Cambodia: The thing about graduating from a small international school.

June 4th 2011. My sister finally graduated from International School of Phnom Penh (ISPP) after 14 years. One of the main reasons I decided to come back home this summer was to see her graduate. As I walked in to the same room I graduated in, I couldn’t help but feel emotional and nostalgic about my own graduation. If only I knew then, what it actually meant to graduate. Maybe I would have appreciated the moment and savored it more rather than being in a hurry to go out and celebrate. I would’ve showed more appreciation and sincerity to the people that have helped me get this far.

Being at the graduation made me realize, once again, how lucky I am to have grown up in such an environment. The diversity is beyond imaginable and each person in the community knows how to share and love the culture people come from and are surrounded in.

The best part about the graduation, I thought, was when the principal, months prior to the graduation, asked the class who their most memorable teachers were, contacted the teachers and at the ceremony, handed each of them a card from those teachers. Being an international student, the hardest part is that so many people come and go. You go to a lot of different countries and schools. Throughout my journey, I too, have met so many people. Some have left my life for good, but have made enormous impact on my life and who I am today. It was touching to see those old teachers the students found memorable, remembered the students too.

Slide show of messages from old teachers while the class read their cards from them - Tear jerker here.

Being the eclectic and talented group the class of 2011 is, the graduation ceremony was eventful with the class doing a little performance for the audience. They sang as a class, Vital’s Going back. Check the song out! (The video was also made by my new friend Philip Skoczkowsi so I decided to post this one instead!)

Because of the size of the graduating classes, it’s always great to see everyone getting a chance to present a short speech to thank people. These speeches are always heartwarming and brings out each individual’s character. It is definitely the best part for the teachers, the parents and the class. The another great thing about it is that because everyone is from different countries, they use their mother tongue languages to thank their parents and even though not everyone understands it, it touches everyone regardless. This year, the graduating class of 21 students were from 12 different countries!

The commencement speaker was Mr. Theodore Allegra, Deputy Chief of Mission at the US Embassy in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. His speech outlined the 7 deadly sins of education, which (even though at times stated the obvious) I thought was very interesting. I know all of you 2011 graduates were not paying attention because you were too excited to graduate so I have the same points here for you guys to look back later :)

The 7 deadly sins of education:

1) Conformity: There’s a Chinese proverb that says: One dog barks at something and hundred dogs bark at the bark. Do not stick to conventional wisdom just because it is easier to do so. Be who you are, see what you feel because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind. Open your eyes, see, think and judge for yourself.

2) Stress: This is when education no more becomes a joy. Stress is never ending. This doesn’t mean you stop and let go altogether. Rather, recognize the stress and make sure it is not taking over your life. Take a break and remember that there is more to life than increase in speed.

3) Status: Education is only viewed as a status today. It’s all about the grades because that’s how we have been brought up. Focus on learning rather than the grades. In the end, qualitative matters more than the quantitative.

4)Using Education as a Toy: Being clever and smart rather than ernest and truthful is dangerous. Knowledge is sometimes used to toy with others. Remember it’s more about being true.

5) Sloth: Sluggishness is dangerous. Mental sloth is the sin of education because we excuse our sloth under the pretext of our difficulties. Don’t give up and stop, just look at it in a different way and keep moving even if it’s the other direction.

6) Shield: Do not hide behind education. Remember the guy who built the wall of education to hide from because he was too scared of the world? Education can prevent you from living life. Experience is important; it is not all about the books.

7) Arrogance – The deadliest of them all. Arrogance is a form of self dilution. Wiser men are more humble. Be careful, because arrogance destroys innovation.

You are different from the majority of the world because you have grown up witnessing how so many can do so much with so little. Go out and change the world – remember, it’s more about the action rather than the words. You are already ahead because you grew up in Cambodia with amazing experience and amazing people.

Congratulations ISPP class of 2011 – I am glad to have been a part of the joyous ceremony. 

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One thought on “Cambodia: The thing about graduating from a small international school.

  1. Pingback: Alumni Networks | Annotary

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