The Student News Site of Harvard-Westlake School

The Harvard-Westlake Chronicle

The Student News Site of Harvard-Westlake School

The Harvard-Westlake Chronicle

The Student News Site of Harvard-Westlake School

The Harvard-Westlake Chronicle

Inspirations in Isolation


Lily Xie ’20

Not even a pandemic could stop Lily Xie ’20, a first-degree black belt in taekwondo, from continuing the training regimen she has followed consistently for the past seven years.

“I actually have a greater desire to train now than I did before,” Xie said. “I feel it requires less discipline now that I have more motivation and fewer time restrictions.”

Taekwondo is a combative martial art, which Xie usually practices at her club Monday through Friday. Now, she has adapted her training methods to the limitations of her home.

“I do sparring, [which usually involves] a lot of kick drills and sparring with others,” Xie said. “Because there is no one to interact with, my training during quarantine is focused on building and maintaining muscles and increasing kick accuracy and speed.”

As a co-leader of the Boxing and Martial Arts Club this year, Xie held monthly training sessions after school to expose students to taekwondo.

“I have learned a lot from [Xie],” co-leader of the Boxing and Martial Arts Club Nancy Zhang ’21 said. “Because of the fact that I can’t really spar during quarantine, I am really thankful for [Xie] since she taught me a lot of kick techniques that I am now practicing at home.”

Xie said taekwondo has not only provided structure to her daily schedule, but also helped maintain her strength and provide some normalcy during this difficult time.

“Taekwondo definitely keeps me healthier mentally and physically during quarantine time,” Xie said. “Quarantine has actually boosted my motivation to do my regular training sessions because it’s a way to fill my schedule since I have a lot more free time.”

Skylar Liu ’21

Now constantly surrounded by members of her family, Skylar Liu ’21 has found inspiration for both current and future paintings within the comfort of her own home.

“While some may see quarantine as a hindrance to artistic expression, for me personally, I have [drawn ideas from] my family and its history,” Liu said.

Liu said quarantine has allowed her the time and opportunity to delve deeper into both her Asian heritage and topics regarding mental health, two themes central to her art.

“My most common sources of inspiration are old family photos, antiques, heirlooms and my personal experiences, so quarantine has actually allowed me to explore these more,” Liu said.

Fellow artist Faramarz Nia ’21 said he is impressed by Liu’s newest painting, which centers around dealing with grief.

“Even though [Liu’s] latest painting is not complete yet, I can tell it’s going to be really awesome,” said Nia. “She has put her heart into this one.”

Liu hopes to create pieces that focus on the cultural and political effects of the pandemic. But for now, continuing to work on current projects has brightened her days, she said.

“Even before the coronavirus, I’ve always found peace while doing art,” Liu said. “As much as I love family time, immersing myself in art is a much-needed break from time to time.”

Spencer Flippen ’21

Before quarantine began, Spencer Flippen ’21 was busy working on his latest short film. A director, writer and actor, Flippen has continued to bring the story of three teenagers trapped in a backyard to life.

“I had to do some thorough replanning, but right now I am mainly focusing on my short film and a couple of music videos,” Flippen said. “During quarantine, I have focused on video editing and am doing some filming, but not as much as I had hoped for.”

Actress Natalie Ayeni ’21 said she is looking forward to seeing Flippen’s newest work in full.

“I was able to witness and be a part of [Flippen’s] short film,” Ayeni said. “His work is really inspiring, and you can tell he has a lot of skills.”

Flippen watched various music videos which in turn helped guide his own films.

Flippen said the reason why he enjoys filmmaking because the process of sharing messages through a different medium is rewarding.

“I create films and videos because it’s fun,” Flippen said. “Taking stories that I hear about from other people or my own personal experiences and adapting them into different genres may take a lot of effort, but the result is really fulfilling and entertaining.”

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Inspirations in Isolation