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Aug 05 2017
by Olivia Handoko

How My Parents Shaped My High School Journey

By Olivia Handoko - Aug 05 2017
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On June 23, my parents stood merely 100 feet away from me as I performed what may have been the centerpiece of my life. With my utmost respect, honesty and love, I pointed to the only people who ever genuinely believed in me and said, with a very grateful heart, “Thank you."

I never dreamed of wanting this day, but I knew my parents have. My parents took my brother and me across the world to see what they could find, but their burdened hearts found what was better than any riches in this world: Their daughter standing at a podium as the valedictorian of her class. They left their beloved homeland, Indonesia, so that I could show others the power of sacrificial love. I knew, then, that no matter how many times my spirit was broken by a system that I could not run from, every piece taken from me was worth it.

Because of them, every dreadful day is only a reminder that good things take time and every step towards the future is always an experience to learn of humbleness, kindness and love. Because of them, every day is a chance to show how resilient I can be in the midst of all the chaos. Because of them, every day that is given is a reminder of how beautifully life can treat us when we least expect it. Tomorrow is not promised, and my parents knew it all too well for it to not be true. Not long after my parents moved, both my grandfathers died before they were able to see all the blessings my parents were given years later. My parents grieved with heavy hearts and temporarily broken souls only to pick themselves and my brothers up to become the best people we can be.

I know nothing in this world can ever equal the love my parents have given me, but I believe that the least I can do to show my gratitude is sharing the message my parents instilled within me with the rest of the world. Standing at my school’s podium was only practice, and I have all the rest of my years to show how much my parents mean to me. Not all of us have the best relationship with our parents, but all of us have had the privilege to meet people who made us see life more beautifully. This is the time in life where we should reflect on their role in our lives and seek an appropriate way to thank them. For me, thanking my parents means doing well in school and spreading love, happiness and kindness with everyone that I meet. I am a testament of turmoil and miracles my parents endured to get me here — America — so I must represent the voice they have hidden beneath the labor and their pain.

In a few weeks, I will start my journey at one of the Seven Sisters schools in Massachusetts, and I can’t wait to see where my parents’ message will bring me. I hope to acquire a pre-health track with the thought of my parents’ story in mind. I realized how incompetent I felt just minutes before as I researched the requirements of my intended major. My high school had prepared me with the little funds that were given to them, but I know that all the opportunities that I took could not equal the privileges some of my future peers have been given and were prepared with. But I know my parents will never fail me, and I know I am well and abundantly blessed because the most important people in our lives can never do us wrong but shape us into the best person that we can be. Their message will help me endure the truths and myths of college life with wisdom, courage and hope. It is about time we become someone like the people we admire most, and I can’t wait to start this inevitably arduous but rewarding journey at Smith College.

So if you ask me now or four years later if the tassel is worth the hassle, I would not hesitate to say that it is and has always been long before I received it. 

Lead Image Credit: Olivia Handoko

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Olivia Handoko - Smith College

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