“Is There a Fine Line Between Optimism and Reality?” The answer may be found in the story of one student’s journey from an orphanage in China to the stage of Kennesaw Mountain High School and the Cobb County School District’s annual Oratorical Contest for the Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing (DHH).
As he waited at the orphanage in China, he watched friend after friend leave when they were adopted.
“They kept moving to America. The kids kept going and going to America. I stayed at the orphanage and was sad. There were no more smart kids to talk to. I had no friends left,” he said in his speech at the Oratorical Contest.
Still, he waited. He watched out the windows.
“I always knew I would get adopted. I was a good boy. I was a smart guy. I helped people and tried to help people when I could,” he recounted.
Even though some of the kids in the orphanage were mean and picked on him, and even though he was bored and could not always go to school, he didn’t give up.
“I had hope that I would go to America. My last chance to get adopted was at 14 years old,” he revealed in his speech. “If I turned 15, I could not get adopted.”
Then what he always knew would happen, happened.
“When I was 14, my momma came to China to get me. I finally got to go to America…I got a daddy and a momma,” he told those in the audience.
Once he was home in America, his optimism turned into reality.
“[My Momma and Daddy] bought things for me, like video games. I played in the grass. I got to go to McDonald’s, Taco Bell, Chick-fil-A, and the Chinese restaurant,” he added. “I went shopping with momma. I got a new school and new friends. I got my eyes, ears, legs, and everything checked when I came to America. I got a lot of surgeries. I was happy for the surgeries.”
His inspiring story was one of many shared by Cobb DHH students as they explained the relationship between optimism and reality. The annual contest, sponsored by the Optimist Club, gives students the opportunity to compete for a spot at the state-level Oratorical Contest where the winners receive a $2,500 scholarship. This year’s winners of the Cobb County School District Oratorical Contest included South Cobb High School junior Nina Chambliss and Kennesaw Mountain High School sophomore De’ja Wade. The runners up were Simpson Middle School 6th grader Kayla Carroll and Pine Mountain Middle School 7th grader Jeremiah Jackson-Gillihan.
Before the winners were selected, each DHH student took the stage to share how they have found optimism in reality. Some delivered their impactful speeches orally while others used American Sign Language to convey their reality.
Read excerpts from their powerful speeches to get inspired:
“Optimism is about being positive, and reality can be both positive and negative.”
“I believe that if you find a way to become optimistic, you have the power to change your reality. Optimism and reality can be closely connected.”
“Hanging around these optimistic kids has really influenced me. I am still not fully confident, but their positivity has helped my reality change. I am not negative all the time like I was before. I love myself and I am accepting who I am.”
“I think there is a fine line between optimism and reality. I believe that reality is what your life is now, but optimism shows what your life can become in the future.”
“There is no thin line between optimism and reality because being an optimist means you know how hard the world can be but still remain positive.”
“Although there are people who say that optimism is having your head up in the clouds, they are wrong because optimism is living in reality. All they are doing is being hopeful.”
“I believe that if you find a way to become optimistic, you have the power to change your reality.”