Many high school students carry heavy loads with classes, jobs and extracurricular activities. Pioneer High School junior Betty Hu is no exception. She takes AP classes, plays flute (and, when needed, piano) in the school band is an active member of the Chinese-American community, and is part of Youth Empowerment, a group that promotes youth voice and civil service.
She has added another not so common activity to her already busy schedule: she is a member of the Youth Board for the Ann Arbor Symphony. This opportunity blends her love of music and her interest in community service, and she says she is eager to learn about civic engagement and how it plays a role in society.
“I applied for the position when people at Youth Empowerment told me there was a spot open,” she explained. “It was sort of like applying for a job. I had to write a resume and go in for an interview. “
The Youth Board position is like a job. Hu attends monthly full board meetings as well as outside functions, and has been involved in the work of committees, which have their own meetings and workshops. Though it takes “a pretty hefty chunk” of her time during the school year, she is grateful for the opportunity to learn something not taught in school. “I’m interested in government projects, especially those aimed toward teenagers, because they teach and promote values that we don’t commonly mention in high school.”
Hu comes by her work ethic naturally. Her parents emigrated to America from China before she was born, but wanted to make certain she was familiar with her Chinese roots. They enrolled her in the local Annhua Chinese School when she was in kindergarten, and she took classes in Chinese culture for two hours every Sunday until last year. She completed the classes and took the AP Chinese test in May, but hopes to return to the school as a volunteer this school year, joining many other Chinese-American alumni who come back to the school as teachers and assistants.
Hu looks forward to college (maybe outside of Michigan) and while she is keeping her career choices open, she is considering a future as a public servant. While she learns about the role the symphony plays in the life of the community, she will continue to pursue her interest in music. She says that she is the most musical member of her family, but credits her dad with being a big supporter. “I remember how my dad would always play his classical music CDs for me when I was little. Now he takes a lot of interest in what I am playing, and has always been a big supporter of anything music-related that I’m part of.” She finds similar camaraderie and support among her friends at Pioneer, where she describes the music program as “a big happy family.”
“High school offers only so much,” Hu said. “There is a lot to learn about service in our community outside of what we are taught in school, which is why I take interest in projects like Youth Empowerment and Youth Board."
There is a lot to learn about service in our community outside of what we are taught in school.