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I hear three knocks on the door; a nervous-looking young lady walks into my room.
“Come in,” I said.
“Hello, my name is Shirley K. and I’m from Korea” the young lady said.
“Oh, hi! Welcome to Culver and nice to meet you. My name’s Cindy and I’ll be your roommate the rest of the year and please enjoy school life.”
The young lady’s face showed her nervousness and her tiredness after an 18-hour trip from Taiwan reminded me of my first day at boarding school two years before.
“What? No way!” I said when my parents told me they had decided to send me to boarding school in “Nowhere, Indiana.” I almost abandoned the idea of studying abroad. But after countless discussions and arguments, I abided by their decision. To study in the United States was my dream; I couldn’t let this one complication stop me.
Sitting in the airplane on August 22, 2006, I was still bothered by the decision to go to a boarding school. I wasn’t able to sleep well, I wasn’t able to eat well, and I wasn’t even able to sit well. Was I going to get used to American life? Was I going to be homesick? Was I going to act as an American? Was I going to make new friends? All my questions were answered on the first day I walked onto my school's lakeside campus.
“Hope you have a great school year!” the taxi driver said.
“Yeah . . . hope so,” I responded as I stood alone on the sidewalk beside the two suitcases that held everything I would have for the next year. My mind was jumbled because I didn’t what I should do next. This was my first time at my boarding school.
OK, the first thing I have to do is walk in and. . . . I talked to myself and thought about what to do next.
“Do you need help?” an angel asked. She was not actually an angel, but she seemed like an angel when I was confused and scared at the time.
“Yes . . . I – I – I’m a new student here and I don’t know what I should do now.”
“Oh, ok. You should go to register first. I’ll show you, follow me. By the way, my name’s Lucy C. and I’m from California; nice to meet you.”
“My name is Cindy T. and I am from Taiwan.” I felt more comfortable and confident because I actually understood what Lucy was saying. I had thought it would be difficult to understand Americans because they spoke too fast. After the registration, Lucy brought me to Atrium.
“Welcome to school, Cindy. My name’s Christina F. and I’m the dorm chair in Atrium,” said a girl with light yellow hair as she walked to me. At the time, I had a feeling that I would get lots of different experiences and have a wonderful life in this dorm.
Learning and progressing as a leader over the past three years, I realize all the hard work and effort I put in as a new student were necessary steps in the process towards greater success. If I want people to respect me, I must respect them first. If I want to be a good leader, I must work for it – a leader wakes up ten minutes earlier than everyone else; a leader encourages and motivates others; a leader sets the example.
My road has not been an easy one. When I was new to boarding school, I cried for the first time in ten years. I did not know I could survive under these pressures. I did not know I could live like alone. I did not know I could accomplish my seemingly impossible mission. But I did, and it has been all worth it. Somehow, here in “Nowhere, Indiana,” I discovered who I am and what I have the potential to become.