Lauren You (Jung Won) is half Korean and half Chinese, and is currently in grade 10 at Beijing World Youth Academy. Previously, she attended a Korean kindergarten, then a Chinese school in Korea, and later went abroad to Malaysia to study English at a local school and then in a British international school. Her experience of studying in diverse environments allows her to explore the horizon. Lauren enjoys reading and writing and she actively writes articles for her school’s magazine as well as for her school’s newspaper.
The Beijing World Youth Academy (BWYA) graduation for the Class of 2013 was held on May 24 at the Twenty-First Century Hotel. There were 58 people in this year’s graduating class (56 from the IB program and 2 from the IN program) and represented 13 different countries in total. Some of the prestigious universities that accepted these graduates include Johns Hopkins, UC Berkeley, HKUST, Boston College, NYU and Waseda University. All graduates dressed in dazzling, silky gowns of dark green and black, and wore the conventional graduation mortarboard hat on their heads.
A surge of happiness went through them as, they gracefully walked down the hall slowly, one foot after another and faces beaming, as joyous music was played by the school orchestra, the BWYA Chamber Ensemble. For most, their long, arduous, demanding yet enriching journey in the IB program was about to end.
During the ceremony, the Headmistress, Ms. Wang Hong, warmly congratulated the graduating class and later Mr. Alan Fleming and Luo Zi He (Johnson) delivered more eloquent speeches as this year’s faculty speaker and student speaker respectively. There was also a parent address by the parent speaker, Dr. Jiang Yan, and this was followed by the awarding of diplomas. After that, four outstanding individuals were presented with honors and the graduating class finally bade farewell to high school as every one of them threw their hats high up into the air, while the audience whistled and cheered ecstatically from below.
Shortly after the graduation, Prom for the graduating class of 2013 took place in the Mariott Hotel at 7pm, where they spent the night dancing, playing games and feasting.
The ceremony’s student speaker, Luo Zi He (Johnson) is from Beijing and has been living in Beijing for 18 years. He is planning to attend the University of Illinois at Chicago where he will be majoring in philosophy. Below is the text from Luo Zi He’s graduation speech:
“Life is a series of rooms, and the people we get stuck in the rooms with add up to what our lives are.” This is a quote from the TV show House MD. Suppose this quote is true, then I am glad that I got stuck in Room B502 with Mr. Alan Fleming and my fellow classmates; I am glad that I got stuck in Room 506 with Mr. Andy Seehusen and my fellow philosophers; and I am glad that I got stuck in Beijing World Youth Academy with all these brilliant teachers and students beyond counting.
I am here speaking on behalf of all graduates of 2013. Nevertheless, this group of students is much too diverted for me to summarize. Each and every one of us is a different thousand-page story. But right around this page, I am almost certain that we have one thing in common — a question of deep anxiety: “who am I? How am I different from others? Am I special, and if so, how?”
When I first heard that I was chosen to deliver this speech, I was puzzled. I was glad and excited by puzzled. Why me? I’m not the one with the best grades. I’m not the best English speaker. I haven’t always been a well-behaved student. I’m not even too good-looking in the conventional sense of aesthetics. Then it occurred to me that none of the above is what the IB seeks in a student. Instead, the IB values the skills of independent study, reflective thinking, international mindedness and most importantly a positive attitude toward learning. These things I do possess. We all possess. The school nurtured us toward these qualities, which made us proper learners.
Ever since the period of Enlightenment, knowledge has been re-understood as a sort of power. A sort of power that could overthrow feudalism and transform human civilizations into parliamentary democracy; a sort of power that could create weapons that are capable of wiping out hundreds of thousands of lives in a few more seconds; a sort of power that could realize instant communication between two people that are half a globe away from each other. As IB graduates, we have been properly trained to attain this power.
So answer the question earlier: “am I special? And how?” Well, we are special. We have been given the skills to acquire the power of knowledge, at the same time we have also been given the responsibility to our society and mankind. Use that power to be tomorrow’s Steven Hawking but not tomorrow’s Robert Oppenheimer; be tomorrow’s Karl Marx but not tomorrow’s Josef Stalin; be tomorrow’s Alexander Fleming but not tomorrow’s Koseph Mengele.
Allow me to end this speech with an allusion. In the year of 47BC, Julian Calender, Gauis Julius Caesar wrote this famous quote: “veni, vidi, vici;” “I came, I saw, I conquered.” As IB graduates, we ought to say: “veni, vidi, didici;” “I came, I saw, I learned.”
Photos by Sui. For more images of the graduation ceremony, check the online gallery here.