Everything Immersion’s Given Us: Opportunity, Leadership, and Community

Chloe Hanson, Managing Editor, Arts & Entertainment

Looking back on my time at Minnetonka, I’ve realized that if you were to ask me who my best friend is or what my favorite part of this journey has been, my answer would be pretty much the same for both: the seniors in Chinese Immersion.

As a first grader, I came to Minnetonka not knowing anyone. I was super nervous to be at a new school on my own, and, on top of that, the teacher was speaking a brand new language. But within Immersion, I quickly learned that everyone around me had no idea what was going on either, so we all began to take in this crazy Chinese experience together. From the very beginning, we started to bond in a way that very few people get to understand, and it’s so special. Immersion showed us what true community looks like because we were guaranteed to have a class with our best friends every single year of our time at Minnetonka.

Because we are the first year of Immersion, there are only 16 of us that have lived through this elementary, middle, and high school experience together. On top of that, we had the same teacher, Mr. Chiang, in second, third, and fifth grade. Already being super close as a class, we also spent so much time with our teacher, and that just furthered us growing closer to each other.

When we were in fourth or fifth grade, our teacher went to New York, and when he came back, he brought back a caricature made of all of us, and I still have it in my room today. At the end of fifth grade, we had a class party at one of our classmates’ house, and I remember Mr. Chiang telling all of us what he would remember about each of us forever – for me, it was how I wore a dress and had my hair done every single day (Thanks, Mom!).

As a class, we have spent so much time together between studying, lake days, sports games, school dances, bonfires, AP tests and everything in between. Immersion created friendships that will last forever because we have truly been through it all in our twelve years together.

For Issy and me, Immersion is what has brought us together and kept us best friends. On the first day of first grade, when Issy shared carrots with me during snack outside, our friendship began. After that, we got to spend five years with each other all day, three years with two hours together everyday, and then maybe one hour together everyday in high school. Issy and I have never been in the same circles. Whether that’s her taking all IB classes and me taking all AP classes, or her playing basketball and me playing volleyball, Immersion is what started our friendship.

Because of Chinese, we now have endless jokes, adventures, coffee dates, and so much more to look back on. I regularly joke that I spend more time at Issy’s house than my own, and, on Mother’s Day, I even texted her mom because she’s basically another mom to me.

While I guess you could argue that many new friendships happened in elementary school, Chinese truly made ours different because we knew that we were going to spend the next twelve years together in class and out of class. I knew that I would be having sleepovers with the girls on weekends, spending our days going on adventures with the boys, and continually growing closer as we grew older.

The friendships I have in Immersion are so special because there is so much that has happened between first and twelfth grade, and, in the end, we still all have each other. There is so much that happens and we truly have seen the best and worst of each other – Immersion always brings us back together. So, like I said at the beginning, when it comes to my favorite part of Minnetonka, I would have to say that, without a doubt, it’s the seniors in Chinese Immersion. 从一年级到现在,我爱你们。