Kimberly Placido, an Everett High School senior, plans on continuing her studies at the University of Washington in Seattle this fall. (Lizz Giordano / The Herald)

Kimberly Placido, an Everett High School senior, plans on continuing her studies at the University of Washington in Seattle this fall. (Lizz Giordano / The Herald)

Everett High School senior holds her Filipino culture close

Immigrating to the US as a fifth-grader, Kimberly Placido will be moving on to UW this fall.

EVERETT — Kimberly Placido, a senior at Everett High School, emigrated from the Philippines as a fifth grader. She is president of the International Student Organization and is involved in the Black Student Union, which organized this year’s assembly for Martin Luther King Day.

Question: Any plans for after graduation?

Answer: I’m planning on going to the University of Washington in Seattle. And since I’m in Running Start I already have some credits. I got my acceptance on March 14th and that was on my birthday, so that was a pretty good surprise.

Q: What do you want to study?

A: I want to do something in the medical field. I was thinking of nursing, but I am still trying to figure it out.

Q: Do you have a favorite subject in school?

A: I like biology a lot. I like looking through the microscope, and I like learning about the human body.

Q: Did you grow up in Everett?

A: I grew up in the Philippines. I moved here in the fifth grade.

Q: What was that like?

A: It was scary at first, but I was very excited. The first time I saw snow I tried eating it. Sometimes it was kinda hard because of the language barrier, and it was hard to make friends.

Q: Did you speak English before you moved?

A: Just a little bit.

Q: What else surprised you when you moved here?

A: How the school is. We only had 20 kids in my elementary school class here. Back in my country we had 50 kids at a time, so it was very different.

Q: What clubs do you belong to at school?

A: The International Student Organization and the Black Student Union.

Q: Why did you want to join the Black Student Union?

A: Since I came from the Philippines, I always miss my country. So I try to look for places I feel comfortable and people that can relate to my struggles. I found that club and it made feel comfortable. I could be myself and it’s a safe place where I can share my culture where I don’t feel embarrassed.

Q: Was the transition hard on you?

A: Yeah, it was very hard because it is a very different culture. It’s really nice to have a place where you can talk about it and share about it and learn about other cultures.

Q: What kind of activities does the group do?

A: We talk about controversial issues, like racial issues and equality. We talk about those topics that we don’t usually talk about in a typical classroom. It’s a safe place for everyone to share their own opinion. Being the only Asian in the group, it really opened my mind to certain things and I get to hear about other people’s perspectives. It’s been a good experience to learn and be able to share how I feel. In our club we invite everyone, we encourage everyone to join even if they aren’t black.

We also organized the student-run Martin Luther King Day assembly. The theme was “Dream. Speak. Act.” You have to dream it before you can actually can achieve it. Speak, you have to share it with other people. And act, you have to take action. There were poems, a rap, a dance and a speaker. We wanted to spread awareness of equality.

Q: Why did you want to join the International Student Organization?

A: I wanted to share my culture with others and learn about other cultures. I’m the president, and I’ve been the president since last year. We do events like culture night, where there is dancing and booths about different countries and food.

Q: Did you bring Filipino food?

A: I did, I brought lumpia, it’s like egg rolls. You put beef, pork, carrots and onions in them, then you fry them.

Q: Does the club hold any other events?

A: We also do a cultural fashion show. We walk the red carpet in the cafeteria where everyone can see different ethnicities all together.

Q: What do you like to learn about other cultures?

A: Their daily life, what the street looks like, what transportation they use or the food they eat.

Q: Have you been back to the Philippines?

A: No, I want to go. For my 18th birthday I (remotely) did a feeding program in the Philippines. Eighteenth birthdays are a big thing in the Philippines where you celebrate with lots of people. I decided to take the money my father would have spent and donate it instead to a feeding program for the homeless. I gave it to my cousins and they bought 200 spaghetti boxes. They gave to children on the street.

Q: What made you want to do that rather than have a big party?

A: I’ve seen those people, I’ve seen them struggle. It makes me happy to give something to make other people happy.

Lizz Giordano: 425-374-4165; egiordano@heraldnet.com; Twitter: @lizzgior.

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