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Archive for June 3rd, 2012


Lessons for High school and beyond 0

Posted on June 03, 2012 by jimparedes

Lessons for High School and beyond
Humming in my Universe Philstar.com

 

By Jim Paredes

 

Headmaster Robert Mallett, Members of the Board of Trustees, The Middle School Faculty, Parents, Grandparents, Guests, and Members of the graduating class of 2012.

 

Good afternoon.

 

When I was asked to address the graduating class of Beacon School at this commencement, I hesitated. My initial reaction was to say ‘no’ since I could not readily imagine how someone like myself, who is five or six generations older than my audience, can possibly give advice to today’s youth.

 

It’s been almost 50 years since I left grade school and that is eons ago to the contemporary youth sitting here. How can I address students who probably look at people my age as ancient? I also wondered how much attention span young people can politely spare to listen to an old fogey give advice. Besides, what could I possibly say that would be of interest to young people?

 

But after I allowed the possibility to play out in my mind, the idea started to seem somewhat feasible. And the moment I considered saying ‘yes’, a flood of memories of  my own grade school years came rushing back to me.

 

I realized three things while I was walking ideas for his speech in my head: One, how amazing it is that I still remember a lot of what I went through during those formative years. I can still remember the sights and smells, and most of all, the pains and joys and discoveries of my journey into my teens and young adulthood.  Two, how much of this part of school life never quite left me even after almost 50 years. And three, how much my high school years shaped me into what I am today.

 

You are leaving your childhood and moving into the bigger world of high school.  I wish you luck. In many ways, the next stage you are about to enter will be even more important than what you have just finished.

 

I want to share with you some lessons I have learned that have been validated by the gift of hindsight. These are realizations in  high school which turned out to be quite important in my journey to adulthood. In fact, if I had not learned these things in high school, I would probably not be invited to address you today. It is because I learned them and nurtured them in college and beyond that I turned out to be a more or less functional human being, an adult qualified enough to address distinguished people like yourselves on this important rite of passage.

 

 

Here goes:

 

 

1)   You are capable of actions and decisions that have life-long repercussions. Keep this lesson close to your heart and mind. I remember classmates who died in high school all because of recklessness – speeding on a motorcycle, getting into a fist fight, playing with a gun. There were also those who never quite recovered from drugs or alcohol, and those who became unplanned parents in their early teens.

 

The lure of drugs, reckless sexual behavior, violence, the attitude of entitlement and invincibility can get you in big trouble. The path to adulthood is exciting and full of opportunities for growth, but it is also fraught with danger. It requires the wisdom and courage to say to say no to foolhardiness and say yes to true, worthy challenges that will expand you as a person.

 

2)   It is good to find a mentor.

 

It would be extremely helpful for a young person to find a mature, wise adult who can be a role model for responsible behavior and who can give much-needed advice in matters of studies, career, love, and life itself. There’s nothing like having an older, wiser person you can trust when you need to have a good talk, or are seeking good advice. It is also very empowering to have a mentor who believes in you.

 

I was lucky to have had teachers like Ed Garcia, a former Jesuit seminarian who now works for Amnesty International, and Onofre Pagsanhan, one of the greatest teachers the Philippines has ever produced. During my high school years, they were adults who could talk sense into me. They were true mentors who not only cared about what I thought and felt, but saw the goodness in me when I could not see anything redeeming in myself.

 

3)   I am pretty sure you got excellent sex education in this school. But here’s some practical advice anyway. Learn to be in control of yourself and your situation.

 

Sex is an issue you will be dealing with for the rest of your life. Raging hormones – and you have a lot of it at your age – can get you thinking of nothing but sex for long periods of time. Sex, like all things wonderful, must be entered into with full consciousness, attention and great control. When I gave my own kids ‘The Talk’, I likened the sexual drive to a horse. You either take it where you want to go or it takes you where it wants to go. You either control it or it controls you. The sooner you learn to tame and harness its power, the better you will be as an adult.

 

Learn about the opposite sex not just by having girl friends or boy friends but also by observing your own brothers and sisters, your father and mother. The worst sex education you can get is what you learn exclusively from the movies and TV and other media.

 

When you can look at the opposite sex with respect and compassion, and understand them without your hormones getting in the way, then you will have become not only a wise person, but a more likeable one, and even a potentially good life partner.

 

There are other urges that need controlling, such as anger, moodiness, sensitiveness, and other strong feelings that you will need to tame so you can get through your teenage years with the least possible damage.

 

The same goes for the urge to be violent, or the need to prove yourself or gain acceptance by taking drugs, committing petty crimes and surrendering to negative peer pressure.  Casualness produces   casualties.  To be in control ensures survival. To not be in control can make you a victim.

