This week, the Warrior Word staff interviewed Mr. Yang, a new science teacher at the school. He teaches chemistry, physics, engineering, and the computer elective. Get to know him as he discusses his background, his goals as a teacher, and his hobbies.
Kayla Herssein: Where were you born and raised?
Mr. Yang: I was born and raised in ShangHai, China. I moved to the U.S. in high school. I had been living in Los Angeles for many years before I moved to New York, and then I lived in New York for two years, and then I came here.
Sara Reinberg: Can you tell us about your family?
MY: I could spend like an hour talking about my family. Okay, I’ll talk about it. Both of my parents are also high school teachers. They teach in ShangHai, China. My mom teaches literature, and my dad teaches politics. But I’m a science student, so I guess I didn’t inherit their genetics, or something. And I’m the only child; I don’t have any siblings. I won’t have any either. I guess that’s it. All of my family is currently in China, I don’t have any in the U.S. now. They come here to visit me. I haven’t been back home for like six or eight years.
KH: Why did you move to Miami?
MY: Because I enjoy the weather and the vibe here. The food is great. I am a beachgoer. I live right on the beach. I literally go to the beach every weekend. Yeah, I like warm weather, especially after spending two harsh winters in New York. I really want my skin to, you know, sort of warm up a little bit. And yeah, that’s it.
SR: How is America different from China?
MY: It’s a lot. It’s more international, you do see a lot of different faces. In China it’s more uniform I guess. Everyone looks the same, speaks in the same ways. It’s a lot less differentiated, I would say. And there’s different culture too. I would say in America, people are a lot more outgoing and more sociable. In China, people don’t really talk to each other on the streets or anything.
KH: What challenges did you face during the transition from China to America?
MY: That was back many, many, many years ago. I didn’t face a lot of cultural shocks because I was raised in a western way, I guess. I attended an international school in China, and all my friends would be foreigners as well. And I didn’t have a language issue either, since I started learning English in like Kindergarten. I guess the only challenge I faced was that I was away from my parents. I was suddenly independent and alone before I was ready. I do remember calling my mom in the middle of the night crying and saying that I really want to go home, and it was a little tough for me. Academically, I had no problem at all because I felt the academics in the U.S. are easier than in China. Otherwise, I did manage to make a lot of friends and get along well with my teachers. And the people that I met here were really nice.
SR: How long have you been teaching for?
MY: This is my first year. Two months- or one month. Just one month.
KH: How did you get into teaching science?
MY: Well, I’m a science student. I studied engineering and science in college. How did I get into teaching? It was pretty random honestly. I was just submitting resumes everywhere and then Dr. Lieber happened to see my resume, and then she gave me a call. We discussed, and we both thought it was a good idea for me to come here and have a new life. So, I think it’s interesting to try.
SR: How do you see yourself as a teacher?
MY: I am a pretty laid back teacher right now and I am pretty chill. Like if you were in my class, I am myself, I view myself as more of a student than a teacher honestly. So I think I would more likely blend in with the students and try to make friends with them, and not like as an authoritative teacher. But I am making that a transition, because some of my classes were really crossing the boundary too fast, so I think I need to establish that teacher authority and teacher-student relationship. So I am trying to be more strict and more authoritative as a teacher.
KH: What do you wish to accomplish with your students by the end of the year, generally?
MY: Well, to be a better student, be a better person. You know, just develop some scientific thinking, critical thinking, develop some basic fundamental science knowledge, and literacy. Sort of nurture an interest in science, and maybe encourage a lot of the students to pursue a science and engineering major in college.
SR: Did you always want to be a teacher, or did you have a different dream as a child?
MY: I had no idea I would be a teacher. No one had ever thought that I would be a teacher, it was totally random. Like back last year at this time, I had no idea what I was going to do. But I was trained to be an engineer, so the most traditional would actually be to work in the industry. 99% of my classmates and friends go to the industry, so they would work in an oil company, or as a pharmaceutical supervisor. Yeah, none of them have been going to a school to teach, so I was quite an anomaly, I would say.
SR: Do you have any hobbies or activities that you like to do outside of school?
MY: Oh yeah, sure sure. I play sports, but I don’t like team sports because I am not a good team player. I like individual sports like ping pong, badminton, tennis, which I did a lot in college, and I like to swim in the ocean. I really like sports, I am a sporty person. I also like music. I play the violin, the piano, and the flute for many many years. If I weren’t an engineer, I would probably be a musician, I would say. Yeah, and I do have a lot of other hobbies. I like cooking. I cook every day at home, no matter how busy I am. I like traveling. I make sure that I travel whenever I can. I like fashion too. Yeah, fashion is a big part of my life. I think I can live without food, but I can’t live without fashion. That’s a very unique thing about me.
KH: And lastly, what is your favorite part about teaching at Hebrew Academy?
MY: Favorite part? Oh, well I enjoy all my colleagues, all the other teachers. They were really nice, and they were really helpful and helping me to get through this transition. And I like all the kids. They were all really, really nice. I feel really at home now.
SR: Alright, thank you!
By Kayla Herssein (9th grade) and Sara Reinberg (9th grade)