Update (June 2017):
CONGRATULATIONS on graduating from Santa Margarita Catholic High School after three successful and challenging years. We wish you only the best for your future and are very proud of you.
 

 
Coming to the U.S. is the most challenging and smartest decision I have ever made. It is a huge mixture of different physical and mental experiences - not simply just studying and getting to know American culture, but also testing the values and understanding of the world.
 
Eleanor Roosevelt had said, "Do one thing every day that scares you." 

Hi Paul,


I hope all is well.
 
First, I am writing this email to let you know that I have committed to Claremont McKenna College where I will spend my next four years. I thank you very much for all the support you provided along the way.
 
I could distinctly recall our few encounters. We met in Guangzhou for the first time. There, you opened me a window to America. Growing up, I heard too many stories about the world across the ocean. I thank you for unveiling this mythical land and presenting me the key to a completely different future.
 
Months later, I embarked on a long journey. From age 14 to 18, four very crucial years of my character development have occurred here. Fortunately and unfortunately, too many things have happened for me to recount in this email. So, I shall summarize my four years in an interesting thought experiment.
 
In a simulation, I meet my old self from four years ago. We may sit down for a coffee. At the other end of the table, the younger me clinches his fist. I could see his confusion. He must have a lot of questions. Perhaps, he is even a little disappointed. How have I become the man that I am today?
 
The question is valid. Indeed, I share little resemblance with my original self projection. 
 
I would then smile at my younger self. One day, it will all make sense.
 
As one chapter approaches its end before the start of another, unwittingly, I look back on my four years of journey. I remember four years ago sitting in front of my laptop and clumsily typing out emails in English. I had mixed feelings towards leaving--excitement, doubts, joy, sadness and many other emotions beyond my words. Now, once again, I find myself in a similar position. My English is better but my heart is still unsure. 
 
Slowly, I fall in love with this kind of ambivalence. I believe, just like last time, it's a start of something amazing. 
 
Thank you for making it possible.
 
Best,
Ray Song

Nils in Virginia

Read about Hendrik's experiences here...