July 5, 2022
The first time I learned about proms in America was during the movie, “American Pie.” My newly arrived Chinese brain couldn’t comprehend what I was watching. My roommates were laughing up a storm, which irritated me even more. In China, during preparation for the brutal college entrance exam, high school students were not even allowed to date, and that was written in the Student Handbook. Watching a teenager practicing sex with an apple pie in the kitchen and worried he would be laughed at if he was still a virgin after prom was too ridiculous.
Back then, I knew little about the significance of proms and other school-sponsored social events, and how much they could help teens to grow and learn to navigate through different social dynamics, develop important interpersonal skills, and foster a positive sense of self.
That realization was illustrated by the painful story a student of color shared with me recently, having attended a prestigious private school on the east coast. K was a bright, talented student who received a full scholarship. Coming from a middle-class family, becoming a scholarship recipient at a prestigious private school, and receiving a top-notch education was like…