Humans of Harker: Compassion and choice

Helen Yang reflects on the freedom of choice

%22At+this+point%2C+I+have+honestly+no+clue+at+all+where+exactly+I%27m+going+to+be+in+20+years%2C+but+just+the+freedom+of+knowing+that+I+can+control+where+I+want+to+go+and+that+if+at+any+point+I+do+change+my+mind%2C+I+have+the+power+to+take+whatever+I+have+in+my+own+hands+and+change+my+future.+That%E2%80%99s+very+valuable+to+me%2C+just+knowing+that+I+have+freedom+to+choose+is+what+makes+me+happiest%2C%22+Helen+Yang+%2812%29+said.
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Humans of Harker: Compassion and choice

"At this point, I have honestly no clue at all where exactly I'm going to be in 20 years, but just the freedom of knowing that I can control where I want to go and that if at any point I do change my mind, I have the power to take whatever I have in my own hands and change my future. That’s very valuable to me, just knowing that I have freedom to choose is what makes me happiest," Helen Yang (12) said.

Kathy Fang

"At this point, I have honestly no clue at all where exactly I'm going to be in 20 years, but just the freedom of knowing that I can control where I want to go and that if at any point I do change my mind, I have the power to take whatever I have in my own hands and change my future. That’s very valuable to me, just knowing that I have freedom to choose is what makes me happiest," Helen Yang (12) said.

Kathy Fang

Kathy Fang

"At this point, I have honestly no clue at all where exactly I'm going to be in 20 years, but just the freedom of knowing that I can control where I want to go and that if at any point I do change my mind, I have the power to take whatever I have in my own hands and change my future. That’s very valuable to me, just knowing that I have freedom to choose is what makes me happiest," Helen Yang (12) said.

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Her lips move a mile a minute as she begins to speak about one of her greatest passions: BTS. Helen Yang (12) closes her eyes, tipping her head back as she lets out a gleeful laugh, spinning into another story about the popular Korean boy band group.

“I actually was into them before they were big. They have 19 million followers on Twitter right now, I got into them when they had 1.8 million followers. So I’m OG you know, I’m not a bandwagoner” said Helen, a smile spreading across her face.

To others, Helen might seem like just another fan of the popular group, but underneath she is a compassionate, generous young woman whose passions run much deeper than her taste in music. Helen’s nonprofit which she started with juniors Ellen Guo and Tiffany Zhao, called International Outlook Foundation, has raised over $12,000 to aid the education of children in rural China.

“I’m not discrediting any of the hardships or challenges that anyone else faces, but some of the kids that I’ve seen there really have the hardest lives that you will ever see. Just in order to be able to learn, they don’t have paper, so they’ll dig through trash and find cardboard boxes or cigarette boxes, and they’ll tear open the cigarette boxes to flatten them so they can use that as paper,” said Helen, her hands moving from their relaxed position on her lap to aid her impassioned statement.

Helen credits her desire to help not only to the lack of opportunities for these children but also that her family’s roots will always be in China, a fact embedded in her by her parents and that has remained close to her heart through moves to 11 different cities in multiple countries. Helen’s many moves have created a deep appreciation for freedom and the world around her.

“When you move around that much, you see so much of the world that it’s just really hard to decide where you want to tie yourself down to because there’s so many places, so many directions and paths that you can choose from, that when you choose and settle down for one at the age of 17 it feels like you’re cutting yourself off from exploring so many different options,” said Helen.

On a smaller scale, Helen’s recognition of the importance of confidence and choice has also been impacted by her mother.

“My mom, she did a complete 180, she was a software engineer for 20 years, and now she’s a real estate agent, and she’s one of the best in the country. That was a huge inspiration maybe not in business itself but knowing that you can go down a totally new path and be successful in it,” Helen said.

Helen isn’t one to have her entire life planned out. Instead, she embraces the fact that she is still growing as a person and has a while before she knows exactly who she is.

“At this point, I have honestly no clue at all where exactly I’m going to be in 20 years, but just the freedom of knowing that I can control where I want to go and that if any point I do change my mind, I have the power to take whatever I have in my own hands and change my future,” said Helen. “That’s very valuable to me, just knowing that I have freedom to choose is what makes me happiest.”