As part of Blair's 2017 all-school summer reading experience, students and English teachers read Chemistry, the acclaimed debut novel by author Weike Wang. Dr. Wang joined the Blair community at Chapel on November 9, one of many activities she took part in during a two-day visit to campus as the School's first writer-in-residence this year.
As Chapel began, senior Brandy Zhang '18 read a passage from Chemistry and introduced Dr. Wang, who holds an undergraduate degree in chemistry and a doctorate in public health from Harvard University, and an MFA from Boston University. Brandy and Dan Sysler '18 then conducted a question-and-answer session with Dr. Wang that covered everything from the design of the book cover (she had little to do with it) to how she found the motivation to write Chemistry at the same time she was writing her dissertation (it was a creative outlet) to whether her life has changed since the book was published (it hasn't—she still gets up, exercises and writes six hours a day).
When Brandy asked Dr. Wang if there was something she wished she had known as a high-schooler, Dr. Wang had some sage advice: Be generous with the time you give yourself to figure out what you want to do in life, and be generous with others in that regard, as well. She also noted the importance of taking the time to establish bonds and relationships with teachers, describing how some of her teachers have become friends and mentors in the writing world.
Throughout the rest of her visit to campus, Dr. Wang worked with freshmen and seniors in seven different English classes and conducted an evening writers' workshop, during which she offered a select group of students advice and feedback on their works-in-progress. English department chair James Moore arranged Dr. Wang's visit as part of his department's ongoing initiative to nurture and sustain a school-wide literary community at Blair.