Throughout high school, I have maintained a careful balance between school, work and volunteering in my community. I embodied my strong sense of responsibility and dedication from my parents, who are successful entrepreneurs. They moved here from our native China just twenty years ago and struggled very hard to build a successful business. I work with them in their store, providing customers with quality care and service, even during harsh blizzard conditions.
As a first-generation Chinese-American, I am also committed to helping new arrivals adjust to life in the United States. For the past two years, I have accompanied my mother each month to the Chinese-American Support Center, a mecca in San Diego for new arrivals from mainland China. Although everyone has the proper visas and documents to legally live here, few have a mastery of English sufficient to succeed independently in our culture. I play with the children, sing songs with them and conduct basic lessons in English.
I also read to senior citizens, who desperately want to keep abreast of news back in their homeland. Since Chincese newspapers are unavailable here, I translate relevant news stories from the Los Angeles Times and the San Francisco Chronicle.
I also conduct an informal class in American culture for high school students and young adults. As a teenager, "fitting in" requires a mastery of clothing, slang, music and other types of entertainment. My role is that of supportive friend who eagerly shows new arrivals the social opportunties that abound in San Diego. I take groups of Chinese friends to rock concerts, football games and to the beach. I explain the relevance of SAT exams, Ivy League schools and community colleges. I also inspire them with the realization that America is a land of unparalled hope and opportunity. Whatever their...