 

4)   Cultivate a spiritual life.

 

In high school,  I saw that my classmates were either quite religious, or were totally disinterested in any kind of spirituality.  Being spiritual does not necessarily mean being religious. It is more than going to church on Sundays. Spirituality is the capacity to be appreciate life as it is and its gifts. It is the gift of recognizing the higher unseen power that runs the universe. It is the ability to cope with almost any circumstance. It is the capacity to boldly say ‘yes’ to life, however it presents itself.

 

You do not know how fate will deal the deck of cards that is your life. But you must have the faith to believe that you play an important part in the scheme of things and that only you can play that part well. No one else is going to live your life better than you. And you must play it with whatever cards are handed to you. But you must also believe that a higher being is with you in all this to help and guide you.

 

 

5)   Many of your classmates now and in high school will be  your friends for life.

 

Anyone who has been at least 20 years out of high school will confirm this.  High school years are golden years that you will always look back to with fondness and bitter-sweet memories.

 

The eminent Dr. Tony Dans, at a graduation ceremony in the Ateneo, pointed out that your former classmates will be the people you will run to later on when you need a doctor, a lawyer, an architect, a financial adviser, a priest, a counselor. You may end up staying with them in their homes when you go abroad, or become their business partners, so it is always good to treat them well as early as now.

 

6)   Get close to your parents, or at least, do not alienate them from your life.

 

You are going through a lot of changes  — physically, emotionally, intellectually — in your teen years. Remember that your parents went through essentially the same thing, even if under different circumstances. While the dynamics of your wanting to assert independence and their need to have parental control over you may seem irreconcilable at times, you can arrive at some sort of age-appropriate accommodation, with lots of patience and dialogue on both sides.

 

 

7)   Teach yourself discipline and develop study habits.

This sounds like the most “square” piece of advice I will dish out tonight, but believe me, it DOES matter that you have read a few books and can write coherently by the time you graduate from high school. It does matter that you have the discipline to concentrate and do homework and tasks. I teach in a university and I find that I am more partial to students who use a wide range of literary references when they speak or write essays than those who hardly read.

 

Furthermore, I notice that the readers in my class often submit better written papers because they are capable of explaining themselves more intelligently. Students who are habitually casual about their requirements never quite make the grade when it counts. I was somewhere between a good student and crammer in high school, depending on the subject. In the subjects that I used to cram, studying only the night before the tests, I never really got good grades.

 

True education takes time and effort. The writer Stephen Covey was right when he said that you can’t plant a tree and expect it to bear fruit overnight.

 

Lastly, I wish to share a quote from Albert Camus, a philosopher you will meet in college, who said, ‘In the struggle between yourself and the world second the world.’

 

This is not a call to be selfish, or to be ego-centric. This is a call to young men and women who have novel ideas and firm values they wish to share with the world. This is about challenging the world and changing how it works.

 

To a young person looking at the big, bad world from the outside, the view may seem daunting. The need to conform, to join the status quo, to march with the herd toward social acceptance, to achieve ‘financial stability and success’, to be politically correct – can be compelling. The values of the establishment will attempt to swallow you up. And many will regard you a fool if you do not succumb.

 

But here’s something I learned: the world is always changing, and this is because there are people bold enough to look it in the eye and refuse to accept it as it is. They are willing to dare and try to reshape the world. Steve Jobs, Nelson Mandela and Mother Teresa are three such people who tried and succeeded. Some of you in this class might surprise yourselves and find that you actually belong to this noble league.

 

I am hoping to see all of you in that league. And I have every reason to hope. You are young, bright and gifted young people who have the advantage of being born in the circumstances you are in. You have the resources and your family’s support and you have been raised with more or less the right values. Your challenge is to pursue those values and ideals and excel and exceed those who have come before you.

 

Your school motto is ‘Truth and Light’.  See to it that everything you do is in pursuit of these two great values. Armed with Truth and Light, learn as much as you can and prepare yourselves to engage the world, not as victims who are hopelessly swept by the tides and fortunes of events. No! Engage the world pro-actively, passionately like champions, and never stop learning, never give up your idealism and beliefs, even in the midst of shifting fortunes.

 

May you cultivate the courage, perseverance and creativity that are already inside you. And may you pursue your passions and dreams and be shining beacons of Truth and Light!

 

Congratulations and good day.

Author delivered this  Commencement Speech at the graduation at Beacon School last May 25, 2012

Lessons for High School and beyond

 

Commencement Speech for Class 2012

Beacon School

 

By Jim Paredes

 

Headmaster Robert Mallett, Members of the Board of Trustees, The Middle School Faculty, Parents, Grandparents, Guests, and Members of the graduating class of 2012.

