Washington DC's Chinese Youth Club offers scholarships to student members in order to affirm a culture of learning and education along with its cultural, athletic and community activities. Scholarships are funded by donations from CYC members and the community and are granted to students to support their educational pursuits. There are family-sponsored scholarships as well, which target specific groups of students with specific criteria for award.
MON SUEY LEE SCHOLARSHIP APPLICANTS REQUIREMENTS:
- Must be an active participant in volleyball and at least one other CYC activity
- Must be age 17 or younger
- Must attend the CYC Banquet
The winner of the 2012 Mon Suey Lee Scholarship is Nika Lilley- Her essay:
I only started playing volleyball in my freshman year of high school. I had no idea what I was doing, or that summer league clubs even existed. Summers, for me, were the time to sit around doing absolutely nothing but visiting friends and watching TV while losing my muscle tone from the season. It wasn’t necessarily the most fulfilling thing, but during my junior year I heard my coed teammates talking about the leagues they were playing in outside of school, including CYC. The JV coach, Chris Liang, talked the club up to me, and encouraged me to come try out. I decided I would, because I love volleyball and I love being on a team and competing, so the more I played the better. I came back this year, even after getting offers to join other clubs, because my first year experience was so much fun.
First off, and maybe most importantly, I’ve met so many amazing and friendly people. It’s so easy to make friends at CYC, because we all have so much fun together on a regular basis. The club honestly feels like a big family – I guess in some cases it kind of is, because there are definitely a handful of people who are related in various ways. I’ve gotten to forge a connection with my teammates and travel with them. There’s nothing quite like traveling with a team, as I’ve found, and I am so inexplicably glad that I’ve had the chance to do that. And the team I play with at CYC is different than my school team, more relaxed and enjoyable. I’ve found that the more fun a team has together, the better they play together.
Secondly, playing volleyball in the summer is an entirely different experience. When you’re outside, everything changes – you’ve got the heat to deal with, and the light; the court may be slanted, and there might be wind blowing. I have to try to avoid hitting the ground as often as possible because while that’s tolerable on a gym floor, I learned the hard way that doing it on hot asphalt is extraordinarily unpleasant. I feel like it brings the game to a new level and kind of lends it a bit more intensity. When I went back to my school team last year, I was kind of shocked at how easy it felt in a gym after playing outside for a few months._______________________________________________________
Winner Essay by Justina Bui of Silver Spring, MD
As an individual who withholds a strong desire to travel and try new things, I felt there was nothing to lose by participating in CYC. Even though I was a stranger, CYC has welcomed me with open arms, friendliness, and familiarity.
The four days of tryouts were intense. I had not touched a volleyball since girls’ season of last fall. Tryout was a pattern of merciless conditioning from indoor courts to outside heat. However, despite my lack of being in shape, I pushed through and endured all the days with perseverance, constantly hydrating using numerous water bottles. My experience of being part of the CYC Angels team has been truly valuable and memorable. I was able to travel to New York for the first time. I was awestruck to see the many teams from other states that came together like a family to play volleyball. Through CYC this summer, I was able to make many new friends, travel to different places, experience different cultures, and become a part of a close and supportive community.
My parents have always disapproved of me doing sports. They never understood the passion I had for playing volleyball and how much I wanted to grow and improve as an opposite hitter. Despite my parents’ pessimism, I believe that joining this program has changed their mindset positively as they saw my teammates and I come together to have fun and play the sport with one heart. The dedication and time management required in balancing two part time jobs, volunteering, and playing for CYC Angels have shown my parents how much I matured as an individual and how passionate I am towards volleyball.
Also as a volunteer for a Japanese foreign exchange program for the past four years, my objective and responsibility has been to teach various cultures that exist in America to Japanese students. This year, I was able to educate the students about Chinese Youth Club volleyball, dynamic heritage, family-oriented culture, and communal unity.
CYC has taught me to support myself, to build myself up, and to seek help from others when needed. My experiences with the program and volunteering in general have encouraged me to continue being a benevolent person to others. Because no matter whom I meet, everyone is fighting a personal battle; but with CYC, I learned that you are never alone. The CYC principles of involvement and activism have encouraged me to immerse myself in a life where I use my own two hands to change and promote the betterment of my home and community. I will carry these skills with me as I pursue a higher education at UCLA this fall and hopefully to continue play volleyball no matter what.
