Leo Rong Jiang Ming graduated from The Manhattan International High School in June 2010. He will be attending Stanford University in the fall to study Chemical Engineering.
People say that life is a long journey. Well, thankfully, our journey has only begun. So far, our journey has taken us here … to this moment… after four years of hard work and a love of learning at Manhattan International High School. As our high school chapter comes to an end, we have so much to look forward to. However, it’s more important at this moment for us to first look back, not only to revisit those wonderful memories with one another, but also to thank everyone who has been there for us the entire time, supporting us and helping us along our journey.
First, we must give our heartfelt thanks to all the teachers, administration and staff. As new immigrants in the 9th grade, we were in our most difficult stage of life so far. During that time, all of us were wary of the new society we began to live in. Not only did we have to learn a new language, experience a new culture, and fit in to a new life style, but we also had to bear all the misunderstandings and prejudices from many Americans we encountered. Nevertheless, after coming to MIHS, we found a community with teachers and staff that did not prejudge us, that understood every one of us and that was there to help us. The teachers were patient but also passionate to teach us English in the four content areas of math, science, social studies and English. In addition, they helped us learn more about this rich American society. On top of that, each teacher was also very interested in our diverse cultures and very respectful of our traditions. Thank you teachers for respecting us, for trusting us, and for teaching us.
One of the great teachers at this school is Mr. Moses who told us on the first day of class… “Life is not fair”… Through those words of wisdom, he reminded us that although we were facing all these difficulties, that is never an excuse to run away from our responsibilities, to work hard and be successful in life, whatever that means to us. Success is not easy for an American-born student. So, as proud immigrants to this country, we must work twice or three times as hard as American born students. That’s how we can make our lives fairer ourselves. So thank you, Mr. Moses and Life IS fair . . . if you make it so yourself! Fellow graduates, let us all strive hard to make our lives fair.
At MIHS, we haven’t only received the help and tutoring we needed to pass classes and receive credit, but we were also challenged, like any other American high school student, to learn the various content of the four subject areas. For example, in the beginning of our junior year, each one of us was wary of the tough work we would be doing. In fact, the work was very tough: We had to read at least three pages of deep historical texts every single night with Mr. Steve and have weekly English writings with Ms Rodica, biology quizzes with Ms Marigle, and new math concepts to be learned with Mr. Seth, Ms. Jelena, or Mr. B. However, after two years of preparation with the freshmen and sophomore teachers, we all made it through junior year with drastic improvement to our reading and writing skills. Thanks to these challenges, we were now ready for the college level studies we encountered in our senior year. And boy, did we encounter them. Ms. Cinzia, Ms. Gretchen, Mr. Andy and Mr. Seth, thank you for continuing to push us till the last month of our senior year in academic. Your work has gotten us truly ready for the challenges we will face in college. Therefore, thank you!
After four years with our teachers and staff members, they became more like family members to us. In school, we were never afraid to approach the adults in the school and ask them for help regarding matters outside of the class. These matters could be about college worries, career advice, philosophical discussions, and relationships with other people… The “marketplace of ideas” was open to everyone and I’m so grateful for that. We could talk about anything.
Therefore, at this moment I hope I can represent the class of 2010 to thank every teacher and staff member here in Manhattan International H.S. Thank you all for four years of support and care. We will always remember you and the work you have done to make this school, this culture, this family so comfortable for each and every one of us.
Fellow graduates, we also must not forget the people sitting next to us on this stage right now. Guys, thank your friends for always being there for you in the past four years. Despite all the differences in our languages, cultures, family backgrounds, and past experiences, we shared the same experience in the United States. We were all in the “same boat”. And because of this uniqueness we shared, we bonded with one another more tightly as years passed by. For us, our differences did not become a barrier, but an accelerator. We all learned so much from one another. We constantly try to say words in each other’s language, eat different cultural foods, and learn about one another’s tradition.
For example, whenever one of us has to order food, we will always make sure to ask whether there is pork in it. That’s because we know that our Muslim friends do not eat pork. By learning from each other, we not only became more knowledgeable about different cultures, but we also developed an open mind to try and learn anything that’s new to us.
In school, our differences also made us work better in groups, because of the diverse knowledge and culture we possessed together. On the soccer field or volleyball court, we were always proud of how diverse of a team we had. Therefore, for all the support we received and all the knowledge we learned from one another, give a huge thank to all of your graduating class. Thank you (this is from me), class of 2010, for giving me the most memorable four years of my life so far. Thank you so much.
Next, we should all not forget to thank our parents. For all of us, our parents also came to this country as new immigrants. They had to face the same adversities that we faced. However, they did not have the option to study in American schools. Instead, they chose to work one job, two jobs, or more so that they could provide us that opportunity to learn and succeed in the United States. Without their hard work, we would never have the stability to study and succeed. So guys, let us all give our parents a warm hug, a kiss on the cheek, and a sincerely thank you after this ceremony.
Lastly, I’d like to give a huge shout out to the security officers, cafeteria workers, custodial staff and all the other people who make this building run smoothly and keep it safe and clean. Hey, everyone, I think if we all yell THANK YOU as loud as we can, the whole building will hear us. Lets try it, 1-2-3.. . . . THANK YOU!!!!!!
So, as we eat cake and walk around today to congratulate each other, let us stop once in a while to give thanks back to those that helped us.
And at this moment, I will be a little selfish because I want to thank my own parents in the crowd.
Mom, thank you! Thank you for being a role model to me. Thank you for everything. You have taught me to be a better person. Thank you, above everything, for teaching me the importance of appreciation. I remember you told me, “In life, there is no one (no one) who is supposed to support and help you; so when they do, you better appreciate them and thank them”.
Thank you dad! Thank you for being the most loving dad in the world. I know that in this world there is no other person who loves mom and me more than you do. And you are loved right back… just as much.
Lastly, class of 2010, don’t forget to pat yourself on the back. Thank yourself for putting in all the effort to finish your homework, for choosing to read those difficult texts instead of watching TV, and for going to tutoring after school instead of playing in the yard. Although we will graduate today and soon move on in our life journey, we should enjoy and cherish this moment with everyone here.
Let us thank all the people who helped us along this chapter, this journey of our life. Let us also get ready to perform to the best of our ability in college, and in our life beyond college. Know that as we live our lives, we do not just represent ourselves, but also Manhattan International High School. Let us remember all the great memories we’ve had together in this school, our cherished home during the journey of these past four years.
Congratulation my fellow Class of 2010! We made it!