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奥巴马开学演讲稿(中英对照) ——我们为什么要上学?
作者:邢瑛 发表时间:2013-09-12 该文章已被阅读5107次
   

阿文弗吉尼亚州,阿林顿市,200998

引导语:我们为什么要上学?这个问题的答案可能五花八门。有人说是为了以后更轻松的赚钱,有人说是为了有个更好的将来,有人说是为了摆脱现在的窘境,甚至有人说仅仅是为了将来有个饭碗,有个好家庭。当然你也可以说是为了报效祖国!但是,我想还是有很多人对这个问题的理解还是很模糊的。今天,我们给大家推荐一个视频,是美国总统奥巴马在弗吉尼亚州阿灵顿高中面向全美中小学生发表的电视开学演讲,他鼓励学生不畏逆境、发奋学习。看完后,希望能对你有所帮助!

Hello, everybody! Thank you. Thank you. Thank you, everybody. All right, everybody go ahead and have a seat. How is everybody doing today? (Applause.) How about Tim Spicer? (Applause.) I am here with students atWakefieldHigh SchoolinArlington,Virginia. And we’ve got students tuning in from all acrossAmerica, from kindergarten through 12th grade. And I am just so glad that all could join us today. And I want to thankWakefieldfor being such an outstanding host. Give yourselves a big round of applause. (Applause.)

大家好!谢谢你们。谢谢你们。谢谢你们大家。好,大家请就坐。你们今天都好吗?(掌声)蒂姆8226;斯派塞(Tim Spicer)好吗?(掌声)我现在与弗吉尼亚州阿灵顿郡韦克菲尔德高中的学生们在一起。美国各地从小学预备班到中学12年级的学生正在收听收看。我很高兴大家今天都能参与。我还要感谢韦克菲尔德高中出色的组织安排。请为你们自己热烈鼓掌。(掌声)

I know that for many of you, today is the first day of school. And for those of you in kindergarten, or starting middle or high school, it’s your first day in a new school, so it’s understandable if you’re a little nervous. I imagine there are some seniors out there who are feeling pretty good right now -- (applause) -- with just one more year to go. And no matter what grade you’re in, some of you are probably wishing it were still summer and you could’ve stayed in bed just a little bit longer this morning.

我知道,今天是你们很多人开学的日子。对于进入小学预备班、初中或高中的学生,今天是你们来到新学校的第一天,心里可能有点紧张,这是可以理解的。我能想象有些毕业班学生现在感觉很不错——(掌声)——还有一年就毕业了。不论在哪个年级,你们有些人可能希望暑假更长一点,今天早上还能多睡一小会儿。

I know that feeling. When I was young, my family lived overseas. I lived inIndonesiafor a few years. And my mother, she didn’t have the money to send me where all the American kids went to school, but she thought it was important for me to keep up with an American education. So she decided to teach me extra lessons herself, Monday through Friday. But because she had to go to work, the only time she could do it was at 4:30 in the morning.

我了解这种感觉。我小时候,我们家生活在海外。我在印度尼西亚住了几年。我妈妈没有钱送我上其他美国孩子上的学校,但她认为必须让我接受美式教育。因此,她决定从周一到周五自己给我补课。不过她还要上班,所以只能在清晨四点半给我上课。

Now, as you might imagine, I wasn’t too happy about getting up that early. And a lot of times, I’d fall asleep right there at the kitchen table. But whenever I’d complain, my mother would just give me one of those looks and she’d say, “This is no picnic for me either, buster.” (Laughter.)

你们可以想见,我不太情愿那么早起床。有很多次,我趴在餐桌上就睡着了。但每当我抱怨的时候,我妈妈都会那样地看我一眼,然后说:“小子,这对我也并不轻松。”(笑声)

So I know that some of you are still adjusting to being back at school. But I’m here today because I have something important to discuss with you. I’m here because I want to talk with you about your education and what’s expected of all of you in this new school year.

我知道你们有些人还在适应开学后的生活。但我今天来到这里是因为有重要的事情要和你们说。我来这里是要和你们谈谈你们的教育问题,以及在这个新学年对你们所有人的期望。

Now, I’ve given a lot of speeches about education. And I’ve talked about responsibility a lot.

我做过很多次有关教育问题的演讲。我多次谈到过责任问题。

I’ve talked about teachers’ responsibility for inspiring students and pushing you to learn.

我谈到过教师激励学生并督促他们学习的责任。

I’ve talked about your parents’ responsibility for making sure you stay on track, and you get your homework done, and don’t spend every waking hour in front of the TV or with the Xbox.

