Around campus, you can always see Andrew Chang (12) smiling and joking around with his friends. Sometimes, his jokes are more light-hearted, but ultimately, he cracks different jokes depending on the situation. Normally, jokes are not something people place much importance on and are not an integral part of someone’s personality, but Andrew values the opportunity that jokes give him to brighten up someone’s day and to see their approving reactions. Their laughter gives him the satisfaction that makes him want to continue developing his sense of humor.
“Making dumb jokes in a way causes people to laugh because you sort of want to spice up what’s happening in class,” he said. “You can crack these sort of jokes that are really bizarre in a way and that sort of bizarreness is really what make people laugh because it’s so out of [the blue].”
Additionally, his jokes ultimately serve a greater purpose, which is to spread happiness to his friends.
“I just want to be remembered as someone who’s positive and exuberant, filled with energy,” he said. “I don’t want to be someone who’s seen as someone who isn’t too active in the community, and I sort of want people to remember me as someone who brings positive energy to wherever they go.”
Beyond spreading happiness with jokes, he also wants lend a hand to his friends whenever they are feeling down and tries to uplift their spirits.
“Even though I joke around a lot with my friends and tease them, they’re still my friends,” he said. “Even though we may joke around and insult each other jokingly, it’s still important that you’re there for them for anything.”
As a good observer, he tries to console his friends whenever he notices a change in their demeanor. Even though he acknowledges that it is hard to be in someone else’s shoes, he wants to share his genuine feelings with them. Once, one of his friends, who Andrew describes typically “really vibrant and outgoing,” became more introverted and quiet around his friends both at school and on gaming networks, a change that Andrew quickly noticed.
“That was a big deal to me,” he said. “I talked to them about what they [were] feeling, and I in a way recommended [to] them what to do, even though I’m not a counselor or anything. I sort of wanted to talk to them and be there [for them] whenever they’re feeling like that.”
Andrew often puts his friends and connections with others above his schoolwork, prioritizing his interactions with people and his individuality over the norms set by adults in his community.
“I really love being loud and different from people; I like to float around and do my own thing,” he said. “I don’t really like to follow specific guidelines that are set by teachers or conform to expectations set by my parents. They sort of want me to be the typical Asian child and focus on homework, but I think that’s really boring because all you’re doing is studying all the time, you don’t really get to interact with other people as much.”
While most people put school work first, Andrew also places importance on being social and communicating with others.
“I always try to spend a little bit of my day not doing homework, but just interacting with someone who I’ve never met before whether that be online or in real life,” he said. “It’s really interesting to see other people’s perspectives on topics and maybe controversial issues. You get to see so many different viewpoints on so many different topics, and that really allows you to empathize with other people better as a result. You don’t just get to tunnel vision and focus on just what you see, but you get to dive into what other people think.”