Earlier this month I had a rare opportunity. My old school’s new director reached out and asked me to give the opening ceremony speech to their 200-plus junior and senior year high school students.
I really enjoyed the day in Vigo. It was a great feeling to meet some of my former professors and colleagues again, after so long. As soon as I went through the door memories flooded in. Many times in the past I had heard a magical quote often attributed to Rilke: "A man's true homeland is his childhood". It hardly ever felt as true as it did in that very instant.
After all the greetings and a quick the tour of the facilities, it was time to address the 16 and 17-year old kids. As I watched them fill the room, distracted, slowly finding their seats, I was hit by how incredibly young they seemed. My mind immediately raced to draw the one obsessive comparison. Melancholy ensued, burying any other thought.
In the end the experience turned out to be very rewarding. Students really engaged and I think I achieved the mission I had set to myself: Intrigue them, challenge them and plant some discomforting seeds of wanting to be better selves.
As a final thought, however, I came out of Colegio Apóstol humbly feeling an even greater respect for the teachers tasked with day-to-day education responsibilities. What a tall order. Kudos to all those great professionals who strive to make the most of the unique opportunity in their hands!
Here are the slides I used: