S2, an update

Look out world, here I come!!

Many of you have asked how S2 is doing so I am writing an update on him. (oh he will be sooooo thrilled to be the center of attention!) -not.

S2 is doing pretty well.  He made a few friends quickly and is making more very slowly. I would  say they are still firmly in the acquaintance category.  But his three or four friends that he made right away seem to be a solid group.  They eat lunch together, chat on Skype, and have even been out to a karaoke club!  The majority of kids here seem to go out a lot and have WAY more independence than we are used to back in the USA.  A neighbor is even letting her daughter go to Tokyo with a friend (no adults) for a week.  S2 is not really interested in going out very much and that is just fine with me.  Not having  grown up in this environment I think he would be in way over his head with the peer pressure and adult atmosphere of bars, clubs etc.  Dtr.  even says some 9th graders go out to bars and clubs!!  This will be happening in my house over my dead body 🙂

When S2 started high school in the USA my goal for the first year was that he should have people to say “hi” to in the hall and perhaps one person he called a friend.  He met that goal and even had a couple of people he referred to as friends.  For sophomore year he developed those friendships further and had a small circle he hung out with before school started.  He still made sure his class schedule was too full to include lunch so that he didn’t have to face that social chaos.  Then junior year he added a few friends.  He still didn’t go out with them much outside of school, but he was happy.  He even asked a girl out and had a very nice steady girlfriend.  They went to the Junior Prom and were so sweet.   So considering that it took him three years to develop firm friendships in a school where he had been with roughly the same group of kids since fifth grade, I am over the moon that he is doing so well here.  Most importantly he is happy.  He misses his friends and especially his girlfriend.  They Skype occasionally and he has access to Facebook at school.   – An aside….It is so weird that in the US they spend so much time making sure the kids don’t have access to FB or cell phones or youtube and here school is the one place they can do those things (before classes start in the morning)! –  S2 even had a short article about the moon cake festival printed in the school magazine.

So his really big news is that it is college application time.  He has written a really nice essay, filled out the common app, kept track of deadlines, and arranged for teachers to write letters of recommendation.  And all of this over two continents, two school districts, and several time zones.  This was not without prodding and some nagging but largely he did it on his own.  I am so proud of him.  I can’t imagine myself at 17 picking up my life, moving to another country, starting school -including two AP’s- ten days late and playing catch up, making new friends, and getting college applications together.  For those who don’t know, S2 had MAJOR writing issues and struggled immensley to complete two or three related sentences when he was in fifth grade.   To say he has taken a great leap forward toward being an independant  young man is an understatement.

So, in honor of S2 here is a picture of him hitting the ‘send’ button for the common app. and below I have included, with his permission, a copy of his essay.

Look out world, here I come!!

S2’s essay:

Suddenly, and without explanation, I laughed.  I couldn't help but laugh, because once again I'd corrected a mistake no one around me could have noticed.  It's a habit I have, which comes from knowing three languages and constantly teaching myself new languages, both real and artificial.  Even if no one else can speak the language, I want to speak it properly.  Languages have taught me to approach life in a new way, to push the limits of what is possible, and to know that even when a mistake might be permissible, one should always work towards perfection.
	My hobby-cum-obsession started with James Cameron's movie Avatar.  He hired Paul Frommer, a linguist, to design a language for the alien species in the movie.  The concept of an artificial language entranced and astounded me, especially as I was starting to learn French, a natural language, at school.  I began to search for reliable resources, and started on my life changing quest.
	'awve is a word meaning 'first' in Na'vi, the language of Avatar. Na'vi was only the " 'awve" language of many for me though.  I quickly found a language from one of my favorite book series, Myst.  Not only was this a different language but it also used a different alphabet.  I found this challenge exciting and set myself to it with fervor.  From here I went through a string of short interests, different languages that I didn't pursue very far, until I decided that I should learn a language that I could apply in life.  Inspired by the history of the language and the culture, I chose Russian.
	Гаворить means 'to speak' in Russian.  Russian was not as easy to learn as some of the other languages.  Because Russian was a natural language and had developed over a long time, being used and altered by millions of people, and even now is constantly changing, it is not as constant as an artificial language.  I had trouble learning it on my own and decided to take lessons.  Over the summer I went to Лесное Озеро, Forested Lake, an immersion language camp run by Concordia College.  All the counselors would only speak Russian, and some couldn't even speak English!  The buildings were in a Russian style, all the books there were Russian, we sang Russian songs, even the classes were taught completely in Russian!  I enjoyed myself immensely, made friends, and learned a language.  I intend to go to that camp again, and become a counselor after that.  The camp showed me that learning a language can not only be fun, but can also bring a group of people together.
	年 is Chinese for year, pronounced nián.  This 年 I got the chance to move to China with my family, which provided the perfect opportunity to learn Chinese.  I started taking classes to learn to speak Chinese as well as the calligraphy, which interests me even more than alternative alphabets, because each word gets its own symbol.  In ancient times, Chinese calligraphy was thought to express the writer's soul, because to have good calligraphy one needed confidence and patience.  This makes it that much more interesting to learn Chinese.  You can express an idea and use its expression to learn about yourself.  While I have the chance, I'm going to learn as much as I can.
	My deep interest in languages has helped me not just to learn languages, but to make friends and to be better at learning.  Most things can be thought of as a kind of language, and as soon as I see it that way nothing can stop me learning about it.  Math, for example, is a language.  It has its words; plus, minus, times, divided by, and the numbers.  I can arrange them into sentences to create a meaningful statement.  As I get to higher level math, I learn more complex words like exponents and variables.  These let me say more intricate things.  Languages define social interactions, not just allowing us to communicate with each other but controlling how we communicate.
	Knowing many languages creates a unique opportunity to communicate with others and with oneself.  Most languages do not translate perfectly, and as you learn the different words in different languages, you gain a deeper knowledge of meaning.  In Na'vi, 'I' am oe.  In Russian, 'I' am Я.  In French 'I' am je.  In Chinese, 'I' am 我。All these languages have helped me to discover myself.

4 responses »

  1. Tory, I can’t imagine doing what you have done… moving halfway around the world. Three cheers for you and your family! (Something was lost – on my computer anyway – with the essay. Hope to read it soon!). Gillian and I both had the same reaction today when told Gillian had a phone call. “TORY ?????” Enjoy your time, and keep on writing!

    • I am! I was so glad he let me post this. Often he can’t, for a lot of reasons, express his feelings verbally but when I read his writing I feel like I am looking through a little window into his mind. It is a gift to get to know him better. He is so excited to have the weight of the college application issue over!

  2. I remember when you mentioned that on the airplane there you wanted him to write the essay. It seems like he has really gotten clarity from being there on how learning these languages has really made a difference for him.

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