Kien Le / youthjournalism.org
Reporters of Hanoi Amsterdam High School's website with their promotional banner at the school's Club Fair. From left to right: Duong Le, Anh Nguyen, Quynh Mai, Linh Vu and Nhat Nguyen.
By Chi Le
HANOI, Vietnam – I am fortunate enough to study at Hanoi Amsterdam High School for the Gifted in Hanoi, Vietnam. The school is famous for its academic rigor as well as the dynamism of students when it comes to extracurricular activities.
It is obvious that there are other high schools whose achievements, to an extent, may be more impressive compared to mine. But what makes my school special is that students tend to participate in extracurricular activities with no less commitment than they have for their incredible academic performances.
As an introvert, this fact had constantly worried me since the day I was admitted to the school. The thought of joining school clubs never tinkles my fancy. I just never wanted to be ordered around by senior students or stay at school when I could have comfortably been watching TV at home.
To no surprise, I finished my first year at high school with no clubs at all.
My second year of high school – in Vietnam, we have only three years of high school – began just a few days ago, and everybody was asking me whether I would join the school’s “Club Fair.”
For those who are a bit puzzled by it, the “Club Fair” is when my school’s clubs give freshmen an overview of their activities and recruit new members. To be honest, I felt considerably proud of myself as I answered, “Yes.”
Why should I not have, for I skipped last year’s fair, and I was eventually willing to find a club to join?
Nonetheless, experiencing the first minutes of the fair gave me more than just a sense of pride and superiority to the new students. It was clear that most of my friends had a club to devote their time to while I had none. I wandered from booth to booth, occasionally greeting my classmates while they were busy talking with curious freshmen.
I was faced with the truth that my friends all belonged to something – they had been committing themselves to at least one club.
I was disappointed in myself that I was not a representative of any club and even regretful, thinking of all the experiences I’d missed.
Seeing freshmen with their eyes full of excitement for the experience they are bound to gain as club members made me realize more what I myself could never regain.
It is of great pity that I cannot simply rewind the clock and go back to this time a year ago. All I can do is to open up to new opportunities whenever they come, from this moment on.
I would certainly not say being one year older makes me wiser with decisions in life. Yet it goes without saying that time has taught me some valuable lessons about seizing opportunities.
If you have had enough patience to read to this point, then do not miss what is next to be said:
Joining clubs and taking part in extracurricular activities is a way of forming your inner self.
I believe you have heard this at least once in a while. The degree of passion with which you contribute to your club may give you a clue about your future job, or more simply, which field of work you might find interesting.
Socializing with other club members not only expands your social network but also brings you valuable experience and genuine friends.
Most importantly, high school is short. I did not know so when I was experiencing my freshman year. Only by growing a little bit older and looking back on the past did such a fact occur to me.
Every memorable activity of your club is a mark of your high school time, so that 10 years later, when you recall these years, you can smile with pride and happiness.