High School Graduation Speech
by Alia, exchange student from Spain
Here I was during my first month here in Molalla. I was so excited to finally call my grandma who I hadn’t talked to in such a long time. As I nervously dialed her phone number I couldn’t help but wonder what she would say. And much to my surprise, one of the first things she said was: “Ay Alieta, qu’estas malalta? Estàs molt blanqueta!”. In English meaning: “Alia are you sick? You look so pale”. Along with the lack of sun in Oregon, I would soon realize that in my 289 days here, I would change in 289 different ways. Of course, drinking Dutch Bros every week has changed my physical appearance, but aside of that I would learn how to truly believe in myself and my abilities.
Now, starting this year in a totally different environment has required me to have an open mind and to say yes to all sorts of things, to say the least. Even when someone says something I don’t quite understand and I just nod along and hope it wasn’t a question. I think that all the exchange students here can relate to this. Along with that, throughout the year I have learned to step out of my comfort zone even when it seems scary and intimidating. One of those instances is standing in front of you all today. I’m sure everyone here knows how it feels to say yes to experiences that frighten them. Between clubs, sports, classes and personal growth having an open mind is crucial to the high school experience. When starting the next chapter of our lives, I hope that each and every single one of you continue to live with an open mind and say yes to things that come your way.
Little flashback to February 14th of last year, the day that I found out that I was coming to Molalla. To be honest, as a true city girl, I was not thrilled by the idea of spending a year in a small town in the countryside, when I could have gone to California, New York, or even Hawaii… But man, was I wrong! Molalla has taught me things that I don’t think I could have learned anywhere else. It has been a true blessing to be part of this wonderful community. My parents sitting in the audience are probably wondering who the girl giving this speech is, because during my time here I have grown into someone different than the girl who left Spain ten months ago. That girl was someone who was guided in every step of life, without having to worry. As all of the Seniors graduating today prepare to leave this part of them behind, it won’t always be easy and change will be inevitable but as a result so will growth.
Who would have thought that in a town as small as Molalla in Oregon, I would find a community full of solidarity, kindness and unity? Who would have thought that a town as small as Molalla could raise 90,000 dollars in less than a month out of pure kindness of their hearts for families in need? That’s what makes Molalla amazing. Each and every single one of you has had an impact on this community. Each and every single one of you has made the difference.
During these 289 days here in Oregon, I’ve been smiling and crying, wishing to go home and wishing I could stay longer. I’ve been feeling like I couldn’t get through it and feeling on the top of the world. But most of all I ended up having two families, two best friends, two houses that I both call home, I am getting the best of both worlds. And at the end of the day, I am happy to say that this experience has brought me more happiness that I could have ever imagined, that this experience is teaching me so many things. I got to know an amazing family that I consider my own. Kelsey, I could not thank you enough for becoming the sister I had always been looking for and I cannot wait to see where life takes you. Christina, thank you for welcoming me in your home. You have had a true impact on my life and I am forever grateful for everything that you have taught me. Today, as I close one of the best chapters of my life and as I say goodbye to my life here, I try to see that whatever I do, wherever I go, Molalla will always have a huge place in my heart. So this morning when I was asked by a friend if I was happy to be going home soon, I told her that I’m already home.
Alia is living with the Morgan family in Molalla, Oregon