 

Good afternoon.

 

When I was asked to address the graduating class of Beacon School at this commencement, I hesitated. My initial reaction was to say ‘no’ since I could not readily imagine how someone like myself, who is five or six generations older than my audience, can possibly give advice to today’s youth.

 

It’s been almost 50 years since I left grade school and that is eons ago to the contemporary youth sitting here. How can I address students who probably look at people my age as ancient? I also wondered how much attention span young people can politely spare to listen to an old fogey give advice. Besides, what could I possibly say that would be of interest to young people?

 

But after I allowed the possibility to play out in my mind, the idea started to seem somewhat feasible. And the moment I considered saying ‘yes’, a flood of memories of  my own grade school years came rushing back to me.

 

I realized three things while I was walking ideas for his speech in my head: One, how amazing it is that I still remember a lot of what I went through during those formative years. I can still remember the sights and smells, and most of all, the pains and joys and discoveries of my journey into my teens and young adulthood.  Two, how much of this part of school life never quite left me even after almost 50 years. And three, how much my high school years shaped me into what I am today.

 

You are leaving your childhood and moving into the bigger world of high school.  I wish you luck. In many ways, the next stage you are about to enter will be even more important than what you have just finished.

 

I want to share with you some lessons I have learned that have been validated by the gift of hindsight. These are realizations in  high school which turned out to be quite important in my journey to adulthood. In fact, if I had not learned these things in high school, I would probably not be invited to address you today. It is because I learned them and nurtured them in college and beyond that I turned out to be a more or less functional human being, an adult qualified enough to address distinguished people like yourselves on this important rite of passage.

 

 

Here goes:

 

 

1)   You are capable of actions and decisions that have life-long repercussions. Keep this lesson close to your heart and mind. I remember classmates who died in high school all because of recklessness – speeding on a motorcycle, getting into a fist fight, playing with a gun. There were also those who never quite recovered from drugs or alcohol, and those who became unplanned parents in their early teens.

 

The lure of drugs, reckless sexual behavior, violence, the attitude of entitlement and invincibility can get you in big trouble. The path to adulthood is exciting and full of opportunities for growth, but it is also fraught with danger. It requires the wisdom and courage to say to say no to foolhardiness and say yes to true, worthy challenges that will expand you as a person.

 

2)   It is good to find a mentor.

 

It would be extremely helpful for a young person to find a mature, wise adult who can be a role model for responsible behavior and who can give much-needed advice in matters of studies, career, love, and life itself. There’s nothing like having an older, wiser person you can trust when you need to have a good talk, or are seeking good advice. It is also very empowering to have a mentor who believes in you.

 

I was lucky to have had teachers like Ed Garcia, a former Jesuit seminarian who now works for Amnesty International, and Onofre Pagsanhan, one of the greatest teachers the Philippines has ever produced. During my high school years, they were adults who could talk sense into me. They were true mentors who not only cared about what I thought and felt, but saw the goodness in me when I could not see anything redeeming in myself.

 

3)   I am pretty sure you got excellent sex education in this school. But here’s some practical advice anyway. Learn to be in control of yourself and your situation.

 

Sex is an issue you will be dealing with for the rest of your life. Raging hormones – and you have a lot of it at your age – can get you thinking of nothing but sex for long periods of time. Sex, like all things wonderful, must be entered into with full consciousness, attention and great control. When I gave my own kids ‘The Talk’, I likened the sexual drive to a horse. You either take it where you want to go or it takes you where it wants to go. You either control it or it controls you. The sooner you learn to tame and harness its power, the better you will be as an adult.

 

Learn about the opposite sex not just by having girl friends or boy friends but also by observing your own brothers and sisters, your father and mother. The worst sex education you can get is what you learn exclusively from the movies and TV and other media.

 

When you can look at the opposite sex with respect and compassion, and understand them without your hormones getting in the way, then you will have become not only a wise person, but a more likeable one, and even a potentially good life partner.

 

There are other urges that need controlling, such as anger, moodiness, sensitiveness, and other strong feelings that you will need to tame so you can get through your teenage years with the least possible damage.

 

The same goes for the urge to be violent, or the need to prove yourself or gain acceptance by taking drugs, committing petty crimes and surrendering to negative peer pressure.  Casualness produces   casualties.  To be in control ensures survival. To not be in control can make you a victim.

 

4)   Cultivate a spiritual life.

 

In high school,  I saw that my classmates were either quite religious, or were totally disinterested in any kind of spirituality.  Being spiritual does not necessarily mean being religious. It is more than going to church on Sundays. Spirituality is the capacity to be appreciate life as it is and its gifts. It is the gift of recognizing the higher unseen power that runs the universe. It is the ability to cope with almost any circumstance. It is the capacity to boldly say ‘yes’ to life, however it presents itself.

