The Last Word

By Sean Woo | Posted: Monday September 10, 2018

Blink, and you might miss it. It is the critical seconds in our lives that matter. We all have significant moments that change our lives forever. Today I want to share with all of you some key events that shaped my life forever.

January 1, 2014. I arrived in Dunedin after spending the previous 11 years of my childhood in Hong Kong. I vividly remember the disorientation and homesickness I felt during those times. It was one of the most challenging ordeals I have ever experienced because the culture and environment were so different- not to mention the temperature. Thankfully, my new-found friends (who are in this auditorium today) and teachers have shaped me into the person I am today. I accepted the change and embraced the challenge even though it was initially tough. I hoped that it would be for the greater good.

However, in that same year, I failed to get a junior scholarship whereas many of my peers did. I was heartbroken, discouraged, and upset with the outcome. The pain and regret made me silently promise that I would do everything in my power to prove that I should have been a junior scholarship recipient. The urge to convince the school was wrong in that regard was massive. Little did I know that it would be for the greater good.

At the beginning of Year 10, I started to join more extracurricular activities and become more involved in the school. To start this off, I joined the orchestra. Although I was silent and cautious when I first joined the orchestra, I quickly became an annoying pest. My senior influencers rapidly turned me into a talented musician who made blatant mistakes on purpose for the sake of being an absolute menace. Unfortunately for me, this behaviour transferred into actual performances- such as the annual school production. My troublesome reign ended at the end of a production when Ms Gorman screamed at me for being an embarrassment to the school. No teacher in my life had been half as terrifying as Ms Gorman at that moment. In pure fear, I made sure I would not be an absolute menace ever again in the orchestra. It would be for the greater good.

I somehow managed to become the orchestra leader two years later. Perhaps a touch of maturity did the job. However, some of my friends reckon I still have the maturity level of a ten-year-old child. It was in that particular group where I developed my leadership skills and understanding of others. I learnt to be grateful and respectful of others regarding their decisions.

It is now over four years since I arrived in Dunedin. I have proven that it is possible to thrive in different circumstances by adapting to the environment. The kindness bestowed on me is what drives my spirit and desire to constant self-improvement.

In crucial times, we can either bend or break. If we bend, then we choose to accept the change and thrive in a new environment. However, if we decide to be stubborn, we break. Our character is defined by how we choose to respond to failure and despair. Everyone will fail a countless number of times, but not everyone responds to failure well. The discipline and effort I have on myself make me completely capable of bouncing back on track. The failure we experience will eventually lead to the greater good of ourselves.

My goals and achievements have changed throughout the past six months to the point where I see myself as a different person from the beginning of the year. Constant failure inevitably leads to continual success in the future.

It is for the greater good.