Evan Shang

Letter to Future Roommate


Dear Future Roommate:

I cannot aptly express how excited I am to meet you, how happy I am for all that has brought us to this point. Over the next 4 years, I hope that we will share some amazing stories, and make each other’s lives a series of fortunate events. Whether you share my passions and enthusiasm or you have entirely different aspirations, I have no doubt that we will grow close over the course of next year. But perhaps I am getting ahead of myself. Using this informal letter as a medium, I want to tell you a bit more about myself – my personality, my hobbies, and the like. Here goes…

I am Evan Shang, a Chinese Canadian, who goes to school at University of Toronto Schools (UTS), with a strong optimistic attitude and a passion for teaching.

My passion for teaching has developed largely as a result of my involvement in diverse communities. One might even say that it is my community, the hundreds of people I have met along the way, whose influence inspire my every action. I have moved around regularly, attending 8 different schools in the past 7 years, and the diversity in my community has hugely shaped my identity. I have learned to appreciate the insights of people around me, as the exposure to a broad community brings exposure to diverse ideas. A simple notion ultimately fuels my passion for teaching – I wish to share those ideas that I have encountered, with the hopes of inspiring other people in the same positive ways that my teachers, my family, and my friends have inspired me. As Mark Twain writes in a letter to Helen Keller: “substantially, all ideas are second-hand.” That is, there is no such thing as an original idea, and every idea stems from having heard and reiterated the ideals of those around us. If this is the case, then we conclude that a successful teacher is one who inspires innovative thought and powers society forward – that is what I aspire to become.

I have worn many hats, but I still passionately pursue other interests. I am a pianist and a tennis player, a swimming instructor and a Toastmasters enthusiast. I have dabbled in many different activities and discovered many that intrigue me. Playing piano, I have achieved a level 9 certification from the RCM, and I developed a taste for tennis, placing top 3 in Shaanxi Provincial High School Tennis Tournament. As captain of the tennis team of my school, UTS, I learned a great deal about tennis as well as leadership and team development. Swimming has been with me my whole life, and some of my most rewarding experiences have come from volunteering as a lifeguard and swimming instructor at the YMCA. Swimming and Toastmasters alike have fuelled my passion for teaching, as I actually co-founded a Toastmasters program (and English language program) in my hometown of Xi’an last year. That experience was incredibly meaningful to me, as it represented an opportunity to give back to my hometown.

There are many places that I have called home: I was born in Xi’an, the most ancient city in China. My family immigrated to Toronto when I was 4 years old, and so I have lived there for much of my life, except when I moved back to China for two years in grade 7 and 8. In some ways, those years were a shock – with the 13-hour long days of school in an unfamiliar language. Though my heritage is Chinese, I grew up as a Canadian, and I did not speak Chinese fluently until later on in my life, until it was a necessity. But yes, now I am very comfortable with the language and familiar with the culture of China, and I feel fortunate to have had the opportunity to give back to my hometown, providing English education related programs.

By now I have told you quite a bit about my past, but that may not fully represent or predict the future. There is only so much that I can tell about myself; I hope that next year will present me greater opportunities to show more about myself.

Who can say what the future will bring? I imagine that I will continue playing tennis and swimming. I imagine that I will continue to pursue my love of teaching. Perhaps I will still participate with Toastmasters in creating my own clubs. Or perhaps I will start working with professors, teaching a section or assisting in research. I want to get involved in the school community, as the kind of involvement that brings new ideas adds colour to my life.

My vision for the future is still taking shape, and it is a blend of new ideas. I imagine a community of people dedicated to the consistent and persistent quest for self-improvement, a group pushing me toward a goal. Maybe I will take up ballroom dancing, journalism, rowing, or improv comedy. Perhaps I will go on to study education in a very organized way; perhaps I will discover wholly new passions. I’m not entirely certain what the future holds, and that is part of the appeal.

But I do know one thing – this is going to be an outstanding year, and I know that we are going to learn from each other. I’ve given you quite a long read, eh? I hope you enjoy reading this as much as I have enjoyed putting my thoughts into words. See you in a few months!


Evan Shang – your future roommate, your future friend