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Humans of CPS: Riya K.

Riya Kumar, Sophomore - Interview Conducted by Rina Huang

Tuesday, November 16th, 2021: Assembly has just ended, and students are beginning to settle around the music lawn for an earlier lunch. In the midst of a week characterized by cold afternoons, the sun shines today! Students lounge in the warmth, but we make our way to the shade of the Music Building. As I begin this year’s tenth interview, I click record. “Welcome, Riya.” The interview has begun...

Rina: What’s your favorite CPS memory?

Riya: My favorite CPS memory? Um, let’s see. Well, a lot of freshman year was during COVID, but I think that we still made good memories then. If I had to go for this year, I'd really have to say sophomore retreat. I think the best part of sophomore retreat was, um, sleeping outside. So, we had tarps and everybody set up their sleeping bags next to each other, and I remember laying down and trying to count how many shooting stars we could see. It was just very much a coming of age movie moment! So yeah, I think sophomore retreat was definitely one of the best times, especially coming out of a year where we didn’t have that sort of interaction with each other.

Rina: What would your perfect house look like?

Riya: *laughs* My perfect house? I have a Pinterest board that's like a chateau Pinterest board – I think it would be very like, Italian villa, Call Me By Your Name vibes, you know what I mean? So a really big kitchen because I love food, and the kitchen would always be fully stocked with everything I need. It would be very ivy up the walls, cobblestone everywhere, flowers and summer villa-esque!

Rina: I know that you’re a leader for South Asian Alliance. Why did you want to be a leader, and what do you want to achieve?

Riya: Okay, good question! So, when I first came to CPS I was like, “I will never go to an SAA meeting—everyone there’s just weird! Being in tune with your culture? I wouldn’t know about that!” I came from a very white majority school, so I had never thought about embracing my heritage as a positive thing. But after coming to CPS and seeing how open the community was about their identities and how important it was to people here, I kind of figured out that this is a really good thing, so I decided to go to an SAA meeting! It was just so much fun, like relating to people on that level and figuring out that we have these things in common that I’d never had in common with people at school before… it was so much fun.

I specifically remember Ms. Kolluri, a South Asian teacher here last year, and like a bunch of other people...we were talking about how we all go to the same sweet shop in Fremont! It was just really funny and it was a moment that really clicked for me, why identity is so important. And I was like this is really really cool! Figuring out that shift in my mindset was one of the reasons why I was like, “I wanna be able to lead that for other people!” I felt like SAA wasn’t that active on campus and… I think South Asia is so cool and has such an amazing culture – it deserves to be spread more and shared more with the campus. So, my current goals are just to make SAA more active and like, really celebrate and inform as much as we can – which I feel like we’ve done a good job of! Diwali was so fun!

Rina: I saw you in the play! Have you always done theater, or is something that you were interested in at CPS? How was the experience of performing and preparing to perform?

Riya: The play was really really fun! I haven't done theater at CPS before this semester because last year was a lot, but I've been doing theater for a long time. I had musicals every year in elementary school and I always signed up for them. For a while I was chorus but around fourth and fifth grade—like our last years—I got singing roles. So, I sang a solo—which is a very cursed video and I'm really hoping my dad didn't put that video on Youtube somewhere, but I think it might be there! I highly recommend that you do not stalk me online. Yeah, so those were really fun, and then in middle school I got really into Shakespeare. So beyond just being in our middle school theater troupe which was mostly just improv, we put on a rendition of A Midsummer Night’s Dream and I was Hermia. It was really really fun, but it got cancelled right as COVID hit… I still have the insults Hermia gives to Helena when they’re fighting over the guys memorized, so don't get into a fight with me because I will pull out the ol’ cankerblossom spiel!

Rina: What’s your favorite musical?

Riya: Oh, my favorite musical? I’m not really into musical theater myself, but I’d have to say Mamma Mia! is my favorite musical. It works out that that's what we’re doing this year!

Rina: What’s your favorite piece of clothing?

Riya: My favorite piece of clothing? I have to think about that for a second…Um, so my most favorite outfit ever is actually an Indian outfit that I had for my uncle’s wedding a couple years ago. I was a little concerned because Indian clothes are notoriously really itchy, but I found this beautiful sharara set that was cotton; it’s really soft and comfortable and it's also one of the most beautiful things I own. Every time I wear it I feel like a goddess, so that has to be my favorite outfit! Besides that, I’d say my trusty lilac quarter-zip that I wear all the time. It’s definitely one of my favorite pieces of clothing—I think there's nothing better than a good sweater.

Rina: What did you want to be when you were young, and what do you want to be now? How has that changed?

Riya: So, this is a good story! When I was five, I was a giant feminist and basically told everyone that I would be the first woman president of the United States—specifically woman president. *laughs* So I told everyone I thought Hillary Clinton was like, a massive threat to me, but I also liked her because you know, women in politics! And so from first grade up until like fifth grade, I told everyone everywhere that I wanted to be president, so at eighth grade graduation all my teachers waving me off were like shouting, “Riya 2046!” —some arbitrary election year. Yeah, so if you ask anyone they’d probably say I wanted to be president, but now things have definitely changed! I'm a little more stressed out by that prospect, and I don't really want half the population to hate me. Um…it’s hard! I’m interested in two general fields: there’s like STEM and then there's law and political science. I’d love to study reproductive science specifically, because my sister is an IVF baby and that whole process was really enlightening for me. As of now, I'd love to go into STEM and like biomed and reproductive science, but I'd also still be interested in looking at law and justice.

Rina: Any other advice you’d like to give to students at CPS?

Riya: I don’t know! Enjoy yourself. Always know…Oh! One of the pieces of advice that I was given last year when I was really stressed out and that has always stuck with me from the wonderful Sara LC—whom I love with my entire heart—is: know when to decompress. I feel like at CPS we’re always like, “Work work work, do everything all the time and figure out how to balance your stress after it’s done.” But sometimes, even if you're in a time crunch, taking half an hour to go for a walk, take a bath, or use a free period to go get boba instead of doing homework, can be super beneficial for you! So keep in mind to take care of yourself and have fun.

Rina: For the last part of the interview, I’ll give you a series of quick questions! Starting with….

Fiction or nonfiction? Fiction. But good nonfiction that's written like fiction is also good!

Dogs or cats? Both.

Asian Worlds or Atlantic Worlds? Asian Worlds in terms of content, and Atlantic Worlds in terms of performance!


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