Hope Seminar 2014 Speech Prepared by Eric Gitonga.
Did you know that you can make a conscious decision that you will have a better life in future than you have today?
Did you know that you can assure a better life for your children than you have had?
Did you know that you can help your sponsors regenerate the hope they have given you? That you can become a hope unto somebody else?
We are here today to celebrate the sacrifices that our American friends make to support us financially and morally as we go through school. We have different backgrounds and different situations. We are however, bound by the fact that we all need assistance to pursue our dreams. Dreams not dictated to us by anyone, but dreams we have conceptualized ourselves.
You may think and feel that you are in the class that they call less fortunate today, but I tell you it would be very unfortunate if people make sacrifices to support you and then end up not achieving anything. More specifically, it would be tragic if you have to borrow school fees for your children in the future. Everyone that is supporting you here, is looking forward to making a better person out of you and am sure no one here would be happy to hear any of us writing to our sponsors telling them that they have taken us through school, and now we have children that we need them to send money so that they can eat and go to school. It would be scandalous, I tell you.
Many here may feel under pressure to perform highly in school to justify the money sent to you by your sponsors. I have been where you are and can relate to that. However, I am of the opinion that we all have different abilities and some of these may not be in scoring high test scores. Some of us have the ability to perform in athletics; let them pursue that line. Some have the ability to perform in arts; let them know that even acting is a career. My point is that we are gifted differently and your sponsors are aware of this. All that they require of us is to do our best in whatever field we are able to. That is the best gift we can give them.
For you to be able to achieve the best results, you need to first and foremost decide on what you are good at and what you want to be in the end. This will give you the opportunity to focus your energies in the most efficient manner. When I was in primary school, I liked to play a lot. I would go to school every day with the sole objective of playing with my friends and having a good time. As we progressed, I realized that although we were playing as a group, I always got better test scores during exams as compared to my “field” friends. This revelation informed my decision to cut down on playtime and invest more of my time and energies practicing how to solve mathematical problems and study. The result: from then on I was always either number one or number two in my class.
There is need for you to accept who you are and make the necessary steps towards unshackling yourselves. Hard work cannot be over emphasized for each one of us here. Waking up in the morning to read and do homework may look difficult, but as they say, success does not come from what you can do, but from overcoming what you thought you couldn't do. During my high school, I attended a boarding school where we had all kinds of behaviors, students from different background, with some feeling that their parents had everything, and they therefore, did not need to work at their studies. I on the other hand, knew and had accepted who I was. As others slept till late, I would motivate myself into waking up early to study. We should always seek out ways to use the opportunity given to us and better our lives and the lives of our family members.
Set high personal and academic standards and live up to them. Let not that small distracting voice that says “I can’t do it” stop you from doing what you know is possible. Having discovered your strength, it is now time for you to choose the kind of friends that will make it easier for you to work on your goals. For example, if you are a border in your school and you end up with friends who sneak out of school every weekend to go clubbing, do you think such people make your academic goals easier to achieve? Certainly not! First work on yourself and establish a criterion for getting into friendships at school and even out of school. It helps to surround yourself with people that have the same vision and even greater motivation than you do. That way, you can be sure that none of your friends will be suggesting you get into things that are contrary to your goals. Remember that success is not an overnight thing. Instead, it is an integration of the day to day efforts that you put in towards you desired goals. I have seen brilliant people waste their lives just because they got involved with the wrong crowd.
Being responsible is a skill that will take you along way. Do your best with every duty assigned to you, however small. Are you the prefect at school? Do it as though unto the Lord; are you the one in charge of the cleanliness of the dormitory windows panes? Do it to your perfection. The bible tells us in Luke 16:10 that "Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much.” Carry out your duties around the house diligently without complaint, do your homework well… anything that you set your hand to doing, commit yourself to doing it to the best of your ability. If you are responsible with small things, God will make you responsible over much bigger stuff.
Prayer moves mountains. As much as you have the talent, the motivation, the right friends and the best sponsors or parents; you need a helping hand from up above. Our God makes it all worthwhile. Take time to attend the church service and thank God for the past week and ask for the strength to take on the week that is ahead. Make your plans, dream your dreams, but be sure to let God in on them. That way, He will open doors that you never thought possible. The bible tells us to make our plans and present them to God so that He can direct our paths.
If you are in high school, ensure you take interest in mathematics. If you are able, keep humanity subjects to the minimum requirement and get yourself in all the sciences. Good scores in math and sciences will give you a very big boost when joining college in the sense that you will have a variety of careers to choose from. Learn to respect your teachers and take your studies seriously. I have heard people in high school asking why they need to learn some topics that they think will never be applied. That is a very narrow- minded way of thinking. Education is meant to broaden your mind and prepare you for the challenges ahead. For example, any finance major student in college today will tell you how important it is to learn how to find the intersection of two lines in algebra. Your high school math teacher may not tell you how you will need the skill at the time of teaching it to you, but later in college you will realize that you need the skill and the lecturer assumes that you already know.
As I conclude, I will leave you with my high school principal’s (Mr. Kariuki) words: Success has many fathers, but failure is an orphan. When I was born, my father took off and wanted nothing to do with me. I consequently grew up with no one to call dad, but as I achieved greater and greater success, people call me son wherever I go. Identify what you can do best and keep working at it. God bless.