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.
One of the hardest questions you can ever ask me is, “Where are you from?” To be completely honest, I don’t know the answer. I was born into a military family, where both parents served. Being a military kid, I am from all over. I go places, and I come from places. I arrive and I leave.
As morbid as it may sound, goodbyes come easy to me. The military life consists of friends moving and parents deploying. Every once in awhile, one of my parents would deploy, leaving the family to adjust to the missing piece of the family puzzle. At seven years old, I experienced my first deployment, when my father deployed to Afghanistan for six months. At such a young age, it was difficult to handle the idea of my father working in a war stricken area. Some nights, I would lie in bed, crying myself to sleep, wondering if my dad would ever make it home safely.
My mom, one of the strongest people I know, had to juggle working full time and taking care of four kids. My parents did everything in their power to make the transition as easy as possible for us. Skype calls were made weekly and bedtime stories were recorded to watch every night. As time went on, like a chameleon, I adapted. Before I was thirteen, I had already discovered how to cope with the separation of friends and family. Separation is a way of living for many military families. We are separated from each other, and also sometimes separated from our homeland.
In the mid 2000s, my family and I were assigned to relocate to Germany, once again leaving our world behind. The first couple of years we spent in a German town named Jettenbach. There, I experienced German culture. I attended German festivals, such as the Oktoberfest, celebrated German holidays, and interacted with the German people. I was so fascinated with the culture that I even enrolled in a German-immersion class on the military base where we’d speak German in the morning and English in the afternoon. Along with other German schools, we took field trips to German plays. I breathed German culture. This life-changing move gave me the opportunity to discover more of Europe. So, while many have only seen Europe in pictures, I have been able to live there. I have walked the streets of Spain, toured the castles of Austria, smelled the tulips of Holland, and ridden the gondolas of Italy.
So, where am I from? I am from my mother; she is strong. I am from my father; he is intelligent. I am from my family; we are love. I am from the arid air of Texas, the cities of Virginia, the beautiful land of Germany, and the Great Plains of North Dakota. Every place I have lived and left, a little piece of my heart has stayed behind, and I’ve also taken a little bit of that place with me. And so, when people ask me “Where are you from?”- I can say, I am also from Shattuck-St. Mary’s.