Good afternoon, teachers, parents, distinguished guests, and my fellow members of the class of 2022 – congratulations! We finally make it to the end of three long years of Turnitin, Canvas, Schoology, Quizlet, and all the YouTube videos featuring an all-knowing Indian guy.
My name is Ariel Yu Qianhui. We went to high school together, in case you don’t know me.
I still remember the summer before entering HFI. With excitement and anticipation, I nonetheless looked forward to my high school life with fear. Maybe we were all fearful of something, if not everything. We feared that our social lives would resemble those in the High School Musical – a bunch of rich, good-looking, charming people sitting atop of the social jungle (speaking of you, legendary Istudy square residents). We feared that we could never understand those obscure AP materials – L’Hopital rule, seriously? That’s the sound made by a five-year-old choking on a lollipop. We feared that our crush might not like us in return, or that an unsuccessful eye contact could change us from heartstoppers to heartbreakers. We were also fearful about… not making enough of an impact, making too much of an impact, not getting into a top college, hurting those we care deeply about, losing every turn of CSGO and Civilization VI, being caught not wearing our uniform by Sheldon, trusting the wrong person in Avalon, and many, many more.
But sitting here today and looking back, things that worried us before are either inconsequential or are more educational and even enlightening than we could have ever imagined. Yes, our vocab is far less impressive than that of our beloved Peter-20,000, but we all managed to find a field to develop our own specialties and shine. Yes, sometimes we crammed all exam materials the night before the test, but we simultaneously experienced late-night snack sharing, juicy truth-or-dares, and moments of tears, laughter, encouragement, and companionship. We as a class had conflicts and disagreements, but we cooperated – as we always do – to organize International Days, Charity Runs, Fine Arts Weeks, Halloween Parties, and Soccer matches. And…we could often manage to find a Crow athlete, a Fusion artist, a Musical performer, and a Symposia philosopher bonding together – to be marked a HW in an econ or psych class. Hashtag Senior Power.
And we must not forget that we, the class of 2022, have been through so much more. We went virtual, then back on campus, then virtual, then campus. We dealt with the drastic shift from SAT to ACT. We let the CommonApp torture our egos and question our interpersonal relationships, but eventually we all managed to click that final submission button. We witnessed the moment when the Chinese Women’s Football Team won the championship in the Asian Cup; we experienced the days when 711 renewed its whole structure; and we even listened to a song sang by Reece and Ken – together!
These are what stand out to me most remarkably among our three years in HFI: how we learned to face, diminish, and ultimately defeat our fears. How, through constant struggles and continuous growth, we have come to be who we are today. But also, how we discover new fears in this constant process of learning and strive to combat them every time they appear.
In our college application, we all wrote about how we “impact our community,” “change the society,” or “help xyz minority.” While these are true to some extent, stepping out of the high school bubble today, we are viewing the world from a much more complicated angle. It’s not about fearing bad test scores, but about balancing financial burdens and responsible choices, about surviving unforeseen wars that impact the globe, or about failing to ensure fundamental rights for all. We face the reality that there are things we cannot accomplish, no matter how hard we try. It’s brutal, but it’s true. And no, I’m not talking about getting into Stanford.
But it’s okay, because finding and fighting fear is an ongoing and forever process. It is one in which we try our best to realize every opportunity we are granted, to face each challenge directly, to learn passionately about the best options, and to solve tactically what we and the society dread. At the same time, when we find ourselves facing totally new and startling horrors, we know what freedom means – the freedom to truly choose the “community” and the “contribution” we are ready and willing to make. It might be about inventing a medicine that cures cancer or Alzheimer’s; about trying to solve global warming; about securing universal human rights, peace, and equality; about the ability and the courage to always aim for the controversial. And most importantly, it is always about equalizing our privilege, through the education we receive and the education we spread, to those less fortunate in the society, for the meaning of a higher education should always extend beyond any single person.
Toby, the man who taught us so much about passive-aggressiveness... Umm, I MEAN, the man who taught us the wisdom of life, said in one Pre-AP class that “few journeys are completed entirely on one’s own.” Our journeys of combatting our fears are the same. In HFI, we were extremely lucky to be accompanied by some of the kindest, smartest, most brilliant humans, and I wish take a moment to express our deepest appreciation.
To our parents, thank you. Thank you for taking care of us. From you we learned the meaning of love, respect, and companionship. Thank you for supporting our decisions financially and emotionally (even when that decision involves majoring in philosophy and potentially becoming unemployed). Thank you for guiding us, encouraging us when we were frustrated, worried, or anxious. Thank you for all the help during these 18 years. Thank you for always being here.
To our teachers, thank you. During our time at HFI, you taught us more than textbook knowledge. We might not remember every Henry and William in European History, every rhetorical and literary technique, or all of the formulas in AP Science, but we will keep in mind the importance of independence, innovation, integrity, open-mindedness, critical thinking, and the courage to question the norms. And there’s no way we can forget your tasty treats, wild metaphors, and the awkward jokes you shared when trying to squeeze your PowerPoints into our minds. We apologize for occasionally daydreaming, or using bad excuses like “digestive issues” to miss a class, but we sincerely appreciate all your hard work and your best wishes for us to succeed (or perhaps the deep desire to get rid of us ASAP).
