When I first decided to transfer to Sewickley Academy, I did not know if this new school would be a good fit for me or what my last two years in high school would be like here. I was the scared and worried “freshman on board.” The fact that I’m an international student, with English as my second language, added even more pressure to the situation. Although I spent the previous two years in the United States at an international high school in New York before moving to Pittsburgh, Sewickley Academy is really the one and only American high school that I’ve attended. My mind was filled with both excitement and worry at the same time.
It turned out that all those worries and stress were just my imagination. Instead of being homesick, experiencing peer pressure, or having a hard time keeping up with the new curriculum, I found an atmosphere quite the opposite at SA. Ever since my first day of school, everyone has been welcoming and friendly. My advisor has been an especially supportive mentor to me. She patiently explained everything I needed to know as a member of the community and answered all of my questions. The very first day I joined the Academy, I knew I had made the right choice. Moreover, all my classmates and teachers have been caring, friendly, helpful, and understanding. For instance, my English teacher encourages me to not be afraid to speak up or give up writing just because English isn’t my first language. I am grateful for her support; without her advice and help, I may not have had the guts to submit writings to the school’s literary magazine. My friends have also been my peer advisors at the Academy. Looking back, I can’t thank them enough for introducing me to the clubs and activities that I find so enjoyable. I sincerely feel safe and grateful for the people that I can count on when I need support.
As a student with a Chinese passport who attends school in the U.S., I understand and have experienced first-hand some of the common worries people with a foreign cultural background have. I was one of those international students that felt scared about living in an entirely new culture and community. I also worried if the language barrier would make me the “outlier” and doubted my ability to succeed in a foreign environment. Yet, if someone were to ask me if I’ve had a valuable educational experience at Sewickley Academy, I would proudly reply with an affirmative answer. In a diverse, open-minded, and accepting place such as SA, everyone has potential and is capable of anything they are willing to work for. There are so many amazing people here with new perspectives to offer and new knowledge to learn from. The Academy taught me not to be afraid of anything and to pursue my interests. Two years ago, I wouldn’t even dare to think about being the president of two clubs and participating in all sorts of great activities and programs. Frankly speaking, I never thought that a person’s leadership, academic understanding, and personality could develop this much, this fast, before coming to SA.
As a senior applying to colleges, I am well aware that I am about to enter the next stage of my life. However, I am not worried about any challenges that may lie in front of me because what I’ve learned at SA has already prepared me with the most helpful tools for the future. I think wherever I go, I will always remember my last, and the most amazing, two years at Sewickley Academy. Having a chance to study at such a great school and to meet teachers and friends that are so supportive is truly a gift. I will always remember my SA experience with pride, rigor, and gratefulness.