ABC News Nightline Features Andover Student Responses to Amy Chua Controversy

ABC News Nightline visited campus and interviewed four Phillips Academy students about high school pressures Wednesday for a news feature responding to Amy Chua’s book, “The Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother.”Though EJ Ejiogu ’11, Seyoung Lee ’12, Mike MacKay ’11 and Julian Danziger ’11 were interviewed, the segment only includes the interview with Julian Danziger. Wonbo Woo ’94, ABC News Nightline Producer, said that there was too much material to include all the student interviews in the final cut. According to Tracy Sweet, Director of Communications, the students were asked to share their stories about how they were raised, what pressures they face at home and at school and how they handle pressure. They were also asked for their reaction to the “Tiger Mom phenomenon in general and if it exists [at Andover].” The program, which aired 11:30 p.m. on Wednesday, also included an interview with Julian Danziger’s mother, Lucy Danziger ’78. Woo created the news feature “as a way to explore” the “firestorm” debate surrounding Chua’s book, and that all the Andover students interviewed for the program had interesting things to say. Julian Danziger said that the producers inquired about his upbringing, his life at Andover and is thoughts on Chua’s book. Julian Danziger wrote in an email, “Being interviewed wasn’t too bad. It was a little uncomfortable to be in front of the camera but I tried not to think about it.” “I thought the whole thing was pretty funny, but it was very cool to be a part of and to see myself on TV–even if only for a few seconds,” he continued. He said, “[MacKay] really touched on the fact that some of the tension around this might have to do with jobs and the growth of economic power in China.” Woo said that Ejiogu reflected positively on the pressures her immigrant parents put upon her, while Lee raised concerns about the impact Chua has on stereotypes about Asian-Americans. Lee said, “There’s always that stereotype that Asian mothers are strict and crazy, but people never really talked about it. They just thought about it. Now that ‘Why Chinese Mothers are superior’ came out, people can say what they believe.” “People like me who don’t have [parents that fit Chua’s strict stereotype] can say that not all Asian mothers are like that,” she continued. Sweet said that ABC News Nightline contacted the Communications Office late on Tuesday, January 25. Sweet then asked deans on campus to suggest names of individuals who fit Woo’s request for “high achieving students.” As an Andover graduate, Woo said it was an easy decision to interview students at PA. “We were looking to talk to the kinds of students parents who were reading Amy Chua’s book are probably hoping to raise. High achieving, thoughtful [and] successful kids and everybody at [Andover] fits that bill,” Woo added. After receiving the deans’ responses, Sweet said she had a short period of time to contact students and make sure their parents gave consent for their children to be interviewed. According to Woo, Lucy Danziger contacted ABC News Nightline and asked if they would be interested in hearing her input after her son agreed to be interviewed for the program. “Amy Chua is a Tiger Mom while [Danziger’s] mother called herself a lioness. That struck us as something that is very interesting. We just wanted to explore [the issue of varying parenting styles] in as many ways as possible,” said Woo. Sweet said that she felt it was important ABC chose not interview only Asian-American students. “They really wanted to hear from students from all across the spectrum, and that’s one of the things Andover can bring to the table,” she continued. Woo enjoyed his time working with Andover. He said, “It was a great reminder of why the school is so successful. I am constantly reminded of how special [the dialogue between students and faculty] is.”