1). Where did you grow up and why did you decide to attend Fryeburg Academy?
I grew up in Hangzhou. I came to Fryeburg as a freshman and I will graduate in May. I have a much older sister who went to America for college. Since Kindergarten, my mother would talk about how she was studying abroad and it sounded like a cool thing, so I thought, OK, I’ve got to go study in America, too. I’ve studied English from a young age and went to Greentown International School. They have a special program there for students who want to study abroad after middle school; Greentown International School offers four special courses taught in English, so I think it prepared me well for my English language skill. After eighth grade, I attended a program to focus on TOEFL and then I applied to three American schools. I learned about Fryeburg Academy from another student and explored the website. Also, at Greentown, they have an assembly where they share information about American schools and have profiles that you can review. I selected the region I was interested in and focused on schools there.
2.) How has your experience been at FA? Are there any particular classes, teachers, or clubs that you loved while here?
I think about who I was before I came to Fryeburg Academy compared to today, and I’m totally different. In the past, I didn’t have many opportunities to show what I could do; I was quiet and I didn’t want to speak up in class even when teachers would call on me. Also, in China, there are so many students in a class and there are fewer opportunities for leadership and clubs. When I came here, I attend some clubs, but it’s not like I decided I was going to show myself. I just pushed myself a little bit at a time and the teachers were also encouraging me and gradually I realized maybe I have the potential to be a student with good academics.
I remember the moment I received my first-grade report: I had all B’s, and only in health I attained an A when everyone around me had all A’s. I felt so bad. So after the first month, I felt like I’m here to study so I need to finish all the homework and pay attention in class. After I adjusted my study habits, my grades improved every month. At that point, my parents had not seen my grades so it was myself realizing I needed to make some changes. I think that was one of my turning points.
I also loved the opportunities for clubs. For example, I joined the Math Team in my freshman year and I went to two practices but I quit because I thought there were so many seniors who were so great and I thought I would never become as good as them. Then in my sophomore year, I went to three practices and one meet and my grades were pretty good; Mr. Gus said he didn’t realize I was so good at Math. By my junior year, I was going to every practice and every meet! And at the end of the semester, Mr. Gus asked me if I wanted to be the Captain. I didn’t say yes right away because I was so surprised. It was the same month I was writing my college essay and I think OK this is the moment I go to the next level, and so I say, I’ll be the captain. In my freshman year, I see some Chinese students who speak in the all-school meeting and I think they are so cool, I never thought at that moment that I would be speaking in front of the school one day. And, the same when I heard that there will only be only one proctor in the dorm this year and 4 or 5 people were interested I think I can’t be the one. Now I’m a senior and when I look back at my freshman year I am so different.
It’s not like myself to push myself outside my comfort zone; it’s more like Fryeburg Academy give me the opportunities. FA offers so many opportunities for a person to get involved and maybe a student will discover new subjects of interest. For example, I explored my interest in film. When I first went to film class, it was totally different than I originally thought --it was just so interesting. I love the creative process of creating a story, developing it into shots, and finally becoming the film. At first, it’s just an idea and in the end, it evolves into a whole video. It was such an amazing experience that I even used my dorm Olympics short film as my college essay.
3.) What are some memorable moments from your time as a student here?
Friends. On my first day here, my friends were Crystal and Joyce, and Miko came a year later; we have all been best friends for all four years. I’ve found that studying in a quiet place in a small town is better because people become really close friends. We don’t have a lot of fancy restaurants or gathering places in town like a big city, but we play games and watch movies in the common room which is also very fun. I remember one time during our freshman year we all climbed the small mountain across from Long River, called Jockey Cap. It’s this moment of my first time on top of Jockey Cap with my friends that is one of my most memorable moments at FA.
4.) After FA, where did you plan to attend college and what do you plan to study? How did FA prepare you for the next step in your educational journey?
I just finished my University of California application today. I really want to go there because I will have many family friends there, and it would be convenient. I applied for the undeclared social science and business program. I definitely feel Fryeburg prepared me for college because there are many APs. And, all the AP offerings is one of the reasons I chose FA. This year I’ve taken AP Calculus BC, Ap Stats, AP Computer Science Principles, and AP Physics. Last year, I took AP Calculus and AP American History.
5.) Do you have any words of wisdom to share with students who are considering Fryeburg Academy?
Get out of your comfort zone. There are a lot of opportunities to explore, and even if you don’t push yourself, there will always be someone encouraging you here, saying, you can do it! Most of the time it was not me thinking I would try something, but it was my teachers who encouraged me to try new things. I think that is a big factor that helped me grow as a person. I would also tell students that the dorm life is so good because they always have a lot of activities. And dorm parents like Mrs.Pouzal are so nice. I feel like she is like my parent sometimes because whenever I have a problem, I go to her; she is so warm and she always says it will be fine, it will be OK.
I think sometimes people hesitate to come because of the location and I would say I do not regret coming here. The small community makes you feel warm and close to teachers and close to friends. And, my parents think I made a good choice to come here. If one of my parent’s friends say their son or daughter would like to study in America, my parents always recommend Fryeburg Academy.