On Christmas Eve of my freshman year, I was on a plane on my way to Nicaragua for what my parents called a “nice vacation.” Now, for those of you who aren’t geographically savvy, Nicaragua is in Central America, the biggest (and poorest) country there. My parents were both born in Nicaragua and we were spending our Christmas break volunteering at a church in an under-resourced town. The mere thought of the heat that was destined to come made my blood boil. In spite of this, I knew the people of this beautiful country; I saw them as my compatriots, as people who would understand and welcome me.
When we arrived at the airport, people immediately recognized us as “gringos,” as Americans. Without even speaking we were Americans. Even though we looked like them, had the same skin complexion, same type of hair, etc., we were still Americans to them. And why? I followed their eyes to the “American Eagle” logo on my shirt and to the red Converse star on my sneakers. This difference in clothing was how they could tell that we were not from there. Everywhere we went, we were stared at intently, even followed by some of the children; the glares they gave showed that they resented us, that they felt like we were intruding on them and their land.
I was being judged, judged by a people who I called my own. In America, I felt Hispanic, but in Nicaragua, I felt American.
This was a cataclysmic moment I would meet with many times over the years. I suddenly realized that people were going to judge me everywhere I went; even in places that I thought I was going to feel comfortable.
The good news is this: you’ve made it this far, you’ve made it through all of the ups and downs in high school. You’ve made it through the some tedious assignments at your corporate work study jobs. You’ve made it through the awkward conversations with people who were visiting the school. You have officially made it through the place that everyone deemed would account for the “best years of our lives,” but which we ourselves came to realize was often wretched. You have made it through high school. This is a big milestone but you know that you will be judged even more harshly when you go out into this world. Fortunately, you have been well equipped for this. Throughout these four years, you have acquired skills and characteristics that you need to survive. You are a wiser, more mature, more professional, greater and better version of yourself than the person that first arrived at the front doors of North Cambridge Catholic. You have grown thick skin and you know your own self value.
Regardless of the clothing you wear, the accent with which you speak, or the profession you choose, there will always be those who judge you. When this happens, be the best person you are capable of being. Do not let the judgment break you. Keep marching on, keep striving for your dreams, and keep showcasing your best qualities. Smile through your hard times and smile even harder through your better times. This may be the end of your high school life, but after today, this is just the beginning of your future. Once again, congratulations on making it this far. This chapter of your life, filled with great and awful moments, has ended but you still have the rest of your book to fill up, chapters to unfold before you, changes that you yourself can make in the world; you have the rest of your life to live. Congratulations to the class of 2013!
On behalf of the senior class of Cristo Rey Boston High School, I would like to thank Father Jose Medina for all of the hard work, dedication, and wisdom he has contributed to our school community for the past six years. As Father Medina prepares to move on from Cristo Rey Boston, the seniors would like to present him with this journal – signed by each of us- as a token of our appreciation. We know that serving as principal of Cristo Rey Boston has provided you with a lot of good stories over the years, so we hope you use this journal to write them all down. Thank you, Father Medina!