Skip To Main Content
A student with short hair in a mask stands 3/4 view of the camera, with a textured back artwork in a gallery behind them.

As we look forward to the start of the 2021-2022 school year, our One of 360 series returns with Joanna L. ’23. Joanna is a boarding student from Shanghai, China, who first learned of Emma Willard School through the GirlSummer program. Read more about Joanna, in her own words, on art, the Emma experience, and more.

On home...

I come from a small family in Shanghai, China. When I was young, my parents and I lived in the urban area. They both stayed in their companies from early morning to late at night. I used to study in a busy bilingual school where nearly everyone works hard for “Zhongkao,” a big exam to sort all the middle schoolers into different levels, which eventually affects their high school offers. After I began studying at Emma, my family chose to move far away from the urban area and start a quiet and enjoyable life. I also have a “small brother”, my cat Oreo. I bought him when I returned to China last year because of the pandemic. He follows me wherever I go and becomes one of my besties when I encounter difficulties. 

On the Emma experience...

In the summer of 2018, I came to Emma for the first time to participate in the all-girl summer school. I was attracted by Emma's courses and the beautiful campus. After attending the summer school, I decided to come here for high school. After a year and a half, I returned to Emma and made many new friends in a short period of time. The atmosphere here attracts me the most, my friends always point the way when I have no direction, my teachers always help me kindly during class, and they are more like student’s friends in their spare time. This is something I have never experienced in my middle school back in China.

On art...

Since elementary school, I’ve liked art very much. At first, I just took a paintbrush to draw different patterns on papers and made different shapes with clay. Later, my mother enrolled me in a systematic art training class, starting from the most basic lines to painting and sketches. After returning to China last year because of the pandemic, my tutors and I started my art project and portfolio. Different from the previous graphic paintings I drew, three-dimensional plaster sculptures and computer software are used in the two projects I am currently working on. I found that the birth of each concept is magnified from the details of daily life, and the preciousness of an art work may not rely on how it looks. The reason why every artwork is unique and precious is because the artists make all their thoughts real. When making works, I like to think first and try immediately, turning my thoughts and words into real things.

On new hobbies...

I am very interested in photography. Through a lot of research, I found that photography does not have to be photos, it can be sound recording or video shooting. The subject does not have to be a still life or landscape in the traditional sense. Light and shadow, color, human movement, and many photography works that can be well filled with one's own thoughts. I hope to explore more aspects of photography in the future.

On Emma Traditions…

My favorite tradition here at Emma is the Proctor and PLT program. When I first came to Emma, I didn’t know anyone, so my proctor and PLT helped me move my furniture and luggage. They explained many rules and the locations of different spots patiently. To me, they were the first warmth I felt when I entered school as a freshman. 

Thanks, Joanna, for sharing your passions and contributing to the Emma Willard School community in unique and significant ways. We look forward to seeing the impact you will have as you continue to serve and shape our world!

A student with short hair in a mask stands 3/4 view of the camera, with a textured back artwork in a gallery behind them.
Joanna kneeling down next to a very fluffy white dog and shaking it's paw like it's shaking her hand.
Joanna in a blazer and white shirt standing in front of some widows, looking serious.

Find more interesting stories about Emma Willard School on our Newsroom page.