Nooran, High School Student, CA
What are your hopes for your life? What would make a "good" or successful life?
My hopes for life are to be happy and to make a difference because I feel like if you’re alive it’s your duty to make an impact on the world and to try and change something or to try to help other people. I feel like that’s more important than to make money for your own personal gain.
What would it take to be happy?
For me, I think I really like being around friends and family so probably just having a good family good friends and probably doing something I love. Like I said, I’m not really focused on the money aspect of something. I love traveling so I’d want to travel and I’d want to explore new places and new cultures and see how other people interact with their environment and stuff like that.
Is there anything that you worry about getting in the way of your good life?
Probably economic issues, but I feel like a lot of people are limited by what resources they have and by what standard of living they were born into because it takes a lot for people to break out of their social classes. I understand that and I feel really fortunate to have grown up in Palo Alto and to have all the resources that I have, but I feel like that would get in a lot of people’s ways if they don’t have enough money or enough resources to do what they want in life.
Does anything keep you up at night, related to that?
No, well, not really to that but mainly school and grades, and SAT and college, but I don’t know I think this year is just a lot and it’s a lot more stressful because all our friends are talking about colleges and like ‘I wanna go here’ and getting recruitment and stuff like that-- it’s stressful but I feel like a lot of people, especially at Paly, put so much emphasis on where you go to college. It’s ridiculous because everyone’s gonna go to college somewhere and it might not be where you want to go but you’re still gonna go and get a college education and I think that’s very important.
What role do you think that Paly ideally would play in you having a good life?
Well, I think that high school education is really important, and it teaches you to interact socially while working and how to interact with other students during group projects. I feel like that’s really important because I work at the Boys and Girls Club over the summer and I have to work with other people of different ages, and some are way younger than me and some are [much older]. So, I think it’s really important because I’ve learned how to interact with other people during group projects and like how to manage my time. Managing my time is really important.
Do you think that Paly plays the role it should?
Sometimes. Yes because they give us like all these amazing resources and all these amazing opportunities to do things, but it’s mainly on you to choose what you want to do. And for course selections if you wanna go in this route you’re not really guided in a certain path. While I do like that, I feel like for some people who don’t have all the resources that we have at Paly--it’s not as helpful for them.
Do you think that your friends, parents, and teachers agree with you?
My parents definitely agree with me. My friends parents are very uptight: money- and success-oriented. They want their kids to go to the best colleges and to be the best and to do the most activities and stuff like that. So my family, I know for a fact, doesn’t believe in that. You should do what you want to do: if you’re not good at science don’t take science. But I know a lot of my friends are pressured by their parents to fit into their molds. I don’t know, it’s kind of ridiculous because my best friend does swimming and she absolutely hates swimming, and her parents make her do it every year. So, it’s kind of ridiculous on that level because you should be able to do what you want and around here, that’s not really an option that a lot of students have.
What do you think that the purpose of schooling is for individuals and society, broadly?
The purpose of schooling I think is to help people learn more about the world. It’s important for people to know about history and what’s happened, but I think it’s more important to know how people can apply what they’re learning in school to the broader world so it helps them with jobs--it helps them decide what they’re interested in and how they want to continue after their schooling is finished-- what career they want to take. So, I think it’s really important that they are able to explore all the different fields in school before they go out into the world and decide what they want to do.
Do you think that your teachers think that Paly plays the right role?
I think ideally they do want to think that but, it’s seems like they’re always talking about de-stressing the environment and helping kids out, and I feel like nothing is happening to help that. Every three weeks there’s always one week that’s full of tests, and then there’s two weeks where there’s nothing. And it’s really stressful and they’re not really planning around it: [They don't think], "Oh every student is taking 7 classes instead of just my class." So I feel like ideally they want to think that they are helping--which I think they are in some ways, they’re great support--but in others they’re not really understanding how much juniors and seniors, mostly, have outside of school as well.
What have been some of your most empowering educational experiences?
Boys and Girls Club for a start. It hasn’t really been educational, I volunteer there and I help out with tutoring and I really enjoy it. I really enjoy that because I think that it’s really important to see how East Palo Alto is a mile away from us and there’s a complete difference in a style of living and the standard of life there. And I feel like that’s really important and that opened my mind to like how other people live.
Any in school?
Yes. Some of my teachers I really liked how they taught their classes. Right now I’m in American Literature and I really like that because we’re talking about the immigrant experience and how minorities in America are faced with different choices and how they have to interact with other people differently based on their race. I feel like that’s really important because it’s more relevant now, which I think is more of a factor now than historically where it’s something that happened a long time ago. That’s still important to learn, I just find it more interesting to do stuff that’s relevant now.
If you could choose one thing about your high school experience to change what would it be and why?
Stress. There’s such a large emphasis on the grades, and while I do think it’s important to try your hardest in school, I feel like you shouldn’t be punished as much if you fail one test and your grade drops a whole letter grade. I feel like if you are able to show you know the material and you understand it, you shouldn’t be so nervous about the test. I feel like it should be more project-based and know you understand the material instead of here’s your test your grade is dependent on how well you do in this one hour chunk of time.