No matter how “normal” your life may seem, there’s always fascinating aspects when you really look into it.
I was born in Monterey Park, California, the real Chinatown of Los Angeles. Monterey Park is basically where all immigrants from Asia live when they first arrive in SoCal. It’s part of San Gabriel Valley, and is filled with authentic Asian restaurants, humble houses, and park/rec centers.
My parents had come to the States for education and new opportunities. They both attended Cal State LA and worked full-time while taking care of baby Glen. We moved to West Covina soon after I was born, which is where I spent the next 18 years of my life.
My family and I lived in a condominium community called Summer Place Village, and my parents saved up money to send me to a private Christian school called South Hills Academy. I attended the school until high school, and I still have many fond memories of the people, the classes, and the teachers.
The teachers had a huge impact on my life, and since class sizes were small (typically 18-25 kids), I got to know everyone very well on a yearly basis. I did fairly well in my studies, and I was pretty active, playing basketball, kickball, dodgeball, you name it.
Church was a pretty big part of my life. My parents were quite devout, and I remember attending Sunday school and Friday night youth groups throughout my childhood and teenage years at a Chinese church called Home of Christians (there was an English-speaking group). Some of my best friends were people I grew up with at church.
High school was the first time I was introduced to the public school system, and it was a tough transition. Moving to a new house added to the chaos. I attended South Hills High School in West Covina, and I still remember the first time I saw the crowds of people during break – I thought they looked like ants. The sheer amount of people was terrifying.
What made things worse was that all my friends from middle school had gone to another high school, and I knew absolutely no one. You can imagine how strange and disconcerting things felt. Since I didn’t have any experience with choosing classes, I didn’t even get into some of the honors classes freshman year.
The only highlight of freshman year was making the frosh basketball team. That was my escape. School would suck, but when the bell rang at the end of every day, my pulse quickened as I looked forward to practicing with my teammates. It wasn’t easy, and our coach worked us hard, but it was one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. The people I got to know, the exercise I got, and the skills I developed really made a positive impact in my life.
My high school years got exponentially better. During sophomore year, I found a group of friends that I hung out with for the rest of high school (and even today). One of my proudest accomplishments that year was skipping directly into AP Biology, despite not taking Honors Bio the year before. I did some of my most intensive studying for that class, and the work paid off.
My years as an upperclassmen in high school were good years. I had made varsity swim the year before, so I had a blast at swim practices and swim meets. I was also pretty involved in clubs on campus, and I graduated high school with many great memories, a group of close friends, and a sense of accomplishment, with room to grow even more.
Whenever I look back to my earlier years, I always see a trend – how family and friends supported and motivated me to be the best I could be. Whether it was my parents being very understanding and very thankfully not the typical “Asian” parents, to my teachers who were able to open my mind to new ideas and concepts, to my friends who were always there for me, it’s the important people in my life who helped me reach my potential. And for that I am forever grateful.
So there you go, a quick glimpse into Glen’s past. There’s so much in between that I might share someday, but for now, this will suffice.
To be continued? at randomtidbitsofthought.wordpress.com.