12.21.2009

student leader speaks out for south philly high students

The Philadelphia Inquirer has a good story recognizing 18-year-old Wei Chen, one of the more courageous and outspoken student leaders who stood up, spoke out and took action to address the ongoing violence against Asian students at
South Philadelphia High School: Standing up for victimized students.
Chen, 18, is articulate, smart, and frighteningly organized. He's never on time for meetings - he's there early, to help set up.

He possesses remarkable poise, stony determination, and a more than ample quantity of guts. When many Asian students hid their faces behind protest signs, afraid they would be identified and beaten up, Chen stood front and center.

Mostly, having been swept to the streets of South Philadelphia from the shores of southeast China less than three years ago, he's someone pushing the school district to address long-standing problems of violence. Within a week, starting with that tense Dec. 4 news conference at a Chinatown church, he emerged as a leader.

"He is always calm," said Xu Lin, an organizer with the Philadelphia Chinatown Development Corp. who often translates for Chen. "When some of the students were losing their tempers, he'd calm them down."
As you know, this month's attack sent seven students to the hospital and sparked an eight-day boycott of South Philly High by about 50 Asian students.

While many of the students hid their faces from cameras behind protest signs, afraid they'd be identified and beaten up, Chen was front and center with nothing to hide, testifying with confidence and composure in front of the school board. This kid sounds like an impressive leader -- the kind of guy you want on your side. Props.