Tuesday, July 6th, 2010
“My family goes back a long way in this area. My great-grandparents were born in Virginia, but raised in Washington. My grandparents, parents and I were all born in D.C. They always talk to me about how things changed in this city and how kids are different now. Back in their day, the buildings were shorter, kids used to walk everywhere, and people were much more family oriented. Now, they complain about how kids spend all their time in school and with friends and parents work so much and we spend less time together as a family. I agree with that, but have a hard time relating to the other stuff. Given that so much has changed between my generation and theirs, we don’t have that much to relate to in this city. When I get older, I am sure that I will have stories to tell my kids and grandkids about growing up in this city, especially my experiences in school here.
“I grew up in the private schools and recently transfered to a public high school. It was a culture shock for me because I was used to being around mostly caucasian people and now I go to a mixed school. When I got to high school, I felt like the private school I was in was segregated and racist. All of the black kids stayed together and I felt like some of the teachers would say things to make us feel uncomfortable or unwanted in the school. I had a lot of white friends. They were great and I didn’t think that they were racist, but the teachers made me not like the feel of the school. I thought that things were supposed to be different in these kinds of private schools and everyone was supposed to be welcome and equal.
“I know that I will encounter different kinds of racism and segregation in my life, whether in work or college, but I wasn’t ready for it as a freshman in high school. I needed my teachers to support me and push me to do my best. Instead, I spent my time talking with my black friends about which teacher said something racist or inappropriate to us. When I told my parents, my Mom told me that I could leave the school because I never wanted to go there to begin with.
“I ended up transferring to Wilson High School. While I like the mix of people, it has been a hard change for me. In private school, you are constantly getting pushed to do things and to be your best. At Wilson, no one is pushing you, so you have to do everything on your own. If you choose not to do your work or to go to college, no one is going to be there to explain the consequences in life. I can say that Wilson is not the worst public school that I have seen, but it is the worst school that I have been to. For college, I know that I want to go to a place that is more like my private school. Now that I am a bit older, I feel more ready to handle the kind of issues I was unprepared to deal with in high school.
“If I can, I want to go to New York for college. New York reminds me of home. It is a big city where people live the fast life. I want to study dentistry and go into the orthodontics field and minor in fashion design or dance. I have had my braces on forever and figured I might as well go into the field given how much time I have spent around orthodontists. I talked to my orthodontist about the work and she suggested that I do an internship to learn about teeth and all of that wiring stuff. I don’t think it is going to be too hard and feel ready to take on all of the challenges necessary to get there. Now that I think about it, I guess I will have some pretty good stories to tell my kids and grandkids and great-grandkids in the future.”