Imagine yourself having always lived in the same city for 15 years, around the same people every day! Imagine yourself as a little boy, practicing no sports and barely speaking a second language... a classic Frenchy, some would say. When I arrived at Stanstead College from Paris two years ago, I was scared! I barely knew anybody and I had a mere memory of the school. All I remembered was the Admissions office where Mrs. Carruthers bombarded me with scary questions!
When I decided to come to Stanstead, I was challenged for the first time. It’s a weird sensation that many students might have experienced when they took their first step in Montreal's Trudeau Airport.
Being challenged is a great feeling that pushes you to re-focus yourself by tearing apart your habits and reshaping your environment. It is an experience that is key to the development of young adults for tomorrow's society.
The challenge for me was to make a new home 5,500 km away from everything I had known before. But honestly, when I made the decision to come to Stanstead, I didn’t think how big of a challenge it would be or how big of an impact it would make in my life.
Fortunately, Stanstead College provided me with a very reassuring environment. I found myself surrounded by a friendly community, with plenty of activities and new sports to discover. Since my arrival in Canada, I have pushed myself to complete as many challenges as possible. This included engaging in athletics and throwing myself into activities I wasn't attracted to. I strongly encourage you to do the same and challenge yourself when you are young because otherwise, you will regret it later. Stanstead College offers you many opportunities to challenge yourself, from clubs to sports to courses and service learning trips.
My second point is to always seize the opportunity to overcome your fears to better experience what life has to offer you. If tomorrow I invited you to come skydive with me, would you do it? Unfortunately, most people would say no because they are scared, and the fear factor kicked in as soon as I said the word “skydive.” But what if I told you that it is a once-in-a-lifetime experience? Don’t let fear prevent you from experiencing incredible adventures.
I have been on two community service trips around the world and I could not be more enthusiastic about the idea of “getting out of your comfort zone” in order to push your personal limits. The more you experience, the better your judgement will become and the more mature you will be.
Our lives are among the most fortunate in the world. You are attending a private high school with high academic expectations. You are given chances others can only dream of. Every day, remind yourself that the education and environment you are offered in our school is not given to everybody. You are among the very privileged. As of today, close to 400 million children live in extreme poverty. More children live on less than $2 a day than the current population of the United States. Approximately 1,000,000 children die every year due to extreme hunger. That makes a shocking number of 2,700 deaths per day. This is 12 times the number of students attending Stanstead College this year dying every day from malnutrition.
In our daily lives, our health, our education and our resources are the top three assets we tend to take for granted. Imagine yourself in the hospital tomorrow. What will you have accomplished in your life that changed at least one person’s life? If the answer is “nothing,” you need to wake up and start acting now.
From Paris to Stanstead, since 2016 I was challenged for the first time and I learned to seize my opportunities and make the most out of them. I now know how to make decisions that are going to change me and challenge my opinion and my perspective. One of my biggest fears has been public speaking, so I joined the TEDx Club. My biggest challenge was my lifestyle, so I enrolled in the Vietnam service learning project. Stanstead College taught me to love the challenge and dare to do what most people won’t.
If not me, then who? If not now, when?