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Alex Chan: I Believe

Upper Canada College IB2 student Alex Chan addressed the Upper School assembly on Jan. 31 with an “I believe” speech that assured his classmates that they don’t have to have all of the answers in life. Here’s his message:

“Good morning fellow students, faculty and staff.

“I believe … that I still have a lot to learn.

“Mahatma Ghandi once said, ‘Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.’

“The YOLO part aside, I’ve realized that there’s so much about the world I don’t know. It’s easy to overcompensate what I don’t know with assumptions created by stereotypes that I’ve seen in movies or read about in social media.

“When I began the IB, I thought that by passing it alone I would somehow have the answers to the universe. Physics would tell me how the universe was created and TOK would unveil the purpose of life. But with a few months left of the program, I’m still scratching my head trying to figure out new questions I have. I’m not downplaying the IB. It’s a beast to go through and I’ll feel like a hero when its over. I’m just saying that with every answer I got through school or my social life, the more questions I had.

“Like at what point are people considered grown-ups? Is it when we are old enough to legally buy our own alcohol? Or when we somehow mature?

“There are other questions I have. Some are existential, while others are about my overall satisfaction with the world and myself. Like why am I here, and am I happy with all the decisions I’ve made?

“Today I’ve turned 18. I thought by 18 I would have figured out a lot of these things. An older cousin of mine told me that some people figure things out relatively early in life, while others figure it out much later on. This had me a little bit paranoid.

“It led me to the ultimate question: What if I never figure it out at all?

“It wasn’t until recently while I was driving that I had this epiphany moment where I realized that questions are a good thing. And not knowing the answer to everything is part of the mystery of life.

“I believe that learning doesn’t stop, that even when I am old and grey, I’ll still be exploring my unanswered questions and trying to figure them out.

“As I embark this year in the next phase of my educational journey, I know that it will be another chapter in my own self-discovery and provide another layer of questions to be answered … or perhaps not.

“Thank you.”