我谈到过家长的责任,要确保你们走正路,完成家庭作业,不要整天坐在电视前或玩Xbox游戏。

I’ve talked a lot about your government’s responsibility for setting high standards, and supporting teachers and principals, and turning around schools that aren’t working, where students aren’t getting the opportunities that they deserve.

我多次谈到过政府的责任,要制定高标准,支持教师和校长的工作,彻底改善不能为学生提供应有机会的、教育质量差的学校。

But at the end of the day, we can have the most dedicated teachers, the most supportive parents, the best schools in the world -- and none of it will make a difference, none of it will matter unless all of you fulfill your responsibilities, unless you show up to those schools, unless you pay attention to those teachers, unless you listen to your parents and grandparents and other adults and put in the hard work it takes to succeed. That’s what I want to focus on today: the responsibility each of you has for your education.

然而,即使我们拥有最敬业的教师,最尽力的家长和全世界最好的学校——如果你们大家不履行你们的责任,不到校上课,不专心听讲,不听家长、祖父祖母和其他大人的话,不付出取得成功所必须的勤奋努力,那么这一切都毫无用处,都无关紧要。这就是我今天讲话的重点:你们每个人对自己的教育应尽的责任。

I want to start with the responsibility you have to yourself. Every single one of you has something that you’re good at. Every single one of you has something to offer. And you have a responsibility to yourself to discover what that is. That’s the opportunity an education can provide.

我首先要讲讲你们对自己应尽的责任。你们每个人都有自己的长处。你们每个人都能做出自己的贡献。你们对自己应尽的责任是发现自己的能力所在。而教育能够提供这样的机会。

Maybe you could be a great writer -- maybe even good enough to write a book or articles in a newspaper -- but you might not know it until you write that English paper -- that English class paper that’s assigned to you. Maybe you could be an innovator or an inventor -- maybe even good enough to come up with the next iPhone or the new medicine or vaccine -- but you might not know it until you do your project for your science class. Maybe you could be a mayor or a senator or a Supreme Court justice -- but you might not know that until you join student government or the debate team.

你或许能成为一名出色的作家——甚至可能写书或在报纸上发表文章——但你可能要在完成那篇英文课的作文后才会发现自己的才华。你或许能成为一名创新者或发明家——甚至可能设计出新一代iPhone或研制出新型药物或疫苗——但你可能要在完成科学课的实验后才会发现自己的才华。你或许能成为一名市长或参议员或最高法院的大法官——但你可能要在参加学生会的工作或辩论队后才会发现自己的才华。

And no matter what you want to do with your life, I guarantee that you’ll need an education to do it. You want to be a doctor, or a teacher, or a police officer? You want to be a nurse or an architect, a lawyer or a member of our military? You’re going to need a good education for every single one of those careers. You cannot drop out of school and just drop into a good job. You’ve got to train for it and work for it and learn for it.

不论你的生活志向是什么,我敢肯定你必须上学读书才能实现它。你想当医生、教师或警官吗?你想当护士、建筑师、律师或军人吗?你必须接受良好的教育,才能从事上述任何一种职业。你不能指望辍学后能碰上个好工作。你必须接受培训,为之努力,为之学习。

And this isn’t just important for your own life and your own future. What you make of your education will decide nothing less than the future of this country. The future ofAmericadepends on you. What you’re learning in school today will determine whether we as a nation can meet our greatest challenges in the future.

这并非只对你个人的人生和未来意义重大。可以毫不夸大地说,教育给你带来的益处将决定这个国家的未来。美国的未来取决于你们。你们今日在校学习的知识将决定我们作为一个国家是否能够迎接我们未来所面临的最严峻挑战。

You’ll need the knowledge and problem-solving skills you learn in science and math to cure diseases like cancer and AIDS, and to develop new energy technologies and protect our environment. You’ll need the insights and critical-thinking skills you gain in history and social studies to fight poverty and homelessness, crime and discrimination, and make our nation more fair and more free. You’ll need the creativity and ingenuity you develop in all your classes to build new companies that will create new jobs and boost our economy.

你们将需要利用你们通过自然科学和数学课程所学到的知识和解决问题的能力来治愈癌症、艾滋病及其他疾病,开发新的能源技术和保护我们的环境。你们将需要利用你们在历史学和社会学课堂上所获得的知识和独立思考能力来抗击贫困和解决无家可归问题,打击犯罪和消除歧视,使我们的国家更公平、更自由。你们将需要利用你们在所有课堂上培养的创造力和智慧来创办新宝马线上娱乐城,增加就业机会,振兴我们的经济。

We need every single one of you to develop your talents and your skills and your intellect so you can help us old folks solve our most difficult problems. If you don’t do that -- if you quit on school -- you’re not just quitting on yourself, you’re quitting on your country.

