I can hardly contain my excitement as I stand here before all this gleaming potential!
The happiest month of the year, at least for me, is always June, because this is when my Facebook newsfeed gets flooded with graduation and prom selfies!
Truly a special time, not just for you graduates, but also for abuelita, who supported you through stressful times, by just being loving and making extra yummy dishes.
Don't you dare tell mom, that abue's fried fish is better! Trust me; you can never recover from that!
Also a special time for your parents, guardians, older siblings, tios or even los abuelitos, who made sure, uniforms were cleaned and pressed, checked that assignments were handed in, and attended countless PTA meetings, school fund raisers and report card day pick-ups.
My gawd! I still remember the fret that would stifle me, as I quickly tried to calculate my average, finding crumpled quiz papers and test papers, and hoping, that my mom wouldn't trip when she saw my report card. That was a few years back for me, but I remember it well.
Welcome to the real world graduates!
We often forget how amazing living in the now is. I remember in 3rd form, praying for summer, then again praying for June, so that I could just graduate and roll out! Ha!
The joke was on me, because as soon as that graduation song strained from the speakers, guess who staat wan baaling?
I realized that the real world started just then. No teachers checking in to make sure you handed in the assignments, no PE teacher insisting you do 10 more laps, no more study periods, to jam an assignment between classes.
Now, you're riding the big bike, without the training wheels!
That is why high school is so important; it is the last stage between spoon-feeding and preparing your own meals.
So students, I'd quickly like to share my guidebook, for post-high school life:
1. Be on time! There is a reason, you HAVE to be at school at 8 and leave at 3, and all your classes start on time and end on time. Make hay while the sun shines, it might rain tomorrow! You just never know.
2. Read everything you can get your hands on! English teachers have been my truest navigators! I can tell you honestly that I have travelled the world, and even some hearts, through a great book. Most importantly though, I learned who I was. As the great Bob Marley said "If you know your history, then you would know where you're coming from." And I would dare to add, "where you're going."
3. Dream bigger than your biggest dream! You ever pondered the wonder of Math? As an artist, I was amazed at the concept of integers, that numbers could be raised to higher powers. Do that with your dreams, they can be raised to the highest peaks as well, just as long as you work hard, be passionate, and read! Yes, I will say that again. Reading opens doors! Literally! Ever try pulling a door that said PUSH?
4. GO SLOW! Makes a lot of sense in Caye Caulker, right?! Trust me, it makes sense in the whole world. You get a lot done, when you take your time and savour the moment. Notice the corals, it may take them forever to grow a couple of centimetres, but anyone who has ventured the reef can say that it was well worth the slow development.
5. Never stop growing! I must tell you all, I checked out your website and I was amazed at all the social involvement of Ocean Academy. Sports, academics, art, social responsibility, competitions, you all have bested all of it! Keep on growing! Continue to be involved and develop yourselves.
6. "Just keep swimming!" It is the simple advice that a Blue Tang tells a Clown Fish in Pixar's Finding Nemo, but trust me, it is advice for your whole life. No matter the current, the tide or your internal tempest, just keep swimming.
7. Value your efforts! I want to congratulate all of you for completing this milestone, whether you are the valedictorian, star athlete, beauty queen, president, peer counselor or not. There is magic in each of your contributions; power in your decision to be your very best self! Never stop striving!
8. ¡Viva la Vida! A quote from Frida Khalo (a tiny woman, who despite her personal challenges, and pain, created an immense body of work). So no excuses for the rest of us, nu tru? Long Live Life! Take your life and fill it with your passion and live it, fully!
9. Give back! Take care of this great gift we have been given. I'm sure some, if not all of you remember Chocolate? The legacy he left was one of taking care of our environment. It gives us so much right? So, ¿cómo no? Let your legacy also be, the betterment of Belize.
Thanks for sharing this moment with me.
I leave you all with an extract from a poem by William Ernest Henley, something that Nelson Mandela used to continue on, in the most challenging 27 years of his life:
"I am the master of my faith: I am the captain of my soul"
I would tell you that the choices toward success are yours to make, but surely you have heard that before, (it's true, by the way), instead, I will leave you with that quote to extract from it, what strikes you, to make it your own, to continue your journey in to this big, brave world.
Congratulations graduates, parents, teachers, principals and friends!
Ocean Academy (Caye Caulker, Belize) invited me to be the guest speaker at their graduation on June 12, 2015. I was surprised that the high school, selected me to speak. Nervous also, that I lacked academically what is required to take on such a task.
I was pleasantly surprised to see that Ocean Academy is a school, which values education in a holistic sense. There, it is not just a focus on good grades (that is important of course) but also supporting the potential of each student, making sure they stay on the school track, at whatever cost.
see more on this school at: www.oaseatide.com