Good evening everyone.
I was very honoured to be asked by Michael a couple months ago if I would speak at Rights of Passage. IPS has meant a lot to me and to my family, so I’m really happy to have the opportunity to be here tonight.
I was thinking about the last time I spoke in front of this many people, and I think it was during my own Masterworks presentation. I wasn’t able to see any of the presentations this year, but I’m sure you all worked very hard and did very well. Congratulations. It may not have been easy, but hopefully it was something you are able to look back on and be proud of.
It has been five years since I have been a student at IPS. I still have great memories of being here, playing ultimate, and going on the expeditions. It was amazing four years, and, looking back on it, I know that IPS had a huge role in shaping me into who I am today.
IPS and Bowen Island have been great communities for me to have grown up in. I want to talk to you today about community and relationships, and what an important role those things can have throughout your life. IPS is definitely a unique community, and you may never find one like it again, but no matter where you go in life, or what you do, being surrounded by a community is something that can offer you support and care.
Communities can help you when life doesn’t go according to plan. You’ve probably already had some experience with this during your time at IPS. On my grade 9 Quebec trip, I had a great time, but I also had a bit of an accident involving a zip line and a tree and I ended up breaking my leg. In Quebec, I felt a lot of support from my teachers and friends, who all took turns pushing my wheel chair and saying “Run, Danielle, run.” I had surgery when we got back to Vancouver, and was recovered enough to go on the kayak trip. I was still on crutches as we walked up the path to our solo spots. I had help setting up my tarp, but I spent the night like everyone else. I am really glad that I was able to experience my solo, and it was the community around me that made it possible.
Next year, you are all going to high school. West Van is over 30 times as large as IPS. For some of you, the transition may be easy, for others, maybe not. For me, it wasn’t the best time of my life, but I want to share with you an experience that made it a lot more enjoyable for me.
I first heard about the Global Education program from some IPS alumni who came back to the school to share about their trip. It is a course that allows students to experience first-hand what it is like to work in a developing country, specifically Nicaragua. The three-week trip at the end of the course was one of the most challenging and amazing times of my life. Not only did our class help out small communities in Nicaragua, but I also formed lasting relationships with some of the people on the trip. These people remain some of my closest friends today. I would encourage you to get involved in something at high school and to be connected to a smaller community – it’s a great way to form lasting relationships.
The other thing I experienced firsthand in Nicaragua is that you can make a difference in your community and other communities around the world. One of my other great friends Megan was in Ghana a few months ago. She was living at an orphanage and taking care of some of the kids there. She also got to deliver the letters that some of you wrote for the kids. All of your help and fundraising, while it may not be enough to help every single person in Africa, or even in Ghana, still makes a difference for that community. Some of the best initiatives have started with one person, like Ryan Hreljac, who, at the age of 6, started raising money to build wells in Africa. The Ryan’s Well Foundation has now built over 500 wells and has provided water to more than 600,000 people. That’s just one example, but all it takes is one committed person – you can make a difference.
So take the experiences you have had here at IPS and use them to make a difference wherever you may end up in the future. A community should be more than just the sum of its parts, and if you recognize this and contribute in what ways you can, you will live in a way that is the very best of what it means to be a human being.
Danielle Allan (’04)