As we close in on the end of another academic year, beijingkids would like to congratulate students from the international school community on their achievements and say farewell as students move on to new horizons. Dulwich College Beijing’s valedictorian speaker, Pratcha Sananvatananont, tells the story to his fellow graduates of how he first proposed to a girl at the end of Year 11. See his speech below.
“It’s a funny thing about coming back to a venue or a place that you’ve once stood before. I remember standing here not too long ago on this stage with my leather jacket and over-sized wig singing John Travolta and hearing Jason tumble down the steps behind me. It’s funny that when you go back to these places, no matter how much time has passed, it looks the same, smells the same, and feels the same. But what you realize is that the only thing that has changed is you.
I think what our time here at Dulwich has really changed about all of us is that it has turned us all into avid storytellers. We tell stories with every performance that we give onstage, every MUN conference that we participate in, every football or basketball game that we play and every essay that we write. As I stand here, I see bold, creative, and distinct storytellers. Ones who tell stories that stem from their own raw, unadulterated passion, even when some may not wish to hear it.
I’d like to share with all of you one of my own stories. It is one that happened to me just this past year; one that most high school students and many of the people in this room would have experienced as they looked to take the next step and pursue higher education. This is the story of how I proposed to a girl.
There I was at the end of Year 11, just fresh out of my IGCSEs and still single. So I thought it was time for me to start thinking about getting married. I spent years searching for the perfect girl, scouring through all corners of the globe in the US, the UK, Australia, Korea, Hong Kong. And some I liked, but some I didn’t. Some were too nerdy, some partied too much, and some didn’t allow me to have the freedom that I’d always wanted. But finally after all my searching I thought I’d found her. She was fun, smart, sexy – everything you could ever want in a woman. So, naturally I decided to propose.
I spent months carefully planning it out, looking to my parents and teachers for advice: what was I going to say to her and how was I going to say it? As the date approached I started to panic and worry. Was I good enough? I do well in school but, is that all that she’s looking for? Is she looking for a man who can lead? Maybe I should have run for President of Interact before Tony did. Or maybe she’s looking for a man with compassion. Maybe I should have made cuter noises when I was playing with the kids at New Hope on the CAS trip. Will my parents approve of her? Was her name going to give me the prestige and pedigree sought after by all the fine companies and institutions around the world? It felt like everything I’d done in my entire life would culminate in this one significant moment – this one request. Finally the day arrived. I was pulsating and sweating through my shirt. I couldn’t see, I couldn’t breathe.
And then it’s over. I’d handed her the note. I’d laid it all down on the line and there was nothing more I could do. She turned and looked at me with her gorgeous eyes and said, ‘mmm let me get back to you in a few months.’
That pretty much sums up what applying to university was like. And the worst thing was that chances were she was going to say no. But guess what I didn’t tell her? I proposed to about 10 other target and safety girls just in case she rejected me and they’re all begging me to marry them instead. So take that, Dream Girl, I didn’t want to marry you anyway. In fact, the girl that I do end up marrying will probably bring out the best in me in ways that I could never have imagined.
Mom, Dad, just to put your minds at ease, I would like to reassure you that I didn’t actually propose to anyone
For those of you who know me, you know that my favorite kinds of stories are told through movies. I’d like to read a few lines from “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button:” one of my favorite films partly because of the story it tells and partly because I one day hope to look as cool as Brad Pitt on a motorbike.
‘It’s never too late, or too early, to be whoever you want to be. You can make the best or the worst of it, I hope you make the best of it. I hope you see things that startle you. I hope you feel things you’ve never felt before. I hope you meet people with a different point of view. I hope you live a life that you’re proud of. If you find that you’re not, I hope you have the strength to start all over again.’
With every decision that we make, right or wrong, tell ourselves that it is merely a chapter, a section of our stories as a whole. I hope, no matter where we are in the future – whether we’re at university, taking a gap year, or joining the Army, that we each find the most unique, truthful, and quirky components to our own stories. I hope that one day we write a story worth telling; one much better than my metaphorical story about a proposal. And when that day comes, and you feel like you’ve found the appropriate components, give me a call or send me a Facebook message. Tell me your story, because I’ll be dying to hear it.
Congratulations to the Dulwich College Beijing Class of 2014 and everyone who helped us get here. Thank you.”
If your school would like to feature your graduating class of 2014 by participating in “Congratulations to Graduates,” please contact School Editor, Yvette Ferrari, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photos courtesy of Dulwich College Beijing