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 2017-18 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.
“First, I would like to thank my parents and family for all the love and sacrifices they have made for me. I am lucky to be born in my family. But today I want to talk about my best friend, Maggie.
“I’ve known her for twelve years, and I wish she could be here today. I first met Maggie on my first day in primary school. We were assigned to the same class and, unlike the system in the U.S., we stayed with the same group of classmates for five whole years. Despite that, we did not know each other very well at first. I saw Maggie as a bright leader in the class, while she remembers me as a quiet girl who always sat in the corner with a book. It turned out our first impressions were quite different from reality.
“After we graduated from primary school, we attended the same middle school, again in the same class. In time, something happened that turned us both into best friends.
“We became good friends immediately at the beginning of the 6th grade since we knew each other the best in the class. In the 8th grade, my grades suddenly dropped. Concepts that once seemed easy became difficult. My grades declined sharply. I was angry at myself, and so were my parents. I felt stressed and wanted to escape. At the same time, Maggie was suffering even more than me. The summer before 8th grade, she lost a close family member. Deeply depressed, the girl who was once as bright as the sun disappeared. Maggie isolated herself and lost many of her interests.
“Magically, we became even closer to each other because of the same difficulties we faced. She was like a big sister. I felt safe and relaxed with her.
“One Friday during the second semester in 8th grade, I got another low grade on the weekly math test. I called my mum, and she shouted at me. This wasn’t the first time, but I suddenly felt tired and wanted to leave home. I packed some things and called Maggie. She met me at the underground station and took me back to her house. I can still remember every word we said on the way back to her house, but everything that happened during the three days I spent there is vague. I could only recall the happiness I felt, the pure happiness I might have had when I was an infant.
“In the 9th grade, when my parents and I decided to send me to the U.S. for high school, I tried to persuade Maggie to go with me. But she preferred the school in Shanghai. So we separated. Life was not easy in the first few months here. Without the help of Maggie and my other friends, I might have already given up at the beginning of my sophomore year. But they chatted with me every day online and Facetimed with me on every weekend that first year. This daily contact made us closer than ever. I had the courage to do whatever I wanted since I knew they would always support me.
“Many things have changed since then. Now, I have a great relationship with my family. Home is no longer a place I want to escape from. I feel more peaceful. I accept the fact that I cannot always be in the top group. I have learned to compromise. I still miss my old school, but not as much as I used to. Maggie has decided to come to the U.S. for university. We will be together again next school year.
“Maggie is one of the most important people in my life. Maybe there will be a day when we become estranged because of time and distance. If that day comes, I should not feel sad. She will always be a special part of my past, and I know she will have a great future.
“We both lost ourselves once. It is lucky that we now find our respective ways again, together.
“Thank you Maggie.”