Here's Our Team ! !
Members: Thomas Li, Jay Lu, Elaine Chen, Philip Chen
Hi there! My name is Thomas Li, and I am the editor-in-chief of the Canada section. Speaking a bit about myself, I am 16 years old and currently live in Toronto, Canada as an international high school student. I go to Crestwood Preparatory College and am about to enter grade 12/senior next year.
I was born in 2004 and lived a happy childhood in Shenzhen, China. From 2010 to 2016, I attended the Yitian Primary School in Shenzhen, where I developed a lot of interests in the school clubs: chess, badminton, music, etc. I did not disregard my academics either. My grades for all courses were A’s and I had particular interests in Math and English. This was perhaps the reason why I later decided to study abroad. In the summer of 2016, I went to Canada as an international student. I attended Glen Dhu Public School in Whitby during my grade 7 and 8 years. As every international student would experience, the language barrier was a big thing for me and caused quite some stress to overcome. I encouraged myself to speak with native Canadians to improve my English skills and eventually became decently fluent in English after two years. On the other side, adapting to this different environment includes familiarizing myself with the Canadian education system as well. Although I tried to fit into the curriculum, the difference in learning methods between the two countries prevented me from demonstrating my true ability — my mark dropped dramatically. However, the good thing was that I had much more time outside of class than before to develop more interests and skills, such as saxophone and swimming. The situation changed after I entered high school, Crestwood Preparatory College located in North York. I was motivated by the school’s honor roll and worked harder on my academics than ever before. Fortunately, I achieved a mark of 90+ and never fell below that until now, the end of grade 11/junior.
After some history, let me talk about what my life is like! I spend a lot of my time on academics, but I also enjoy the spare time when I can do the things I like. I love playing video games (Genshin Impact the most!) with my friends when I’m free. And before the pandemic, my friends and I would go out for eating, movies, and many more fun activities! When I am alone, I like watching anime and reading novels, in which I am always too immersed in them that I forget the time! Another thing I like is music, especially playing saxophone by myself or in the band. I joined my school’s jazz band and the Toronto Youth Wind Orchestra, where we have practises every week and performances every year. Next, I want to talk about sports. I started swimming when I was in grade 5, and continued with it until now. I was in the school’s varsity swimming team and also the ROC swim club outside of school. Swimming helps me to release pressure from study when I can have the freedom to swim across the pool however I like. Additionally, I love badminton, either playing casually with my friends on weekends or representing my school’s team in a tournament. Badminton, just like swimming, greatly enhances my physical strength and ability. Recently, I have stopped these sports due to the pandemic, but I wish to return to them as soon as possible.
At school, I am a hard-working student. At home, I enjoy life with a lot of hobbies and interests. Now in my community, I fill my time with tons of extracurricular activities. First, I have done a lot of volunteer activities in numerous events. These include teaching, event ambassador, support crew, and Chinese New Year performer (and of course the editor-in-chief for this blog!), just to name a few. Participating in volunteering can bring positive change to my community and benefit other people, and this is why I love it! Besides volunteering, I also participate in math contests outside of school. I spend a lot of time preparing for them in the hope to receive awards. In fact, I have received many top 25% certificates across various math contests. Finally, AP (advanced placement) courses and exams are my ways to enhance my learning outside of class. I have done 4 AP courses and exams and have gained a deep understanding of certain subjects.
So, here is me, Thomas Li! (it rhymes…) With my knowledge and experience in Canada, I hope to provide you with helpful and interesting information regarding many aspects of Canada. A big shout out to the other members: Jay, Elaine, and Philip, awesome people from whom you will be reading the blogs! Have a great experience with reading our blogs about Canada!
Hello everyone, my name is Elaine Chen, the editor of the Canada section. I am now 17 years old and am a rising grade 12. I was born on June 23, 2004, in Shanghai, China. I am currently enrolled in a private school in Toronto, Canada called Crestwood Preparatory College. Long story short, I will introduce myself to let you know the real me.
