Audio slide show produced by Yee Leng Vang
Sheng Xiong, a recent graduate of Edison High School, spoke to me about her life and how she feels about education. She graduated as a 4.18 student and will be attending the University of California, Berkeley this fall. She plans on becoming a family doctor and she has big dreams for herself.
Sheng’s parents don’t have a college education, but her older brothers are working towards college degrees. “I only have one brother who has an education higher than a high school diploma,” she said.
Her family background has given her an appreciation for learning. “I think education gives a person the chance to help make a difference in the world and it gives me the ability to learn who I am and what I am capable of doing,” she said. She also believes that her fellow peers don’t look into studying as much as she would like them to. They bully and take school for granted and it bothers her because she feels that they are taking advantage the people who actually want to learn. She tells me, “It bothers me, and I want to do something about it, but I just don’t want to cause any problems.”
Although she sees some students don’t really have an interest in school, she says that she has plenty of friends that are smart, intelligent, and very motivated individuals. Those types of people have influenced her in a more positive way and have shaped her into the successful young woman she is today.[pullquote_right]Parents play a huge role in a child’s education. They are your first teachers and they influence you to do well in life.”[/pullquote_right]
Her friends weren’t the only people who positively influenced her educational career – her parents did as well. “Parents play a huge role in a child’s education. They are your first teachers and they influence you to do well in life,” she says to me. She told me that her mother and father are very encouraging and they always motivate her to do her best but at the same time, she struggles to impress them and make them proud of her because she feels like they don’t recognize her achievements and her goals.
Her voice was confident and powerful as she spoke: “My parents don’t tell me that they are proud, but I know deep inside they are. And although they can’t help me with my schoolwork, they still provide me with emotional support and the financial support I need in order to succeed. They try to be involved as much as possible, even if they can’t do anything to help.”
As I wrote down my notes and listened to her stories, I thought to myself that if someone could do well in school and get into a world class university but had no educational help, why can’t others in the same situation achieve this as well? I believe that it’s exactly what Sheng said: Parents are your first teachers and they are the ones who influence you to do well in life. I spoke to her father and found out how he tried to better the life of his daughter.
From the eyes of a father
His name is Chong Chue Xiong. He has no education but he taught himself how to read and write in Thai and Laos. He learned English when he came to the States as a refugee but he only learned the basics. It was hard for him to speak to Americans, but he tried his hardest to support his family, especially his children. He told me, “I used my English speaking skills to read books to my children when they were younger, but as time passed and they grew older, this little time we spend together started to fade away.” Although this saddened him a little, he knew this day would come but he is proud that his children don’t need their father there to guide them anymore.
He believes that having an education is very important and he believes that parents play the biggest role in a child’s education, especially when they are young. “Parents are the ones who open their children’s eyes about education and life. It is important for parents to support and encourage them to obtain a higher education. I know it gets harder as they get older, but if we give up, they will too,” he said.
When his children were much younger, his only way of connecting with his children and their teachers were to attend open house meetings and parent meetings. He would also go to their talent shows and although it wasn’t much, it was all he could do to show that their father was there for them.
I saw tears and happiness in both of these people and after both my interviews with this Sheng and Chong, I know that it’s not only the student’s duty to succeed in life, but it’s also the help from the parents that guide that child to the peak of success.