The upside of goodbye (a letter to my students)

June 9th, 2015, 7pm

As I sign your yearbooks, and read the cards and letters you’ve written me, I see the upside of saying good-bye. There is an indefinite amount of goodwill, friendship, and hope that we finally can express with this opportunity. I wonder if we would know so much about each other, and ourselves, if we never had to say good-bye. In a way we can’t always accept, it is necessary.

The truth is, this is my last week at Marina. What started as a search for a summer gig evolved into a much bigger opportunity. After graduation, I am moving onto Golden West College as the Coordinator of Outreach and Assessment. It’s a management role I did not think possible, given my relative youth in this field. I mention it not to boast, but rather, to highlight that this is a rare opportunity I cannot pass up.

Transitions are hard, and I already know that at my new job, I will struggle with having less individual interaction with students each day. In fact, I will miss it dearly. For over three years, I’ve been able to speak my mind, to relearn what I thought I knew about the world, and to understand myself. Please accept my deepest gratitude, as I am convinced that none of these would have been possible without Marina’s students.

In finding ways to help you, I found myself.

I’ve had many dreams, both silly and serious. I’ve wanted to be a Broadway actor, an ESPN reporter, a lawyer, a photographer, and I think at one point, a poet. None of them came true, and it matters not one bit because sometimes on the way to your dream, you find a better dream. I now know exactly what I need to be, and my experiences here make me ready for the next step in my career. I would not be here today if not for you.

I wish for you all to soak up every single ounce of your youth. In the grand scheme of things, you’re going to forget about gpas and test scores and class ranks. If you don’t, the real world will pass you by. So don’t take yourself too seriously. Instead, think about how much our world depends on your potential to materialize. One day, we’re going to give you the keys to the car. And like any good driver, you have to care about the well-being of others. I hope you remember this when it’s your turn to run this world.

Think about the satisfaction you can get not from saving humanity, but from just making one person’s day better. Remember how good it feels to know someone appreciates you, and hopefully, you’ll be more sensitive to appreciating others. Hold on to the memory of high school, not because it’s the most important time of your life, but because you’ll need to look back one day and understand how far you’ve come.

In college, a professor said something I’ll never forget:

“I don’t care if you win awards one day, or be a millionaire. Can you sleep well at night, knowing the full impact of your actions? All I want to know is, are you a good person?” Someday, our paths will cross. I hope by then you will have answered this question for yourself. I hope, it’s a yes.

Robert, Andy, Hedaya and Christine said thanks.

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Donovan Bui

Casual musings on travel and living. See my photos at

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