Lost in the Crowd

Looking back on my days at Homewood-Flossmoor High School has been a wonderful experience, largely in part due to the many posts of Tina Landry Otte, Shari Hahn-Kozak and others who have helped take me and many others down memory lane. 

I know that while the recent reunion was being organized, mention was made to those “invisible” members of the Class of ’75 whom people had lost track of.  I myself was one of those invisible members until recently.  I think it took me longer than others to connect to our classmates because in general those with more introverted personalities like mine find it harder to reach out socially to others, but I’m very grateful that someone took the effort to reach out to me!  Back in H-F, our class of 1975 had somewhere between 900 and 1000 students.  It was SO big that it was easy to get lost sometimes.  I’m not just talking about navigating one’s way between classes, but navigating one’s way through the social world of high school. 

For those that were naturally more outgoing or socially adept, the path was still probably not easy, but to those of us who felt more introverted there were many times when we felt envious of those who found it easier to go out and make new friends.  But that was the beauty of having such a large group of students; there were so many diverse groups that were all supported by the school that you were bound to find some people who shared common interest. 

That diversity in our student body meant that there were many people who inspired me because they were different from most of the students but still seemed to thrive.  I would like to mention two of them here:  Jacqueline Ambrose Knight and Cedric Yap.  They don’t know it, but they ended up inspiring me in later life after leaving Homewood-Flossmoor High School. 

When I lived in Japan for five years, part of getting used to living in a new country was the fact that I was considered by the Japanese to be a member of a racial minority.  It took some adjustment to my self-image because I had never been part of a racial minority before.   I distinctly remember thinking back on my days at H-F and empathizing with students I had seen like Jacqueline and others who had to endure being a racial minority back then.  When I saw them, they seemed to be successful in school, and yet I’m sure they felt differently than the other students, mainly because some students may have treated them differently.  If figured, “well, if they survived H-F, I can survive my stay in Japan”.  So I wanted to just give a shout out to Jacqueline and others who didn’t realize that they were pioneers who would end up inspiring their classmates someday.

I was not a close acquaintance of Jackie’s, but Cedric Yap I did know because we shared an interest in mathematics in common.  I remember going over to his house and becoming interested in a cursory way with his family’s language and culture.  Later on those seeds became in an interest which led to me studying Chinese in the Asian Studies program in graduate school at the University of Illinois.

So the fact that H-F was such a large class may have created its difficulties for those who found it harder to go and meet such a large number of people, but that very diversity meant that I ended up meeting a far greater variety of people than I would have if I had gone to a smaller school.   That in turn has helped me throughout my life relate to other people from other cultures who speak different languages. 

Now when I look back at our days in Homewood-Flossmoor, I see that our class prepared us for larger world more than we ever knew at the time.   The only regret I have about reconnecting with the class of 1975 is that it took me so long to do so.


2 Responses

  1. I feel honored to be on the short list of people that “inspired” you. Had we not reconnected because of the Homewood-Flossmoor Class of 75 Facebook page, so expertly hosted by Tina Landry Otte, I would NEVER have known this. I don’t think you understand the depth of how much this blog post means to me. It tells me that you saw me even when I was feelng invisible.

    I look back on my days at H-F with a sense of awe and gratitude. Every single thing that ever happened to me there, merged with my life to make me who I am today. And if I say so myself, I’m kind of awesome. But, I don’t know that I would have been had II not been a minute cog in the wheel of Viking Life at H-F.

    When I think about it, I loved every minute; the victorious ones, the happy ones, the sad ones, the painful ones; every single minute of every single day is etched in my mind forever. Thank you so much for what you’ve said here. You just made my week!

  2. I wish I could say I was speechless but that happens so infrequently. But, I am honored and deeply humbled to be on the short list of people who you feel inspired you in your life. What an accolade!

    What this means to me is that you saw me too –in the midst of my visible invisibility. Whatever slights, hurts, pains, insults and injured emotions I suffered; perceived or real; cannot take away the true happiness I felt during my time at Homewood-Flossmoor HS.

    It was a very special and unique place and we were blessed to be there at a unique time in its history. Every minute of every day brought me great joy on some level; whether it was taking first place at a track meet or hanging out with Allan Krause and the “No-Minds.”. And whatever pains I experienced cannot erase the fact that I was a truly happy child who was in a very exceptional place.

    But, back to you. I can’t tell you how it feels to know that I was able to affect you in a positive way. I mean that. I hope that this door we’ve opened as adults remains so and that those of us who have connected OR reconnected take advantage of this awesome opportunity.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: