International student Dahe “Billy” Wang ’21 has big plans for his high school years at Ross School. He talks of formulating a campaign to inspire his peers to forgo video games in favor of person-to-person interactions and starting cultural exchange groups that will help students learn about one another’s home countries. But for the moment, he’s devoted to amassing as much knowledge as possible—immersing himself into worlds about which he claims to so far know little, from the American education system to visual arts.
Like many international boarding students his age, Billy says that he came to America in search of a better education, and he says he loves the liberty Ross’s schedule grants to students to study the things they are truly passionate about. Without that freedom, Billy might not have had the chance to explore visual arts—something he discovered that he loves.
For his Guild Project, during which eighth graders apprentice themselves to master craftsmen to create a project based on medieval art, Billy collaborated with Sag Harbor–based artist David Slater to craft an intricate mosaic. The partnership was enlightening for Billy, who says wouldn’t have described himself as artistic before. “I never thought I was really good at drawing, painting, or making things, but Mr. Slater really inspired me,” Billy said. “He told me that part of creation is destruction. We broke a lot of plates and stones to put them together, and I’m glad that I made something that can really be called a good piece of work.”
Billy also welcomes the opportunities he’s found at Ross to expand on his previous experiences in the performing arts. He has taken music lessons in China since third grade, and he now plays three instruments—tuba, piano, and acoustic guitar. Not only does he play in Ross’s orchestral band, but he was also selected for the Division 2 Suffolk County Music Educators Association (SCMEA) Honor Band, a position for which he auditioned against students from schools throughout Suffolk County. As the only Ross student represented, Billy enjoyed connecting with students from other schools. “The people in the band are friendly and really good at their instruments,” Billy said. “And we have an awesome conductor who is really nice to all of us. It’s a great opportunity.”
Becoming more involved in local activities beyond the school is one of the first steps he has identified to accomplishing his goal to leave a positive impact on his community. “Every night before I go to sleep, I think about who I helped or what I contributed to the Ross society, and if I didn’t do anything, then I make a plan,” he said. Billy looks forward to high school, when he anticipates running for student government, but until then, he’s content to learn all that he can to inform his future decisions.
“Every year, hundreds of thousands of kids come to America to get the best education,” Billy said. “I want that experience, too.”