Alejandro Garcia, Head Boy at Whitby Collegiate School, spoke to the 61 Primary School students who had been chosen by their schools to receive an award for Service above Self, Leadership and being a role model. He said,
'Tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou, tēnā tatou katoa, Nga mihi nui ki a koutou katoa.
'It is with great pride and honor that I stand here today in front of the next generation of great leaders of Aotearoa and the world. We have gathered here today to acknowledge everyone’s amazing achievements and celebrate the greatness in the room today.
'I would like to extend a huge thank you to the Porirua Rotary Clubs for entrusting me with the opportunity to speak to all of these brilliant minds today, and to all the people who have helped make today possible, by getting these students here today
and supporting them through their challenges, growth, and adventures.
'Now I've been considering for weeks now on how to write this speech, reading over the speeches of past speakers, and comparing myself to all these other people. So last week I finally sat down and finished this speech, and after many attempts, I
realized what I needed to talk about. I spent so long stressing about what others had done, that I failed to focus on myself. I needed to stop comparing myself to others, because the others, are not me. I realized that this is an issue that so many children of our generation are faced with. It becomes easy for us to look at someone else and say, oh, yeah, they're doing better than us. Easy to push ourselves down because we have not achieved as much as the person next to us. Easy, to forget how much we have accomplished as individuals.
'But through my many years, 17 to be exact, I learned that the best things in life don't come easy. It's the difficult experiences and learnings which grow us as people. When we become ourselves, reach out of our comfort zones, take control of who WE
are, we are able to achieve incredible things. We need to embrace what makes us different because that is our superpower. The best leaders on this planet are those who are themselves. When we start embracing who we are and what makes us unique, we are able to approach all the opportunities and challenges in our lives, in our own way, and dedicate our energy to helping others.
'Now that doesn't mean that everything will always be smooth sailing because that would be easy. You will encounter obstacles in life and that's just natural. We will all have mishaps, and have the occasional fall, that's how we learn. I've been trying to
teach my sister how to roller skate recently, and she has this obsession and understandable fear of falling. So I told her, stop worrying so much about falling, because if that's all you focus on, then all you will do is fall. How are you going to skate then! And why are you afraid of falling? Yes, it may hurt a little bit, and sometimes leave a graze, but we all fall sometimes. The important part is that we get back up. The pain will go away soon, and the grazes will heal, but without getting back up again, how will you continue to skate? If we measure ourselves by how many times we fail, then how do we know we are succeeding? Your journey is never going to be a straight path or what you expect. Sometimes we may barely see the next step in front of us, but we just need to keep going. If I trip and fall flat on my face, I'll take a minute to wipe the dirt, then I'll still get up. And I believe that all of you can too. Because even though you fell, and it sucks, you fell forward. We are still progressing in our journey. Don't be afraid to fall. Also, remember that it happens to all of us, so when you see the person next to you fall, help them up, and lend them a hand while they steady themselves. When we learn to be brave and not let falling bother us, and start counting the number of times we get up instead, we can start cheering every time a friend gets up. We help them off the ground, whether they are just learning to skate, or are the best skater in the world, then cheer them on as they continue in life. We need to cheer others on for how well they've done, and recognize the strength and bravery that it takes to get back up. Celebrate our differences, and be inspired by what makes us unique. Celebrating other people's success inspires those around you, and instead of worrying about how they're doing compared to everyone else, you cheer for them because they are moving forward in their journey, and they are doing their best. Inspire others by letting them see how you get back up again. Be brave, and lead by example. Show others that it's alright to not be perfect, what really matters is that they are doing their best.
'So I leave you here today, reminding you to not count failures, but to celebrate successes. Celebrate success and cheer others on for overcoming a fall. Be yourself, and inspire others through your actions. Remember that being you, and being unique, is your superpower.
'Ngā mihi, kia pai tō kotou rā. Thank you, and have a great day.'