An Interview With the Val and Sal


Elena Zhang

What’s something you watched or read over quarantine that you’d recommend to others?
Valedictorian Ethan Jiang: Over quarantine I got into reading webtoons. One of my favorite ones is Space Boy, and it covers heavy topics like trauma in a “wholesome” way. It made me feel so good inside. And Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood is a classic. Those two were the most significant ones.
Salutorian Mika Langel: I started watching The Mandalorian. I’m not a Star Wars fan, but it’s a really good show, and deserves all the hype it gets.

What’s a song that’s been stuck in your head lately?
Ethan: A month-ish ago, my friends got me into Kpop. If you know anything about that, it’s a rabbit hole. What’s really been stuck in my head is Blue Hour by TXT.
Mika: Cry and Fight by Daichi Miura.

When you procrastinate, what do you like to do instead of work? 
Ethan: Literally anything. I’ll sleep, play video games, or talk to friends. It’s a complete mess, and it’s mostly just being unconscious.
Mika: Either hop on Minecraft, catch up with my favorite YouTubers, or scroll through memes.

Describe yourself in three words.
Ethan: Otherthinker, expressive, and conscientious
Mika: Tired, proactive, gamer.

What’s one of your passions and why do you enjoy it?
Ethan: Definitely music. I play piano and I write my own music. There’s something very personal about it, but also very communal. When I write music, it’s a good learning experience for me and it also fulfills me. Playing chamber music, or talking about it and playing with other people—there’s something so connected, and it’s special that you’re creating together.
Mika: One of the biggest things in my life right now is dance, especially JDance and the cultural heritage crew. The bond I make with my members—I call them my kids—is so chaotic, but comforting. It’s something that I don’t get anywhere else.

If you could tell your freshman self anything, what would it be?
Ethan: Take a deep breath, just take a deep breath. You’re probably worried about something, but it’s probably going to be fine. Take a deep breath, and try not to let opportunities pass you by because you’re feeling lazy or unmotivated. Also, cherish the time you have with your friends, and be there to listen to them.
Mika: Join more clubs. I only had joined a few. I wish I branched out earlier, and that I wasn’t too shy, so I could get all those experiences.

Since the pandemic started, what has been the hardest part to deal with?
Ethan: Beyond the whole monotony of it all, it’s so hard to do anything, especially when you’re locked up at home. Being in the same environment constantly can be really draining, and it can be weird to have your school and your social life in the same place. Also, thinking about what could have been—with friends and Asian Culture Club especially.
Mika: In quarantine, being physically by myself, I always overthink things. Not being able to rely on others or contact people so easily caused me to get into a cycle of overthinking that drained me.

What’s your hope for the next five years?
Ethan: Personally, I would like to have a direction. I like music, but I still want to keep my options open. I’m still not sure what I want to do. I want to feel like I have a plan, or some sort of idea of what to do. Right now, it’s very much “I don’t know” and I would like to know at least a little bit. Ideally, I would write music for indie games. 
Mika: I would like to keep dancing, hopefully with the same people I do now. Keeping the spark alive, somewhat regularly. I hope that I stay in touch with a lot of my close friends.

Any final comments?
Ethan: Even though I supposedly have the highest GPA in my class, I still feel really stupid. It just feels so weird. Obviously, grades aren’t everything, but it still feels like I’m lacking in a lot of areas. I really feel the imposter syndrome. It’s like I feel validated, but okay, what now?
Mika: Grades are not everything. Do not stress about them. They’re not as important as you think. Also, please don’t drink coffee.