Please enjoy our first in a series of posts by Emily, our Student Blogger.
According to the astrologists, professionals, and my gut, 2020 seems inevitably doomed in many aspects of our lives: physical health, mental health, relationships, society, politics, and so much more. Not to be a pessimist or anything—I think some change and growth have been long overdue. The uncertainty and turmoil has forced us to re-evaluate and reflect, to take a good look at ourselves and the world around us with clearer eyes. Perhaps we’ve been too comfortable, too complacent about the status quo.
How people deal with these changes is different for everyone, which may cause a little (or a lot) of discomfort seeing as this is uncharted territory for many of us. And I am no exception. I am especially not an exception, because my circumstances have allowed me to live in a quiet bubble for practically my entire seventeen years of existence. Maybe I had always sensed that bubble just under the surface, but the outside world had never hit me as hard as it did this year. It didn’t help that I was a natural homebody, or that the only glimpses I caught of other people’s marginalization were few and far between.
I first learned about the “model minority” myth when Black Lives Matter seeped into my social media, bringing along with it talks of race, inequality, American history, privilege, and social norms. And one day, a particular post about Asian-Americans made me realize that despite all the conversations I was having with friends, I had never attempted to breach the topic with my own parents. Was I scared? Of course. I knew that their perspective as Chinese immigrants was that America was their second chance, and that very little could be worse in America than in China. But when I saw those Instagram posts about having “difficult conversations” with friends and family, I don’t think I fully comprehended just how difficult those conversations really were.
“Would you dare to live in a place with no police?” was my mother’s first question to me, looking utterly baffled at the idea that anyone would want to get rid of the people who are meant to protect us. I didn’t have a good enough answer to that, so I instead tried to inform her about the model minority I had recently learned about. How we’re so used to staying quiet and obedient that we don’t speak up even when the problem is right in front of us. But she only nodded and agreed, adding that “yes, we do seem more obedient and unproblematic”—as if it was a good thing. As if keeping our heads down and playing the part expected of us was the right thing to do. As if the chaos was caused by “them,” not “us.”
God. Is that really what society has molded us into? Law-abiding little sheep that shy away from conflict for the sake of keeping peace? Even if “keeping peace” really meant silencing those who want their voices heard—both “them” and “us”?
The conversation died easily (almost too easily), mostly because my mother was busy washing the dishes and I was busy trying to swallow the lump in my throat.
The wave of support and collaboration this global pandemic has set in motion within the admission profession has been inspiring to see. Colleagues in high schools and colleges are sharing resources and remaining student-centered while adjusting to the challenges at hand.
As we meet with high school students, we feel their sadness, frustration and sometimes anxiety. The isolation and uncertainty of the pandemic is now compounded by police brutality and chaos in communities across America. Because writing can be cathartic for many, we at Avalon encourage any student to submit a one page “opinion piece” to be posted on our blog and/or featured in our newsletter.
Read on for our June 2020 newsletter.
“This crisis has created, in essence, thousands of laboratories across the nation experimenting with different approaches to teaching, to learning, to evaluation, to assessment and we will be looking to see which experiments have been more successful, which haven’t,” University of Washington President Ana Cauce said. “We will be leading with that science. There’s no question we already are.”
The pandemic is negatively affecting schools in many ways. They aren’t just experiencing shortages due to cuts in state spending. They need funding to: feed children and families in hard-hit communities, help millions of students make up for learning time they’ve lost while home, and make sure schools are safe when children do finally return to class.