Thuy Bui is an 18-year-old English major from Vietnam. After completing 11th grade at home, she began the high school completion program at Green River Community College in Fall Quarter 2010, earning both her high school diploma and Associate’s degree in two years. She graduated in June 2012 and will be transferring to University of Minnesota – Twin Cities in the fall. Here she shares the story of her time at Green River:
The first steps
My chance came when I was in 10th grade in Vietnam. I was given a flyer about studying in the US and a representative from Green River Community College would soon givea presentation about the “fast track” high school students could take to earn a high school diploma and associate degree at the same time. I had never thought of the US before. At the age of 16, like most of my classmates, I was studying hard to get into some university in Vietnam. I had my eye on Ho Chi Minh City University of Social Sciences and Humanities. My parents thought the program would be worth a try, since they believed that I could maximize my potential in the US, which has a great reputation for its academic excellence. After much consideration, they told me to attend GRCC because it would save me a lot of time while fitting perfectly with our family financial ability. That was a sudden decision to me, but I listened to them anyway.
On the first day of orientation, I did not know anyone. I became so nervous and homesick that I hardly noticed how peaceful and beautiful this campus was. However, the Peer Volunteers soon turned my frown upside down. As I look back now, I can still feel the warm feelings I had on the first day in GRCC. My very first impression of this school, therefore, was an outgoing and energetic group of people in yellow t-shirts. As a result, my very first goal in Green River was to be a Peer Volunteer.
In Fall Quarter 2010, I first became involved community services by becoming a Math volunteer tutor at Neighborhood House, a youth tutoring and resource center. I mainly worked with middle school and high school students eight hours a week. I was responsible to help students with math homework as well as assist the lead program staff with organization and preparation of lessons and materials.
Eventually, in Summer and Fall Quarters 2011, I became a Peer Volunteer and Peer Leader at GRCC. It was fun to interact with new international students and assist the advisors. I also had fun getting involved in different short-term volunteer natural resource conservation projects organized by the King Conservation District.
Life in the classroom
Being an English major also meant that I found myself surrounded by tons of complicated readings, fueled by lots of coffee. Soon came the first challenge: my 17th and 18th century British literature class.
Walking into the classroom, I was so stressed that I felt as if I had followed a wrong path from the beginning. Professor Hoene stood in front of us, calmly looked at everyone, and passionately started her first lecture on Shakespeare’s “Coriolanus”. For a week, we lived in the spirit of vivid Rome, revolved around the tragic lives of the characters, and seriously debated each other about political and economic issues, from the balance of power between the ideas of monarchy and republic to the labor movement. Before, I had never thought Shakespeare’s works could be that close to life today.
Week after week, I became even more amazed and inspired by the ideas about the good and the bad, as well as hell and heaven developed by John Milton and William Blake. I realized how complicated the world was and how shallow I had always been. Old English words such as “thee”, “dost”, and “hath” gradually became a fun and intriguing part of my daily life. Day by day, I found myself looking forward to going to class to engage more in the philosophy that the British poets developed during that period of time.
While I did not expect an English class to change my life, I walked out of that classroom a new view on every aspect of my life at the end of that quarter. As I now have a sense of belonging as an English major, I became confident in my worth and the choices in my life.
This is my last quarter at GRCC. Although I first came here just to fulfill my parents’ desire, I have not regretted for a single day that I live here, and will definitely carry on the amazing experiences and profound friendships I have had here to my future.