Good morning to the Marcellin community,
I’d like to start off by personally welcoming you all back to the College for another year, and specifically to the fresh faces at the college. Whether you have just transitioned to high school in year 7, or just moved here from another school into another year level, I hope that it has been a smooth, comfortable and welcoming beginning.
It is now time to celebrate those who, years ago, were fresh faces themselves. They have now finished their time at Marcellin, all grown up and rich from their experiences at the College. As a community, we will acknowledge the academic achievements of these young men from the Class of 2017, and also recognise the role they played in nurturing the Marist spirit at our school. I extend the deepest of thanks to them.
As the new school year is only just commencing, I feel now is a good time to share with you my experiences over the summer break. I was fortunate enough to be a part of the Cambodian Immersion. I was accompanied by nine other students, and four staff members, as we ventured through different parts of Cambodia, taking in all the various people, places, and emotions that we encountered. It would be impossible for me to talk of all our experiences and to preach all we have taken away from them. Therefore, I will simply focus on what I feel will be of inspiration and importance to me, and all of you, in the year that awaits.
When I reminisce about the greatest highlights from the immersion, a moment from our time in Pailin is always the first to come to mind. The week we spent there was a unique and special time. From the incredibly welcoming hospitality of Brother Francis, to heart-filled engagements with the Cambodian children, and even to the strenuous labor out in the intense heat, we were fully immersed in the local community and soaking in all that was up for offer. Most of our days in Pailin involved a morning session at the Brother’s Residence, where we were working on an underground sewer pipeline, which comprised of laying heavy concrete pipes, cementing the joins and then burying them underground. However, we had the assistance of two Cambodian workers, who contributed harder yards than anyone else. They often worked even after we had left, without a word of complaint. They didn’t have any fancy tools or expensive equipment to make their jobs easier, but what they did have was a raging desire to work for, and serve the other. These workers were driven by a goal and were clearly putting in the work required to achieve it.
I’ll ask each of you to reflect now. What aspirations do you have in this upcoming year? Do you have any personal goals, whether it be in sport, the arts, or academically? But most importantly, how hard are you willing to work for it? And how prepared are you to serve the other? Think of those two Cambodian workers I mentioned earlier, who were disadvantaged by their lack of equipment. This impediment did not affect their determination to get the job done. You might feel that you don’t have the right “equipment”, be it, the height, speed, skill, strength or ability to achieve your goals, but most of these shortcomings can be overcome by hard work and commitment. My message to all of you, especially those in the Class of 2018, who have just embarked on the biggest schooling year of their life, is to ensure you are showing determination, hard work and commitment to all areas you are involved in, just like the Cambodian workers. Do more to be better every day, and don’t set limits because of fear or doubt.
The experiences and lessons I have acquired in Cambodia have also given me a clearer idea of the meaning of the Marist theme for this year, being a Year of Youth – A Future with Hope. It became clear to me through the work and play we shared with the Cambodian children, be it in the classrooms learning, or outside playing games. The happiness and appreciation that our actions brought to those kids, whether they were major or minor things, demonstrated to me what young people can do to make a difference in this world. Many of those children, particularly those at the Salla La Valla, which was a school for disabled children, are hope-deprived in many aspects of their lives. However, whether we were having fun in the pool with them, playing a game of soccer, or teaching in the classrooms, they were extremely happy and appreciative for our presence. They were incredibly welcoming to us, and the way they worked and loved others was indicative of their own hope for life. We may have brought a level of hope to them, but they most certainly gave hope to us in return, by displaying to us the true meaning of strong will and courage.
One final message for this morning, comes from a quote from Apple founder, Steve Jobs: “The only way to do great work, is to love what you do”. It highlights the necessity of the Marist Characteristic “Love of Work” in truly achieving greater things in whatever field you pursue.
With that, I hope for everyone else here, that we can show that same determination and courage going forward in 2018. Always remember to be welcoming to others, and to be there when someone needs assistance, especially those new at our College. Lastly, find something that drives you to be more, work hard for it, and ultimately, strive for highest through virtue and courage.