I consider myself a quiet person. I love music and playing instruments, specifically Zhongruan (a Chinese traditional musical instrument). It has been eight years since I first started playing it in grade 1. When I was in grade 3, I got into my school’s Chinese folk music band, fortunately, and followed it to perform in many places across the country. After one year, I entered the Shanghai Yangpu District Chinese Folk Music Orchestra Division II, an influential orchestra with many performances every year. The most famous performances were the Eastern Six Plus One Performance and the Yangtze River Delta Performance. After I attended Crestwood in grade 9, the time when I started my journey of studying abroad in Canada, I also joined the school’s jazz band. To be honest, I feel like music is my life. I really love it!!! When I have free time, I would practise Zhongruan for 30 minutes to 1 hour. When I do my homework, I listen to the music I like, which calms me down and relieves my stress. I also love drawing and reading. If I got time, all I want to do is to read the books I like, such as The Great Gatsby, The Death of a Salesman, and The Little Prince, and create artwork for my favorite characters and settings. Besides, I play video games, such as Genshin Impact to relax when I’m feeling tons of pressure.
I also love sports! My favorite ones are badminton, soccer, and swimming. I participated in the school’s swim team and badminton team. The thing I like about Canada is that it gives you many opportunities to try the things you like. When I was in the school’s teams, I didn’t feel upset about my poor skills but rather spent more energy on the opportunities to determine whether I’m interested in certain things. When I was young, I always participated in badminton training, in which I improved my skill and increased my chances of exercise. In 2018, the first year that I came to Canada, I took part in a two-hour badminton training every week in order to maintain my skill in badminton. After the pandemic has struck the world, unfortunately, I couldn’t keep the weekly training on badminton. However, I still persisted in a 30-minute aerobic/anaerobic exercise every day.
Na～here is me — the truest Elaine. I would love to introduce you to every aspect of Canada! Enjoy it!
Hello, my name is Philip Chen. I am sixteen years old and I live in Toronto, Canada. I will be attending eleventh grade at William Lyon Mackenzie Collegiate Institute in September 2021. I am fluent in three languages: English, Mandarin, and French. I am also able to communicate at a very basic level in Spanish and I aspire to become fluent in the future. Additionally, I hope to learn Italian, German, Portuguese, and Russian (in that order) to a fluent degree after Spanish.
I was born on March 8, 2005, in Scarborough (Toronto), Ontario to Chinese immigrant parents. I began attending preschool when I was three and transitioned to junior kindergarten when I was four. In the summer after junior kindergarten, my family (my father, my mother, and my younger brother Daniel) moved to Whitby, Ontario. I moved between schools frequently throughout my elementary school years: I spent senior kindergarten at Glen Dhu Public School, grades one to three at Julie Payette Public School in French Immersion, grades four to seven at Jack Miner Public School in the gifted program, and grade eight at John Dryden Public School, again in French Immersion.
Although the constant switching of schools proved to be very inconvenient in some ways, it did not prevent me from participating in numerous extracurricular activities. I started taking piano lessons when I was seven years old and now, almost ten years later, I am beginning to come to an end in my piano journey. My accomplishments as a pianist include earning my Associate Diploma (ARCT) in piano (the highest academic standing awarded by the RCM Certificate Program), winning several local piano competitions, and qualifying for provincial and regional level piano competitions numerous times.
Along with piano, my other most notable extracurriculars are competitive swimming and the Royal Canadian Air Cadets. I participated in both activities for around two years before the global COVID-19 pandemic cut them off. I swam competitively for the ROC Clarington Swim Club and participated in swim practices, dryland training, and swim meets. As for Air Cadets, I was a Corporal in the 2 VadenBos Whitby Royal Canadian Air Cadet Squadron.
At school, I am a very hardworking student and I have high standards for myself in terms of grades. This past school year (grade ten), I achieved an average of 99% and in grade nine my average was 97%. Aside from academics, I enjoy participating in sports teams at school. Throughout my student career, I have ran for my school’s cross-country team and played for my school’s soccer, volleyball, and cricket teams.
I have also acquired a lot of work experience throughout my years, both through paid work and unpaid volunteer work. My experience with paid work includes working as a newspaper deliverer, a self-employed sneaker reseller, and a piano teacher. Recently, I have become very fascinated with the stock market ever since learning about passive income and I am investing every dollar I earn. On the other hand, my experience with volunteer work includes being a leader at my local church’s summer camp for kids, distributing food at the Toronto Waterfront Marathon, participating in a dragon dance at the Toronto Dragon Festival, helping out during the 2019 Canadian federal election, and much more. Volunteering in my community has taught me many invaluable life lessons and I hope to amass at least 200 volunteer hours before I graduate from high school.
