Wait…Hebe who?

The Patriot uncovers the story of junior exchange student Hebe Wu.


Mike Moxley

Junior Hebe Wu poses at her desk. Wu and fellow classmates had just finished Pre-Calculus class.

Hugging her mom, dad, and sister one last time, Shuang (Hebe) Wu gives them a final goodbye wave and boards the plane. She sits down, thinking about all that is ahead. Sitting in her seat Wu begins to question her decision to come to America, but she keeps telling herself, “It will be okay.”

When Wu got to the Detroit airport she had some trouble with her bags. Customs opened her bags and confirmed they were okay. They sent Wu along, but by that time her connecting flight had already departed. She ended up spending the night in the Detroit airport.

Once she got on her new flight from Detroit to Baltimore the next day it was short and uneventful. When she landed in Baltimore a “weight was lifted off her shoulders.”

Her host family, the Hagermans, picked her up in the airport. They gathered all of her stuff, and drove her to their home.

On the ride home Wu began to think about her reason for coming and what she wanted to accomplish while she was here.

“I wanted to make new friends, learn about the American culture, and do well in school. Learning English will be the hardest thing,” Wu said.

Before high school, Wu’s mom told her that she needed to travel outside of their town of Hangzhou, China to explore the world and learn about different cultures. She told Wu that it was a great opportunity for her to learn how to adjust to the American lifestyle.

Wu admitted that she does miss her family a lot and calls them frequently. She also uses a web chat that is the Chinese version of Facebook because Facebook is blocked in China.

“I was talking with my 8 year old sister, and it was really nice to see how she was doing. Just hearing her voice was comforting.” Wu said.

She returned home this past summer to see her family. The highlight of her summer was getting to see her little sister’s talent show.

“I went to her school for her talent show, and she dressed up as Stitch. She sang and danced with a group of friends in front of thousands of people. She was the most adorable one,” Wu said.

The thing she misses most about home is sitting at the table with her big family. According to her, they often told her to do chores, but she misses spending time with them. Her grandparents eat with her immediate family often because it is a tradition and “vital part of their daily lives back home,” Wu said.

While in America, however, Wu has found something that she really enjoys: band.

She participates in the JC Band and they perform at concerts and also at sporting events such as basketball and football. Wu enjoys music and it puts a smile on her face when she gets the opportunity to play at games and cheer the teams on.

Music started for her at a young age. She also participated in taekwondo as well.

“When I was little my mom forced me to do taekwondo and play the piano. I didn’t really care for taekwondo. I always thought there was a more peaceful way to solve things then fighting. The piano on the other hand was something that carried over to America.” Wu said. She plays percussion in the school band.

Wu doesn’t know for sure if she will stay in the states for college, but she is enjoying her time while she is here making new friends and memories.

Mike Moxley is a Multimedia Editor for The Patriot and jcpatriot.com.