Written by Charley Stern, Admission Outreach Coordinator
Being new requires surrender to the unknown. One month ago, I packed up my apartment in Los Angeles, where I had been working in the film and theater industries, and surrendered to that unknown. I filled my Mini Cooper with suitcases, my dog, Finnegan, and my dad – who decided to join in the adventure. And thus began the 3,000+ mile journey to extremely beautiful, extremely rural New Hampton School. I am a new kid.
I love being new – it holds that secret sauce of in-between-ness. There are butterflies, which come from an initial sense of loss. The place I was before this moment, now in the rearview. People I used to live with, work with, see at the coffee shop … Whoosh! All now in the past tense. But the possibilities, and the community that awaits on the other side … this is the reward that comes with the leap of faith. There may be times when I feel like a baby giraffe learning to walk, but this is the good stuff. In my first weeks here, I felt it was important to connect with fellow new kids on campus. I sat down with Teddy Sang, a new kid from China by way of Thailand and a member of my residential house, Caswell House.
Teddy Sang ’24
We often refer to kids who do cool things as rock stars. It’s an endearing term, hyperbolic though it may be. And then there’s Teddy – an actual rock star. For those who don’t yet know Teddy by name, they’ll know him as the guitar player who shredded the solo on Ozzy Osbourne’s Crazy Train with the Contemporary Performance Lab at Grandparents Day school meeting, feet firmly planted into the ground encased by a pair of hot pink Nike Dunks.
Last year, during the COVID-19 lockdown, Teddy found himself living in an apartment in Thailand, where his former school is located. He had no way to get home to his family in China, and they had no way of getting to him. COVID forced new things on all of us – for Teddy, it forced him to grow up fast. A 15-year-old kid living on his own in a different country, learning to take care of himself.
Charley: How have you found the transition to New Hampton?
Teddy: I love it here. Last year was so isolating, living on my own in Thailand. I had to learn how to take care of myself. It was really hard.
Charley: But you didn’t want to go back to living with your family after being stranded on your own for so long?
Teddy: I’m not built for the Chinese education system. Back there it’s study all day, take your test, and repeat. I love the arts. I love to ski and to mountain bike. Here at New Hampton these things are valued, and I get to pursue what I’m actually interested in.
Charley: Anything you weren’t prepared for?
Teddy: The cold! It was so hot in Thailand, that I didn’t think to bring warm pants here. I’ve been getting recommendations from friends though, and hear L.L. Bean has some lined with flannel!
Charley: Absolutely! I recommend the flannel-lined ones for especially cold days. Any homesickness?
Teddy: There’s some homesickness, being far away from my family and childhood friends. Some of my friends back home, I’ve known for many years. You don’t just instantly have that deep connection with new buddies. But I’ve made some very good friends here at New Hampton. And it’s been great to connect with fellow Chinese students, many of whom have been through a lot of ups and downs in the last year and half.
Charley: Has New Hampton been pushing you academically and preparing you for college?
Teddy: Absolutely. Especially in math, which I struggle in! I ask my friend Jerry – who’s in advanced Calculus – for a lot of help. He’s been a great tutor! And then the experience of going to school abroad, living in the dorms, navigating a new world – it’s certainly preparing me for college and life beyond New Hampton.
As new kids, we’ll settle in. We’ll learn the ins and outs of this place and we’ll acquire the proper clothes for the changing seasons. As I write this article, my colleague, Nick, enters my office and teaches me how the schedule blocks change from fall to winter to spring – a process far too complicated to understand without assistance. Luckily, New Hampton seems to be built to help us strike that balance between self-reliance and help from our new friends.