AYP Student Gives Honors Commencement Speech

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Academic Year Program student Jérémie Sanem from Brazil recently graduated from Montgomery High School in Santa Rosa, CA, and was selected to give the Honors Commencement speech.  CHI could not be more proud of Jérémie!

Watch the video of Jérémie’s speech, or read the transcript below.


Good evening.

My name is Jérémie Sanem, and I am an exchange student from Belgium here at Montgomery.

If there is something I will never forget, it is my first days at Montgomery because I had a real culture shock. As I wandered in the corridors, I saw teachers and students talking like they were friends since forever. And students were calling the teacher by only his or her last name while in my Belgian school Monsieur or Madame is still essential. And in class the culture shock continued… One day, I remembered that with my Dutch teacher, if we didn’t stand up when he walked into the classroom, or if someone dared to say one more word, a really bad moment would have happened for us. And here, and it was actually fun to see the difference, students sit on the desks, wear hats, listen to music, use their laptop, eat and drink, pop some corn, talk, answer without raising their hand, etc. Even if I sort of expected all those differences because of the movies, it was still really surprising to live them in real because nothing of that would happen in Belgium, or if it happens, it would be in secret.

I really wanted to stand up today to express how glad I am to have been a part of Montgomery, and how grateful I am for this chance I have had. Thank you very much Ms. Fong for the great welcome that you and the entire school gave me. I have enjoyed this year so much, and as a foreign ambassador, I have experienced so many differences with my country, but also similarities, which was actually what I really wanted by coming here. I have been amazed by your social skills and how much you want to help and understand the people around you. I actually thought before that all Americans were superficial and self-centered, but I was wrong. You, Americans, have the wonderful capacity to be excited about everything and to enjoy with everyone every little moment. I really find this admirable.

Arriving in this school this last August without knowing anybody, I have been so gratified that although the barriers of the language first, I have been so greatly welcomed by everybody. Smiles are a wonderful universal language, and I can say you are also really good at smiling.

In other words, if this year has been amazing so far, it is because all of you, all the great people that I have met and who made my year.

This is the reason why I would like to thank a few people. Thanks to my teachers and the school’s staff for the knowledge they taught me and that I would not have been able to get somewhere else.

Also, a lot of thanks go to all of my classmates and friends since they are really the reason why I had so much fun here at school, and in America. The American teenager life is finally not so different from my Belgian one, except of course that you are really lucky to be allowed to drive so young.

And finally, I would like to thank everyone in general who made this year happened, but specially my Mom and Dad who gave me this unique opportunity in my life. Like I said, I have had the chance to live a unique experience with you and this experience brought me something really special in my life and changed me. One more time, I am really happy to be here with you for this celebration and I hope we will, once again, be brought together in the future.

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