow school concluded that my action was not intentional thus should not be penalized, with the advise of not repeating the same mistake. I supposed it^aEURTMs good for me, otherwise I don^aEURTMt know how miserable I would be for the rest of my elementary school career. More importantly, I learned that even though my intention was different, what people saw from my action indicated otherwise.

The assumption people made could have resulted a very different interpretation from my intention. After the incident I became more careful in what I do and say - I didn^aEURTMt want to deliver wrong messages. I thought it would be good for me and everyone around me. I didn^aEURTMt go to my zoned middle school, instead I applied to the city^aEURTMs specialized school. The school was located on the complete opposite side of the city from my elementary school.

Everything started anew, I was all by myself. While I was busy getting used to the school and making new friends, I also discovered a new passion, soccer. Through soccer I was able to meet some of my most loyal friends. We would often get together and play soccer against other classes. The school required a test for admission, so the competition was getting fierce. The teachers focused a lot on our academics and tried to squeeze as much time as they can from us to study.

As the result, we were not allowed to play soccer during our free time because it hinders us from studying. Maybe it is human tendency to break laws, but the gang of us didn^aEURTMt want to conform to that rule so sneaking a soccer ball to school and keep it away from the teachers became an everyday challenge. It was amazing the kind of ideas we came up with for this task. Soccer added spices into my otherwise boring school life, and it served as a channel between me and my fellow classmates.

Through soccer we found a common ground, that we were able to know each other more and support each other no matter what happens. It gave us a sense of unity, and it was very important to me. Even now I cherish the pact I had with them back then - the support that helped me to stay on the right track during my rebel teenage years. My homeroom teacher at the time had the most impact on me than any other mentors I had. People say teachers can really shape the mind of a child during his growth.

I cannot agree less. It was exactly during the middle school years that I started to have my own ideas and views on things. There is no doubt that my teacher had a significant impact on my worldly view. Not only she was an award winning educator, more importantly, she was also an experienced human being. During my two years of middle school, I learned a lot from her - the way to see the world around me now, the way to look into the future, and the way to see within myself from the past. She passed down her wisdom through her way of teaching and the example she set in front of the class.

Up until today, I am still very grateful to have her as my mentor. My mother moved to the United States when I started middle school, then two years later my father and I followed her footsteps. There were so many things here in the United States that were new to me: the people, the language, the roads, the building... and of course the school as well. It was a big challenge for me to get used to the education system here and to make new friends, yet I welcomed all these with great anticipation.

I had studied some English when I was in China, however, it wasn^aEURTMt until school that I realized what I had learned was only good enough to read the alphabets off the table. The first few weeks was very difficult, and I remembered it well. Not only I didn^aEURTMt know anyone, my shyness had kept me away from making an effort to meet new people for help. As the result, I was often very clueless as where I should go or do. If you visited Russell Sage M. S.

during the beginning of September 1997, you would probably see a boy lost his way in school, that would be me trying to figure things out. Things started to turn toward the bright side as time goes by. A few months into the semester, I can make things out of what the teachers were saying. Though I still didn^aEURTMt make many friends nor did my accents go away. It wasn^aEURTMt until the spring that I was able to communicate with the teachers if I had any questions, on my own. During that period, I really studied a lot, not being pressured by parents or teacher, but voluntarily.

I used to memorize pages after pages of vocabularies in order to catch up in class. I knew it was my weakness. My work paid off - I was able to pass the ESL test in one try, and I somehow managed my grade to be average (which I took as an accomplishment at that time). Through the process, I believed in myself and everything worked out. The difficulties I faced at school motivated me to learn more and gain more knowledge for my own sake.

Now I know if I am determined to accomplish something, I can succeed as long as I put effort into it. I have faith in myself, and that attitude of self-confidence has helped me many times during the rest of my high school years, even today. Senior year passed by in a relaxed way. The moment I got my diploma, I couldn^aEURTMt help myself but feeling eager to go to college. My criteria for college was easy: co-ed, small and far away from home so I can live in the dorm.

I didn^aEURTMt want to stay home because I felt I was being spoiled: I didn^aEURTMt have to worry about meals, laundry or cleaning the rooms. I knew I wouldn^aEURTMt be offered such luxuries for much longer. I wanted to do things on my own, I wanted to be more independent; I wanted to take an adventure into the world while I was still young. Hope College had everything I wanted, and it offered much more. The experience of sharing a room with someone else and having to deal with ten other young adults of my age while managing everyday^aEURTMs activities was exhausting at first, but soon it turned out to be an unforgettable experience.

I was forced to open up myself to others. The peer-to-peer environment served as the perfect catalyst; the increased interaction with others really changed my way of living. Whenever I first came home from break, the friends I used to hang out with all agreed that I changed so much: I became more sociable and started to express my opinion to others. Subsequently, I gained more respect from the people around me. Slowly I started to notice that instead of simply telling me what to do, people now ask me for my opinion - they started to treat me like an adult, not just a teenager anymore. I never expected college life would have impacted me this much, but I am glad that it did.

Now I am willing to take responsibilities and to take charge, and I am happy to see myself this way. If I have to decide what to do after high school, I will make the same choice no matter how many times I am asked. To be honest, I hate getting up early for classes, or following the rules and regulations associated with school. I have a friend who was home-schooled until it^aEURTMs time for her to go to college, I envy her. However, at the same time I also appreciate the changes that happened to me from going to school, from meeting new people and make friends with them and from learning from the teachers. School helped me to realize my potentials and weakness, it presented me with issues that I will one day face in the real world.

It also opened up my mindset so that I can be more involved socially. It is really a big deal for me. For that, I solute school with my full gratitude.