I take risks for a very simple reason–because our kids do every day.

Yesterday, I took a big risk for me. I gave Northbrook High School’s graduation speech in English and Spanish. English was the easy part. Spanish, on the other hand, was a bit tougher. You see, contrary to what you might think about my last name. I am not Hispanic. My husband is. I also don’t speak Spanish and have never taken real Spanish classes, though I did spend 3 weeks one summer trying to learn in Cuernavaca, Mexico.

So giving a speech in Spanish is a risk for me. It’s scary. It’s daunting. And it is 100% out of my comfort zone. And like most risks, if you take the chance, people will support and applaud you. They may fake it a little but they will rise up and support you when you show your vulnerabilities. And that is exactly what happened.

I said: “Tomorrow you are going to take big steps and try new things that are very scary. So today, I am going to do the same thing.” And I promise, no one was really listening. I am not the point of graduation. The kids are.

And then I said: “Buenas tardes. Mi nombre is Chris Gonzalez. En nombre de la Junta Directiva, damos la bienvenida a nuestros heuspedes…” And the crowd got quiet and then they clapped. They cheered. And they made me feel safe, all 450 graduates and their parents, aunts, uncles, brothers, and sisters. The abuelas and abuelos, some who had not understand any of the ceremony up to this point but were there for all the right reasons–their grandkids, reassured me with their gentle love. I felt loved. And I felt safe. The community knew that my risk was scary.

And I choked up. I choked up with the love in the room. And I don’t know if the kids will remember to take risks, but I just hope for one minute they saw the vulnerability and the love of doing what is scary, and will take that next step and enroll in programs in the fall or stay in college when it gets scary or hard

And I know you know this, but the edfurther students are doing just that. They are taking risks, sharing their stories, their vulnerabilities, and hoping the community will support and believe in them.
I’ll let you decide if you will.

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