我们需要你们每个人发挥你们的聪明才智和技能,以便帮助老一辈人解决我们面临的最棘手问题。如果你们不这样做,如果你们辍学,你们不仅仅是自暴自弃,也是抛弃自己的国家。

Now, I know it’s not always easy to do well in school. I know a lot of you have challenges in your lives right now that can make it hard to focus on your schoolwork.

我自然知道要做到学业优秀并非总是易事。我知道你们许多人在生活中面临挑战,难以集中精力从事学业。

I get it. I know what it’s like. My father left my family when I was two years old, and I was raised by a single mom who had to work and who struggled at times to pay the bills and wasn’t always able to give us the things that other kids had. There were times when I missed having a father in my life. There were times when I was lonely and I felt like I didn’t fit in.

我明白这一点。 我有亲身感受。两岁时,我父亲离家而去,我是由一位单亲母亲抚养成人的,母亲不得不工作,并时常为支付生活费用而苦苦挣扎,但有时仍无法为我们提供其他孩子享有的东西。有时,我渴望生活中能有一位父亲。有时我感到孤独,感到自己不适应社会。

So I wasn’t always as focused as I should have been on school, and I did some things I’m not proud of, and I got in more trouble than I should have. And my life could have easily taken a turn for the worse.

我并非总是像我应该做到的那样专心学习,我也曾做过我如今不能引以为豪的一些事情,我曾惹过不应该惹的麻烦。我的人生原本会轻易陷入更糟糕的境地。

But I was -- I was lucky. I got a lot of second chances, and I had the opportunity to go to college and law school and follow my dreams. My wife, our First Lady Michelle Obama, she has a similar story. Neither of her parents had gone to college, and they didn’t have a lot of money. But they worked hard, and she worked hard, so that she could go to the best schools in this country.

但是,我当年际遇不错。我有过许多第二次机会,我有幸能上大学,上法学院,追求自己的理想。我的妻子,我们的第一夫人米歇尔8226;奥巴马,也有着类似的经历。她的父母都未曾上过大学,家里很穷。但他们非常勤奋 ,她也是如此,因此她得以进入一些美国最好的学校。

Some of you might not have those advantages. Maybe you don’t have adults in your life who give you the support that you need. Maybe someone in your family has lost their job and there’s not enough money to go around. Maybe you live in a neighborhood where you don’t feel safe, or have friends who are pressuring you to do things you know aren’t right.

你们中有一些人可能没有那些有利条件。或许你们生活中没有成年人为你们提供你们所需要的支持。或许你们家中有人失业,经济非常拮据。或许你们生活在使你们感觉不安全的社区,或有朋友逼迫你们去做你们知道不对的事情。

编后语我们上学是为了什么?为了回报社会,这大了点!为了使自己、父母生活的更好,这更是质朴的!但不论为了什么,我们都需要树立一个明确的目标,并为之努力奋斗。学习不为了什么那是虚伪的。学习带有目的性更不是可耻的!相反,我们有了目标,才有动力!才能更好的学到知识,从而改变自己!

奥巴马开学演讲稿(中英对照) ——我们为什么要上学?         

阿文弗吉尼亚州,阿林顿市,200998

嗨,大家好!你们今天过得怎么样?我现在和弗吉尼亚州阿林顿郡韦克菲尔德高中的学生们在一起,全国各地也有从幼儿园到高三的众多学生们通过电视关注这里,我很高兴你们能共同分享这一时刻。     

我知道,对你们中的许多人来说,今天是开学的第一天,你们中的有一些刚刚进入幼儿园或升上初高中,对你们来说,这是在新学校的第一天,因此,假如你们感到有些紧张,那也是很正常的。我想也会有许多毕业班的学生们正自信满满地准备最后一年的冲刺。不过,我想无论你有多大、在读哪个年级,许多人都打心底里希望现在还在放暑假,以及今天不用那么早起床。     

我可以理解这份心情。小时候,我们家在印度尼西亚住过几年,而我妈妈没钱送我去其他美国孩子们上学的地方去读书,因此她决定自己给我上课——时间是每周一到周五的凌晨4点半。     

显然,我不怎么喜欢那么早就爬起来,很多时候,我就这么在厨房的桌子前睡着了。每当我埋怨的时候,我妈总会用同一副表情看着我说:小鬼,你以为教你我就很轻松?