Winner Essay by Nicole Cheng of Gaithersburg, MD
When I first joined CYC’s volleyball organization three years ago, I had just started to take an interest in the sport. Tryouts and practices were nerve-wracking for me because of my inexperience. Being placed on a team with older and more experienced players, I felt incapable of contributing to the team. I was also a doubtful, unconfident, and scared high school girl.
By enhancing my skills during CYC, I developed into a stronger and more confident player; one that is not afraid to play any position, offensively or defensively. The following school year, I played for my school volleyball team and participated in various volleyball clinics throughout the year. CYC had become popular among the Asian-American community, and as a result, I saw many more familiar faces during tryouts. Due to my height, I trained to be the middle hitter for CYC. However, as an outside hitter for my school team, hitting middle was new and rather strange. I’ll admit that having to play middle was dreadful, but it became more enjoyable after much encouragement from my coach and teammates.
Although it was a very unfamiliar and different experience for me, throughout the CYC season, I took on the challenge and developed a relatively important characteristic: confidence. I now embrace being a middle hitter, as it brings out my full potential. I have improved greatly by getting more touches off my blocks and even angling my hits. With my team and coach constantly cheering me on, even when I make a mistake, I can only think of striving to become even better. Confidence is what brings me to where I am today; it’s what motivates me to set up rigid blocks, spike the ball and get a kill, and dig up fast and powerful hits.
Other aspects of my life have been affected from gaining confidence through CYC. While attending a leadership camp called FASCA earlier this summer, I assertively spoke out in front of a group to share my ideas and attempt to lead everyone in our group activities. I’ve also realized that I don’t always need to depend solely on myself. In many situations, especially during games, I have come to recognize that I have numerous “shoulders to lean on”. My teammates, coaches, and CYC family are always there for me in times of joy or sadness. They support me all the way, through good and bad, and provide a firm foundation. Without them, I would not be where I am today. Therefore, I contribute to my community by providing encouragement towards others. I cheer for other teams, and provide my “shoulder to lean on” as well. Through my CYC experience, I’ve become confident through the encouragement of others and will give back to the community by continuing to support my teammates and peers in the future.
2011 Fong Family Scholarship Winner - Vanessa Zhang
I was hit with a tough challenge at the first Sunday practice: convincing my parents to let me play outdoors. They were skeptical of my ability to handle the heat and fearful that I would transform into a swarthy, brittle-skinned daughter ailing of melanoma and cataracts. Although they had my best interests in mind, I had to prove to them that the benefits I would receive from CYC would exceed the risks… and occasional mild sunburn. Yet, even I could not foresee that joining CYC would allow me to overcome more than just the physical challenges of playing outdoors, but also an inner psychological challenge that had latently obstructed my overall happiness.
I’ve always felt awkward being one of the few Asian students growing up in predominantly white schools in Perth, Toronto and now at Good Counsel. At times, I’ve even completely rejected my Chinese heritage by refusing to learn Chinese and use chopsticks. But living in a state of denial quickly brought many difficulties. Each time I turned to my friends for advice, there seemed to be a barrier preventing me from opening up about daily struggles at home. I never really knew why it was so hard, but now I realize that the answer was simple: they weren’t Chinese, or even Asian. It was difficult for my friends to relate to my life and console me accordingly because our cultural backgrounds and values were different. Joining CYC has given me the opportunity to confide in friends who have gone through similar struggles and experiences. With my new big brothers and sisters, whom I can turn to for nearly anything, I feel like I am truly part of the CYC family.
I’ve always called myself Australian, Canadian or American but never Chinese. For so many years I’ve viewed being Chinese as a hindrance, but seeing other CYC players with such close ties to their heritage has made me realize that no such shame exists in being Chinese. I have never before felt such an urge to get involved with Chinese culture until this summer when I finally accepted myself for who I am and embraced my identity as a Chinese-Australian-Canadian-American. Although it’s over a decade late, I’m finally keenly learning Chinese (with the help of CYC friends) and regularly using chopsticks.
I’ve found that many of my Asian-American peers are embarrassed and resentful for being one of the few Asians at school, just as I was last year. I long for my peers to take pride in their heritage rather than merely assimilate out of discomfiture. As the President of ISA, a club for Asian-American students, I hope to pass on the same enthusiasm and pride in Asian heritage that CYC has helped me discover by organizing club events like culture nights, bubble tea and dumpling fundraisers. Hopefully through my initiative, interest will build among Asian-Americans and the entire student body at Good Counsel to foster a greater sense of respect and acceptance for Asians within the school.
2010 Fong Family Scholarship Winner - Patricia Kingkeo of Silver Spring, MD
A year ago, my prior experiences hadn’t prepared me for the grueling challenges that awaited me during CYC. I was bewildered by the competitive atmosphere, the arduous conditioning, the seemingly harsh criticism, and approached each practice with great trepidation. I tried out for CYC an insecure, unconfident, nervous girl of seventeen. Needless to say, I performed poorly. If I thought learning a new position was demanding, playing outside was merciless! The sun exposure sickened me, the heat drained me, and the wind baffled me. But before I am exiled from CYC, to every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.
As much as I denied the challenges CYC posed, resistance was building in me.
I spent the next year with one goal in the back of my mind—to prove anyone who’s ever doubted me or questioned my ability, wrong. It manifested my life. I sought to perform the best academically than I ever had in my life. I sought to devote the rest of my energy to gaining experience and learning to improve as a setter. My achievements paid off; by April next year, I would enroll into Johns Hopkins University and land my dreams to become a varsity setter. The truth is, my intentions were never truly to “prove anyone wrong”. In order to succeed in what I aspired, I had to overcome the most difficult obstacle. Myself.
I am by no means a perfect person. I still have yet to be a consistent setter, but I managed to overcome my fears by focusing on what I truly wanted. It is a daily struggle to build confidence, but what I once saw in CYC as dreadful, has become a blessing. I am blessed to receive constructive criticism from seasoned and skilled players. I am blessed with the opportunity to face my challenges and experience life outside my comfort zone. I am blessed to be enveloped in a warm and caring community whose leaders are not only willing to work as a team, but as a family.
In short, I cherish the experience I have. I hope more people will be able to have the opportunity to achieve their goals through CYC and preserve their cultural heritage. From this, I realize the importance of giving back. As a public relations intern, I help my supervisor publicize the successful donation of clay water filters to impoverished families in Ghana, achieved through the monetary contribution of local friends and family. The collective effort to fundraise for water filters, in its infancy, has gained momentum and patrons through word of mouth and media outlets, and will continue to grow yearly. I have learned that the modern world demands our sense of community to expand and take on a global perspective in order to develop as a society. As a result, I live by the principle which CYC has ingrained in me-- the success of humanity is dependent on the interconnectedness and altruism of others._____________________________________________________________________________________________
The 2009 Fong Family Scholarship was awarded to Elsebeth Birman and Pui Sham for their essays below.
By Elsebeth Birman - 2009 High School Graduate
Introduced into the organization by Alan Wang; I first became involved in CYC when I was eleven years old. I first played basketball with 2E as my coach and was surrounded by people who just loved to play. Everyone cared for one another and just wanted to have fun. This was shown in nry "try-out" when 2E said, "Can you dribble? Can you shoot? Shoot a lay-up. Ok you can play." Then when I got a little bit older I got the opportunity to play with CYC's women's basketball team, the China Dolls. I was still very young playing with the veterans of the women's team. I was timid at first because I did not know anyone and there was a huge age gap between me and the other players. But being timid did not last long because everyone in CYC makes you feel welcome, no matter what age you are. CYC has one of, if not the youngest women's team in the women's national tournament. Every time we go to the tournament we are always greeted by other teams who say we are adorable and they remember us when we came up to their knee caps. This greeting is not only humorous hut it also reminds me of the fact that what we belong to is a community, not only CYC but also every other Chinese club all over the country.
By Pui Sham - 2009 High School Graduate
Joining CYC has made an impact on my life. At first, my parents did not allow me to play for CYC because I was already participating in multiple teams, but after being invited to play my first tournament with the Chinadolls, I realized how much I enjoyed it and decided to continue to playing with them. I joined the women’s open basketball team only three years ago, yet I feel as if I have been around this organization for a long time. My teammates made me feel right at home and I made new friends through the team who immediately became family. What I enjoy most about playing for CYC is the potential of forming lifelong friendships. After the first tournament, I felt closer to my heritage than ever before. Most of my teammates have had similar experiences growing up Chinese-American that I can identify with. Unlike other teams I have participated in, I do not have to worry about people judging me on my cultural differences. I am comfortable being myself and proud of being Chinese.
With my high school and AAU teams, size was a problem. Some coaches could not look beyond my height. When I came to CYC, no one doubted my game. They accepted me for who I am. They respected me as a basketball player who can contribute to the team. I finally found a team and organization that did not discriminate me for being only 5’4”.
In my experiences at tournaments, I faced top notch players that had many more years of experience than me which has made me work harder to become a better player. One of the challenges we have had as a team was getting together for practices. With many of my teammates scattered in various locations, it was difficult to practice regularly and to find gym space convenient for all of us, resulting in a lack of practices. I decided to step in and coordinate workouts near my house for scrimmaging. The greatest challenge was trying to win Nationals. With all the best teams in one tournament, getting first place is not easy. My goal is to help CYC win a National Championship in the future. Through all the challenges, the men’s and women’s CYC veteran players helped improve my game mentally.
My participation in the CYC basketball team has opened my eyes to coaching and teaching. Coaching gives a whole new perspective on the way I look at the sport. Giving my own basketball private lessons has not only taught my students more about basketball, but has helped me hone my own skills as well. I want to be a coach and teacher after graduating from college because I love sharing my knowledge of the game with others. In order to be a good basketball coach, you must have strong leadership and a good understanding of the game and the players. CYC basketball has made me determined and hard working and has greatly shaped my educational and career plans.
The 2008 Fong Family Scholarship was awarded to Bryan Huang for his essay below.
I admit that playing CYC 9-man was initially a harsh experience for me. Pushed by my sister to practice during the school off season, I went into the 2006 9-man season knowing no one but fellow classmate Willy Li. Not really good at meeting new people, I was shy and hardly talked during practices except to communicate in matches. I later found out that some of my teammates interpreted my behavior as egotistical and stuck-up, and so during my first year of CYC I found it hard to connect with anyone on my team. Thankfully and serendipitously, it was the experienced members of the A-team that truly started to make me feel welcome. During a water break at a practice one day 2E was setting for hitting lines, and when it was my turn to hit, my tosses were short, high, and horrendously inaccurate. Yet instead of getting impatient and angry, the good natured A-teamers waiting behind me laughed and encouraged me. I suspect that they might’ve been lazy to learn my real name but after that event they called me “Sleepy” for…obvious reasons. After that I found it a lot easier to talk to everyone on my own team, and even now some players call me Sleepy without knowing my real name.
From then on I have looked forward to each and every Sunday practice at UMCP. Even though it’s hot and humid on most days we play, I enjoy playing 9-man because of its fast paced, dynamic, and non-rotating (it’s probably more enjoyable for front row) game play. Although compared to some of the more experienced players my time at CYC has been remarkably short, I still feel as part of the team as those who’ve been in CYC for as long as I’ve been alive. I’m still quite literally a “Grasshopper”, but I have found that the lessons I’ve learned not only in volleyball but in teamwork, communication, and perseverance carry over from CYC to other aspects of my life as well, such as at my tutoring job.
It’s not always easy to tutor kids in math; simple arithmetic functions that I take for granted can confuse and frustrate kids half my age. Sometimes I too get frustrated when I have to explain something for the umpteenth time. However it’s moments like these where I remember Wally’s patient instruction. Wally probably has the toughest job in CYC because he has to deal with a constant yearly influx of new kids wanting to play, so he has to teach the same basic principles year after year after year. Yet he hardly ever seems impatient, frustrated, or angry, he just methodically provides the training and mentorship that new players need and require. If Wally can be so patient and nurturing despite years of endless repetition, I feel slightly embarrassed that I can’t deal with mere 8-year-olds in a 4-hour work period. It is ultimately through CYC that I acquire the humble patience to mentor and calmly instruct my tutees.
By Bryan Huang