The Joy of Learning

Describe the world you come from — for example, your family, community or school — and tell us how your world has shaped your dreams and aspirations.

Home-schooled. For the longest time, I assumed that all children, like me, were homeschooled by their mothers. I attended Chinese school and art classes, but my mother delivered my first history lesson around our kitchen table––with an Odyssey globe and a trip to the library. Together, we traced Columbus’ journey to the West Indies, read books aloud about the Jamestown settlers, and re-enacted the Pilgrims’ first Thanksgiving. Later, school continued seamlessly into a lesson on fractions as we measured flour for zucchini bread. On another day, we had science class while working in the garden, peering at soil critters through a magnifying glass. I did not know it at the time, but I was doing school, and I fell in love with it.

Over the years, my school routine and learning style have morphed, but my delight for learning has not. Be it analyzing an APUSH assignment or practicing for a piano concert, I look forward to the joys each new day brings. When I started taking local classes in ninth grade, I was surprised to earn a reputation for being a “smart” student; up until then, I had supposed that my thirst for learning and drive for excellence were norms, not exceptions. I did not realize it then, but I had picked up many of my...

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