Humans of Harker: Living large for life’s smallest moments

Timothy Wang captures the fleeting memories he makes with others

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Nina Gee

“These are the moments that make up who I am… for example, those three minutes on stage, or that moment when I bring a dish to the table, or that rush of adrenaline when I help my dad finally beat a boss in a game. I think being able to refocus through enjoying time with my family or time onstage or time at the studio, having all these things that show me just how valuable being alive is. I think that’s really taught me to stop worrying about some inconsequential grade in my report card, and to start considering the bigger picture, and to start considering, well, yes, I’m studying, but I’m studying to learn so that I can give back later in my life,” Timothy Wang (12) said.

What do cooking, dance, and math all have in common?

Supposedly nothing, unless you consider Timothy Wang (12). Timothy’s a wild card: a STEM student who’s known for dancing, a choreographer who wants to major in applied mathematics, a cook with one musical under his belt. Following with the pattern of unpredictability, Timothy started his interview with something you would almost never hear from a Harker student.

“I won’t stay up all night, really, to do anything,” he said, as if it were the most obvious thing in the world. “I don’t spend hours upon hours studying.”

He shrugs nonchalantly, the pinstripes on his shoulders wrinkling with the motion.

“I guess a big part of my identity is just that I value time and I value the small moments in life,” he said.

And he does. It shows in his art, in the the power and passion he displays whenever he’s doing what he loves and in the care he takes with each and every person he interacts with.

“[When he’s dancing] I think power, I think passion, and I think grace. Those are the 3 things that make Timothy,” Timothy’s previous chemistry teacher, Dr. Smriti Koodanjeri, said. “Even when he’s learning, his feet are always moving, you know what I mean? He’s always dancing.”

Since elementary school, Timothy has always been “the dance kid,” whether it be clicking his heels on the floor in a tap routine for 5 consecutive lower school dance shows or choreographing one of his own for the high school dance production.

“Getting on to a stage and kind of showing off what I can do is just this feeling of…being on top of the world, where I feel like I have the ability to show who I am on stage and simultaneously thank the audience for being there,” Timothy said.

Timothy stressed his appreciation for the ephemeral, something he thinks dance is representative of and which he understands on a level greater than most.

“I think [dance] is kind of the perfect metaphor for [the ephemeral]. Like I said, you put in this much work, and a lot of times people don’t see all the grueling rehearsals, all the time you spent drilling that one step, all the potential injuries you sustained, everything that you put into this… The audience, all they see is the final result, and after those, say, three minutes are over they move on,” he said. “It just highlights how valuable every moment is because they’ll end at one point.”

What many people don’t know about Timothy, who is most visible in the community as a performer, is that he also cooks and is an avid video game enthusiast. Though these activities seem disparate when compared with dance, Timothy insists that they are all connected in that they are all representations of the temporary and that they are what makes him who he is today.

“Even though these moments don’t last, that’s exactly what makes them valuable for me. I want to be able to give others that same experience of ‘wow, that was fantastic’ [or] ‘wow that was amazing,’ even though it didn’t last very long,” Tim said. “It’s just in both cases [dance and cooking], being able to give that huge wow factor and just kind of bring everyone together to witness or experience this one result, this one thing has always been so rewarding for me.”

He also associates it, surprisingly, with math, something he is looking to major in.

“Math is interesting in that I understand that my time is limited, that I only have so much I can give,” Tim said. “Being able to give back to a community through something that I’ve been learning for so long…I think that’s really beautiful in the sense that I am trying to maximize my impact in the limited time that I have, because I want to give back to society so that they can also have the opportunity to enjoy what I have.”

Part of it is that his parents have been unendingly supportive of all his hobbies: they always appreciate his cooking, his dad is the one who got him into video games in the first place, and they have always encouraged and cherished his affinity for dance.

“Whenever I do these things I’ll think of my parents…whether it be I’m giving a performance for them or I want them to see me practice or I’m just asking them for advice on my choreography, or…they’re tasting a dish that I made, or they’re judging my presentation, or they’re just sitting in the living room and commenting on how the kitchen smells,” he said. “All these things just give me a sense of warmth inside, and it makes me feel like I’m really connected to the people I love, and I hope that my audience in either field can sense that in my work.”

It all converges into one single point in Timothy’s life: his esteem for his family, both blood-related and self-declared, and the moments he shares with them, with people in general.

“I think it brings him happiness,” upper school dance teacher Rachelle Haun, who has been Timothy’s dance teacher since he began dancing, said. “At least, I hope so… that’s the reason why most people dance, [it’s] for enjoyment, and I think that it’s a place where he can really just be himself.”

Especially with gaming, Timothy stresses the importance of the bonds made when completing an activity and the personal and human connections behind everything.

“Really I think a lot of our friend group has met through games. Just when we have some time we enjoy playing together,” Timothy’s friend Eric Wang (12) said.

Which bring us back to his earlier statement: not staying up to sacrifice really anything, or at least not sacrificing the moments he could be spending making himself or others better.

“These are the moments that make up who I am… for example, those three minutes on stage, or that moment when I bring a dish to the table, or that rush of adrenaline when I help my dad finally beat a boss in a game,” Timothy said. “I think being able to refocus through enjoying time with my family or time onstage or time at the studio, having all these things that show me just how valuable being alive is. I think that’s really taught me to stop worrying about some inconsequential grade in my report card, and to start considering the bigger picture, and to start considering, well, yes, I’m studying, but I’m studying to learn so that I can give back later in my life.”