A full auditorium of parents, friends, students and staff of the Beijing City International School witnessed the commencement of the school’s 4th graduating class late last month.
The 25 grads representing 12 nationalities entered the auditorium dressed in traditional black gowns with red sashes and took their place on stage, surrounded by fellow students that served as musicians and emcees.
Graduates were addressed by guest speaker and Sinofile John Holden, Senior Counselor at Hill + Knowlton Strategies, who told the students about his China experience of more than a generation ago and the significance of the international education they have received.
BCIS students served as emcees of the ceremony and the audience was entertained by a full student band that crossed genres from the classical (violin, flute and xylophone) to the contemporary (bass, rock drums and electric piano). Selections from Saint-Saens to Bryan Adams were performed (the latter of which was punctuated by a full-on drum solo by graduating senior Maher Kader).
Nice touches included full Chinese translation via subtitles and a video presentation featuring words from each member of the 25-person class.
Valedictorian Thilo Braun of Germanyaddressed graduates with his words of advice to the incoming seniors. “As you move up into being the oldest class of the school, you will be faced with many challenges, but also privileges,” Braun told the class. “Make the best of the time that you have with each other as you prepare to go to universities around the world and find a balance that works best for you”.
The ceremony concluded with what has become a BCIS tradition: each graduate lights a candle and passes the candle on to an accompanying 11th grader as they file out of the auditorium.
More scenes from BCIS’s graduation can be found in this gallery: http://www.beijing-kids.com/gallery/2012-06-BCIS-Graduation-2012
Below is Thilo Braun’s graduation speech, in full:
Distinguished Guests, Board of Trustees, Parents, Teachers, Fellow graduates, and students,
When I first entered the gates of BCIS, it was like entering a new world for me. Just days before, I had left Europe for the first time in my life, moving from a small town in the countryside of Germany to… well, Beijing. This story resonates with many of my classmates. Yet here we are, seven years later, as the graduating class of 2012, concluding a chapter of our lives.
Every one of us has benefited immensely from the opportunities, challenges and support we have gained at, and received from BCIS, each in our own way. However, education and schooling don’t just happen by themselves. There are many people who have helped us along the way and have really made it possible for us, people far too numerous to mention individually. However, I would like to take this opportunity to express our gratitude and appreciation to them all for helping to make us the individuals you see before you today.
Dear Parents; although we do not always show it, each and every one of us is deeply grateful for your support and encouragement. We all know that teenagers aren’t the easiest people to deal with, but your love and support has been and continues to be unwavering. You are there when we need you, and I don’t just mean cooking for us. We all thank you from the bottom of our hearts.
Teachers; thank you for all your patience, time and support you have given to us over the years. From being available after school and even on weekends to dealing with such a reserved class, we haven’t always expressed our thanks to you but we truly appreciate everything you have done for us.
Many of us here have grown with the school. This growth provides the basis for our future, providing us with the tools to go into the future. Nevertheless, we are here today to say farewell. Farewell to BCIS, to our classmates, to our teachers and in many cases to our families, as we move into the next phase of our lives.
Fellow classmates, let the word farewell itself guide you in your future. Do well. And just remember this: there really is no limit to what you can achieve. Steve Jobs once said “Being the richest man in the cemetery doesn’t matter to me … Going to bed at night saying we’ve done something wonderful, that’s what matters to me.”
There are two key parts to this quote. Firstly, do something wonderful – achieve your dreams.
Three years ago, who would have thought a grade 10 student could raise thousands of RMB for microfinance or create a book to showcase her own artwork or design his own software to manage a chess tournament. These are just some of our many achievements. BCIS has given you the tools to achieve whatever you dream of achieving. Be it decision making in business, critical analysis in English or expressing oneself through the visual arts and music, BCIS has given us a basis with which all doors stand open.
When you are in university, make the most of it. When you dream up an idea, don’t just think about it. When you have an opportunity, don’t just let it pass you. When you go to sleep at night, be proud of what you have achieved, because 20 years from now you’ll be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the things you did do.
The other thing I want you to take away from today is that life really isn’t about money or status. It’s about happiness.
Over the past years we have had many choices and much freedom, ranging from the nearly restriction less personal project and extended essay to the variety of extracurricular activities and choices of subjects. You will be faced by many more in the future. Just remember the words of Confucius: “Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life”.
Of course as part of the IB program, we have often had to reflect on what we have done. Dear Juniors: as you move up into being the oldest class of the school, you will be faced with many challenges, but also privileges. Make the best of the time that you have with each other as you prepare to go to universities around the world and find a balance that works best for you. At the same time, keep pushing yourself further. Hard work really does pay off. I know that you will lose motivation and will feel exhausted by the strained preparations for your exams. But, don’t lose faith, try to push on just a little bit more. The feeling of achievement and freedom really is rewarding in the end.
Ladies and gentleman, fellow classmates, at the end of the day, all that really matters is being able to say that you truly have achieved something wonderful. So don’t think that any problem is too big to solve, any mountain to steep to climb or any river too wide to bridge. Live the way you dream of your future and do the things you thought you could not do. It truly will be rewarding.
Be your destination the UK, Canada, the United States, China, Switzerland or anywhere else in the world, I wish you all the best of luck and happiness for your future.