While dragon boat racing is very popular in China, the sport of “crew” has not existed there. Thus, when my family moved to the United States from China, I became eager to embrace my new culture by immersing myself in a truly Western sport and chose crew, which has been very meaningful to me. At my first American school, the Knox School, in St. James, NY, I was the only girl on the team. Working with my four male teammates, I underwent rigorous workouts, investing all my physical effort, and I refused to do a less strenuous version. Then last year, I moved to another school where crew is not offered as a sport. Determined to find a local opportunity to row, I discovered Port Rowing near my home and enthusiastically joined. I was surprised to find that I was the only Asian among the members. But leaving the dock of our boat house at sunrise, I was part of a homogeneous crew as I entered a world of uniformity and tranquility. Everyone in our boat was focusing on the boat, and the only audible sounds were the blades hitting the water and the coxswain’s powerful voice. Our eight dedicated women were rowing as one, oars falling in the water at precisely the same time. I’d counted 25 times a minute. My mind was processing quickly to check my hand height, the speed, and the angle of my back, but I kept my concentration. All I could see was the back of the head of my teammate sitting in front of me. Every stroke had my full effort and power, and eventually I felt like a machine that automatically performed every movement—or so I tried to convince myself. I tried to ignore the building pain, which eventually seemed to overshadow my strength and became so enormous. So many times, I wanted to let my oar go and stop moving forward, but I couldn’t. I couldn’t impede my team’s success. Each stroke got heavier, so I pulled harder, determined that the glory would outweigh the pain. Joining the crew team has required a lot of courage to cope with...
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