I had the pleasure of visiting schools in Shandong province in China in early September as part of a launch of a new program with our partner school, Gaomi No 1 High School. Specifically, I visited with grade 10 Chinese students who are enrolled in the International Program in their school. These kids will complete their Chinese studies next year then come to Abbotsford to complete their Dogwood Graduation Diplomas. There is great aniticipation among the parents and students who are preparng for this magnificent opportunity.
On September 3, I attended the opening day ceremony of the school and participated in a wonderful celebration with the principal, teachers, parents and about 1000 kids to launch the program! Funny how the hopes and dreams of youth are universal. I discovered or perhaps rediscovered this, when a 15 year old girl selected by her classmates spoke to the assembly in flawless English about her aspirations and those of her peers.
Taking her lead from Martin Luther King, she addressed us with her dreams. ‘I have a dream that one day I will have a Canadian teacher. I have a dream that one day I will learn in a Canadian school. I have a dream that one day I will be able to graduate from a Canadian university. I have a dream that one day I will be part of a global program that promotes a better world!’ And, ‘I believe that our generation will make a difference by learning and working together in the spirit of cooperation and understanding.’
How many times around the world on the opening day of school did young people express their hopes for their generation? I know I witnessed something I had never expected in a place I had never imagined. I am heartened that after 36 years in this business, that my faith in youth has never diminished and that youth continue to inspire and hearten me. I hadn’t expected to be reminded of this, and I’m glad that I was. My year is off to a great start.