Coming to America: Good-bye, Port Townsend

Posted 12/13/16

Decorating the Christmas tree, hanging bright lights and preparing special holiday meals are all part of ending 2016 with good cheer.

It’s also the end of my student life in Port Townsend.

I …

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Coming to America: Good-bye, Port Townsend

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Decorating the Christmas tree, hanging bright lights and preparing special holiday meals are all part of ending 2016 with good cheer.

It’s also the end of my student life in Port Townsend.

I am an international student from Beijing, China, and Port Townsend has been my first place to experience the American life. When I arrived in the summer of 2015, my eyes couldn’t get away from the downtown Victorian-style buildings from the late 19th century. I've enjoyed special events like the Wooden Boat Festival, Port Townsend Film Festival and the Rhododendron Festival. It’s incredible to see this little town retain its own uniqueness.

"What a lovely community” is my deepest impression of Port Townsend. People always show their smiles and say “hi” to passersby on the street, people are trusting and don't always lock their home or car, and parents feel safe asking other parents to give their kids a ride home after school. Compared with big cities, there is no urbanite’s indifference in Port Townsend. I still remember several of my host family's neighbors coming over to celebrate my arrival last year at the Bothells. It makes me think of how people treat their neighbors when I lived in Beijing. Most people there live in apartments, and tend to either look at their phones or keep silent when seeing their neighbors in the hallway or the elevator. By contrast, friendly neighbors are one of the reasons that I enjoy living in Port Townsend.

As a newcomer, I've been inspired by the huge culture shocks to write what I see and what I hear. Through Jefferson Community School’s support, I connected with the Port Townsend & Jefferson County Leader in April 2016 and started to write columns that compare and contrast the differences between Chinese and American cultures. I also write weekly blogs in Chinese aimed at students who may be planning to study in the states.

Not only have my English language skills improved, so has my social awareness.

There is no never-ending feast, and it’s time to say good-bye. After spending the Christmas holiday in Beijing, I’ll move to Buffalo, New York, to attend an all-girls' school and experience a new life on the East Coast. I want to give a big thanks to Jefferson Community School for supporting students with great mentorship programs, and another big thanks to Patrick Sullivan, editor at the Leader, for mentoring me as a journalism student. Thanks to all the readers who have commented on my columns along the way. I appreciate everything that I’ve learned from Port Townsend.

I, a 16-year-old high school student from the other the side of the world, am ready to keep rockin’ ’n’ rollin’ on my way in the wonderland of America.

(Jocelyn Yang, 16, is a student from Beijing, China, who has been studying at Jefferson Community School in Port Townsend. She also writes a weekly blog for students in China who may be planning to study in the U.S.)

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