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JOHN EGGERS COLUMN: The world is yours for the taking

What if I told you that the most important benefit of having a high school diploma is not the fact that you will earn more money or get a better job. These are worthy benefits, but don’t overlook that your diploma will open doors worldwide for you.

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John Eggers
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Dear high school students,

I want to first tell you something I hope you never forget. When the Creator created you, you were made to be unique. There is no one else quite like you. You are special in a million ways. You were also given special gifts to help you understand and enjoy the world. Your uniqueness and your gifts can never be taken away from you. It is essential, however, that you use them.

As you take a break from school this summer, and as much as some of you dislike the idea of returning to the classroom, one of the gifts given to you was the gift of learning. You may not appreciate this gift now but believe me, it will determine your destiny. It is important that you use this gift to graduate from high school.

What if I told you that the most important benefit of having a high school diploma is not the fact that you will earn more money or get a better job. These are worthy benefits, but don’t overlook that your diploma will open doors worldwide for you. What do I mean?

When I was your age, I didn’t think much of the benefits of having a high school diploma; I just knew that it was vital for me to get one. I also didn’t think of learning as one of my gifts. As I dwell on those early years and look at where I am now, I realize that those learning experiences opened the world to me. If you don’t mind, I would like to tell you about a few.

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I am telling you these experiences not to boost but to remind you of the possibilities that await you after graduation. I came from a very small town, and while growing up, my world consisted of a 25-mile radius. Learning helped me expand my world just as it will help you expand your world.

I saw the sunrise over the Elburz Mountains of Tehran and the sunset over an Iranian desert where I was covered with dust from head to toe after riding 32 hours in a Russian automobile.

I walked on the ancient walls of Old Jerusalem and saw the sun glistening off the gold dome on the Temple on the Rock, which is sacred to three religions. I saw the rolling plains of the Pampas in Argentine and the grandeur of southern Argentina's magnificent lakes and snowcapped mountains.

I walked on the shores of Copacabana and Ipanema beaches in Rio de Janeiro while holding hands with my girlfriend. I experienced the stifling heat and humidity of the Amazon while riding in a dugout boat and seeing natives spearfish. I hiked up the Andes Mountains in Peru to view Machu Picchu from its highest point.

I picked up the red earth of Paraguay and smelled it, and later witnessed the brilliant butterflies fluttering around Iguazu Falls on the Paraguayan/Brazilian border. I smelled the ocean and sands of Baja California and walked on the streets of Antigua, Guatemala, with my 2-year-old daughter.

I sat in the meadows with my wife while gazing at the Dolomite mountains of northern Italy, and I was among the millions annually who marvel at the magnificent Statue of David in Florence. I was able to spend Christmas Eve in the city of David or Bethlehem while listening to high school choirs sing “Silent Night.”

I walked the streets of Moscow and saw Red Square and the colorful St. Basil’s Cathedral. I marveled at the acres and acres of yellow flowers that adorned the fields in Cyprus while eating a mezze meal comprised of a hundred appetizers.

If you don’t get your diploma, you will miss the unbelievable, grandiose mosques of Istanbul as you relive the Ottoman Empire. My high school diploma led me to discover the quaint seaside villages of Turkey and the ancient city of Ephesus.

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If you don’t receive your high school diploma, you will miss seeing the glaciers and black sand of Iceland and the Caucasus Mountain villages of the country of Georgia. I sat on a park bench in a small Uruguayan village and kissed my wife-to-be for the first time.

All of the above experiences are invisibly tucked inside your high school diploma. You can use your diploma to feel, touch, see, hear and smell all that the world is made of.

Yes, you can do and see wonderful things by remaining in the United States with its many natural resources and fantastic sites and vistas. Just don’t forget that the world is bigger than the United States, and many opportunities exist for you when you continue your learning.

One time I asked a high school student what he thought were the benefits of having a high school diploma. He said one word, “Opportunity.” He was right. He didn’t mention more money or a better job. He said, “Opportunity.” The more opportunities you have, the more life you will have. Learning equals opportunity.

Well, that’s it. The world is yours for the taking. You can enjoy the rest of the summer and think about what you need to do to complete your schooling and receive your diploma.

It’s an awesome task, but you were given the gifts, remember, to complete what you need to complete. You can do it. You are unique. You have the gifts. Use them wisely.

Riddle: What do you call a neurotic octopus? (Answer: A crazy, mixed-up squid. Life is confusing, but your high school diploma will help you make it less confusing and, more importantly, wondrously enjoyable.)

100%

Thanks to Blackduck Floral and Gift shop for being the most recent to support the 100% initiative.

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John R. Eggers of Bemidji is a former university professor and area principal. He also is a writer and public speaker.

Related Topics: EDUCATION
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