Xhorxhia Papa, 17, says she decided to start an Albanian culture club in the fall at the John D. O’Bryant School of Math & Science because she wanted to share with others the traditions of the place she comes from. “It is important to unite with people from the same background and talk to them about your experience,” she says. The club meets once a week and at any given time there are up to 15 students in attendance -- not all Albanian. “As an Albanian, I want people to know more of Albania than the fact that it’s just a third-world country,” says Klea Hima, 17, who attends the O’Bryant. “Even though it’s behind on the economy and it’s a small place, it has such a fantastic history, many tourist places to visit, and we have such a different yet amusing culture.”
Club members discuss the things that set Albania apart from other countries. “I want to teach others about our interesting traditional clothes, dances, and beliefs that make us unique from the rest of the world,” says Ina Dodoveci, 16, who goes to the O’Bryant. The author is a co-founder of the club. 
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Immigrants like me are self-learners. Getting to know English can happen in school but also everywhere you go. If you do not learn this language, your life is going to be hard since you are not going to be able to communicate with others. Every time I do not understand a word, I look it up and attach it to my brain so it can stay there.
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The Learning Lab
"If you are motivated, you will figure out a way to learn on your own"
I taught myself how to make a PowerPoint. I was in 10th grade when I created one for a program about health care. We had to design a clinic treating major health issues in my community. If you are motivated, you will figure out a way to learn on your own. You will have a better idea of what is going on around you. The elements you taught yourself are often the ones that stick in your mind because you valued the energy and time to learn them. It’s tremendous to have knowledge that you learned on your own even if it isn’t graded for points.
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When I was 13, I sat in front of a computer. It took me a long time to understand by myself how it worked. But once I did, I started to change operating systems and replace hardware. That is self-learning. I also identify myself as a strong leader. I noticed that others would respect me and do what I told them. This is where I decided to mentor young students. Internet cloud learning like the experiment in New Delhi would get really wonderful benefits, yet I’d take more pleasure working with others. I love to help others.
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Grit is another way of getting what you want. Being gritty requires a lot of perseverance and being passionate about your goal. Even though you fail or encounter hard paths, you need to keep trying. In my life, I’ve experienced a lot of things confirming that determination is one of the keys to achieving my goals. Last year, I had a lot of personal issues going on. My home life was hectic. My grandmother was terribly ill. My world just kept spinning ’round and ’round. All of those issues kept me from working really hard in school. But one day, I realized that being angry wasn’t getting me anywhere. So I took a notebook, and made a plan. I decided to stay after school every day to get my homework done before going on. To keep having good grades, I had to keep this route, and I was truly determined. Determination, and motivation from my best friend, helped me with my school year.
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