Sam Zou will graduate this spring with the Class of 2019. What makes Sam’s Gilmour experience extraordinary may be as complex as his exuberant personality. Yes. Sam is the senior who told the student body during Convocation, “I’m Sam Zou. If you don’t know me, you should.” Given the thunderous applause he received on that cold November morning, any student may wonder how Sam managed to reach such accolades in popularity. Sam’s past provides some answers to the questions: Who is Sam Zou? Who is Sam Zou…really?
Jiasheng (Sam) was born in Shenzhen, China, a city near Hong Kong. Turning 16, Sam decided to study abroad at Gilmour Academy. He wanted his high school experience to include more opportunity for public speaking and acting. Adjusting from strict academics to a more holistic approach to learning, Sam’s transition to American culture was not an easy process. Using a different language on a daily basis and adjusting to prolonged class periods with some free time afforded, Sam found himself overwhelmed…at first. Luckily, Sam found his new family in the Drama Club. He joined in his sophomore year and looks back in awe of his close friends and passionate social group.
Drama Club Experience…
To date, Sam has acted in five different plays and musicals. Of all performances, his favorite happens to be his very first effort: the spring musical of his sophomore year, “The 25th Annual Spelling Bee.”
Finishing C4 lunch together, I walked with Sam back to the classroom where he studies Multi-Variable Calculus with Ms. Mary Merkel, Instructor in Mathematics. For all of fifteen minutes, Sam frequently smiled from ear to ear. Anyone who knows Sam would say he is among the most cheerful students you could ever meet. As Sam shared that his first on-stage experience was his all-time favorite, he said, “For the first time, I was able to sing on a stage.”
Looking back on his experience in the club, Sam told me that his happiest moments are being on stage. He truly appreciates the opportunity to be able to perform with his friends, to show the community their combined best effort, and to fully present the positivity in each play. Sam loves to act, and he absolutely loves to sing. America and Gilmour allow him to do both.
However, the Drama Club seeks perfection in every play. The “club” is focused and hardworking. Everyone expects a full commitment and dedication from each other. During the interview, Sam walked me through the preparation work before each performance.
The first step is audition which the instructor assigns performers roles that fit them the best. Next, all members need to memorize their lines. Then they begin looking for customs that best suit their characters and the setting of the play. Lastly, the whole cast would go to the playhouse for rehearsals, and finally gets to perform on the stage.
I was shocked to hear how intense their preparation schedule was. Months of day-to-day practice at school and at home are what Drama Club members do in order to perform to their own high expectations. Given this commitment, Sam never once doubted whether he should continue to put so much time and effort into performance preparation. Sam said, “I indeed enjoy every moment to be able to work with those great actors and actresses in the club and to have the privilege to call them my friends.”
Five months from now, Sam will graduate. His on-stage experience with the Drama Club will end. Coming to Gilmour for an American education has indeed shaped Sam into the highly engaging person he is today. Despite missing his close friends and looking back on his acting experience with that ear-to-ear smile, Sam is confident about his next chapter: college life. Sam said, “Wherever I go, I can always make friends. I’m thankful for that.”
Graduating from Gilmour…
Sam is now undergoing one of the most exciting period of time as senior: college applications. He hopes to hear from his dream school, Duke University. Above all, when Sam is attending college next year, he knows that happiness is his reality and not a performance.