Rong Tao Wu shares progress through immigration

Q.C. Ho, Editorial Cartoonist

A cold November air greeted Rong Tao Wu as he left the airport. He marveled at the snow, the most he’d ever seen in his life. They passed a wall of buildings framed by the purple New York skyline. At one point during the ride he saw a plane which sat nonchalantly atop a bridge, an odd sight after spending nearly 12 hours on one. Wu looked on at all of this yet felt underwhelmed.

“So this is the capital of the US”, he thought. He was five at the time, and believed that New York City was the capital of the US.

Ten years have passed since Wu immigrated and he has since developed his passion for learning.

Born in China, Wu lets himself be known in every class he’s in. He’s quick on the draw, his hand is lightning shooting from the ground. When called upon, he does not simply answer with a word or two. Instead he thunders his profound knowledge as Moses did the commandments to the Israelites.

It may come as a shock that his appetite for learning did not arise until fifth grade.

“Before [fifth grade] I was kind of a lazy person.” he said, “When I was in elementary, I didn’t feel really challenged. Classes were a bit easy and I didn’t have much homework.”

Wu was pushed to excellence by the encouragement of many of his friends, teachers, and his own expectations.

His own expectations were set incredibly high with the fifth grade Performance Series looming ahead.

Wu said he was competitive then, just as he is now. He was shooting for a high score and as a result he began to pour hours into preparation for the tests.

“I made myself do 32 math questions a day” he said, “those hours of study were intense”

“Imagine.” he said, “Anger. Sadness. Happiness. Joy. All combining into a single emotion.”

Without a dedicated study space at the time, Wu wandered around his house, pencil and paper in hand.

The Performance Series

It was finally test day and Wu was nervous.

His heart was pounding. “I felt like my brain was burning.” he said. “I’m a slow test taker when I’m nervous”

“This was the moment of my life,”, he continued, “childish when I look back on it.”

“After thirty minutes my brain began to cool down.” he said. He began to feel warmer, like nodding off into a deep dream.

Most students were expected to be done in two days. Wu took nine. Sitting alone, the drone of the air conditioning broken up by the occasional click of the computer mouse.

“It was like a slow, steady, calming journey that you must walk.”

At the end of his odyssey, he got his results back immediately.

“It was satisfying” he said beaming a broad grin.


“I’ve learned to moderate myself more in my studies, exercise, and I eat healthier.”

Despite his tactic of staying up incredibly late to finish undone work, Wu said he usually sets himself up in a certain schedule. In his room he now has a dedicated work space, where all his books and tools are at his fingertips. Since his parents work late, he cooks his own meals which he eats in his room when he studies. His parent’s are very supportive of his work.

He described his parent’s ways as “laissez faire”, which translates roughly to letting one do what they want.

“Regarding my education, they want the best for me.” he said, “but they believe that I should figure out everything by myself, and they believe in me which I appreciate greatly.”

Currently Wu has a book he’s been writing for a year, set in the court of Justinian during the sixth century A.D.. He hopes to have it published by his birthday on March 31. Even if you don’t know anything about history, Wu’s book would be a worthwhile read. Wu believes that learning is a way to self improvement, which leads to happiness.