I am so blessed to be able to list all the homework I have to do this weekend. I am so blessed to be anxious over my next AP Calculus test. I am so blessed to feel like the school day will drag on forever. I am so blessed to not be able to sleep because my mind won’t stop taking derivatives. I am so blessed to have to finish a whole book for AP Composition in a weekend.
My mentor once told me a story of how he was in Nepal hiking to the top of a mountain and saw a little boy running the other way. He stopped the boy and asked why he was running. The boy said that from his house up on the mountain it was a two hours run to the school at the bottom of the mountain. The boy said that he didn’t care that he spent four hours going to and from school because he was learning to read.
How could I ever be grumpy or unappreciative that I have homework when children around the world are crying out for education? I am so blessed to have a socioeconomic status where college is almost expected as the next step after high school.
Syrian refugees have said that the thing that they want most for their children is to get an education. The schools in their refugee camps are underfunded and over-packed; yet, the smiles on the children’s faces look as if they were in Harvard.
I believe that education — along with any opportunity in life — can only be used to the full if it is appreciated. And I wanted to say to Education and all the Opportunities you’ve given me, thank you.
And yet there are others in my school who do not appreciate the gift we have been given, which saddens me because then they aren’t fulfilling their potential. Part of their education is wasted on them because they do not appreciate and thus don’t use it to the full.
Other children around the world plead for the chance that seemed to be my birthright. I was born in the United States of America to two white parents both of whom have professional careers. I was born into a life better than most of the rest of the world could only fantasize about. Frankly, most of history could only fantasize about.
And so I thank you Johannes Gutenberg and Horace Mann and John Dewey for making my education possible. I am grateful that from my education I know your names and how much you have done for me and the world.
The education system isn’t perfect; I’ve experienced that first hand. However, if we expect perfection and nothing less, there will be nothing. We should always be trying to enhance what we have, but attaining perfect is like chasing the horizon. We should not settle but we should know when ‘good enough’ is good enough.
I know teachers aren’t perfect; I’ve also experienced this first hand. However, they are the real heroes of this story. They are the one who taught me my letters so that I could write this short essay. And teachers don’t have to be paid educators in schools. My teachers are my parents, my minister, my family, my friends, a stranger on the street.
But I do have to say that my teachers in school have taught me some of my best lessons. The reason why teachers are the real heroes of this story is not because of what they teach out of the textbook, rather what they teach out of their heart. I have learned joy and perseverance and individuality and courage and wonder and faith and community and kindness and laughter and empathy.
Education is not an act of charity but rather an investment in the future. By paying your taxes for public schools, you are investing in the child who will cure cancer one day. You are investing in future firefighters and entrepreneurs and computer programmers and rocket scientists and social workers and nurses and engineers. You are invested in a future. You are investing in hope.
So I just wanted to say, thank you to all of you who have invested in me and didn’t even know me. Thank you for giving me opportunities and hope. I can’t wait to go out into the world and fulfill your investment. I appreciate my education and I will use my education to the full. Please know it will be my joy to one day invest in other children’s dreams and hopes just like you did in mine.