Selina Jiang ’19
Boarding Student – Shanghai, China
Dining hall food: Self-invented desert: steamed black rice with milk (trust me, it’s good)
Way to spend free time: Bring a friend and go on a faculty-led cannoning trip on the Sudbury River behind CA’s Chapel
Book: The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan
Place to be alone on campus: The dance studio
Place to be with friends: The new common rooms with kitchenettes, where we can cook, watch TV and play UNO or Mario Kart!
Hobbies: Music, acting, 3D art and design, environment
CA tradition: Field Day for the whole school; house competitions for boarders
Thing about CA: A community of caring people and a curriculum that allows me to explore interests across disciplines, especially in the arts
Student leadership, clubs, and affinity groups
Head of Boarders
Theater, filmmaking, dance, Vocal Jazz and Pop Ensemble, visual arts
What class or teacher has made the biggest impact on you?
John Pickle, my environmental science teacher junior year, revolutionized for me what it meant to be learning. He engaged us in class not only with his passion and expertise but also with vivid illustrations of real-life environmental crisis. John gave us the freedom to explore topics of interest to us and to connect our own hobbies and lives to worldwide environmental issues, through research, debate, presentations, fieldwork and model building. I do not remember a single class in which I wasn’t fascinated by the materials, shocked by data and the news, or motivated to learn more outside of class. John’s class truly ignited in me a love of learning and caring about difficult issues in the world.
What has been your most interesting project or assignment?
My final project for my Advanced Environmental Science class last year had no prompt or direction, but my two classmates and I knew that we wanted to make an impact on the school community regarding sustainability. We noticed that the plastic utensils that the kitchen provides were neither recyclable or compostable. Therefore, we decided to research the harmful effects and process of composting for plastic utensils, in hopes of finding more eco-friendly but similarly priced alternatives. We contacted Shawna Penders, who is in charge of our kitchen, and convinced her to order new compostable utensils. Within a week, CA changed its plastic utensils completely to compostable ones. To make sure the school was aware of the negative impacts on the environment that our community had made and of the correct way to compost these utensils, we made infographics and put posters all over campus. To me, being able to apply what I learned in class directly to benefit my community is powerful and heartening.
What memorable experience have you had outside the classroom?
I did a visual arts departmental study in spring of my junior year, combining my knowledge from my English class, The Literature of Technology, and my environmental science class into one installation art piece on campus. I was able to explore the idea of censorship and the influence of the internet on people’s perception of climate change, then represent them through found objects. Afterward, I produced a series of poems and writing in response to the art piece. I think this project is a good example of how learning can be interdisciplinary at CA and how students can pursue their own interests outside of the classroom.
What have you had a chance to do at CA that you might not have done elsewhere?
CA provided me a platform for using what I’ve learned to influence other people. I have found my element in leading the boarding community, participating in a dance group, and TA’ing a Mandarin class. As Head of Boarders, I get to work with an incredible team of eight people on Boarding Council to not only create bonding traditions for boarders but also discuss difficult issues in the community. Coming from Shanghai and being thousands of miles away from home, I am able to draw upon my journey and experience at CA to try to make other boarders feel at home. The power of speech that CA gives to its students to make ideas into real change is what makes CA a unique place.
What have you learned about yourself during your time at CA?
I have become more confident in who I am and more appreciative of my own culture and background. I have met people from all different perspectives and backgrounds that challenged my thinking and motivated me to dig deeper into topics of social justice.
What advice do you have for an incoming student?
It’s okay to be confused. It’s okay to be lost. It’s okay to feel homesick. It’s okay to feel like you do not fit in. However, it is not okay to do it on your own. Ask for help when you feel overwhelmed, because CA is full of supportive peers and faculty members. It is difficult to be true to yourself when you haven’t found yourself, but try to follow your heart and embrace vulnerability, because you are the only one who should define your journey at CA.