Each year, seniors at Shattuck-St. Mary’s School deliver a speech to their peers on a topic of their choosing in the Newhall Auditorium. Often equal parts clever and moving, emotional and personal, each speech offers a glimpse into the lives, experiences, struggles, and triumphs of SSM seniors.
Throughout the 2018-19 school year, we will share these speeches with the SSM community and hope that you enjoy the humor, wisdom, and powerful reflections conveyed by our senior students.
Today, I won’t talk about the cliche story of how Shattuck have changed my life. Today, I want to share a story that might make you feel better if you feel as if you are in a rut or in one of those dark days that we all have to endure one time or another.
It was my first Christmas break my freshman year. I was extremely tired of school and could not wait to go home after four months in Minnesota. However, things do not always go as planned. My English was not perfect, so when I arrived at MSP, I vaguely remembered hearing someone announce that my flight had been delayed. This meant that I could not catch my connecting flight in San Francisco. Being only 15 years old and traveling by myself for the first time, I was terrified. Then I noticed a guy holding the same green passport as me. I approached him and asked if he could help me with my predicament. It took us nearly two hours to fix the problem. In that time, I learned that he was a senior in a high school at St. Cloud and we were supposed to take the same flight.
Eventually, we got tickets for another flight to Seattle the next morning. I knew I could go back to Shattuck for the night, but then he would have to stay in the airport alone. As people know, us Taiwanese are friendly and amiable, so I invited him to come back to our campus. Looking back, it was a petty impulsive move. Inviting a guy I barely know to my school? I wasn’t sure what I was thinking. Even better, the person driving the van that came to pick me up invited him to stay at her home for the night.
But the journey did not stop here. When we arrived in Seattle the next day, we realized that our airline did not fly from there. The next flight we could get was to Los Angeles - three days later. I broke down. I was about to miss a family ski trip to Japan, which had been planned for six months. I was 15, and I just wanted to go home. How hard could it be? Luckily, the agents found me a seat to LA later that same afternoon. I went on that flight and got home safely, and I never saw or heard from my travel partner again.
After that experience I thought I could bear with anything. But I was wrong. The next year, the same thing happened again to David and me.
At times, it felt like the world was against me. Besides getting lost in a foreign country twice, I was sent to ER the night before my first day of the school at Shattuck because one of the windows in the dorm almost cut my finger off. Then, five days later, I got stung by a bee, and two weeks after that I caught the flu. During my sophomore year, the plastic blocks in weCreate fell on me and I was in the ER again. Actually, I am surprised that I am still alive.
These struggles not only tested my fortitude, but I also learned to appreciate the strength of my parents, who had to experience everything from so many miles away. But after everything, I am grateful for standing here, successfully finishing up my senior year. There is a Chinese word that describes my life: 多災多難. It translates as “many troubles many disasters.” Although I sometimes ask why life has to be hard, I have learned to be thankful after each challenge. The struggle of today might not prepare you for tomorrow, but it can give you a chance to strengthen your tolerance for pain.