Spotlight | From China to Ventura: Building a new life in the USA

Yeifan Lei – Buena High School

Yeifan Lei – Buena High School

From the language to the food to the culture, Yeifan Lei entered a new world when he moved from his native China to join his mother in Ventura and become a freshman at Buena High School. With limited English skills, he started taking English language development classes and made quick progress. By his junior year, he was taking college-prep English. And as a senior, he moved up to advanced placement English, allowing him to earn college credit in a language he could barely speak just a few years before.

Yeifan also had to adapt to a different style of teaching. While schools in China emphasized memorization and strict adherence to structure, Buena gave him more opportunities to learn by doing, such as by conducting experiments in science classes. “Here, the teachers let students explore more rather than textbook style teaching,” he says. “I figured it out really quickly and it was more fun to do hands-on stuff.” With more freedom came more responsibility to be self-motivated to learn. “You have to figure it out yourself and be more independent,” he says.

That’s not to say he didn’t have plenty of people in his corner. Yeifan credits his Buena teachers and counselor with helping him navigate unfamiliar terrain and reach his academic goals. With their support, he was a straight A student while being active in Buena’s music programs, including the marching band and jazz band. “He’s taken multiple AP classes and has been a rock star in our jazz band, which starts at 7am,” says his counselor Natasha Hillis. “He’s grown by leaps and bounds and he’s incredibly humble.”

Leifan has big plans now that high school is coming to a close. He earned a full scholarship to Northwestern University through the QuestBridge program, which helps high-achieving, low-income students afford college. He’s considering careers in medicine or chemistry and is looking forward to putting down roots in his adopted home.

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One Response to Spotlight | From China to Ventura: Building a new life in the USA

  1. Sheryl June 13, 2018 at 8:09 am

    Chinese culture values success. The students only get one chance. In the US we allow failure and repeated chances to “come back” … major cultural difference …


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