When I was 17, I got myself into kind of a mess: I did really poorly in the HKCEE (the Hong Kong's equivalence of SAT, I suppose -- but much, much harder). I was going to lose my place at my alma mater (for Form 6, the pre-university advance studies) -- my school was one of the best in the entire city. I was devastated. I panicked. I felt ashamed; I had disappointed my parents and everyone else, including some of my friends who were counting on us going on to Form 6 together. Most of all, my future was suddenly murky, and my chances of going to the university seemed extinguished by that piece of report card.
My father was sorely disappointed. But being the person he was, he never scolded me or told me to get lost. Instead, he sat me down and told me we would get through this. The next few days, he took off work and we literally walked all over town to get applications to other schools -- mostly second- or third-tier ones. I felt deflated, ashamed, and sad. I knew staying in school was the right thing to do, even if that meant I would have to say goodbyes to all my friends, and also be stuck at a second- rate school. But those were the consequences I had to face -- I was responsible for this outcome.
My father was the patient one. He walked with me. Talked with me. He made me feel that the world was not going to end, and that something good was going to come out of that experience. Who knows what he and my mother talked about, but he reassured me that everything was going to be okay. He told me: "Have hope."
My father walked with me.
Everything did turn out okay. I was re-accepted to my alma mater; they happened to have extra seats left and they thought I should be given another chance. I got into the Biology class, which had the focus of getting us into medical schools, instead of my first choice: Science (I wanted to get into Computer Science or Engineering). I didn't complain. I couldn't complain. I was fortunate enough to secure my seat in that class. I was fortunate enough to graduate with my friends.
Eventually, I got accepted to a university in the States and I did have to say goodbye to my friends. Fifteen came to the airport to see me off. The mood was not sorrow or sadness or devastation or envy, but hope. I was going to college, after all.
My father walked with me.
He let me see the power of hope.
And that power has stayed with me ever since. I've accomplished a lot of things since that day I received my HKCEE report. And I know tomorrow will still be great.
On this great day when Americans are on the cusp of making history, I understand the power of hope. Of change.
And I know: Tomorrow will be great.