The Smoke Signal, MSJ's Official Newspaper


Roger That: Boarding A Train

It’s not that fun being a senior.

I mean, sure you get to go to Waterworld, show off your independence by driving yourself around, do all these senior things that you’ve been looking forward to since you stepped onto this campus.

But on the other hand, all those seniors that you used to look up to for advice and have good times with are spread to the winds. When you start seeing the younger siblings of friends in your classes, you get the full blown impact of how old you are.

Count yourself lucky though. At least you’re not doing the swimming unit in PE right now.

When I trudged into my Chinese class at Ohlone on a beautiful Saturday afternoon, I fully expected that, like at MSJ, I would be the oldest one around. The thought was depressing, but I had to deal with it; I wanted to finish up with those credits before I left MSJ.

To my surprise, I was not the oldest, but the youngest person in the class of six. In fact, I was the only student under the age of 18.

One of the students was an American who had lived in Taiwan in his 20s, worked with Lockheed Martin for his entire life, and came back to Ohlone after he retired to relearn Chinese again. Another student had moved to the US from China when he was very young, found a job after graduating from college, and wanted to learn Chinese to get in touch with his heritage.

All around me, I saw people who did not see age or background as a barrier to their learning. They weren’t aiming for credits to waive off courses in college; they were sincere in their enthusiasm towards the Chinese language and culture. Their inspiration was self-motivated, their goals self-determined.

Somewhere along the line, we as high school students decided to devote more focus to immediate benefits rather than long-term goals. We hit up Sparknotes before a test rather than reading the book itself, not thinking about how the content of the book is worth reading and beneficial to our lives. CalcChat gets a day of calculus homework out of the way, and we’ll just deal with tests when they come around with an all-nighter cram session, don’t mind the AP test and college.

Too often we find limits when they don’t exist and believe that we can ever be finished. When we spend our time doing something, we can only call these objectives points on a ray, from where we are right now towards what we want to accomplish with our lives. We might diverge from what we intend on doing, but we shouldn’t stop because of some self imposed ends. There are only beginnings and more beginnings; it’s never time to close the book on something you’ve learned.

I may be older than three fourths of MSJ students, but hell, I can still learn, even from you young whippersnappers. No way are my white hairs going to stand in the way of that.

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