Editor's Note: Under the theme of “Challenge and Change”, the second English writing contest of SCNU has came to a close with over 280 articles from 28 schools and colleges. We recognize all prize winners for their excellent performance. Awarded winners have been announced (see results), and all winning articles will be published in this column.


By Lu Fan

"There is no challenge more challenging than the challenge to improve yourself.”- Michael F. Staley

Whenever I was walking in the hallway leading to the reading room, this quote on the wall captured my attention. "Challenge... Is it really the biggest challenge to improve myself?" I muttered. Honestly, I think many other challenges are more difficult than this one, such as the upcoming final exam. Thinking of it, I sighed and walked faster to the reading room...

Actually, I didn't agree with those words until the Covid-19 outbreak.

About challenges

Since the outbreak of the corona virus epidemic, many "normal" things like study, contests and even interviews became "abnormal". The new all-assignment-done-online model not only became an accomplice to my myopia, but also brought physical and mental discomfort to my life. 

What frustrated me was that the interview for exchange students was conducted on line. It was a valuable opportunity and I decided to fight for the only one chance.

I still remembered the colorful and fascinating life of exchange students introduced by senior fellows. Naively, I began to fantasize about becoming an exchange student, chatting with international friends and enjoying cultural scenes of different countries. What a rare and precious opportunity for me, a sophomore who is extremely interested in English and eager to improve her foreign language! In order to seize this opportunity, I dare not slack in my studies, and study every major course diligently.

Therefore, no matter how worried I was about the Internet failure or various other factors, no matter how distressed I felt, I persuaded myself to accept this challenge. And I prepared, with my full strength, for the interview.

Those days before the interview, I only slept for about five hours a day. I carefully prepared a self-introduction, searched relevant information about the host school, practised mock spoken English Q&A sessions, taped myself in front of the camera, and checked network settings over and over again. Despite an all-around preparation, I was overwhelmed by the pressure and at times even burst into tears for no reason.

I know. I wanted this opportunity so much!

But you know what? When I entered the on-line meeting room, my Internet was lagging. I felt extremely nervous. Yet when I entered the on-line room successfully and saw the benign smiles of the four teachers, I instantly calmed down. Thanks to my persistence and hard work over the past two years, the whole process of my interview went successfully. 

Fortunately, I was chosen. I was the only chosen student! My parents were very happy when they heard the news, and my friends were cheering for me. But only I myself know how much effort I had made to meet with this challenge.

About changes

Nevertheless, unpredictable changes came over me.

A week later, I heard the news that the exchange program was canceled due to the worldwide outbreak of the pandemic. That hurt me very much. Why me? Why did the epidemic happen at this time? I chose to escape reality and fell into the sadness of pain, insomnia, and doubt.

At that time, it should also have been a tough time for my parents. In order to get me out of the sad mood, my parents and friends accompanied and comforted me all the time, they helped me break through this difficulty with their actions and made me believe that this bad situation was still changeable.

One evening, I suddenly thought of the words on the wall, "There is no challenge more challenging than the challenge to improve yourself." Yes! Because of this epidemic, I lost a precious opportunity, but on one hand, that goal in my mind has always inspired me and made me better. On the other hand, people all over the world were experiencing hardship too, but the touching stories of the nation’s fight against the epidemic that I have heard have inspired me to come out of my own depression. So it is pointless to be entangled and sad. I have improved myself and I have been praised by teachers and classmates! Most importantly, I have met and overcome the biggest challenge in my life! Hence, I should not be immersed in this gloomy mood any longer. I need to save myself, and I need to make changes.

Yes, I think I have already made changes.

About chances

After coming out of my own frustrations, I decided to pay more attention to other aspects, so I began to find opportunities to do other meaningful things, not only for myself, but for others.

By chance, I noticed an on-line campaign that recruited volunteers for the epidemic, and I signed up and was selected. Then I devoted myself to fighting the epidemic for four months. During those four months, I felt very full and meaningful. All I knew for sure was that I was doing something that was actually of interest to other people. I was making a contribution to other people, to society, to the country. It was an unforgettable memory. I learned what self-dedication is. 


(The award I received as an epidemic volunteer)

After that, since I didn't need to be an exchange student, I stayed at the school and ran for the deputy class leader. I helped the freshmen to transit smoothly from high school to college. During that period of time, witnessing their gradual adaptation to university life, answering their questions and giving them guidance, I felt very satisfied. 


(The first day I welcomed new students as a deputy class leader)

Therefore, although I lost the precious opportunity to be an exchange student because of the epidemic, I had the chance to become a volunteer and a deputy class leader, from which I also gained a lot. Just as the old saying goes, "Misfortune might be a blessing in disguise."

Eventually, I seized the opportunity and pulled myself together again.

"There is no challenge more challenging than the challenge to improve yourself."

This semester, when I returned to the campus, I saw this sentence on the wall once again. Now, when reading it, an especially warm feeling came into my heart. Thinking of it, I smiled and walked faster to the reading room...

But this time, I was more determined than ever.

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