Talk At Los Altos High School

Posted by Nipun Mehta on Jan 4, 2008
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Week and a half ago, I was invited to speak at Los Altos high school. Fifth period, 18 ninth graders, "special needs". Sixth period, 16 ninth graders, "rambunctious". If I did the return-on-time analysis, I would've refused to spend six hours on this; if I looked at my calendar, there's no way, "this Friday, two days from now" could've worked; if I mapped out the public transport routine to get there ... but something about Mrs. Hamel's note, the smallness of the whole thing, spoke to me and I wrote instead, "I'll be there. Thanks for the opportunity!"

And it was amazing. The whole thing.  Sometimes a talk changes the speaker, listener, everyone and it requires no validation whatsoever.  This was one of those.  I had a rough theme planned out but after sensed the classroom, I completely off-the-cuffed it for the hour.  Same thing in the second hour, with a different set of stories.

Two days ago, Mrs. Hamel -- who's been a teacher for 25 years -- handed me a big, fat envelope.  Inside were letters from the kids.  Letters like this one, signed "Love, Chloe, Jacob and Wesley  (SMILE!)":

Each comment was deeply special -- Kendra wrote: "Dude super raw speech you gave.  You inspired me to do good things in life."  Mack: "Truly inspiring!  I even used used smile cards to deliver flowers anonymously!"   Nick: "I appreciate your speech and it has made me realize that being kind not as hard as I thought."  Megan:  "Thank you for coming to talk to us.  What you said has made me more aware of my actions and surroundings."  Andrew: "I loved your talk about generosity.  In fact, this weekend I'm going to buy candy canes and give them to everybody I know and even people I don't know.  I wish I took more of those smile cards.  Those things are a great excuse to spend your entire day doing nice things!"  It went on.

And then there's this one by Kristina: "I love your stories, there like 10x times better than mine." :)

But I love the last sentence that Kristina wrote: "If you help out by volunteering, it can change you."  Wow.  I mean, what a thing to write in ninth grade!

Whenever I offer anything with a pure heart, I feel the thunder of CharityFocus behind my back.  I suppose I'm writing this entry to thank You, for giving me the opportunity of a lifetime -- "helping others help others."

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