Humans of Harker: Beyond the basics

Fonda Hu embraces all experiences and reaches beyond the normal

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Tina Xu

“I just love traveling to new places because the highlights are a different culture and an entirely different experience. I never feel comfortable staying home for a while because I feel bored with my current situation, as if it’s just the same repeated day over and over again,” Fonda Hu (12) said.

“I often associate myself with Dora the Explorer just because for the majority of my life, I had a haircut that was between a bowl cut and a normal haircut, and it resembled Dora the Explorer’s,” Fonda Hu (12) said with a laugh.

This kind of humor is what makes Fonda so fun to be around. While Fonda may seem quiet and reserved at first, it doesn’t take long for her to open up and start making gleeful jokes about everything she observes. Close friend Emma Dionne (12), who has known Fonda since seventh grade, described how her first impression changed as their friendship developed. 

“At first I thought she was very quiet. But then obviously after you get to know her, she’s a lot more energetic than I thought she would be, and we share a lot more interests than I originally thought,” Emma said. “She definitely is very adventurous. I find a lot of times she explores a lot of things, even in the way that she writes her essays or does art.”

This trait is another hallmark of Fonda’s personality – her eagerness to discover new things. Aside from exploring creativity in academics and art, Fonda embraces traveling and the memories that come along with each unique experience. Each year, she travels to a different country and returns with new perspectives of life. Along with the thrilling adventures, Fonda is inspired by her traveling experiences.

“I’ve learned to be more spontaneous because one thing that I always tried to do was create detailed itineraries,” Fonda said. “One time I traveled to Japan with my family and we took the wrong subway, ending up about ten miles from our planned destination, but after walking around we came across this temple hidden in a small bamboo forest, and that was one of my favorite places to visit in Japan.”

Fonda has learned that straying off the well-planned path may lead her to unexpected results and discoveries. These unique experiences contributed to her desire for constant adventure and exploration. 

“I just love traveling to new places because the highlights are a different culture and an entirely different experience,” Fonda said. “I never feel comfortable staying home for a while because I feel bored with my current situation, as if it’s just the same repeated day over and over again.”

Any situation she’s in, Fonda finds creative ways to escape boredom. She’s recently resumed art again and immerses herself in the creative process of producing her work. For Fonda, it’s all about the journey rather than the end results or recognition. She is a constant learner, intent on perfecting her work. Art also allows Fonda to express herself and follow her heart in other aspects of her life. By presenting how she feels with her art, that journey in art transfers honesty to her personality.

“I’ve been seen as being brutally honest sometimes, which I’m okay with, because honestly, I feel like that defines me very well,” Fonda said. “Even though I might be seen as mean to some people, I do have their best interests at heart. I want to get that message across because I really do care about everyone in my community.”

Although sometimes people who are unfamiliar with her may not always take her jokes the way she means, Fonda remains as her true self and expresses what she thinks. Her straight-forward personality allows her to communicate and develop special bonds with her friends.  

“Fonda is definitely one of the most unique people I’ve ever met,” close friend Elaine Zhai (12) said. “She has a very bold personality but [in] a very different way because she isn’t outwardly bold, but she has a very strong, distinct personality.”

Aside from her unique personality, Fonda is also a great risk taker when the time calls for it. Upper school foreign language department chair Abel Olivas, who taught Fonda in her junior year, observed a different side of Fonda after she participated in the Spanish Cultural Night.

“Even though she tends to be a little shyer and quieter in class, she was willing to get up there. She was having fun with the language, but also taking some risks in terms of performing with different other people. It was nice to see her come out of her shell a little bit in that way,” Olivas said.

As Fonda becomes more comfortable and her true nature emerges, her casual and spontaneous bursts of energy and enthusiasm fill the classroom with laughter. 

“I remember chemistry being one of my favorite classes. I was lab partners with her, and we didn’t actually really know what was going on in the class but she always made me laugh during experiments. There has never been a boring moment with her,” close friend Maria Vazhaeparambil (12) said.

Although she has a talent for making everyone around her laugh, she also does a great job of inspiring the people around her. Close friend Vidya Jeyendran (12), who has known Fonda since sixth grade, cherishes the time they’ve spent together.

“I really admire her creativity. I really admire her as a person and I’m lucky to have her as my friend because I can always have a good time with her. She makes me feel like I can be myself around her because she’s so funny and open-minded,” Vidya said.

Although Fonda always follows her heart wherever it leads, she also manages to stay dedicated to activities that she is truly passionate about, something that her friends commend her for. 

“She doesn’t give up – when she thinks that something like our plan could be improved, she’ll stay up and she’ll just keep working on it until she thinks that it’s the best of her abilities,” close friend and DECA partner Anvitha Tummala (12) said.  

Not only does she work hard on her projects outside of school, but Fonda has also developed her own strong work ethic. Upper school English department chair Dr. Pauline Paskali observed growth in critical thinking and creativity.

“She’s growing into her own intellectual,” Dr. Paskali said. “She’s a formidable thinker, taking charge of her ideas and willing to engage in dialogue and exploration, which I think she’s found enriching, so I have seen her flourish.”

Upper school business and entrepreneurship teacher Sam Lepler also appreciates Fonda’s approach to discovering the world.

“She likes to learn [and] she’s curious. I think she enjoys exploring, even if she’s not super loud in class all the time,” Lepler said. “She stopped and asked questions about how things apply beyond the classroom. I really admire that and like that she’s not just interested in an A. Everyone wants an A, but she wants something more than that.” 

This theme presents itself in everything that Fonda does. The world is her oyster, and she has the passion and exuberance to discover its secrets. Ruminating upon what impacts her most as a person, Fonda once again hones in on her curiosity for all the world has to offer.

“My focus when I’m engaged in these activities is more based on living my life to the fullest. I want to live every day thinking back that I actually did something that made me feel better about myself. With that mindset, everything that I do, I try to be as accurate as possible. Life has so many experiences, and I don’t want to have many regrets of what I did in the past,” she said.