A foundation is unbelievably important. Without a foundation, a start, a base, you wouldn't be who you are today. Willowbrook was my foundation, my home from when I was little, my start. Willowbrook enabled me to embrace life's endeavors, and try new things. I cannot thank Willowbrook enough for its kind and compassionate teaching that encouraged me to reach for things that I didn't believe were possible. This year, for the first time since I was one year old, I moved back to the US. I was scared, terrified actually, as I had no clue what the US would be like. The only "US" experiences I knew were my summer camps and the sneak glance at my mom's parenting books. Being a foreigner my entire life, it was hard to imagine being a majority and not a minority. Yet, I found my transition this fall into 8th grade as smooth as silk, easily able to maneuver the tricky social dynamics of middle school (I believe that's what adults call them!). I think a solid foundation, one of learning and caring, as they give at Willowbrook is part of what enabled me to have such a simple transition. When I was unpacking my belongings from Japan, I came across my old scrapbooks of photos from Willowbrook, as well as a time capsule that had the date "2010" on it. A bit late, I know. But as I opened the capsule and the photo books, memories that had long since faded came rushing back. I remembered the catchy tune of Willowbrook's theme song, the cloth green and red pinnies we had to wear. I remembered my old Japanese room, where I spoke my first Japanese words, something (Japanese) that I've kept up even back in the United States. A random memory that popped up, maybe one of my favorites, was a lesson that we did when I was four years old. Our teachers decided to show us how hard it would be to write and draw if we didn't have hands. For that day, we practiced coloring with our feet, armpits and mouths, and gained a whole new appreciation for hands, something that we take for granted. My memories of Willowbrook are fond ones. Willowbrook has provided me with a strong foundation and passion for learning that I don't know if I would have gotten anywhere else. Even though I'm older now, I can still count on Miss Ikuyo running up and giving me a hug when she sees me, or a friendly hello from the new staff who don't even know me. I love Willowbrook still, and know I will always be part of the Willowbrook family.

Chace Alexandra Pulley (14 years old, currently attending at Nueva School in CA)
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