Each year, seniors and postgraduates 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.
Hello guys. I am Ali, and I came from a really far-away country called the United Arab Emirates. Coming to Shattuck-St. Mary’s was my biggest goal, and it wasn’t easy. It was a process of hard work and sacrifice.
At first, I was not that sure I wanted to leave home and my easy life to start a new challenge in the United States. But my parents and older friends from the scholarship program convinced me that this experiment would make me grow and give me knowledge a regular student wouldn’t experience.
I used to attend one of the oldest government schools in my country. It has many technical problems and badly-behaved students. There were fist fights at least twice every day. These things reduced my ability to learn and my chances to get a scholarship. However, I worked hard in my senior year and, with my mom’s support, I got the scholarship to SSM.
My parents got divorced in May 2015. My dad only visited us every four to five months. My mom stayed home to raise our family. My brother Saeed came with me to SSM, which means we left my mom alone to raise our two annoying but lovely sisters. This was the hardest challenge of studying abroad. Leaving her made me feel selfish, but I know my mom believed that studying outside the country would make my future way brighter.
Another challenge was starting a new lifestyle here in SSM. Not sharing a room with my brother or my mom telling me what to do in life for two hours. Then there is the weather. I had to move from an extremely hot climate to an extremely cold one. From sand on the side of the road to snow that won’t melt for weeks. From sandboarding to snow skiing. Last December, I took my first trip in Buck Hill to ski. I was just finishing the learners’ course when my friend James took me to the second-steepest hill for a run. Let us say it wasn’t very good for my heart.
Finally, I sometimes feel like I have to represent my whole country. The place I come from is called the United Arab Emirates or UAE. And, no, we don’t ride camels to school. For real, someone here asked me if the people in my country still lived in tents. I didn’t take that as offensive. In fact, I don’t blame him for not knowing about us. But now it’s my responsibility as a representative of the UAE at SSM to change these miss understandings. The UAE is a modern nation. It has fancy cars and tall buildings. In fact, we have the tallest building in the world. It is called Burj Khalifa, and it has a total height of 829.8 m (2,722 ft). We still look forward to developing more and more every year. That’s why I am here, to continue learning and supporting my country in any possible way I can.
What I love the most about SSM is the community. It accepts everyone, whatever their background or religion. This makes me feel comfortable. The students here are so friendly and kind. Sure, there are times when they made fun of me and my thick Arabic accent, but I have never felt hated here. We can all laugh with - and at - each other.
So I would like to thank each one of you for making my experience at SSM funny and joyful. I hope we keep learning and supporting each other.