Thereís an interesting story going around about a young man named Saul Tello, Jr
. He was valedictorian of his class with a GPA of approximately 4.2 and opted to do his speech in Spanish. For this kid, the decision was simple. He wanted to ensure that the most important people in his life could understand him: his parents.
However, there has been some backlash about his choice, not so much within his community, but within the media. In the media, his speech has turned into a debate on immigration, and how unfair it is to give the speech in Spanish; leaving out parents and students who couldn't understand what was being said.
I have to ask though, if he had only given the speech in English, would it have not left out the people who do speak Spanish? Possibly the very people who raised this young man? But little did he know that choosing the language of his parents would create such a maelstrom of emotions.
Iím sure some might wonder why he didnít just do it in English and Spanish. He wanted to. He wanted to honor both of his cultures, but the school felt that it would be to time consuming and told him to pick just one language and present it that way.
So he did. He honored the people who held him when he was sick. He honored the ones who held the most influential role in his life and he choose to do something no one before him had ever done: give the speech in Spanish.
In my opinion, this young man took a risk. As a parent, I would be proud beyond belief. Do we not teach our children to be true to themselves? To stand up and take risks? To stand firm in their beliefs and do the right thing?
His speech has been turned into so much more than that, though. Itís sad as a parent to see that instead of this young man's accomplishments being honored, his story is being placed in the forefront of immigration and a ďnationalĒ language debate.
We can debate these topics until we are blue in the face. The school let this young man down. How hard would it have been to allow both languages? An extra 5 minutes at the end would have been a very small amount of time when you consider the average graduation commencement runs from an hour and a half to two hours. Instead of talking about this young man's choices, maybe the focus should be on what the school could have done differently.
I donít know about you, but if I were his parent, I would be beaming with pride.