“Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”

I remember feeling completely out of place standing in front of a roomful of curious British classmates. My heart pounded and my flushed face beat red as I tried to introduce myself in broken English. It was some ten years ago. I had just left the familiar scene of Shanghai to start high school in London. Over the next couple of months, I struggled to learn English, to understand British culture, and to simply fit in. As the only Chinese person in my school, I was bombarded with questions about China from my classmates and I always tried my very best to provide an objective view-in broken English-on issues from the one-child policy to communism. To this day I still remember how petrified I was, surrounded by a completely foreign setting. But somehow, miraculously, I survived and rose to the challenge.

As I am ready to leave the familiar hallways of Aldrich, I know I will run into situations and work in countries where I will feel completely out of place. In fact I want to challenge myself to get out of my comfort zone to embrace these challenges. By putting myself in foreign situations, I hope to become a bridge to explain the differences in this increasingly interconnected world. This connection is what makes life beautiful.

— Zhongjue (Drew) Chen