Gogoli gives 2010 Polk High valedictorian speech

Published 2:01 pm Thursday, June 17, 2010

While trying to write my speech I began going through many books and, as a last resort, “Webster’s Dictionary.” A book as well versed as Webster with millions of words that range from “aardvark” to “Zoroastrianism” does not contain one word one word that describes what I feel today.

I even looked through more books trying to find quotes and words of inspiration but stopped immediately when I found these words: “kak mnogo bulo bu svobodnovo vremini u nac yestli bu mu ne ispolzovali chuziyi musli v nashih rechah,” which means imagine just how much time we would have on our hands if we did not try to use others’ quotes and ideas as our own speech. That is when I decided to not use famous pearls of wisdom. Tonight I would just like to share my memories with you.

At first, I did not know why we were moving to America. Then again, I was only six years old and life felt like a giant playground. My parents later explained that we were moving to America because it was the land of opportunities. In America we would start life anew. This was the first time I had traveled; the packed airport, food in trays, spectacular views, and in-flight movies were all new and exciting, but the deafening roar of the plane engines was quite unwelcome. Eighteen hours later, the plane touched down in an unfamiliar land. Foreign words and foreign ways began to surround me.

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When I stepped into America I had no idea how to speak the language. I didnt even know what small basic words meant. Nor was I familiar with any traditions, customs, or American mannerisms. My family and I were basically dropped into a new world with very limited connections, very limited knowledge, and only a slight clue of what to do next, but truly believed hard work would get us there. Starting school was quite a challenge for me, mostly because of the language barrier.

A couple weeks into school, I came home crying that kids did not want to play with me. My father knew exactly why, but instead told me that they didn’t want to play just because I could not speak the language; if I would work hard and learn the language the kids would play with me. Two weeks after being tricked, I was speaking English, my third language, fluently and was catching on with the quirky grammatical complications. I learned one very valuable lesson: hard work will be respected and will provide results.

All of the opportunities given to me has made me a prime example of how grand this country really is. I am living proof of a heartwarming tale of the American dream. A couple of years ago we became American citizens.

Thanks to being surrounded with so many good people and very good friends Polk County became my home. It is so close to my heart that I wrote a poem dedicated to Polk County: title – My Country – this place is full of trees and grass no other place can match. People would love to live in this place as much as eating a fresh cookie batch. This place has gently rolling hills with rivers clean and pure. Just living in this peaceful place will give you a lifetime cure. This place warmly welcomes people like me and like you. Living in any other place just simply won’t do.

Tonight let’s not only focus on our success but also the success of our parents, grandparents, and our community for raising such an outstanding generation of scholars. It was through your great examples and through your hard work and through your help that this night, graduation night, has been made possible for us.

Parents, teachers, police officers, firefighters, healthcare professionals, volunteers, mentors, compatriots, all the greatness that we have in us is from you. In 15 to 20 years from now we will face the responsibility of taking into control the direction of our nation. Don’t worry, the country will be in good hands. As fellow hard working citizens, we will ensure the prosperity of this country and will, to our last ounce of strength, defend your freedoms, our freedoms, and what this country believes in. United we stand.

Thank you parents. Thank you teachers. Thank you, class of 2010.

Valedictorian speech by Sasha Gogoli