This speech by Year 11 student Cynthia was given at the annual CLOSA dinner in August. CLOSA (Carey Local and Overseas Student Association) is a group dedicated to helping international and interstate families to settle into their new lives in Melbourne and at Carey.
Good evening, my name is Cynthia. I am so honored to be given the opportunity to stand here and to make a speech for our annual CLOSA dinner today. I came to Carey, and in fact also to this country, in Year 10. I don’t know how to express my overflowing love to this community. Carey has made me grow into a different person. The diversity and inclusiveness of this community has always supported and aided me on my journey of growth.
My first day at Carey started in a dramatic way. I woke up at 6am on a rainy morning in a hotel room – yes, that was on my last day of the 14-day quarantine from the flight from China. Then I was driven to Bob Stewart to get my yellow dress and headed straight to the school on time at 8.30. I was nervous but filled with excitement. Everything was new, fresh and unknown in front of me. There were a thousand thoughts flashing through my mind: Would I be able to fit in? Would the language be a barrier? What if people bully me because of my English? However, all my concerns were gone when my House Captain at the time led me through the campus and kindly introduced me to the school. Their kindness and enthusiasm soothed my nerves. I felt so warm and welcomed.
Carey’s cultural inclusiveness is also a huge component that makes me comfortable as a part of this community. I think the Carey Local and Overseas Student Association really makes this experience different. I remember last year was my first Chinese New Year away from China. I was so sad, crying and eating takeaway food from a Chinese restaurant on New Year’s Eve. There were no dumplings made by my grandma, no fireworks in the night sky and I had to go to school on the first day of new year. The most upsetting thing was that there was no red pocket money I could get! To my surprise, on the next day back to school, I saw new year decorations hanging in the hall, paper cuts on the window and Chinese calligraphy wishing everyone a happy new year. All of a sudden, I felt a part of me was accepted by this community, my culture was respected and even celebrated in the broader community. This sense of acknowledgement has always accompanied me on my journey and given me the moral support I needed to step out of my comfort zone and give everything a shot.
From a couch potato to being a part of Carey rowing, from a complete nerd to being able to thrive at three Carey camps, from disliking sandwiches to enjoying Vegemite on a Sunday morning, and from a shy girl that was afraid of speaking English to today being able to stand here and deliver a speech, I have come a long way. Whenever I look back over the past two years, I am always shocked by the drastic change in life that I have experienced in such a short period of time.
Embracing a new culture is embracing a new self. It has not only broadened my horizons but also enriched my personality. I now see a bigger world in front of me and I’m ready jump right in.
Thank you for listening!