A Year in Review: Ngoc Tao


Fortunately, the Chelsea school district has incredible opportunities for students around the world to experience American schools and engage with new people. Exchange students bring new culture and stories that make the CHS atmosphere truly unique. It can be quite a challenge to leave your home and travel to a new country. However, adversity can also come with great memories and friendships that can last a lifetime, and for Senior Ngoc Tao, this is exactly how her first and final year at CHS went.

“I’m planning to hang out with my friends one last time, as I’m about to leave Chelsea for home,” Tao said. “I’m excited but sad. Goodbyes are hard to say, regardless of how many times you have said them.”

For Tao, her time here at CHS has been very enjoyable but also very hard at times. She has been supported though the environment here at CHS as the atmosphere has always been welcoming, comforting, and supportive.

“My favorite thing about Chelsea has been the teachers, counselors, and lunch staff here,” Tao said. “They are super nice and care about your success and you as a person. I also like how kind people in Chelsea are.”

Tao’s time here at CHS has been short, but that doesn’t mean it hasn’t been extremely memorable and exciting. The teachers and students at Chelsea have all benefited from the positivity that Tao brings to everyone she meets. As an exchange student, change is scary, but having a great support system really made life at CHS exciting due to the connections and bonds created.

“I would like to say thank you to a lot of people, especially Mr. Orlandi, for his wise words, good jokes, and how much he cares for all of his students,” Tao said. “Ms. Bertoni, because she helped me proofread all of my college essays and gave me a lot of encouragement and affirmation. Mrs. Mattias answered millions of chemistry questions. Mrs. Hill, who helped me through difficult times during my college application process and spent time getting to know me, and the lunch ladies, who are super nice, also, everyone in my host family who showed me everything about US culture and was there for me when I’m not feeling well.”

At CHS, Tao has not only attended sporting events in the stands, but played in the JV tennis team as well. Her adventures here have been monumental and very important to her. She hopes to continue to grow as a person and give back to her community wherever she goes.

“I think I became more independent and more grateful for the opportunities I had, the relationships I made, and the new experiences I had,” Tao said. “I also do more things out of my comfort zone.”

Next year, Tao plans to take on the world in the next chapter of her life: college. She wants to stay in the U.S. to attend college and is really excited about all the memories she will make. Her time here at CHS has inspired her choices and her application process.

“I’m going to the University of Miami in Florida and am planning to major in nursing,” Tao said. “I got a 4-year full tuition scholarship from the University of Miami. One of the essay prompts is explaining why antagonists are effective leaders, and I wrote about Clark from Christmas Vacation for his silliness and his stubbornness. My host family showed me this movie during Christmas, and I never thought I would be inspired by Clark to dedicate a college essay about him.”

Over the past year, Tao has been away from her family and home but has been able to find an amazing community at CHS. Friends and family are important parts of all students’ lives, and it is beautiful to see their impact on one’s life when one needs it the most.

“My favorite story this year was when my friends invited me to celebrate the Vietnamese Lunar New Year (Tet holiday), one of the most important holidays in Vietnam,” Tao said. “It’s similar to Christmas here. My host family tried their best to learn about my culture and give me very thoughtful traditional Vietnamese gifts during Tet, which I am very grateful for.”

Students at CHS will be grateful for the impact that exchange students have on classes and the community. As Tao begins her new adventure into college, she imparts some advice she’s learned from her time as an exchange student.

“Realize that you will feel lonely and that you will struggle to fit in or feel like you are in a state of unhappiness too frequently, that you are missing out here and at home,” Tao said. “Too many times you will question whether it was worth it to leave behind familiar things and start all over again, but many other exchange students feel the same, and you are not the only one. It’s ok not to be brave at times after you have been brave for too long. You will get there. You will figure it out eventually or not, and either way, it’s okay. You will mess up a lot of stuff and go through difficult times on your own. You have never done something like this before, and “That’s why you’re doing it” is one of my favorite quotes from our principal. And I think most importantly, congratulate yourself for the smallest to biggest achievements.”