My high school graduation was on a recent Saturday.
I was very excited about it because it is one of the biggest days in life. It was a little sad that my parents could not come to see me graduate, but my American family and friends did. That made me feel loved and warm.
I will always remember my graduation because it was surrounded with love, happiness, and thoughtfulness by my American family.
On the graduation day, we walked down the long aisle of the church; we listened to several impressive speeches; we heard all about our recognitions; and then finally, we moved our tassels from right to left which signified the completion of our high school career.
Most importantly, we got our high school diplomas, smiles and hugs, and blessings from our friends and family. At the same time, we also shed some tears because it is always hard to say goodbye to our friends and teachers. It has been two years since I first met my classmates, but it seemed like it just happened yesterday.
My host parents held a graduation party and also my farewell the day after graduation. We invited our friends from church and our neighbors to our house. We had food, drink and desserts. Children were playing with our dog in the yard while we talked about my anticipated future plans — going home, being with my family, and going to college; starting my next big adventure!
I shed a lot tears opening graduation gifts from these wonderful people. Mr. Dixon, a remarkable gentleman whom everyone respects and adores dearly, gave me a Bible. He told me that after I enter the college, I will find many people who do not believe in God, and have different worldviews. He also said that I should always keep God first, and do things that will honor Him. Never let the cultural current change you. Our Pastor gave me a book, “The Case for Grace,” by Lee Strobel, and he wrote his blessings to me on the front page. A wonderful family friend gave me some art supplies which perfectly match my hobby: art. Another inspiring family gave me a watch. Every time I see this watch, I will feel that it is time to think about my friends in Hinesville!
My best friend gave me a set of lotion and perfume which smell like a peach. She must want me to always be a Georgia peach!
And these were just a few examples of the generosity and thoughtfulness of my American community. What impressed me the most was not the gifts or cards, it was the way they expressed their love — selfless, sincere, and straight-forward. They must think of me as someone special who has passed through their lives. I cried because I felt truly blessed.
My host mom said, “These people love you so much, and their love is unconditional. Jorja, do you know what did I mean by saying ‘unconditional’? That means they love you no matter what. They do not expect anything from you. So, it is okay!”
It has been two years since I joined this community, and these people have given and supported me more than I could ever asked for. They truly are tremendous blessings to me. Just like what my host mom has said — they love me unconditionally.
I believe the best way to honor these special people is to succeed with a grateful heart.
Never forget who I am and where I come from. Put God first and do good work to honor Him. Like Matthew 5:16 says “In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”
Wu is an international student from China who graduated from FPCA in Hinesville.She will attend Penn State in the fall.