Remarks by Jean Ricot Dormeus,
OAS Representative
At the Salcah Youth Federation 7th Annual Prize Giving Ceremony
December 9, 2017

Distinguished prize recipients,
Brothers and Sisters,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am delighted to be part of the Salcah Youth Federation 7th Annual Prize Giving Ceremony.

Tonight is celebration night for sure, but it is also reflection and visioning night. Some of you most likely have delighted in their graduation gown, and even got those shoes they have always desired. Many of you arrived at the ceremony early, maybe embracing punctuality for the first time in a very long time, others are still wondering why they made it late despite their best intention. You have never received so many praises; perhaps for the first time someone said they were proud of you and your achievements. You might have even enjoyed the gift of eating out or some special cook up or curry fish or homemade mittai. You are not fantasizing, you are experiencing a dream come true, you are savoring the fruit of hard work, you have reached a milestone.

Many diploma or degree or prize recipients hear a little voice in their head saying “you have arrived, you have arrived”. Yet the journey has just begun and the road ahead to prosperity, fraternity and happiness appears to be so long and intractable. You may think you have learnt a lot and you know much, yet when you try to remember the information you have been entrusted with, only a fraction of it comes to memory. In fact, the best thing that can happen to you is to realize that you have mostly learned how to learn and you have changed; in your thinking, your speaking and especially your doing.

So tonight, as you celebrate and reflect, you may want to take some time to be grateful. It is the time to say thank you to those who have sacrificed to take you thus far, in particular your parents or guardians. It is the time to salute your teachers and professors, beginning with those who have inspired you and made a profound impact on you. It is the time to recognize your friends, your brothers and sisters from the church and the community leaders who have encouraged you to keep on studying.

Tonight is also the time for me to say to you “congratulations and thank you”. Congratulations and thank you for a good job and for your commitment to excellence.Congratulations and thank you for your message to all the youth in Guyana: “we can get better day by day”. Congratulations and thank you for telling us adults that all of us can think deeper, go further and reach higher. I for one embrace and cherish this message of yours.

You have come to experience the value of education and it may have dawned on you that education would not make you solitary as the jaguar. Actually, it empowers you to engage your community, to forge better and stronger ties with you fellow men and women, and ultimately to make the world a better place. It equips you with more effective strategies and tactics than the jaguar to hunt your goals either on the ground of the challenges or climbing the tree of knowledge and prosperity to pounce on your dreams from above. Because relevant and good quality education provides you with amazing skills, no obstacles, not even the marshes of rejection, adversity or hostility, can stop short and definitively your walk to success.

As you hold the bow of education, I urge you to always have in your quiver at least three important arrows: firstly, the passion to learn; secondly, the motivation to build the future; and thirdly, confidence in you God given potential.

When you are passionate about learning, you know that your vision is not really out of reach. Achieving your vision boils down to a matter of adequate pedagogy for effective learning, persistence and time. With the advent of the technologies of information and communication, we all have unrestricted access to learning. At the same time, much entertainment tends to distract us from making the most of this incredible opportunity. However, with just some good focus habit, we will browse and navigate the Internet taking what is needful and useful.

As you probably realize, stoking your passion for learning will lift you skyward, but it requires much reading. Let me tell you, if as a result of your years at school, you only grow an appetite to read, this alone will take you places. Reading should be our daily bread. Reading should be our daily shower. Reading should be our daily workout. When we embrace this idea, we will exponentially grow our ability to absorb information, analyze it and follow up on it. So tonight, if you want to retain just one thing from all that I have said, guess what it would be? “Reading is indispensable”, of course. However, choose the right material to read. In the world of computers, they say “trash in, trash out”. Therefore, go for what motivates you, what uplifts you, what teaches something important or positive.

Your second arrow, the motivation to build the future, will help you to find out the right aim, the correct target and the transformative goals. Take time for visioning, planning, scheduling. Beginning with the end in mind will give you an edge. I like the homing pigeon, she delivers the message at destination. Let the homing pigeon inspire you to know what message to deliver, where, when and why. You will also discover when you have a strong enough why, the how usually falls into place. You cannot reach a destination you are not aiming at. You future start between your two ears, right in your mind. If you can clearly determine what you want, plan you way towards it and consistently take action, you will be lighting a candle that will guide your steps on the dark path to the future. By God’s grace, you can do it.

The third arrow in your quiver makes you confident that you will achieve your God given potential. No excuse, no finger pointing, no circumstance blaming. Even in the midst of the wilderness, you need to rest assured that you will reach the top of the mountain and push forward. I heard about an African saying, “if you think you are too small to be effective, you have never be in bed with a mosquito”. I also heard about a little black boy in New York City watching a balloon vendor operations. Whenever the clientele goes down, he releases different color balloons in the air to attract new customers. The little boy approaches him and asks, “Sir, if you release a black balloon, will it go up”. The vendor replies, “it is not the color of the balloon that makes it go up, it is what is inside of it”.

You need to know that your color, size, social condition or handicap cannot prevent you from reaching your well crafted destination. It is not your physical features that count, but what is inside of you, your positive attitude and your high self esteem. If you think that a handicap is out there to block your way, ask a golfer, he will tell you how exciting it is to overcome handicaps.

All that I have said to you tonight works nicely together. However, let me tell you that without God’s grace, your fate is sealed. Therefore, give God the first place and value your spiritual life, because education without spiritual values is like a luxurious, high end car with failing brakes. Some highly educated people make sophisticated wrongdoers, because the brake of restraint and respect for others fail. Let light from heaven shine on your path.

It is written: “ Blessed is the man that trusteth in the Lord, and whose hope the Lord is. For he shall be as a tree planted by the waters, and that spreadeth out her roots by the river, and shall not see when heat cometh, but her leaf shall be green; and shall not be careful in the year of drought, neither shall cease from yielding fruit. Jeremiah 17: 7, 8.”

You have received the torch of education, go enlighten your world. Make it better and happier, spread beauty and hope, put a smile of the face of the downtrodden and lift up the depressed and suicide minded. Is this not our mission on earth?

Thank you and God bless you.

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