In my free time, I like to listen to music. Some of my favourite artists are Lil Tjay, Drake, Polo G, Pressa, and the Kid Laroi. My favourite sports are soccer and basketball and I enjoy playing both with friends and by myself, although playing with friends is much more fun. I also enjoy going out with my friends, whether it be to the mall, the movie theatre, a restaurant, or travelling somewhere; it doesn’t really matter to me as long as I’m outside. Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic has greatly restricted many of my favourite pastimes, forcing me to resort to stay-at-home pastimes such as watching Netflix. On the bright side, watching Netflix during the lockdown introduced me to many great cinema classics such as The Godfather and Scarface that sparked a new passion within me for movies. Oddly, unlike most people my age, I am not very interested in video games; I did turn to video games on a few occasions throughout the lockdown but quickly lost interest every time.
To conclude, that was more or less a summary of the story of my life. My life and my interests have been and continue to be shaped and influenced by a combination of both the occidental Canadian culture I live in and the oriental Chinese culture where my family roots originate from. Being a native Canadian whose mother tongue is English, I believe I can provide you with a great insight into the Great White North and the culture that thrives within its borders. I hope you enjoy reading my blogs and learn a lot from them, along with the blogs written by the rest of our wonderful crew.
After reading three autobiographies, I can only imagine how indifferent you are to read another one. Maybe you didn’t even make it through all of them, but that’s perfectly understandable. Teenagers’ lives are not always the most captivating (that’s an understatement). We are dull people, but I will spare no effort to make my introduction as riveting as possible, just like how I enliven my English assignments. Yes, this piece of writing is now on the same hierarchy level as a school assignment. Writing is the bane of my existence, and the sole reason for the completion of this task is for you to get to know me better. Why would you want to know me better? I haven’t the faintest idea. But hopefully, that was an adequate attempt to guilt-trip you into reading this.
If I had zero regard for your amusement, this would sound something like, “Hi there! My name is Jay Lu! Speaking a bit about myself, I am 17 years old and currently live in Toronto. I am a well-rounded student, blah blah blah… I am also involved in lots of extracurriculars, blah blah blah… Oh, and I also enjoy- blah blah blah…” You get the idea. I am a good kid. But so what? That’s not what you care about. I am sure there are millions of adolescents who are more decorated than yours truly. I’ve met individuals who are so polished that it made me question the purpose of my actuality. The truth is, I don’t stand out in the sense that I am academically excelling. Nor do I protrude in the manner of community proactivity. But if there was one thing you needed to know about me, it’s that I have lived many different lives as I persistently revamped myself in the past 17 years. From studying in China to studying in Canada. From being overweight and dispassionate about my health to being physically fit and a health influencer. From studying in a substandard public school filled with questionable people to studying in a private school also crowded with questionable people. From being bullied in school to being someone my peers look up to (this sounded narcissistic). From being the quiet kid who was too shy to ask for napkins to someone who’s actively seeking leadership roles. From being academically inferior in all my classes to being a sublime student. From being dejected and ashamed of myself to being self-contented. For every stage of my short yet eventful life, I undergo a continual process of character development. I can wholeheartedly say that I’ve lived through instances that every teenager has experienced or can at least relate to.
Being a part of this volunteering organization, my goal is not solely to describe what it’s like in Canada but to prepare you for your transition into a different community if you were to come to the country. Personally, due to the lack of information and a sense of direction, I struggled violently with integrating myself into the new environment when I first arrived in the country. I’d feel immense culpability to see you go through the same adversities I did, knowing I could’ve changed that. The takeaway from this self-introduction is that I am not out of reach. I am here as a helping hand to guide you through the hardship or obstacles you are dealing with. At the end of the day, none of this is about me. Your personal expedition is what’s important. If you have any questions or just need someone to talk to, reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Writers and Editors: Thomas, Elaine, Philip, Jay