Andrew Magrath (biggrumpy) wrote,
Andrew Magrath

For What It's Worth, It Was Worth All the While

Today was the end. I walked to school and thought about the speeches I would have to give. During the big assembly I got called up on stage. I couldn't give the speech I wanted to, because it had to be translated, but here is what I would have said. Just think of a bit watered down version of this:

If someone tells you to never be afraid, don't listen. That person has never done anything worth doing. Everything of value -- everything worth experiencing -- is scary. Courage is not the absence of fear, rather, it is the understanding that there are more important things in the world than being afraid. It is okay to be afraid. It is okay to be unsure. When I first came to Japan I was afraid all the time -- would I make friends? would I be a good teacher? would I like it here? would I be able to communicate? I had so many fears, but I never let them stop me. I knew there are more important things than those fears. Had I been so afraid that I never left the safety of my home, the safety of the world I knew and found reassuring: I never would have met you, and I would be a lesser person because of that.

Do not let fear stop you. To feel fear is understandable, it means what you are about to do is important and life changing. Remember how scared you were when you first spoke English to me, but you tried and now we are friends. Now you can speak English. That is more important than any trepidation you felt before.  So, raise your hand in class. Be an individual. Fight for your goals. If you like someone ask them out on a date.  Go to foreign countries. Try new food. Tell people your dreams.  Talk to strangers!  Never let fear or those that tell you to be afraid stand in your way.

I have been in Japan for three years. I am sad to go back to America. I will miss you all. I will always remember you all. If you remember me, please remember that I was not perfect. I tried my best, and that was what was important.  Remember that we were friends. But most of all, remember, we communicated with each other because we were both brave, together.

I love Tanigawa. I love Tanigawa because I love each of you. You are all my friends, and I am each of yours. Thank you for not letting fear stand in the way of our friendship. In all things, be brave.  In all things know what is more important.

So now, one last time, "Goodbye." [I say this at the end of every class, usually accompanied by a crazy salute type move that the kids think is funny]

Then the student council came out on stage and gave me flowers. I started to cry a little bit. They spoke in English that they had written.  It was a struggle for some of them to remember but they did it perfectly.  One girl said I was "Tanigawa's best Super Hero". They threw confetti on me and shook my hand.  I stepped off stage carrying my flowers and the kids parted so I could walk through the classes. They all clapped and cheered as I walked out of the gym.   I heard "I love you!"  a few times  I turned around one last time at the boundary of the gym and the outside world, just to see them all.   The star of Tanigawa hung in the air above the stage like Polaris.  I bowed, then turned and took the last step.  I could hear them clapping outside as I was looking at the mountains. There is something mystic about mountains.

There's still more to tell, but I can't right now.  I'll post pictures soon too.

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