Q & A with Head Girl Lauren

You started at YHS in Kindergarten. What do you recall about your first day in the Little School?
Entering Ms. Neer’s class as an “apple” in 2009, I was timid and apprehensive. Surrounded by girls similarly clinging to their parents’ knees, I too refused to let go of my mom’s. Nevertheless, through number games, alphabet practice, and arts and crafts we quickly warmed up to each other and lifelong bonds were started that year. York House has always been recognized for the nurturing, welcoming, and accepting environment which allows each Yorkie to enter the community with ease. 

Describe your experience this year as Head Girl?
The “new” normal of the pandemic has certainly impacted many of the cherished YHS traditions and events put on by the Student Executive. As Head Girl, I have strived to make the most of this challenging situation while still making it fun and engaging for our community. We have introduced creative ways to carry some of our beloved traditions such as assemblies, house competitions, and grade bonding. YHS has always been a safe, welcoming, and warm environment. It was disheartening to feel the anxiety and uncertainty from some of our friends and peers. That is why I will continue to work hard to assuage the uneasiness while bringing our community even closer together. 

How do you think that living through a global pandemic has influenced who you are? Has it changed how you think about the world or what you want to do in the world?
A year since quarantine began, I have already become immensely appreciative of simple experiences—attending school, going to the movies with friends, or even buying groceries. Nevertheless, this pandemic has allowed me to discover a new perspective— the ability to turn uncertainty into an opportunity to carve my own path. With COVID, some people have lost a sense of motivation and purpose while others have uncovered a new source of inspiration. 

As part of my contribution to society, I gathered iPads to donate to a local senior home in which my uncle’s mother was staying. He was restricted from visiting or having a face to face conversation with his 100-year-old mom. Many others in the home were experiencing similar separation from their loved ones and I realized the value in providing a means for more personal connection through video chat. These iPads are still with the home and grant meaningful contact each day. I look forward to new realizations and opportunities to learn as the vaccine begins to be distributed and scientists discover more about the complex disease. As a result of this pandemic, society will surely emerge more grateful for our surroundings and privileges. 

What has been your most memorable experience at York House?
York House is proud of the strong foundation in teaching French and Spanish while assuring that the students absorb the culture in the most authentic way. I have studied French for 12 years and it has become one of my strongest passions. The vibrant classrooms and engaging lessons further perpetuated my love for the language. Last year, I was elected Modern Language Head where I facilitated activities to incorporate the greater school community in celebrating these cherished cultures. 

In 2019, the opportunity arose for the France exchange program to Lyon, France in 2019—of course, I immediately jumped at the chance. After being selected, 13 girls and I set out on a two and a half week-long journey to finally test out our hard work in the real French world. I lived with a homestay family for the duration; I instantly connected with the daughter who was my age and we have stayed in touch ever since. I attended school with her each morning, experienced authentic French classes, explored the vibrant city at night, and ate dinner with her family every day. On the weekends, we were free to do whatever our partner had planned for us—I shopped in the most trendy and chic avenues of France, walked the famous Parc De La Tête D’or, sampled countless boulangeries, and even cooked a French dinner.

The group of York House students formed intimate bonds and created memories that we would carry forever—we will always remember eating freshly melted cheese (raclette) in a restaurant suspended over livestock cows! I am forever grateful for this opportunity and the outstanding language programs at York House. The element of immersion was incomparable to a classroom setting, and a genuine appreciation and further understanding of the culture emerged from this experience. 

What are you most passionate about?
Serving the communities I belong to and giving voice to the relevant issues in them are things I am most passionate about. Everyone has their own variety of communities that make up who they are. My communities whether it be my school, my field hockey team, or my family, I am always someone who looks for opportunities to give back and foster genuine connections with them. 

One of these communities is the Chinese-Canadian community. I am currently organizing an initiative that will aim to highlight this community’s accomplishments and its perseverance in overcoming historic and systemic racism. I will be gathering the voices of many influential Chinese Canadians in Vancouver and compiling their stories to be shared with the greater community. 

What are your plans after graduation in June?
I am extremely excited about what the future will bring! No matter where it will take me—US or Canada for higher education, I know I will give it my all and strive for excellence. Hopefully by September I will be vaccinated and get to experience living on campus and celebrating the end of COVID. This new independence will enable me to be more mature and take on more responsibilities.

Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
I hope in ten years I will be doing what I love and following my heart to pursue worthwhile endeavours both personally and professionally. One of these will be living and working in a dynamic and energetic metropolis —London, New York, or Shanghai. I love being around people that will inspire me and motivate me just as the York House community has for so many years. 

First Youth Forum For Asian Representation: Co-Chair Lauren, Head Girl 

One of the unfortunate outcomes of the COVID-19 pandemic, has been the dramatic rise in Anti-Asian Hate crimes throughout the world. In response to these acts of Anti-Asian hatred and discrimination, a group of ambitious high school and university students banded together to organize a meaningful forum to motivate Canadian youth to find their voice and actively participate in our democracy. Their inspiration has resulted in the birth of the Youth Forum For Asian Representation. 

I was fortunate to serve as the Co-Chair of this event alongside several of my peers on the Executive Committee of the Youth Forum For Asian Representation. 

The purpose of the Youth Forum was for young Canadians to learn from leaders of our community, listen to what our peers are doing, and be part of positive change. The theme, “Representation Takes action” was chosen to communicate to fellow youth that we are the generation that needs to step-up. 

The forum, held virtually on May 29,  2021, was immensely successful in securing an impressive panel of speakers from the Vancouver business community such as Dr. Brandt Louie, Hon. Bowinn Ma, Hon. Bardish Chagger, Carol Lee, Ken Sim, Mi-Jung Lee, Jenny Kwan, Michael Lee, and more. With over 1000 attendees across Canada, the forum reached a wide and diverse audience, inspiring all to take action. Over the course of the day, panellists engaged in discussion on how young people can leverage their voice, navigating culture barriers in positions of influence, and staying connected to one’s heritage. 

The fight against prejudice and racism is a long journey and we intend to continue this conversation moving forward in partnership with all of our supporters through the YouthTalkNation platform

If you are a young Canadian with a passion for social change, the Youth Forum encourages you to join the mission this summer as we strive to create a youth-led report on racism and discrimination within our schools. As many cases of hate crimes and microaggressions are left unreported, we believe it is important for us to have accurate data to reflect the situation in our communities. 

The Youth Forum For Asian Representation was just the first of many necessary steps in the process towards a more inclusive, equitable, and diverse future. This journey does not end here. Our team at the Youth Forum, along with members from the YouthTalkNation will be working together in the near future to carry this momentum forward whether it be through another forum or another means; we will continue to inspire and motivate others to take action. 

For those who were not able to attend the live forum, we have made a concise version of the event that captures the key messages and dialogue. We also created a “Call To Action” Video that is attached below. Please see the two videos for more. 

Lauren
Head Girl, Class of 2021