Last but not least... To my fellow graduates, thank you. You are the highlight of these special years. We brought each other the most joy, the most profound realizations, and the most heart-warming encouragement and company. Some of us volunteered for challenging, complex, but noble causes, some of us were always rays of sunshine with their upbeat vibes, optimism, and humor, and I’m sure some of us will go on to win the Nobel Prize someday. The time I spent with you is truly my greatest asset and supreme blessing.
To all the staff, security guards, and all the people who have ever helped us, thank you. Any day of school without you would be a mess. Thank you for looking after us and supporting us.
I want to end my speech with a word from my favorite comedian Vir Das. “I like people who get excited about stupid stuff. They fail hard, succeed hard, and feel everything. The worst thing you can call them is idiots or fools. Which is fine. I know a lot of practical realists. The worst thing you can do is call them.” By the same token, today we graduate, so let’s be out there, be raw, be stupid, be impetuous – because that means being fearful, idealistic, brave, young, and profoundly successful.
Congratulations, HFI Class of 2022!
尊敬的各位老师、家长、各位来宾，亲爱的同学，下午好。恭喜！我们终于熬过了三年的Turnitin, Canvas, Schoology, Quizlet，终于毕业了！
我还记得进入 HFI 之前的那个夏天。怀着激动和期待，我仍对即将到来的高中生活有些恐惧。我相信我们或多或少都害怕一些事情。我们可能担心我们的社交生活会像《歌舞青春》中的那样——一群富有、漂亮、迷人的人在社交食物链的顶端（说的就是你们，ist四宫格人们）。我们担心我们永远无法理解那些晦涩难懂的AP 课程——洛必达原则？那是一个被棒棒糖噎住的五岁孩子发出的声音。我们担心我们的暗恋对象不喜欢我们，一个不成功的眼神交流就能把我们从“心跳漏一拍”变成“心碎一地“。我们也害怕……影响不够，影响太大，考不上顶尖大学，伤害我们深爱的人，输掉CSGO和Civilization VI的每一个回合，被Sheldon抓到没穿校服，在阿瓦隆里相信错误的派，还有很多很多。
但今天坐在这里回首往事，我们发现曾经担心的事情要么无关紧要，要么比我们想象的更有教育意义，甚至更有启发性。是的，我们的词汇远没有我们心爱的江两万同学那么令人印象深刻，但我们都设法找到了属于自己的发光的领域。是的，有时我们会在考试前一天晚上突击复习所有考试材料，但我们同时经历了深夜分享零食、真心话大冒险，以及流泪、欢笑、鼓励和陪伴的每一个时刻。作为一个年级，我们有冲突和分歧，但我们永远会团结起来组织国际日、慈善跑、艺术节、万圣节派对和足球比赛。如果我们愿意，我们总能找到Crow运动员、Fusion艺术家、Musical表演者和Symposia 哲学家团结在一起——在经济学或心理学课上被记上一个HW。#Senior Power.
当然，我们还有着更不同寻常的经历。我们的课堂从线下转到线上、然后线下、然后线上、然后线下。我们经历了从SAT 到 ACT 的急转弯。我们让CommonApp 折磨我们的自尊心，质疑我们的人际关系，但最终还是成功点击了提交按钮。我们见证了中国女足夺得亚洲女足冠军的那一刻；我们经历了711关门“全面升级”的日子；我们甚至还听了 Reece 和Ken 一起演唱的歌曲！
而这些正是我们在 HFI 的三年中最令我印象深刻的：我们如何学会面对、减少并最终战胜我们的恐惧。我们如何通过不断的奋斗和不断的成长，成为今天的我们。以及，我们如何在这个不断学习的过程中发现新的恐惧，并在它们每次出现时都努力与之抗争。
Toby，这位教导我们如此多生活智慧的老师，在其中一节Pre-AP 课上说道，“很少有旅程是完全靠一个人完成的”。我们与恐惧斗争的旅程也是一样。在HFI ，我们非常幸运地有一些最善良、最聪明、最闪耀的人陪伴。我想花一点时间表达我最深切的感谢。
感谢我们的老师们。在 HFI 的这些年里，你们教给我们的不仅仅是教科书知识。我们可能不记得欧洲历史上的每一个亨利和威廉，每一种修辞和文学技巧，或者AP 科学中的公式，但我们会牢记你们教给我们的独立、创新、正直、开放、批判性思维和质疑传统规则的勇气的重要性。我们无法忘记你们带来的小吃、奇怪的比喻、以及在试图将PPT塞进我们脑子时所讲的冷笑话。我们为有点顽皮，或偶尔在课堂上走神表示歉意，但我们真诚地感谢您所有的辛勤工作以及您对于我们成功的希望（或尽快摆脱我们的希望）。
我想用我最喜欢的喜剧演员 Vir Das 的话来结束我的演讲。“我喜欢那些对愚蠢的事情感到兴奋的人。他们努力失败，努力成功，感受一切。你可以做的最糟糕的事情就是称他们为傻瓜。这也不差。我认识很多实际的现实主义者。你能做的最糟糕的事情就是打电话给他们。”同样的道理，今天我们毕业了，所以让我们出去闯荡吧，保持原始，保持愚蠢，保持冲动，因为这意味着保持恐惧，保持理想，保持勇敢，保持年轻，保持成功。