What follows is the speech I gave to the 12th Graders and parents of SMAN Grabagan during their graduation ceremony in May 2013. Best of luck Class of 2013!
My name is Martine Randolph and this year I had the wonderful opportunity to learn side-by-side with the 12th Grade students at SMAN Grabagan. The biggest difference between them and me today is that they’re actually ready to take their next step, while their teacher is left behind.
When our principal, Mr. Nanang, told me that I would be speaking at graduation, he told me to talk about what I learned this year in Grabagan. I was glad for this suggestion because I have learned so much throughout this year, and I think most of those lessons came from the students of SMAN Grabagan. I’d like to talk about 4 of those lessons.
The first lesson I learned is that everyone is a teacher. There were so many things I did not know when I was new here. language, food, community culture and school culture at SMAN Grabagan. It was the students here who took the time to teach me and I am most grateful for their patience and care. In fact, sometimes I learned English from them, too! …I learned “Brokenheart”, “enjoy learning”, “refreshing” – indeed, in each of these expressions there is a small mistake. “Brokenheart” should be “brokenheartED”; “enjoy learning” should be “enjoyABlE learning”; “refreshing” should be “refreshed” (as in, ‘I went on a bike ride to feel refreshed’)… Well, in any case, the point is clear: students, you think with your heart, so being heartbroken is a big deal; your life philosophy is to always enjoy yourself and you generally need a break from school, not because you are tired or lazy, but because you are well aware that there’s so much to learn outside the classroom. Throughout this year, I got to see how confident you were in helping a stranger in need, and doing so with a smile. Once again thank you for that lesson.
Hopefully you will never think too rigidly about whether you occupy any position as a teacher or as a student, but will rather do what needs to be done in any situation, particularly if you know of a way to improve a situation. I think, often, around the world, we feel like we have to respect positions, rather than labor. We tend to wait for the officials who are supposed to be in charge to get the job done. I hope you do not follow this example because if you all had done so this year here at SMAN Grabagan, I do not know that today I would understand our school as I do as a byproduct of the many times many of you have come into the library to chat with me.
The second lesson I learned was about my weaknesses. The weather here is different from in the U.S. and normally, every day I came straight home from school because it was so hot. I’ve worked full hour days before, but here, because it’s so hot, I was usually ready to go home after 2 hours. For several months, the 12th Graders added on 2 hour-long tutoring sessions to study for their national exams. Most teachers only had to tutor the students once a week and they were definitely tired after that, due to crazy working hours. Instead, the 12th Graders studied hard 5 times a week for the additional tutoring session. Students, I hope you will always remember how hard you worked this year so you know your own capacity.
My third lesson was about how to be a leader. When I was in high school, upperclassmen did not take care of underclassmen with as much care as the students here at SMAN Grabagan. For programs like New Student Orientation and other events, it was usually the school that acted as the organizer. But here, right away from the month of July, I saw the 12th Graders and student government representatives playing an integral role in every event. I hope you will not forget that kind of leadership and you will always pay attention to those who come after you, regardless of where you end up studying, working or settling down with a family. Also, you all taught me that a leader is not just a clever orator, but a great listener as well.
The fourth and greatest lesson I learned, is that if you can live your life surrounded by good people and work with highly motivated people, there isn’t a day when you won’t feel like you’ve achieved one or two of that day’s goals. It’s OK if you don’t wake up with a purpose because if you select good people to keep close, you will create common goals and help each other achieve them. Friends lend you energy and with positive energy coursing through you, there’s no way you can be too lazy. After one year of living in Grabagan, I feel very energized, because you’ve supported this to theory for me. There are some words of wisdom from South African Desmond Tutu that I’d like to share. He says: “My humanity is bound up in yours, for we can only be human together.” Therefore, I am pleased and proud to have spent this year with you all in Grabagan, and am excited to hear of how you bring Grabagan’s culture to wherever it is that you’re heading to next, and humanize others with it.
Finally, I hope that at this moment, you have no idea what you want do with your life. Do not panic! That’s not at all wrong. In my opinion, it is actually better to be confused than to already have it all figured out. Our world today is just that — confusing. We do not yet have answers about how humans can live together peacefully. It is you who need to move us forward with creative and new solutions. So if you already know everything about your future now, you will not see the problems of tomorrow’s world everything because we do not know those problems as of yet. Again, DO NOT PANIC. Do not worry that you do not know while some of your friends do. Instead of all of this worrying, relax an move forward with a confused head, a glad heart and powerful curiosity.
Once again, thank you for all the lessons this year.