opinion

Self-Ionization

First off, friends, sorry for not blogging for more than a month. It’s been hectic, a marathon of weekends full of academic competitions (yes, I spend my Saturdays at high schools taking tests.)

In Chemistry I PAP TAG last year, near the end of school, I was taught the self- ionization of water. It was scandalous that pure water wasn’t so pure after all–the concentration of hydroxide ions (OH-) and hydrogen ions (H+) multiply to a slim sum of 1.0*10^-14.

The high school I go to has few people of color, the majority of whom are Asian. This is a direct contrast from the school I used to go to, where there were hordes of Asians in comparison to a few white middle-schoolers sprinkled around like salt on a pretzel.

What I’ve noticed in two, such-differing environments is that Asians tend to stick to themselves–that is, Asians spend time around other Asians (with an occasional white kid), and white children around other white children. Everyone seems complacent; no one complains. It’s been ingrained in our school system almost naturally. Given the emphasis on integration within the late-20th century, it makes you wonder why. 

One hypothesis is that Asians just have more exposure and more in common with other Asians. After all, we frequent the same few restaurants, supermarkets, and bakeries geared toward the Asian community in Dallas.  We’ve gone to the same after-school centers and preschools for years in a row. An early introduction, combined with forced meetings, naturally leads to more natural interactions later on. The more we get to know each other, the more we’re hooked. Once children progress through middle and high school, we’re less likely to make new friends and are more willing to stay with old ones.

Socioeconomic factors may play a role as well. In my former and current community, Asians were less well-off economically; we mostly lived in the cookie-cutter, typical suburban section, while our neighborhood’s white residents lived in older, more-expensive houses. Here in my current community, the same is typically true. Asians tend to focus on academic performance and its accompanying measures of success, such as SAT scores, math and science competitions, and scientific research. While we cram for AMC, an average white kid of the same neighborhood might be working a job, playing sports, lying in bed with friends, or swimming at the lake house.

Whatever the case, it’s important that we meet new people in all stages of life, regardless how cozy we are in our current circles of friends and acquaintances. New people bring in fresh perspectives ranging in a variety of topics; these new friends build up our personal storehouse of wisdom, our jar of memories that we can cling onto for a lifetime.

–MX

 

 

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personal, time capsule

*Freshman Reflections

It’s the Fourth of July weekend, which means summer barbeques, slices of watermelon wider than your head, a lazy afternoon by the pool, and some fireworks to cap this day off.

This long weekend also means that it has been a little over a month since the conclusion of my first year in high school. I’ve decided to write some reflections, and the * in front of the title means this post will go in the “Time Capsule” category. Hopefully, in a few years down the line, I’ll be able to look back and see how much I will have grown!

The first thing that comes to mind when I think of the past school year is the sheer number of new friends that I have met. I’ve been blessed to meet such wonderful people. It definitely took a while to grow out of that awkward middle school shell I was stuck inside of. Enforced by the traditional mentality of my parents…actually, just my mom, I’ve always been “friends” with peers of my own gender and, on the most part, race. It’s been nothing to think twice about until high school. However, as I acclimated to the foreign environment of high school, portrayed in so many different ways in the media I consumed before freshman year, I began to slip out of my old shell and discovered what was around me. I stopped lying to myself; instead, with my newfound openness, I managed to see the hidden treasures who were lying around me this whole time. More and more of my friends whom I felt I could spend an entire day with. They were also older–the upperclassmen, especially sophomores and juniors, welcomed my spectacular ways and allowed me to see who I really wanted to be. Someone who could see beyond the dizzying display of numbers of high school, the eery GPA, those sneaky grades, the first and second ranks–the data-crunching of our times. Someone who is honest, a bit sardonic, very sarcastic, and with just the right amount of wit. Someone who cares about not only himself and his piece of paper worth more than blood, fresh off the press, to send to various admissions officers who will forget him in a snap. It’s been great, those lunches filled with laughs and devoid of food, the after-school meet-ups at the local favorite, those discussions, wacky or not, we had everywhere in the school building.

Immediately after that thought came the next one, hand-in-hand with the previous one: how much have my classmates changed! Some have for the better (as you’ll see in the next paragraph), some for the worse (unfortunately, the more common of the two). It has been a gradual process, like prisoners digging a hole to escape with a single spoon. Just like this scenario, the effects are long-lasting and felt throughout the prison, or school (they’re basically synonyms). The hallways of the school are filled with rumors of every sort: who’s doing what for extracurriculars, who has the highest grade in bio, who’s smoking, who’s planning to take this-and-that course the next year… the list goes on and on and will do so until my classmates find something better to do. Such rumors have been drilled inside their heads as well, like a woodpecker, biting into the flesh and fabric of our unity as friends or even just people who can stand being in the same room. The grade-chasers, just as eager as the tornado-chasers of our Tornado Alley, hunt down every piece of juicy gossip and every way to bump that 96.6 to a 96.7–because that .1 difference will catch the eye of everyone who passes by and will drastically change your life. The lies, the back-stabbing, the back-talking throughout the school year could easily be part of the plot of a cheesy daytime soap opera. Except in real life, when Steve kisses Ashley, Debra can’t just kill Steve or she’ll go to DAEP; she has to spread rumors like butter on toast until everyone can feel the unctuous effect of the knife that kills all.

However, the Polaris of my path for understanding high school was also the last period of each school day: Chemistry I PAP TAG. It’s in this thriving environment in which I seek solace. It’s in this classroom in which I met so many new and interesting people whom I can connect to, including two of my fellow freshmen. I could write another blog post about this class, but I’ll just leave off with one word: life-changing.

Finally, a note about band. It was great for the most part, but I never felt quite included as the other kids. There were mentors and laughs along the way, but cookie crumbs can’t substitute the cookie. It’s time I see what life is like without.

Here’s to a merry year, a year of laughter and hope and friendship for all.

~MX