It was registration day at Greenfield-Central High School and my counselor was getting impatient. “Even though you’re an exchange student, you still need a Math class”, she said in annoyance. After two hours debating, I gave up and she put me in Pre-Calculus, a class that “would be perfect for me because of my records”. Although I agreed with her, I felt like my world was collapsing: a high-level Math class in a foreign language was the last thing I wanted to have as my American high school experience. The only thoughts in my mind were how horribly I would fail the class, and how much humiliation I would take this year.

Contrary to the stereotype that “Asians are good at Math”, back in Vietnam I was completely clueless when it came to this subject. As a matter of fact, my abhorrence for Math started in middle school, when I struggled to pass my classes. I couldn’t understand any basic concepts or memorize any formulas, and barely got by every test by any means of cheating possible. However, Math was mandatory for all Vietnamese students, and gradually became harder, so there was no way out for me. For five years of my life, I came to class on a daily basis to face my worst fear, and to be berated by my teachers. They gave up on me, told me I had no potential to be successful in Math. Therefore, I kept getting worse and was on the verge of failing Math again when I left Vietnam.

Recalling such bad memories, I nervously walked into my first American high school class:

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