Hello everyone! I enjoyed introducing the new blog at Morning Muster today. "People at East-West" will be a new feature on the blog. Every week or so, we will interview someone at East-West and open the comments to questions. I'd like to start things off with a longer self-introduction:
I was born in New York City and grew up in Jackson Heights and Flushing in Queens. When I was in 7th grade, I became a TEAK Fellow and went to Friends Seminary for high school. During that time, I started becoming very interested in Japanese culture, especially anime and manga, and started an anime club with my friends. At lunch time, we would sit together and try to learn Japanese on our own from old textbooks we found. I wish there was an East-West when I was younger!
When I went to Wesleyan University, I had the opportunity to study anything I wanted and in greater depth than I ever had before, so I chose to major in East Asian Studies with a concentration in Japanese language and literature. In college, there are so many ways to get involved with things you're interested in. I became co-chair of the Japan Society (Japanese culture club) and Anime Club, and studied how to play taiko (Japanese drumming) and the dizi (Chinese flute). I also studied abroad for a year in Kyoto, Japan and Dharamsala, India.
After I graduated from college, I wanted to travel and help people. I decided to do two years of AmeriCorps, a national service program that lets you work and travel across the country while earning money to pay off tuition or school loans. With AmeriCorps NCCC, I lived in Texas, Arkansas, Colorado, and Alabama and had projects ranging from building a bridge in a national park to tutoring at a children's hospital. When I was in the Washington Reading Corps in Seattle, WA, I worked as a literacy tutor at an elementary international school and learned more about social justice.
As a Community Associate, I enjoy learning about how to help people work together to accomplish great things. Studying a language helps me improve that skill. Even though I don't use my Japanese as much anymore, it's still an important part of my life. Studying Japanese and living abroad helped me understand that everyone looks at the world in their own way and you must be humble and open enough to learn how to communicate in their language. Immersing yourself in a different way of thinking, living, and communicating takes courage and forces you to step outside your comfort zone. I am impressed that all 590 students at East-West have made that commitment by intensively studying a language and culture for every year they are here.
- I speak Cantonese with my family.
- My favorite TV shows are Battlestar Galactica, Full Metal Alchemist, and Dae Jang Geum (Korean drama).
- I love the color purple and wear it almost everyday.
That's Ms. Cheng in a (very big) nutshell. If you have any questions for me, leave them in a comment!