Meili is an 18 year old senior at Wilson who joined Teens Run DC a little late in the season. In the fall, she participated in Wilson’s Women’s Varsity Volleyball Team. Meili says that after the volleyball season ended, she wanted a new challenge – not just a physical challenge, but a mental challenge as well. After hearing about our program, she thought that Teens Run DC would provide such an opportunity. Running long distances would make her a stronger person. As Meili started so late, she wisely set her sights on the half-marathon.
Meili was born in southern China and came to this country with her family when she was 13 years old. It was difficult for her family when they first came here as they had to start their lives over. Meili’s dad works as a chef in a Chinese restaurant. He mom works in housekeeping at a downtown hotel. In China, her father had a trucking business, and her mom was a stay-at-home mom. Like many first generation children, Meili has had to help her parents navigate a world typically left to adults – opening bank accounts, paying bills, etc. Her English is far better than theirs, and she has adapted more easily to American culture. As she is an only child, the responsibility falls to her alone. She says it’s not a burden and that she’s glad she can help. Moreover (in an edit to this profile), she added that she has appreciated those setbacks as they have helped to make her braver.
Meili likes living in America. She says there’s more freedom, and people are more open. This past December, she obtained American citizenship. Her parents have yet to apply although her mother is studying.
Meili is a very good student (GPA 3.5), works hard, but also likes to get together with her friends. She knows a lot of people, but has a few close friends. She has worked throughout her high school career to make money. She has many interests – sports, photography, languages. She already speaks Mandarin, Cantonese, and English, and now studies Spanish, Italian, and American Sign Language. She has thought of becoming a psychologist or school-teacher and has volunteered, tutoring at an elementary school and working with teens at both a community center and at her church.
Since coming to America, Meili has had to become very independent and self-reliant. She is not as close to her parents as she used to be. She feels as she has adjusted to living in DC, her parents don’t understand her so well. She used to fight with her parents when she was 15 or 16. Now, things are easier, mostly because she keeps things to herself. She doesn’t expect a lot of support from them. Part of her thinking about becoming a psychologist relates to wishing she could have talked to someone when she was struggling with her parents several years back. On the positive side (Meili again adds in an edit), she realizes that these challenges have helped her to set her goals.
Meili would like to attend the University of Virginia. She has already been accepted at a number of other colleges with scholarship funding. This is not an easy topic for her to discuss. She feels it’s time for her to leave home and be on her own. At the same time, she is fearful of how her parents will manage without her. They would like her to stay close by. She would like to go away. As she talks about this topic, she gets teary-eyed. It’s painful. She has yet to find resolution.
In Teens Run DC, Meili is proud of her accomplishments, of the miles she has run. She says she feels stronger. Over the last weeks, however, the running has gotten tougher as we have run longer and farther and the weather has turned cold and snowy. It can be discouraging. Nonetheless, as we approach race day and with the support of mentors and peers, Meili is confident she can complete the half-marathon without injury. Sometimes it’s painful; but then she reminds herself that there is nothing she can’t do if she believes in herself.