Skyline High School junior Fay Fay Ye is learning to read Chinese on her own now, but as illustrated in her third-place winning essay, she wishes she'd done it a long time ago.
Her grandmother tried every weekend to teach her to read and write characters, but at a young age there was always something more important to do like watch TV and play with friends.
"When you're little, you never take things seriously," Ye said. Now that her grandmother is gone, she feels bad that she didn't appreciate the prospect of learning another language earlier in life.
"I didn't want to learn it then, I had no eagerness to learn, but it is so much harder to do now," she said.
The American-born-Chinese 15-year-old has been learning the characters in her spare time so that someday she can go back to China and really be fluent in the language.
"I'm illiterate in China, and people find that strange," she said. However, her talent in the English language hasn't gone unnoticed.
Ye has written for the literary magazine at Skyline and is a huge fan of the arts. She plays the piano, dances and is a member of the debate team. She loves history and English and is "just like a regular high school student," she said.
"There's just so much going on, and the ironic thing is when you grow up and you're aware (that your parents are right) and you do regret not doing something," Ye said. So now, as an active teenager, Ye said she tries her hand at everything.The $250 prize money will likely go into a savings account and pay for gas when Ye finally gets to drive next year. She's never won a contest before and said she had a lot of fun just writing for the News' contest and plans to enter more.
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