Our Global Community: Shi (Lily) Chen

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This article was first posted in the 2016 issue of Hamptonia.

Lily arrived at New Hampton School in the fall of 2012 having never visited campus. Admittedly nervous and uncertain about her decision to attend a boarding school in the United States, Lily has modeled determination, patience, empathy and commitment ever since she embarked on her high school journey. An outstanding violinist, scientist, tennis player, and full International Baccalaureate (IB) student, Lily has embraced Husky Nation and reflects thoughtfully on what she’s gained from her four years on campus.

You just finished your exams. How are you feeling?

I think it went alright. I prepared well for some subjects, but for Spanish and history, I think it went a little…not that well. But I think I passed all the exams — that’s the main goal.

What did you learn from being a full IB student?

In the beginning of my junior year, it was very stressful for IB because we had a lot of stuff going on, and I had to prepare for the SAT and also for CAS (Creativity, Activity, Service). I think what I learned the most about was managing my time and all the tasks I had to complete. And, I learned how to deal with my stress.

When you came to New Hampton were you planning to be an IB student?

Not really. When I arrived, I had little knowledge of IB. In China, we mainly talk about AP. So, when I first learned about the curriculum, I thought it was the same thing as AP. Since I have enrolled in IB, I have learned it’s more challenging than AP because we have more things to do. This is different than in China, where you can just take the exam and you don’t have to take a class. I think it’s more challenging here.

What’s next for you after New Hampton?

I’m going to Davidson College in North Carolina.

How did you pick Davidson?

It seems more focused on undergraduate education than a big university where there are undergraduates and graduates, and there are so many people. I think I can get more attention, more help, especially the career help from advisors. Also, I heard from other students that Davidson has really challenging academics, so I think it’s going to prepare me more for the future.

Did the community here influence your process when you started thinking about college?

Yes, the Davidson admission representative came to New Hampton several times and I was able to meet her. She was very nice and friendly. My college counselor, Mrs. Berry, often told me that a liberal arts college might be a better fit for me instead of a big university because I’m sometimes shy and not very outgoing. I talked to her about my decision, and she fully supported me.

How are you different now than when you first arrived?

I remember when I first I arrived I was very, very nervous and overwhelmed because I didn’t know anyone here. I was shy about speaking English because I thought I had a strong accent, and I felt the people here were perfect English speakers. I practiced my English in my dorm, in classes and during presentations which helped my confidence a lot. I took public speaking classes at New Hampton. Over the years, I think I’ve become more confident in and out of classes, and more willing to participate in various activities in school.

What are you most proud of?

Most proud of? I think my public speaking skills. In China we don’t have to do presentations in front of our classmates. Here, we had to do a lot of presentations, and we also had to act as teachers in class and teach our classmates. I think that’s the most important thing that I learned here.

What was the biggest surprise when you first came to study in the US?

The biggest surprise was how the class was organized, and how the teacher really wanted to make every student involved in the class, instead of just teaching you information and taking exams. I was also surprised by how important athletics are in the US. In China we just stay in a classroom the whole time doing classwork. But here you really try to balance your academics, sports and other hobbies.

What are you going to take with you when you leave here, in addition to the public speaking you mentioned earlier?

Confidence. That’s a big part, because now I know what my strengths are, and also what my weaknesses are. In the next four years, I will try to improve the weaknesses, but also I will use my strengths in a lot of activities or classes. I will try to get out of my comfort zone during college and do something new.

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