Upper Canada College initiated a “This I Believe” essay for stewards and other boys in the leaving class a number of years ago, and the students are then asked to share them in assembly.
The essays are narrowly focused on one principle or concept, and are expressed in the form of an affirming belief that’s often described through personal anecdotes or experiences. Steward Arjun Pasricha delivered one of these speeches in assembly last week.
“The premise of his essay was simple but powerful,” says Senior Division head Scott Cowie. “In citing a specific situation he experienced as a camp counsellor, he expressed that he believed in the power of patience — explaining that through exercising this virtue, we can help people through challenges they may be facing. And in so doing, we grow to become better human beings ourselves.”
Here’s Pasricha’s “This I believe” speech:
“This past summer, I had the opportunity of working at a day camp. I learned many things about myself over the course of the summer, none of which are more important to me than the value of patience. Honestly, patience was something that I took for granted, never appreciating the impact that it can have on people’s lives. But this summer, working with Cole, a camper who was beyond scared to jump in the pool, changed all of that.
“Now, you are probably thinking that there is no way that one experience with a seven-year-old child could possibly teach this guy one of his beliefs, but allow me to explain.
Every day during swimming period, I, along with many other counsellors, tried to encourage Cole to jump in the pool. After the first week, I was absolutely convinced that we had tried everything: distracting him, supporting him, cheering him on, even bribing him. But nothing worked. I began to feel frustrated that we could not convince him to do it. This was where I began to value patience.
“We approached the situation in steps. We tried to make progress each week. On the first day of camp, Cole was too scared to go into the pool without using the stairs. But day by day, he managed to slide in the pool, then jump in holding someone’s hand, and then jump in with people catching him in the pool. The truth is, through the whole summer, he never once ended up jumping in by himself, so there was no fairy tale ending and we did not reach our final goal. But, without having patience with Cole, he never would have made as much progress as he did.
“After this experience, I learned what patience means for me. I think of patience not just as waiting, but what you do in the time that you wait. If we had stopped working with Cole and hoped that he managed to jump in the pool himself, the story may have ended much differently.
“As I looked back on this experience, I realized that Cole had to have a lot of patience throughout the process as well. Many seven-year-old children would have lost interest after not being able to jump in the pool on the very first day, but Cole had the patience that was required to keep trying every single day for eight whole weeks.
“I know that this is a fairly simple example of my belief and, in the long run, my seven-year-old camper probably will not remember getting so close to jumping in a pool over the summer. But I believe that this value can be applied to our lives.
“With today’s technology, when I hear someone’s name I look them up on social media without wasting a moment. When I want to know the weather I check my phone instead of opening the front door. And when I want to know a fact I can just ask Siri. All of these things can be done within seconds. Everything is fast: fast transportation, fast communication, even fast food. But there are some things that simply require patience.
“Every single one of us in this room attends a highly competitive school. At UCC, the road to achievement is a long one. It takes time to get stronger in the SAS. It takes time to improve at a musical instrument. And as I am sure teachers know, it takes time for students to understand math. Things don’t just happen overnight.
“Cole did not jump in the pool overnight. In fact, he never jumped in at all. Some may consider this a failure. But the way I see it, he got a lot closer than he was at the beginning of the summer, and that took patience by him and by us.
“That is why I believe in patience.”