Saturday, May 27th. I graduated from KIS International School.
I will always remember how nervous I was before I made this speech.
Initially, I had a mental debate about where best it would be to write about these last few weeks which marked the end of my school years. Would a Facebook post suffice? Will a few photos on Instagram be enough? These wavering thoughts, however, were put to rest when I realised: why have a blog at all, if I wasn’t going to write about my own graduation on it? Why deny this achievement its own throne? So here I am.
It’s been a long, arduous journey. The IB Diploma programme, while not as menacing as some has made it out to be, is certainly not a cakewalk. After a gruelling three weeks of examinations, it’s relieving to know that you are done. Never again will I have to take read about the consequences of constructive interference in waves, nor will I have to write an investigation about differential calculus and projectile motion, and I certainly will be keeping my distance from anything written by Carol Ann Duffy. Economics I will have to revisit in university, and I will most likely be continuing my studies of the Chinese language, but this is the end of learning things for the sake of learning it. I’m so happy to be able to say that I’m done with the Diploma programme.
But graduation represents more than just the completion of two years of school. It is also the finish line of fifteen years of education. I’ve been at KIS since the very beginning, and it’s been the place where I’ve had a chance to grow and discover myself. I owe so much to the school. I still remember my days looking at the turtle pond in primary school, or doing last-minute process journals for Performing Arts. Well, no more turtle ponds, process journals or Duffy. It’s the end of a one and a half decade-long road.
Now that I’ve just graduated, the word that I think of the most is gratitude. This is only appropriate, I think, considering what I owe to my education at KIS. KIS was where I met all of my very best friends. (And yes, you guys are friends for life). The teachers at KIS encouraged me to start writing, inspired in me an appreciation for the social sciences and taught me to think critically about the world. (They also got me into university). I’ve been able to take advantage of so many opportunities here, running everything from student governments, mini-businesses, and concert-planning teams. There’s so much to be grateful for.
It has to be admitted that many times over the past few years, I’ve joked about how much I want to just get this whole IB thing over with and just graduate. I did, after all, really enjoy a joke a friend made on our graduation trip when someone suggested an appropriate acronym for the IBIS Hotel at Hua Hin. Why, then, am I waxing lyrical about the school now that I’m actually getting to leave? Given the difficulties and stress of the programme, I hope you can spare me a tirade. It’s hard to leave a school you’ve been at for fifteen years, and any objective look would show that the good memories far outweigh the bad ones in my time here. How, after all, do you leave behind a second home, full of friends that you care about so much?
The next step is into the unknown. Assuming all goes well, by this fall, I will be attending the University of California, Berkeley. I’m excited, of course, about the opportunities there, but it’s scary to leave your own comfort zone. I gave a speech during my own graduation ceremony, and I ended with the line: “We believe in the beauty of our dreams, and at our graduation, we stand ready to go and fulfil them.” To be frank, on second thought, I still have no clue what’s next and whether I’m ready for it (which I hope is normal for a high school student). In fact, I have to keep reminding myself of a Bill Cosby quote: “Decide that you want it more than fear it.”
So, for the last time, before I step out into uncharted territory:
Thank you to my friends.
Thank you to my teachers.
Thank you to my parents.
Thank you to everyone.
P.S Are you a regular reader of my blog? Well, in economists’ terms, I’ll be frictionally unemployed for the next three months, so I’ll be posting quite regularly. Stay tuned!