How to express yourself: My biggest lesson at Peddie

Wenting "Chloe" Tao is from EFZ, Peddie's sister school in Shanghai. This spring, Chloe, along with 11 classmates and their teacher, spent two weeks visiting classes at Peddie, staying with a host family and also in a dorm, and visiting Washington, D.C. and New York City. Following is a reflection on her experience.

Four months ago, on Christmas Day, I was on the biggest stage in EFZ. I was there for a singing contest. I was extremely nervous, chose a song that’s completely not my style, broke a note, shivered with a completely blank mind and, in the end, lost the contest.
When I was standing there singing, in front of the giant, intimidating crowd, I was so nervous that I could hardly think. But I do remember searching in the audience, one by one through the two hundred people, carefully examining everyone’s face - for a smile.
One smile. One tiny , gentle, encouraging  smile. But I didn’t find it.
I was a very introverted person, who spoke softly, and was terrible at expressing how I felt. Everything was not right at that moment. I felt lonely.
Then I went on this wonderful trip to Peddie. I don’t mean to sound too dramatic, but the week here really changed me. I’ve never been to a place where everyone’s so friendly and the environment is so positive.  In class, the teacher encourages everyone to think; at lunch, the kids talk actively about various topics; at home, Mrs.Robinson  exchanges her opinion with me about  the history and obligations of both countries. I received five times the smiles I could get in a year.
I've gradually opened up. I learned to talk to people, to listen and to understand, to tell people sincerely about how I feel. It was hard at first, but thanks to all the encouragement, now I feel much more confident.
Now I’m spending time in DC. It’s a great trip, thanks to all the efforts of Peddie faculty members, especially Ms Hogarth and Mr. Clements. I got to talk to a lot of people in this trip, including a doctor, a protestor, a few students, and a wonderful Indian who travelled all the way from New York to Washington for cherry blossoms. Isn’t that fantastic? J
Life opens up for you when you embrace it. Thank you, Peddie.