Speech at Achieve Success Together

Work Hard and Achieve Success Together 

Friday, 2019-10-25

First, I would like to thank Jean Xu’s invitation and congratulate the Chinese American Parent Association of Howard County on their great success in initiating and running the AST program. Thanks for Mr. James Lemon from the school system on behalf of superintendent Martirano and Ms. Angela Cabellon from the county government on behalf of Dr. Ball.

We are one community, each with different strengths. By collaborating and helping each other, we are creating a win-win situation. By tutoring students from low-income families or ESOL students, we are nurturing the spirit of helping each other, thus benefiting all in the community. 

My early life before college

While preparing the speech, I have been reflecting my life before college since some of you in this Achieve Success Together program have similar backgrounds as me while I was at your age.

Some time ago, while joking around with other board members who was more miserable when we were young, I won easily. I never had any new clothes until high school. Our family raised a pig for a year but had to sell the meat in exchange for cash to pay other debts every year.

I needed to walk at least half an hour to my elementary school no matter what the weather was like,  in the rain, in the snow. If I wanted to choose a shortcut, I needed to walk through a cemetery, which was very scary for  me when I was young. Until the middle school, I never took a bus or a car, even a bike. That’s probably the reason I always get motion-sickness whenever I take a long distance bus ride. 

However, I never felt I was poor because I took every opportunity to learn and barely paid attention to other material stuff. My world was not about the materials around me, but the knowledge inside me. I was borrowing books from everywhere, reading extensively at every topic, working on math problems, building relationships with my teachers and having some great friends who had similar aspiration as myself. We were poor but every friend wanted to improve ourselves, to be better than our parents’ generation. I even had a dream to become a poet before high school. 

In retrospect, this kind of attitude was shielding myself away from the extreme poverty I was facing at that time. And there is also a community culture that I need to work really hard to change my life, Otherwise, I had to work on the farm field, like a child labor, which always scared me. 

I was almost pulled out from middle school because my father felt he would not be able to pay my high school tuition, which was less than 20 dollars. I was almost sent to work as a carpenter to earn some money for my family. With some help from my relatives, I was able to go to high school, and eventually became the first in my family to go to college.

Moving up and moving forward

Nothing is more important than our self-determination. I had some classmates whose families were richer at that time. For some rich kids, they did not have that urgency and struggle. I was determined to study hard and change my life. 

If I didn’t have the will to help myself, nobody can help me. God helps those who help themselves. Along the way, I took every opportunity in front of me. There are many great-hearted people who would love to offer a hand in the world to those who are in need.

The social-economic situation is one barrier many of us need to overcome. In most cases, it is a huge burden to our young children. However, how to deal with it in the right way is important for our life trajectory. For people who have faith in themselves and work hard to build a strong foundation, they will greatly increase the chance of their future success when they rise from early hardship. 

  1. Being a student teacher in AST, you are believing in yourself capable of changing the world for the better. Thank you.
  1. By joining this program, our students believe in themselves that they can change and improve themselves for a better future.  Thank you.

Find your own interest and work on it. If we are a fish, we go to swim. If we are a bird, we go to fly. If we love math, work on a lot of math problems. If we love reading, read a lot of books. 

Together, we can do better. Thanks for everyone’s effort. 

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