Yesterday Joy Wang gave us a peek inside her life at the prestigious and exclusive Phillips Academy Andover, a high school with an acceptance rate lower than most colleges. It was in part her desire to stay involved with extracurricular activities that led her to apply, and almost certainly her passion for these activities that got her accepted. So after yesterday’s in-depth discussion of the application process and intellectual life on campus, Joy also wanted to share with us more about her life and pursuits outside of the classroom. Here are some snapshots from her junior year at P.A.:
Joy: I came to Phillips Academy last year as a new junior (or as we say, new upper). Although junior year is rumored to be tough, I really enjoyed my first year in America, and especially in Andover, this little town.
This is my best friends and me in downtown Andover during the town’s annual “Clown Town” fair. We all live in the same dorm, Smith House, so we are super close to each other, and we go out together to have fun during weekends.
There are around 1,000 students at our school, with students from 47 states and 41 countries. Our school’s motto is “youth from every quarter,” and my five best friends are from everywhere around the world! In this picture, from left to right are myself from Beijing China, Sonya from Hong Kong, Janani from Mumbai India, Camilla from New York City and Catherine from Palo Alto California. We shared our stories and cultures from our home countries or states; for example, I gave them Chinese fans for the Spring Festival!
And this is the dorm where we met. There are many types of dorms on campus: some of them are big, with around forty girls, and some are small like Smith House with only twelve girls. First year students are assigned to a certain dorm, but from the second year, we can pick either big or small dorms according to our preferences.
For me, I do like Smith House, because living in a small dorm makes me feel like spending time with a family. We help each other with homework, order Thai food together, have sleepovers in each others’ rooms, or pull all-nighters together. At Andover, staying up late for essays or tests are normal for a junior, and having someone to push through a long night with you is motivating and vitally important!
As the first place swimmer in breast stroke and freestyle back in my old high school in Beijing, I was pretty confident in my swimming, and I hoped to get on the varsity team and compete for Phillips Academy too. However, after I arrived here, I realized how good they are at sports. My freestyle was just about the average. In China, almost only the people in sports school are good at sports, but students studying in a normal school could never get a chance to train for swimming like American students do.
I never made the varsity team, but I got to be part of the junior varsity team. Like the varsity team, we competed at meets with other prep schools. I got to visit our rival school Phillips Exeter Academy to compete against their swim team. Our two schools have been rivals since the 1700s so the competition is intense, and the audience cheers for their teams fervently.
The big blue school spirit made me so pumped for the meet and I ended up with my best personal time in breast stroke. Every time I made the turn at the end, I could see and hear my teammates and coaches encouraging me to “Move! Go!” When I reached the end, there was always someone lend me a hand to pull me out of the pool. Other than my family in the dorm, I could also feel myself belong to another tight group of people who helped each other in the pool.
In case you wanted to know more about the Phillips Academy versus Phillips Exeter Academy rivalry, this is a photo of Andover/Exeter Weekend. Every term we have A/E weekend where we compete against each other in all different sports.
During this weekend Andover alumni come back and all the students dress up in blue with blue face paint to cheer for the athletes. It’s the best time of year to celebrate school spirit.
I also joined the orchestra and band, and I am part of the Chamber Music Society, where I can create music in a much smaller group. In this group, we work on a quartet and have a concert at the end of each term. I can hear both my solo part on the clarinet and the integrated sound. Cooperation among the group members is much more important in such a small group, and gradually I learned how to find the balance between the sounds – how to stand out and how to remain in the background.
I had been playing clarinet for eight years before I came to Andover, and it was one of the few things that I was familiar with in this completely new environment. In some way, it is like the constant of my life. It was through music that I began to make friends, to listen, and to see myself in this new community.