We all exist within communities or groups of various sizes, origins, and purposes; pick one and tell us why it is important to you, and how it has shaped you.
Although I grew up in Massachusetts, my parents are Chinese immigrants and it's important to me to retain my Chinese heritage. While English is my primary language and I use it in all exchanges outside the home, I am bilingual and speak fluent Chinese when at home with my parents. This public-private division of language has become natural to me and it feels strange to speak Chinese in public because, for me, it is a personal, private language confined to my family. Beyond speaking Chinese, I have stayed rooted in Chinese culture by celebrating holidays such as the Lunar Moon Festival, and observing traditions such as receiving a “hong bao” (a lucky red envelope with money commonly given to children) on holidays. At college, I look forward to sustaining and deepening my connection to my Chinese heritage by joining a community of other Chinese-American students.
I swim about forty-seven weeks of the year and, not surprisingly, the swim team has become like a second family to me. Most everything I do is done with my eclectic and absolutely hysterical teammates. We eat, swim, volunteer, and work together; whenever I am with them, I feel accepted and loved for just being me. Beyond boosting my confidence, my teammates have truly opened all sorts of doors for me in life. Thanks to an invitation from a teammate, I went to Africa and I even went to a Zumba class (something I never would have done if my teammates hadn’t dragged me along). This year, I have the privilege and honor of being Captain; my hope is to sustain our traditions (especially Friday breakfast) and to lead in a way that everyone on the team gets as much from her experience as I have from mine.