Published: Jul 07, 2012 07:00 PM
Modified: Jul 05, 2012 07:10 PM
The following is the graduation speech of Carrboro High School valedictorian Caroline Hamilton, winner of the Friends of the Carrboro Branch Library’s 2012 Youth scholarship, the Mary Frances Eldridge Award.
Everything is relative.
What we perceive as eccentric, average, intelligent, boring, it’s all relative to the knowledge and experience we have thus far in our lives. As we grow older, all of our interactions with other people and cultures culminate, and we grow wiser, developing a broader and more open perspective of the world.
But until then, we are left with our current, limited perspective. People tend to make assumptions in that way; it’s a human flaw. We often have these preconceived ideas of how certain lifestyles or people are before actually having experienced them first hand.
This was the case for us seniors upon coming to Carrboro, and this will be the case at many points throughout the rest of our lives.
In August 2008, the school was just beginning its second year. The walls were still glossed with fresh paint; the desks had not yet fallen victim to the now ubiquitous doodle-graffiti. Everything was unfamiliar, unexplored territory for us. We didn’t know what to expect. And thanks to high school based movies, our imaginations painted elaborate images of lunch-money-stealing bullies lurking through hallways and uniform-clad cheerleaders reigning over the student body.
All of the things we did not know about Carrboro, all of the things we know now, we learned with experience. I learned that the lunch period provides just enough time for a hasty venture for Queso at Dillo. I learned that if you want to escape the horrendous, junior-induced traffic jam in the parking lot every day after school, you either have to leave very early or very late. Ms. Gottschalk led me to befriend Holden Caulfield, who taught me to beware of the phonies, that we are all phonies, and Dr. Randolph showed me that la unica limite es mi propia imaginacion. I now know that the student IDs don’t always work on the doors to the school, and much to many late-rising seniors’ dismay, the morning bell rings two minutes early every single day.
Since 2008, the unfamiliar has become familiar, and what was once frightening is now comfortable. We have all explored the nooks and crannies of Carrboro’s culture, and its many oddities have become charming. Thanks to our four years of actual Carrboro experience we now understand it.
As we sit here today, we are all on the verge of new experiences. We will all once again coyly greet unfamiliarity, and it will be terrifying. As our communities expand, beyond the burgundy brick walls of Carrboro, beyond the organic flavor of Weaver Street and coffee-bean aroma of Open Eye, across new states to glistening new campuses and overseas to vibrant new countries, we will learn. Our growing lists of life experience will continue to expand.
So after we leave here today, let’s greet culture as an old, beloved friend. Let’s interact with new peoples and become enamored of unfamiliarity. Let’s blaze our paths, and experience all there is to experience. Let’s grow out of our assumptions and let’s transform our perspectives. That is when we will truly understand. Our world, our lives, and each other.
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