Hongkai Zhang, one of our boarding students from China, is a senior who has spent all of his high school years at Ben Lippen. He is currently enrolled in four different AP or honors classes but still makes time for his passion, music. Hongkai’s houseparents, Mr. and Mrs. Naruke, interviewed him recently so we could get to know him.
Tell us about your family. I am the only child in my family. My mom is a software engineer, and my dad is a manager at a logistics company. We live in Shanghai.
Why did you decide to come to Ben Lippen? One day, my mother told me that I was going to be a student at Ben Lippen School. I am from Shanghai which is the biggest city in China, so it was an adjustment for me to get used to life here in Columbia, South Carolina.
What do you like about Ben Lippen? I like the teachers and the houseparents although I have a hard time with some of the rules occasionally. The teachers are very friendly and nice. I think they are very accommodating.
What has been the best thing that happened to you so far at BL? I enjoyed the Lock-In because I didn’t have to turn in my technology (phone, laptop) at night, I could use the internet all night, and I enjoyed gathering with my friends.
Which class do you like the most and why? I really like the guitar class. Before coming to Ben Lippen, I had never played the guitar. I first took Guitar 1 and I really liked it so I took Guitar 2 and 3 the following two years. I was chosen to perform as a solo guitarist at the guitar concert two years ago and played one of my favorite songs “Flower Dance.” Then last year I played “Canon in D” at the guitar concert. I am a senior now and I would have taken another guitar class if I had a free block.
What is your passion? I love music, and I started practicing the piano on my own this year. I usually practice the piano after dinner. I was taking piano lessons when I was in elementary school, but I quit. Looking back, I wish I didn’t. Now I am learning to play the song “Flower Dance” on piano. In the future, I would like to compose music with either the guitar or the piano.
I also like math, and I like to help my friends in my math class. People often come to me for help, and I am part of the math team. Besides math, something new that I have enjoyed this year is designing games with my good friend Wendell Cai in the newly-formed club named B Bear Studio Game Making & Design Club. We are trying to develop a gaming app that can be played on the phone or on the computer.