Waking up

October 28, 2008
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Someone pulls my arms and says, “Wake up!” I open my eyes, wondering who it is. It’s morning. I am still not awake. My dad wipes my face with a towel to wake my brain up; my mom helps me dress. Then they pull each of my arms and drag me from the bed. My mom drives me to school when I am ready. My class starts at 8:30 a.m.—I get there at 8:35 a.m.
In middle school in Taiwan, every day began like that. I did not want to go to school, and when I got there, I didn’t want to do anything, all I did was wait for the break period so I could hang out with my friends and make trouble. It seemed impossible that one day I would leave home and study abroad, using a language that wasn’t my mother tongue. Others might, but not me.
But my mom knew my environment wasn’t doing me any good, so she sent me around the earth to the United States. I came to a military academy in northern Indiana three years ago. Culver wakes us up at 6:30 a.m. Falling back to sleep earns work details. Tardiness is unacceptable.
My first day at Culver was a disaster—the hall officer came into my room and woke me, but I fell back asleep. When I woke up again, I was late to breakfast formation. I sprinted as fast as I could, not fully dressed. I held my belt in one hand, my hat in the other. One of my shoes fell off as I ran, but I still couldn’t catch up. My punishment was to pick up trash in the barrack at six o’clock the next morning. So I learned a lesson.
To solve my problem, I set up two alarm clocks: one for 6:30 a.m., the other 6:35 a.m. After several tiresome weeks, I got used to waking up early in the morning. I didn’t need alarm clocks any more and could get up right away when the hall officer came into my room.
Three years later, I have become the hall officer. Now, I’m the one who has to wake up even earlier in order to get others up.
Besides my morning difficulty, I faced other obstacles. I had serious language problems in classes; I didn’t know if I could make it through high school in the U.S. But I was lucky to know a senior who was also from Taiwan. He had experienced everything I was struggling with. He comforted me, as I saw how he had conquered the obstacles of language and the tough life of military school to become successful.
In the military academy, I belong to the artillery battalion, which needs volunteers to fire the cannon each morning—the reveille tradition. My fellow seniors treat this duty as a great honor, and they have influenced me. I believe that firing reveille is not just a responsibility, but a chance to show the spirit of the school.
Many international students in our unit, however, do not appreciate the tradition and refuse to be cannoneers. So I decided to convey this tradition to them. I volunteered as an instructor at the orientation for new international students. We assembled them a week before school started, so they could get used to the environment of Culver Academies. Because they were afraid when they got here, I used my experience to guide them, to educate them about the language barrier, to teach them about military school life, and to pass on the glorious spirit of our school.
I became a senior this year; I have all the pins and brasses that show my extracurricular activities and the military events I have attended. I am proud to be a student of Culver, and I want new international students to earn the same honor I have—or even more.





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