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.
“Instead of giving a speech, I’m going to tell a little story called: Long Do’s journey.
“Once upon a time, there was a boy named Long. Long went to a public elementary school. He could only use two words to describe his school: North Korea. The teachers had so many rules, and they would serve up punishments if he broke any of them. However, he did not follow well. One time during a cursive writing lesson, he messed up his writing so he had to retrace it. But it looked even worse afterward. His face turned pale. It got even paler as the teacher approached. Long decided to close his book and ask if he could go to the bathroom. Unfortunately, the teacher caught on. She blocked his way out and whipped him with a yardstick for trying to run away from his mistake. She even said Long wouldn’t be successful if he avoided his mistakes. At that moment, he didn’t care about success. He just didn’t want to get whipped. Oh, poor Long.
“Long moved to an international school for middle school. Long was happy because it seemed more peaceful than his elementary school, except for one problem. He did not know any English. When the teachers talked to Long, he could only understand and respond to simple things like ‘Hello, how are you?’ with ‘I’m fine, thank you. And you?’ Other than that, he could only smile at them as if he was a weirdo. So, he reluctantly became deaf and dumb at school. Oh, poor Long.
“After his first day, he came home and asked his mom: ‘Mom, can I go back to my old school that was like North Korea? I would rather suffer there than look like a weirdo here.’ But his mom wouldn’t let him do that. Instead, she became his English tutor for four hours per day, seven days per week. Long now both suffered and felt like a weirdo.
When he felt confident with his English, he decided to move to the U.S.
“Long moved to the U.S for high school. After only two years, he has set a lot of records for himself, but most of them are records of embarrassment. Last year he started playing golf. His goal was to break 100. Long eventually made it on Dec. 3, 2016. However, it was not the only thing he broke that day. There was one hole going to the right and Long hit a slightly big cut. But he couldn’t find it anywhere. Then an official nearby pointed up to a building and said: ‘You need to take an elevator up to the top floor of that hotel to hit your ball out.’ When Long came back to the hotel, he told coach: ‘Coach, I accomplished two achievements today. I broke 100 and a sixth-floor hotel window.’
“Or another time in a tournament in Wisconsin, he improved by ten strokes in the second round, but that was only until he realized he was dreaming the whole time. Turned out that Long actually slept through his tee time, just for that little dream. He did not know how to explain that to coach. Long, you better set the alarm next time.
“Standing on the stage right now, this is what Long is thinking.
“What if I never went to a rigorous public school system? What if I never transferred to an international school? What if I never moved to the U.S? Everything happens for a reason. Most importantly are the people who were and are still involved in those reasons.
“Dad, thank you for always being there.
“Mom, thank you for always being there.
“Coaches, thank you for always being there.
“Teachers and friends, thank you for always being there.
“Brother, where were you? Even though, we go to the same school, I still barely see you around. But anyway, thank you for sometimes being there.
“You guys all help to paint my journey and make it more colorful as each day goes by. Thank you.”