One in an occasional series. We ask an achiever to detail some of the process:
The achiever: Zi Yang, 18, a senior at Charlotte Country Day, moved to the United States from the Zhejiang province of China three years ago, with limited English ability.
The achievement: Zi is now student-body president Country Days first ESL student to be elected to this position as well as president of the student senate and president of the international club.
Best part about being student body president: I always consider Charlotte Country Day School as a life-changing place for me I appreciate how much this community has kindly offered me. Although being a student-body president is not easy, Im very excited that my peers can trust me with this position. I look forward to working with them and further improving this place, in the best way I can.
Choosing to study abroad: Like many other students who want to study abroad, I was curious about how people live on the other side of Earth and how people think about issues under a totally different social and political system. High school and college can be two of the most important adventures in ones lifetime. Since I was already used to the Chinese way of learning and perceiving things, I thought coming to U.S.A. would be a good chance for me to walk out of my comfort zone and experience something new.
Advice to students unfamiliar with the United States: Culture shock and language barriers can be tough initially I still remembered when I first came here I used language barrier to justify my low performance in English class and uninteresting social life, but if one wishes to fit in and do well, language should no longer be an excuse Dont keep yourself away from friends. If you are not a big fan of talking, you can always be a good listener.
Staying focused: I set myself long-term goals and break them down to small steps; this keeps me on the right track.
Maintaining motivation: Its a great privilege for me to come here and experience the differences. I really appreciate those people who provide me with this chance, especially for my family; they have always been my most reliable backup whenever I need assistance. They keep me motivated and remind me that whatever situation Im in, Im not fighting alone.
Secrets to success: My English wasnt the best during my first year here... But my friends never discouraged me from talking; they genuinely pointed out my mistakes and helped me to improve. Im really grateful for their tolerance and assistance. Treat people the way you want to be treated, because everyone has their own difficulties. Some of us might have family issues that we never brought up with friends, and some of us might be afraid of talking because of language barriers Dont be afraid of doing good things because they are small, because some of your effort might do your friend a huge favor.