This school year is far from any normal we’ve ever known (thanks, COVID-19), and for South Texas ISD Science Academy (Science Academy) senior Dun-You Yan (Daniel) of Mission, it’s that and more.
Daniel has been calling Taipei, Taiwan home for the past nine months, and has gracefully been pulling “all-nighters” to attend classes virtually at Science Academy.
STISD’s daily on-campus/remote school day schedule runs from 9:30 a.m. - 3:05 p.m., with two student support sessions offered from 8:00 a.m. - 9:25 a.m. and 3:15 p.m. - 4:05 p.m.
As STISD students begin first period at 9:30 a.m., Daniel kicks it off at 10:30 p.m. That’s a whole 13 hours ahead of our central time, and Daniel says this experience is the best of both worlds.
“I love exploring, and the fact that I get to stay here and explore Taipei’s sites and culture, all while doing school virtually is the best,” said Daniel.
It is tradition for Daniel and his family to visit Taipei every summer, but when the pandemic hit, causing the world to shift its operations in March, the family knew it was either then or who knows when until they would be able to travel internationally again, so they packed up and kept the tradition alive.
Daniel and his brother (now Science Academy freshman) ended the 2019-2020 school year in Taipei and began the 2020-2021 school year there as well. The family plans to come back in the new year, so Daniel can finish up his senior year locally and prepare for the just-confirmed Technology Student Association (TSA) annual competition.
For the past three years, Daniel has been a competitive TSA member, and he and his teammates couldn’t be any more excited to get back onto the competition floor (whether it be in-person or virtually) and claim yet another state qualifying position in architectural design. COVID dismissed their chances of competing last year, so they look forward to regaining yet another shot.
Daniel is literally juggling schedules on different sides of the world, yet he still finds time to serve his Science Academy community and the community in Taipei.
He continues to serve Science Academy as a student ambassador, assisting with providing virtual tours of the campus to prospective STISD students, and is an English tutor for a few families in Taipei.
Daniel has a neat outlook when it comes to how he is able to manage life in Taipei and the Rio Grande Valley from afar.
“Time zones aren’t as rigged as you think. Everything has just now shifted for me, and I have a new perspective on time zones and how that plays with our living,” said Daniel.
Daniel’s biggest challenge through this experience is seen when questions arise internally when working on class assignments outside of the normal school hours, but is grateful to his teachers and classmates that are able to work around his schedule and respond in a timely manner when situations like that do occur.
Daniel’s drive is quite evident when it comes to making sure he continues to experience the same hands-on activities that STISD students continue to receive, all while being over 8,000 miles away.
A few of Daniel’s current classes require hands-on learning such as Sculpture, Architecture, and Engineering Design & Development, and he has refused to allow distance to interfere with those experiences.
His art instructor prepared bags of materials for all students receiving virtual instruction to complete the latest sculpting project, but unfortunately, that was unreachable in Daniel’s case; however, he didn’t allow himself to not get it done, yet saw it as an opportunity to get out and enjoy the Taiwan culture and venture out to the local market to purchase all the clay and tools needed to complete the sculpting project like everyone else.
The same is true for his architecture and engineering design and development classes. He has made sure he still has access to the same design programs he would’ve had while physically being in the classroom, and continues to create and build upon his skills, as he aspires to pursue architecture and design as a profession.
Daniel looks forward to getting back to the states and completing his senior year locally.
“I certainly miss physically seeing my friends and teachers, but am grateful for my four years as a Science Academy student, which has allowed me to make friends from all over the Rio Grande Valley that I can turn to, even while being in a completely different time zone,” said Daniel.
- Science Academy