Convocation Connections - Student and Faculty Speeches

On Sunday, September 11, 2016, Dublin School celebrated its opening of school with its 81st Convocation ceremony. With 158 students (including one who arrived that day from Quebec, Canada) and over 60 faculty and staff in attendance, Dublin opened the year in grand and eloquent style.

In her traditional role, Academic Dean, Sarah Doenmez began with an eloquent talk on her recent school kayaking trip and the connection with our higher educational purpose. As always, she showed through words and actions her never ebbing exuberance and joy for educational attainment.

Although not choreographed, the next three speakers all focussed, in their independent yet related ways, on a central theme. 

Tutor and recent faculty award winner, John Emerson talked about his long road to developing a passion for learning.  As a young student, John always achieved but was “learning more how to succeed in getting good grades, than in really learning because I was interested.”  That changed when he discovered a passion for teaching.  And his passion for teaching created, for the first time, his passion for learning. 

And then he focused on connections.

This is where the word connection comes in. When I recall my years in middle school and high school I seldom recall what I learned, but I do recall the teachers who made a connection with me. As shocking as it may sound, what may leave a more lasting impression on our students may not be what we teach but how we teach it. But isn’t this is our primary job as teachers - to make connections, to make students feel understood and appreciated for who they are and the efforts they put in. … 

To grow up emotionally and socially we need connections in our lives. We need  connections  just to survive the stresses we all face, whether in the academic world, the world of a teenager searching for meaning and fairness, the world of parenting, or in the world we are all trying to understand with its flags at half mast more times than not. For connections are the key to becoming better human beings. They allow us to share our fears and anxieties and to realize we are not alone with them.

John’s thoughts were reflected and amplified in the thoughts of the first student speaker Hyeong Bin Chu (Seoul, South Korea):

As a student who has been involved in here for four years, I would like to share how Dublin life is placed in my life. Family. Departing from its fundamental functions such as education, it has really turned out to be my family. Under the name of “Dublin,” each of us is considered as a family member. Then what is a family? Simply put, families eat together at the same table. Families share what’s new with each other every morning. Families sometimes experience conflicts, but they usually have milk and cookies together. Maybe at least once a week. …

After three months of summer vacation, forgetting my identity of student and living like a free man, I am always faced with such fear. What if I finally fail my classes? Do I still remember how to speak English? However, after I come back to the school and unpack my belongings, I somehow regain my independence and responsibility as a student that was sleeping in the deepest part of my mind. And I can certainly conclude that the existence of “Dublin” accounts for the most significant part of my rehabilitation. All the wonderful teachers, precious peers, and even overwhelmingly peaceful campus. When such fear turn into confidence, that is the moment when truth and courage are accomplished.

The evening’s talks were concluded brilliantly by senior Katia Dermott (Old Fort, NC):

Many of my freshman peers and faculty know how much I struggled in the beginning of my time at Dublin. It wasn’t until the summer before my junior year that I fully grasped the importance of our community. While my family moved from Maine to North Carolina, I found myself torn between locations. Although everything I had previously found important was in our new house, I didn’t feel at home. When I arrived at Dublin in the beginning of junior year I finally felt a connection to place. My love of this school grew from a seed watered by the homesick tears of freshman year to a tree with more roots in the community then I’d ever thought possible. My love for learning prospered like never before and my appetite for social activities gnawed at me impatiently whenever I sat down to rest. From history to photography, I thrived. Having found a new home and a second family, I couldn’t have been more happy. Thanks to my new found passion for history, whenever I lose sight of my connection to the community, I remind myself of something Henry Ford said: “When everything seems to be going against you, remember that the airplane takes off against the wind, not with it.” …

Being a Dublin student means trying new things from hanging out in Gillespie, something I still haven’t mastered, to taking a drawing class even if you’re not so sure about visual arts. Being a Dublin student means engaging in the community. Maybe for you that’s participating in clubs or just being present in classes and at meal times. No matter what it is, it’s unique to you and that’s what makes this such an extraordinary place. Each and every student fits our community in their own individual way. Being a Dublin student means being yourself.

With less than a week’s preparation, the Dubliners performed a beautiful rendition of Brandi Carlile's "Wherever is Your Heart” that also drew on the theme of connection:

I think it's time we found a way back home
You lose so many things you love as you grow
I missed the days when I was just a kid
My fear became my shadow, I swear it did

Wherever is your heart I call home
Wherever is your heart I call home
Though your feet may take you far from me, I know
Wherever is your heart I call home

Dublin School

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