Before studying at Brown, all of my pre-college education was completed in China. During my time in high school, I myself was subjected to the aforementioned rigorous exam-based education that I spoke of. I spent most of the hours in my days taking notes, memorizing information, and studying instead of participating in any extra-curricular activities. As a Chinese student, all of the people around you (i.e. teachers, parents, friends) lead you to believe that grades are the only marker of achievement and future potential. All of my friends spent years studying for the GaoKao entrance exam, while I planned to study in America to explore a different place and educational system. Before going abroad, I decided to take a gap year. During my gap year, I had more free time to pursue other interests besides academics. This is when I realized that although I learned a lot in high school, I was lacking in other areas; I did not have a well-rounded life. It was not just me who thought this; many students in China have similar complaints related to a lack of knowledge about social issues. I think that these concerns of students must be addressed, as life becomes infinitely more positive and inspiring when academic knowledge is paired with many other extracurricular activities and endeavors that cultivate different passions and skills.
To address this issue, I started PerkSummit three years ago. I raised funds from local sponsors in China, and made partnerships with local businessmen and organizations to provide a truly exceptional opportunity to participants. This project proved to be very successful and aroused great attentions from the public attention in Chongqing, China. According to the survey I conducted recently to compare the performance of PerkSummit high school participants, most of them reported that they benefited from the interaction and communication with college students and professionals. However, PerkSummit is a highly selective event that occurs only once a year and involves in around 200 high school students each year. Chinese students need more opportunities to develop their social and leadership skills. Therefore, I want to launch PerkSalon, a weekly public panel discussion, to expand the Perk community.