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.
“There are many people who had a big impact of my life, but today I want to talk about my grandfather, who is always a role model of mine and who taught me many lessons that I can apply for the rest of my life.
“My grandfather has been through the period of the Second World War, the cultural revolution, and lived in Malaysia for about 15 years. With all the experiences and things he has been through, he has developed a unique view about things, and special habits and tastes. For example, he loves olives and blue cheese. He never goes to parent-teacher conferences, because he considers school work as a job for the teachers, not for the parents. His biggest concern is my health. When he heard that my middle school, which was supposed to be one of the best schools in Beijing, did not encourage its students to play sports, he was shocked and criticized the school. I didn’t tell him that my school actually forbade students to play sports except in specific PE classes and during the forty-minute lunch break. I thought that might make him even angrier.
“I had to give up almost all of my hobbies to keep up with the huge amount of schoolwork. It was my grandfather who first brought up the idea of sending me to study in the US, so that I would not be lost in a school culture where academic results are everything. Thank you, grandpa. Now I am able to slowly pick up the things that I actually have a passion for and seek more hobbies.
“He also gave me some of the best memories I have of my childhood. He bought a house outside Beijing so I could visit on weekends and live there during vacations to escape the chaos of the city. He lived there with my grandmother, and they managed their garden really well. During the spring, we would plant all kinds of seeds: lettuce, eggplant, peppers, carrots, strawberries. He planted trees, apple, peach, cherry, hawthorn. I learned how to ride a bike with him there. We would ride to see the tip of the Great Wall on top of the mountains nearby. I also learned how to ride a horse and I would feed the fish on our way to my horse riding class, the only class he encouraged me to go to. My grandfather’s villa stores some of my best childhood memories.
“Grandpa, you were so happy that I could come to study in the US, but I know you are also a little sad because I am so far from you. You are always kidding, saying that you want to come here and stay in Faribault so you can at least cook your special dishes for me. But we both know, because of your health condition, that is not possible. But I will always be thankful for your love for me, and I will always remember the time we spent together. Thank you.”