Senior Goodbye: Shawnn Hwang

Shawnn Hwang, Staff Reporter

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Now that I’m familiar with all my fellow seniors (I think), I can tell you my childhood as a young Asian. It will also tell you how Riverside-Brookfield has transformed my evil ways…

Growing up in the suburbs of Chicago, I was ambitious. I attended a private school in Chinatown and my parents worked countless hours to pay the tuition for 5 years (Preschool –3rd grade).  This is where my story begins, in preschool. At a young age, I developed a sophisticated hierarchy of friends. Also, these were tight friends, friends that could be trusted (Since the private school was 99% Asian). Every one respected me as the T0P DAWG of the hierarchy. This title acquired from play tug of war. My future two henchmen were losing to six girls who were tugging viciously. I came in and gave an effortless tug resulting in our victory. Ever since that day I was known as the T0P DAWG and the strongest kid in pre-school. (Probably from curling one gallon milk cartons daily)

Every afternoon during art time, our class artist would draw & cut out replicates of jewelry for me to wear- which fortified my T0P DAWG looks (Learned from watching mafia movies with my grandfather). At recess, I would order my disciples to collect all the newest and best toy bricks for me.  Sure, some classmates tried to overthrow me (even one of my most trusted henchmen!) but they all fell under my might (arm wrestling). I also asserted my place by blowing out others’ birthday candles or stuffing their jackets with cupcake filling. NO ONE messed with me.

October 5th1998, a new student appeared in our class. He was Caucasian (the only white kid in the school) and tough looking. Everyone stare with awe and curiosity, for his face formation was alien to us, but that didn’t stop me from running the usual biz. One day, during recess, he took my bricks (one of my henchmen was ill). I told him to fork over the brick, but he refused. I reminded myself that this was my turf and NO minority was going to take it from me. The next thing I knew, blood streamed down my face (from him chucking the brick at my head). I tried to hold in my tears but it was inevitable. From that tear drop on, I knew that I had lost my power and position as T0p dawg.

Moving after 3rd grade, I attended 4th -8th in an all white school. Fearful of the memories from 3rd grade, I was really shy and nervous. However after the four years of high school, I evolved and emerged from my cocoon (as friends were made with many different races of people).

Ultimately RB taught me that diversity is an important factor in society. Over the years, I’ve made friends with many white friends that can be trusted. RB also taught me to accept who I am with the assistance of the community. I realized that you don’t need to assert yourself to a position in society. But all one needs is support and love! I’m really appreciative for everyone’s support for these four years; staff, students and friends. The school has transformed me from by evil ways to an angelic, youthful, and respectable teen and I thank RB for that.