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Winner: Anna Zheng 812
Teacher: Ms. Anastasiou
Librarian: Ms. Alessandrini
Click here to read Anna's award winning story
                                 Number One             
                           ~Anna Zheng 8th grader~
            “Number one was a phrase my father¯and, for that matter, my mother¯repeated time and time again.” These words in Lang Lang’s autobiography, Journey of a Thousand Miles, My Story sounded so familiar. They were the words of my own parents ingrained in me from early childhood. Lang Lang’s autobiography at least the early part of his journey is like mine. His book validated me. It made me feel good about myself and reassured me about the road I chose.
            Good books carry the human DNA; the human condition. They have the elements that allow any readers to relate to it and make a connection to their life. Lang Lang’s autobiography definitely carries this trait. In his book, he writes of his perseverance through times of hardship, the obstacles that he and his parents faced together and most importantly his dream of becoming the Number One pianist in the world. When Lang Lang won his first competition, he said “For the first time in my life, that I was Number One, I felt invincible¯I was the striker who had scored the goal.” A rush of excitement filled me as I read those words. I became confident as I started to realize that I wasn’t alone in wanting to be the best of the best. I was just like Lang Lang.  
            Long before Lang Lang even started going to school, his parents were already telling him he was to be Number One. While they had dinner or when he was playing with his toys, they would tell him he had an extraordinary musical talent and he was destined to be Number One. They taught him that being good wasn’t enough. Instead, he had to be more than that. He had to be greater than the greatest. Reading this, all my doubts vanished; I understood that my goals and dreams were not unusual and they were not wrong. From the first day of Kindergarten until now, my parents reminded me daily to work hard. Right before every test or competition, my mom would say, “Good Luck, I want you to get the highest score.” or “I want you to win and be Number One, so do your best.” The words, Number One, always stuck in my head as it did in Lang Lang’s and it became my ambition to be Number One.
            “Go practice, my father told me.” “We’ve wasted enough time today.” These were instructions that Lang Lang’s father gave Lang Lang to guide him in his journey to success. Lang Lang’s parents dedicated their lives to help him fulfill his dream. His father had him practice everyday for unceasingly long hours until his performance was flawless. They spent half of their yearly salary to buy his first piano. They hired the top teachers from all over China to train him, but their greatest sacrifice was separating the family. His father had to take him to Beijing, capital of China, for him to obtain a spot in the Beijing Music Conservatory. At the same time, his mother stayed in Shenyang where she worked tirelessly to earn money for them. They were forced to live apart for months. While reading this, I finally realized that I didn’t have any reason to be ashamed of my dreams and beliefs.
            My parents were strict, but loving. They wanted me to be the best and encouraged me to study and read. Most of my free time was dedicated to reading books. I grew to love books and they became my treasures. Despite that my parents were very busy with their jobs; they would find the time to take me to the public library every week. They believed like Lang Lang’s parents that practice made perfect and enrolled me in an expensive prep schools where I would learn and practice Math and English skills.
            “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a simple step” as Lao Tzu, Chinese philosopher would say. I am only at the start of my journey, but having been influenced by Lang Lang’s autobiography I think I have progressed close to a thousand miles. This book has built confidence in me and overwhelmed me with happiness for the dreams I have chosen to pursue.