Presented by Hannah Lee ’15 during a Cultural Identity Event on Friday, January 13, 2012 in Williston Northampton School’s Cox Room.
I went to Canada at the start of 6th grade, by myself, as a homestay student. For those who don’t know, being a homestay student means that I live with another Canadian family in a house while my parents are still back in Korea. I spoke literally no English at that time.
This transfer from Korea to Canada, home to an unknown world, and family to strangers was a very, very tough one. I remember my first few days in Canada, when I didn’t even have enough confidence to get homesick, when I was too nervous to cry or complain. The blurring moments of confusion for the first few weeks is still unimaginable. I couldn’t call my mom because I didn’t know where the phone was in the house, and couldn’t generate that simple question, “Can I use the phone?” to this foreigner living with me. I could never get used to the food always so cheesy and greasy. Cold milk in the morning made my stomach hurt all day.
Delivered at The Williston Northampton School’s 170th Commencement on June 4, 2011
When I see my granddaughter Emilia graduating today, I guess, like all the parents and grandparents, aunts and uncles and cousins who are here, I’m brimming with love.
You can’t know how much we love you kids. You make us wonderfully happy just by being who you are. You’re the buds of spring. You’re still tasting parts of the world for the first time. You remind us of the days in our own lives when the world was a squishy grape we were biting into for the first time, and we were the first ones ever to feel such an amazing sensation. We know that you have ahead of you a universe of amazing experiences – and the most amazing of them, some day, may be looking into the eyes of your own young people who will choke you up with the beauty of their pure hearts. And knowing that gives us pleasure, too.
This is a big moment for all of us today. In a few minutes, we’ll go through a ritual that signals your moving on to greater maturity. And the strange thing at a time like this, is how much people our age want to give people your age advice. I don’t know why we do that. You don’t do it.