Dear Ms. Lovewood,

I hope this letter finds you well. Did you open this in surprise, not knowing what to expect? Behold. Letter writing is a sacred tradition carried on by those who still see the value of ink on a piece of crisp paper.

Letters are significant because they are more personalized and unique than text exchanges we give on a day-to-day basis. This traditional form of communication never loses its worth in our lives. So I’m once again writing letters.

I would like to take a sentence to once again thank you for an entire year’s worth of amazing lessons and thought-provoking discussions. I would also like to thank you for listening to my thoughts and for providing me a safe space to share it.

Now that junior year is ending. I will soon become a senior, so I think this is the best opportunity to speak candidly about my experience in high school.

To be frank, just like you and many other people in our community, I was oblivious about the different dynamics, discrimination, and otherwise blatant racism that exists in our school, and perhaps, within our community at large. In my earlier letter, I think I mentioned that my impression of the school community was rather sympathetic.

As a minority in an all-white middle school, in an intolerant environment, my insecurity amplified. To this day, I still believe that one my greatest takeaways from our community is learning vulnerability, and sensing this fear from nonnative speakers, motivated me to find ways to empower my community and beyond.

I know you’ve heard me talk about the debate team in more than than one occasion, but the wisdom and strength I’ve taken away from my debate team is beyond words. Freshman year, I was the only addition to the team. I learned and grew with Liz, Lara, Qige, and Bryan. We discussed topics commonly avoided or never touched upon in any other conversations outside of Room 518. Debating opened a new horizon for me. Freshman year, I was quiet and reluctant to speak in class. It was my engagement with the debate team and my community that I’ve learned to appreciate my voice.

Junior year was profound. Rejoining the debate team after a brief hiatus, I recognized the imperfections in our community. All this time, I was wondering how I can empower the bilingual community in our school. I completely neglected the fact that there was another group of individuals that needed to be heard.

Our school is undeniably homogenous, in ethnicity and thought. In our debate room, I was exposed to a side of the school previously unknown to me. There are teachers who make students uncomfortable in their skin; peers who make rude comments; and no space to express them all. This is when I learned another profound lesson: Ignorance can still trump intelligence.

In this day and age, where we have learned the troubled history of our country and that the genetic code is universal: There are still people who cannot treat one another like equals. As a member of the majority, it is easy to forget that we are privileged in many respects.

I am not saying this to criticize my peers, because many of them are truly kind people, I simply recognize the need to open up our community like the debate team did for me.

There are some lessons in this world a classroom cannot teach. With that, I hope you and our other progressive teachers continue to make our school a better community.

Best regards,
Helen

Helen Chen, Jr. Editor

Hello! I’m Helen, a junior editor for the "Young Voices" section of BK Reader! Currently, I'm a high school student with a desire to explore all that the world has to offer. I’m also an educational...

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *