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激情是养出来的:ATEMS毕业致辞

下面是我女儿在ATEMS高中2019年度毕业致辞(Valedictorian Speech 2019)。稚嫩处,还望海涵。不过倒是很好地解释了兴趣和努力之间的辩证关系。我给翻译了一下,原文附后。
 
ATEMS高中2019年度毕业致辞
 
晚上好,2019届同学。我叫Faith Fang,很荣幸为艾比林理工高中做告别演说。首先,感谢艾比林独立学区的尊贵客人、艾比林理工高中杰出教职员工,以及我们的亲朋好友。感谢大家为我们提供必要的指导和支持,让我们离退休又近了一步啦 (注1)。 
 
毕业班同学们,四年前,我们刚刚跨入艾比林理工高中大门的时候,还是一脸懵懂的娃娃脸。而今,我们即将跨出校门,和以前已经大不一样:或许有点折损消耗,或许个头已经长高。我们更聪明,更能干。自己的斤两,心里也更有数了。
 
高中我们是一路带着问题走过来的。到了高四,问题更多,例如:“你要去哪儿上大学啊?”“长大了想干什么?”“以后想做什么工作?”相信各位脑海中大多有了回答这些问题的套路。或许大家今天还要回答不少这样的问题(注2 )所以这里我不再重复此类问题了。我只想问大家一句:“你的激情在哪里? ”
 
一位大家未必知道的歌手Jon Bon Jovi曾称:“没有什么比激情更重要了。无论你想过什么样的日子,都要充满激情。”我这些年逐渐意识到,激情并非只是情感,也并非与生俱来。相反,激情需要你去照顾,去喂养,去栽培。一旦它绽放,就可以给我们开启机遇的新世界。
 
在座各位不少知道我弹小提琴。小提琴是我的激情所在,但并非先天如此。我小时候尝试过很多东西,例如芭蕾、钢琴、国际象棋,等等。显然,大部分爱好无疾而终。和我下盘棋你就明白了。当年我每周上一次小提琴课,无非是想培养一个爱好。我对练习小提琴的感觉,就好比大部分人对无味纯酸奶的感受一样:也不是不能吃,但谈不上多享受。 
 
六年级那年,我加入了学校管弦乐队,情况从此发生了变化。我不再把弹琴完全当差事,而把音乐看成了有价值的努力 —— 音乐能唤醒他人的变化(注3 )。估计大家都在YouTube上看过弹得天衣无缝的亚洲天才小提琴手。让我澄清一下:那......不是我。随着时间推移,随着练习增加,我看到了进步。进步令人兴奋。当我追逐进步时,机会也开始出现。我有机会跟乐坛前辈学习,接触其他乐手,甚至有机会出国演出。我的追求,需要我独处室内练习良久,甚至有时候会怀疑人生。不过这种追求,也给我带来了乐趣,带来了朋友。追求进步,会把爱好转化为激情。 
 
当然,我的追求并没有止步,你们也一样。每一个人都有不同梦想,我们都得界定各自对成功的定义,随后去全力以赴。大家可能也都清楚,我们的梦想也不会一成不变。有朝一日,假如我歪打正着成了象棋大师,我会回头再来告诉大家。不过,只要你去鼓励你的好奇心,寻求新的进步,培养你的激情,你就会惊讶地发现,付出的努力会让你走很远。 
 
我知道,对我们中一部分人来说,未来来得越快越好。对另外一些人来说,未来让人畏惧。不过,我们不妨引用睿智的小罗伯特·唐尼的一句话吧:“人得被赶出自己的巢穴,哪怕是踢出去,蹬下去。”未知令人生畏,但我相信,我们这届同学有的是潜力。我们可以改变社会,给他人的人生施加正面影响。我们有那么多兴趣,那么多才能,世界还会给我们诸多馈赠,我们也有很多东西可奉献给世界。我们不如带着激情,拥抱这些潜力,面对我们的未来。
 
老师建议我演讲结束用句名人名言。好吧,如抄写员巴特比(注 4)说的那样:“还是免了吧。”我只想祝贺大家一段美好的路走完了。前方还有很长的路要走。艾比林理工高中2019届同学,我们行的!感谢大家来听我这小小TED演讲。上帝保佑大家。
 
[1] 校长刚宣布学校两位老师退休。
[2] 美国高中毕业典礼非常隆重,有不少家庭亲戚都赶过来,可能会问这类问题。
[3] Faith的乐队经常去中小学、残障中心、老人院等各种机构演出,社会反响很好,例如不少小朋友就此对音乐产生了兴趣。
[4] 梅尔维尔同名短篇小说。
 
Valedictory Speech 2019
Faith Fang
 
Good evening, class of 2019. My name is Faith Fang, and I am honored to deliver the valedictory address for the Academy of Technology, Engineering, Math & Science this year. I would like to begin by thanking the esteemed guests of Abilene ISD, the amazing faculty and staff at ATEMS, and our families and friends for providing us with the guidance and support necessary so that we can be one step closer to retirement. 
 
Fellow graduates, four years ago, we stepped into ATEMS for the first time as clueless, baby-faced freshmen. Today, we walk out as entirely different people, a bit worse-for-wear and perhaps a little taller. But we emerge wiser, more skilled, and with a better understanding of our own strengths and capabilities.
 
High school has been filled with struggles, but senior year has been particularly plagued with questions. Questions such as: “Where are you going for college?, “What do you want to do when you grow up?”, and “What's your dream job?” I'm sure most of you by now have a nicely formulated answer for those questions in your head, and you are probably going to be repeating those answers quite a bit today. So, I'm not going to ask those questions. Instead, I would like to ask a different question: What are you passionate about? 
 
An obscure singer who you may or may not recognize by the name of Jon Bon Jovi once said, “Nothing is as important as passion. No matter what you want to do with your life, be passionate." I've come to realize that passion isn't an emotion or something that we are born with. Rather, passion must be cared for, fed, and cultivated. And once it blooms, it can provide new worlds of opportunity.
 
Many of you may know me as a violinist. Performing the violin is something that I have a passion for, but that has not always been the case. I tried many things when I was younger: ballet, piano, chess, and more. Obviously, most of those interests didn't exactly take off. Play a game of chess with me, and that will definitely show. At the time, I took violin lessons every week, and it was merely another one of my hobbies. I felt the same about practicing the violin as most people might feel about eating plain yogurt: it’s ok, but I wouldn’t do it for fun. 
 
That changed when I joined the orchestra in the 6th grade and began enjoying music not as a task but as an effort to invoke transformation in people. Now, I’m sure that most of you have seen the YouTube videos of little Asian prodigies playing the violin flawlessly. Let me make it very clear: That...was not me. But with time and practice, I saw progress, and it was exciting. As I chased progress, opportunities arose. Opportunities to learn from amazing mentors, meet many other musicians, and travel the world. While my pursuit involved many, many hours alone in a practice room and a couple of existential crises, it also brought me joy and many friends. My pursuit of progress caused a hobby to develop into a passion. 
 
Of course, my pursuit doesn’t end here, and neither does yours. Each of our dreams is different, so we must each define our own version of success and chase it. As most of us know very well, dreams can change. If I ever become a chess grandmaster, I'll get back to you. However, if you encourage your curiosities, seek new progress, and cultivate your passions, you might be surprised by how far your efforts will take you. 
 
I know that for some of you, the future can’t come soon enough. For others, it is terrifying. However, to quote the wise Robert Downey, Jr., “Sometimes you just gotta be drop-kicked out of the nest.” The unknown is intimidating, but I am confident that our class has the potential to transform our society and positively influence the lives of many people. With so many interests and talents, we have just as much to offer the world as the world has to offer us. Therefore, let us embrace our potential and face the future with passion.
 
I was advised to end my speech with a memorable quote, but as Bartleby, the Scrivener once said, “I would prefer not to.” Rather, I would like to congratulate you all on a journey well-traveled and warn you of a much, much longer one up ahead. ATEMS Class of 2019, we got this. Thanks for coming to my TED Talk, and God bless.
 
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