By Stella Feng, Staff Writer.
My first encounter with Christine, or Huang Qiaoyi, was in my Freshman year. She sat right across me in the math class. To be honest, I wasn’t familiar with her at the time. All I knew about her was that, although she was a tenth grader, she was new to LCA just as I was two years ago as a freshman
Christine started school in the States in 8th grade at Foothill Middle School, a public middle school “sized two and a half LCAs” in the so-called “mini China” Arcadia, California. However, in 9th grade, she arrived at the other side of the continent and enrolled in Dublin School in New Hampshire. It was a mountain school with a giant lake, and she was the only international girl in that remote town. The reason for her to make the decision to go to a radically different school is that Christine’s parents were too busy to take care of her, and she wanted to live by herself.
Christine thought her high school experience was drastically different from middle school, but she could not tell if it was because of the change of east and west, day to boarding, or of the public to private school. In Arcadia, restaurants, malls, and stores were all in walking distance. But in Dublin, the only store on the mountain was a twenty-minute walk away. But there were some advantages in that boarding school: camping trips. “We couldn’t shower or use our phone for a week, and we had to live in a tent and start the fire by ourselves,” Christine explained, “but it was fun; we did barbeque in the mountains.”
Every two or three months, Dublin school would have a two hours shuttle to Boston. As a city girl, Christine found herself in love with it. She later went to the summer school at Boston University with her elementary school classmate Bella Xu, majoring in journalism and psychology. Bella showed her around Boston that summer, and Christine made up her mind to go to a school in Boston. This was how she really began her journey to LCA.
Christine said that she actually knew few LCA students before her transfer through her biggest hobby: gaming. She started to play League of Legend in 2013, and, apart from that, she also plays various PC games on Steam including Portal, PUBG, Far Cry, Undertale and etc. She once even achieves Platinum V Tire in League of Legend in one season. Besides playing games, Christine also spends her time watching other gamers stream their gameplay on Twitch and Youtube. She has learned many techniques from these gamers and continues to improve her gaming skill to this day.
Playing games with LCA students, she sometimes heard the students complaining that they had to “go downstairs and sign in for their study hall” or talking about other slices of dorm life. It was all these small details that connected Christine with LCA and eventually made her part of our community.
After I got back from Christmas break my freshmen year, I realized the seat across my table was empty. Christine quit school for one semester after only four months of school in LCA; she went back to her hometown Shenzhen, China. When I asked other people about why Christine was absent, all they told me was that it was because she got a little brother, which was not a very convincing story to me.
When I carefully approached Christine with the question of that why she left the school two years ago, she replied calmly, firmly without any hesitation, “My mom got postpartum depression after gave birth to my brother.” That is the reason why Christine went back to China to take care of her mother. Because of the one-child policy in China, Christine’s mother had not taken care of any child for a long time. The birth of the little boy almost destroyed her.
LCA policy suggests that, if a student misses a certain number of classes, they are recommended to repeat a year of study. If Christine wanted to enter 11th grade in September, she would have to take many online courses to make up the missing credits and final exams for physics and math. That was what she did, and she also taught herself AP macro and microeconomics and passed the exam with two full scores.
It was a hard and stressful time for Christine. “My mom had suicidal thought at the time, so she could leave me at any time.” It was discouraging for Christine that she could not go to school, and that was not because she did not want to; it was because she could not. Christine claimed that for a long time, she was on the verge of a mental breakdown. She couldn’t learn anything because she could not focus.
“But I later learned how to calm down, well, partly because my mom was getting better,” Christine uttered like this was the supplemental information to the previous sentence. She could now enter the flow state and focus on her work anytime, anywhere. She managed to complete all of the courses, passed all the exams, and successfully returned to the school as a junior.
“And I still get homesick, sometimes, especially when I’m busy,” said Christine, who thought for a while after I asked her about whether she still misses her home. “I will watch videos of people in China recording their daily life, like, going downstairs and buying breakfast for themselves. That will make me feel much, much better.”
Although Christine’s tone during the interview was calm and not quite emotional, I could clearly feel the power behind it. Just like herself, an optimistic, hopeful yet resilient person in the LCA community, a wonderful friend and great role model. She continues to be extremely busy. In fact, we conducted this interview while she worked on her Statistics homework; this is how busy she is. But despite the intensity of her schedule, it is and has been wonderful to have her in the North Campus these years, and we hope her college application process goes well.