 

You do not know how fate will deal the deck of cards that is your life. But you must have the faith to believe that you play an important part in the scheme of things and that only you can play that part well. No one else is going to live your life better than you. And you must play it with whatever cards are handed to you. But you must also believe that a higher being is with you in all this to help and guide you.

 

 

5)   Many of your classmates now and in high school will be  your friends for life.

 

Anyone who has been at least 20 years out of high school will confirm this.  High school years are golden years that you will always look back to with fondness and bitter-sweet memories.

 

The eminent Dr. Tony Dans, at a graduation ceremony in the Ateneo, pointed out that your former classmates will be the people you will run to later on when you need a doctor, a lawyer, an architect, a financial adviser, a priest, a counselor. You may end up staying with them in their homes when you go abroad, or become their business partners, so it is always good to treat them well as early as now.

 

6)   Get close to your parents, or at least, do not alienate them from your life.

 

You are going through a lot of changes  — physically, emotionally, intellectually — in your teen years. Remember that your parents went through essentially the same thing, even if under different circumstances. While the dynamics of your wanting to assert independence and their need to have parental control over you may seem irreconcilable at times, you can arrive at some sort of age-appropriate accommodation, with lots of patience and dialogue on both sides.

 

 

7)   Teach yourself discipline and develop study habits.

This sounds like the most “square” piece of advice I will dish out tonight, but believe me, it DOES matter that you have read a few books and can write coherently by the time you graduate from high school. It does matter that you have the discipline to concentrate and do homework and tasks. I teach in a university and I find that I am more partial to students who use a wide range of literary references when they speak or write essays than those who hardly read.

 

Furthermore, I notice that the readers in my class often submit better written papers because they are capable of explaining themselves more intelligently. Students who are habitually casual about their requirements never quite make the grade when it counts. I was somewhere between a good student and crammer in high school, depending on the subject. In the subjects that I used to cram, studying only the night before the tests, I never really got good grades.

 

True education takes time and effort. The writer Stephen Covey was right when he said that you can’t plant a tree and expect it to bear fruit overnight.

 

Lastly, I wish to share a quote from Albert Camus, a philosopher you will meet in college, who said, ‘In the struggle between yourself and the world second the world.’

 

This is not a call to be selfish, or to be ego-centric. This is a call to young men and women who have novel ideas and firm values they wish to share with the world. This is about challenging the world and changing how it works.

 

To a young person looking at the big, bad world from the outside, the view may seem daunting. The need to conform, to join the status quo, to march with the herd toward social acceptance, to achieve ‘financial stability and success’, to be politically correct – can be compelling. The values of the establishment will attempt to swallow you up. And many will regard you a fool if you do not succumb.

 

But here’s something I learned: the world is always changing, and this is because there are people bold enough to look it in the eye and refuse to accept it as it is. They are willing to dare and try to reshape the world. Steve Jobs, Nelson Mandela and Mother Teresa are three such people who tried and succeeded. Some of you in this class might surprise yourselves and find that you actually belong to this noble league.

 

I am hoping to see all of you in that league. And I have every reason to hope. You are young, bright and gifted young people who have the advantage of being born in the circumstances you are in. You have the resources and your family’s support and you have been raised with more or less the right values. Your challenge is to pursue those values and ideals and excel and exceed those who have come before you.

 

Your school motto is ‘Truth and Light’.  See to it that everything you do is in pursuit of these two great values. Armed with Truth and Light, learn as much as you can and prepare yourselves to engage the world, not as victims who are hopelessly swept by the tides and fortunes of events. No! Engage the world pro-actively, passionately like champions, and never stop learning, never give up your idealism and beliefs, even in the midst of shifting fortunes.

 

May you cultivate the courage, perseverance and creativity that are already inside you. And may you pursue your passions and dreams and be shining beacons of Truth and Light!

 

Congratulations and good day.

Author delivered this Commencement talk T the Beacon School graduatio last May 25 2012

#   #   #

Basic Photography Workshop on June 23, Saturday, 1 to 6PM. Call 09168554303 (Olie)/ 4265375 to reserve a slot. Email me at jpfotojim@gmail.com for queries.

 

 


The sound
of water
says
what I think.

– Chuang Tzu

http://jimparedes.com

#   #   #

Basic Photography Workshop on June 23, Saturday, 1 to 6PM. Call 09168554303 (Olie)/ 4265375 to reserve a slot. Email me at jpfotojim@gmail.com for queries.

 

 


The sound
of water
says
what I think.

– Chuang Tzu

http://jimparedes.com

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