所以,我可以理解你们中的许多人对于开学还需要时间来调整和适应,但今天我站在这里,是为了和你们谈一些重要的事情。我要和你们谈一谈你们每个人的教育,以及在新的学年里,你们应当做些什么。     

我做过许多关于教育的讲话,也常常用到责任这个词。     

我谈到过教师们有责任激励和启迪你们,督促你们学习。     

我谈到过家长们有责任看管你们认真学习、完成作业,不要成天只会看电视或打游戏机。      

我也很多次谈到过政府有责任设定高标准严要求、协助老师和校长们的工作,改变在有些学校里学生得不到应有的学习机会的现状。     

但哪怕这一切都达到最好,哪怕我们有最尽职的教师、最好的家长、和最优秀的学校,假如你们不去履行自己的责任的话,那么这一切努力都会白费。——除非你每天准时去上学、除非你认真地听老师讲课、除非你把父母、长辈和其他大人们说的话放在心上、除非你肯付出成功所必需的努力,否则这一切都会失去意义。     

而这就是我今天讲话的主题:对于自己的教育,你们中每一个人的责任。首先,我想谈谈你们对于自己有什么责任。     

你们中的每一个人都会有自己擅长的东西,每一个人都是有用之材,而发现自己的才能是什么,就是你们要对自己担起的责任。教育给你们提供了发现自己才能的机会。     

或许你能写出优美的文字——甚至有一天能让那些文字出现在书籍和报刊上——但假如不在英语课上经常练习写作,你不会发现自己有这样的天赋;或许你能成为一个发明家、创造家——甚至设计出像今天的iPhone一样流行的产品,或研制出新的药物与疫苗——但假如不在自然科学课程上做上几次实验,你不会知道自己有这样的天赋;或许你能成为一名议员或最高法院法官,但假如你不去加入什么学生会或参加几次辩论赛,你也不会发现自己的才能。     

而且,我可以向你保证,不管你将来想要做什么,你都需要相应的教育。——你想当名医生、当名教师或当名警官?你想成为护士、成为建筑设计师、律师或军人?无论你选择哪一种职业,良好的教育都必不可少,这世上不存在不把书念完就能拿到好工作的美梦,任何工作,都需要你的汗水、训练与学习。     

不仅仅对于你们个人的未来有重要意义,你们的教育如何也会对这个国家、乃至世界的未来产生重要影响。今天你们在学校中学习的内容,将会决定我们整个国家在未来迎接重大挑战时的表现。     

你们需要在数理科学课程上学习的知识和技能,去治疗癌症、艾滋那样的疾病,和解决我们面临的能源问题与环境问题;你们需要在历史社科课程上培养出的观察力与判断力,来减轻和消除无家可归与贫困、犯罪问题和各种歧视,让这个国家变得更加公平和自由;你们需要在各类课程中逐渐累积和发展出来的创新意识和思维,去创业和建立新的宝马线上娱乐城与企业,来制造就业机会和推动经济的增长。    

我们需要你们中的每一个人都培养和发展自己的天赋、技能和才智,来解决我们所面对的最困难的问题。假如你不这么做——假如你放弃学习——那么你不仅是放弃了自己,也是放弃了你的国家。     

当然,我明白,读好书并不总是件容易的事。我知道你们中的许多人在生活中面临着各种各样的问题,很难把精力集中在专心读书之上。      

我知道你们的感受。我父亲在我两岁时就离开了家庭,是母亲一人将我们拉扯大,有时她付不起帐单,有时我们得不到其他孩子们都有的东西,有时我会想,假如父亲在该多好,有时我会感到孤独无助,与周围的环境格格不入。     

因此我并不总是能专心学习,我做过许多自己觉得丢脸的事情,也惹出过许多不该惹的麻烦,我的生活岌岌可危,随时可能急转直下。    

但我很幸运。我在许多事上都得到了重来的机会,我得到了去大学读法学院、实现自己梦想的机会。我的妻子——现在得叫她第一夫人米歇尔?奥巴马了——也有着相似的人生故事,她的父母都没读过大学,也没有什么财产,但他们和她都辛勤工作,好让她有机会去这个国家最优秀的学校读书。     

你们中有些人可能没有这些有利条件,或许你的生活中没有能为你提供帮助和支持的长辈,或许你的某个家长没有工作、经济拮据,或许你住的社区不那么安全,或许你认识一些会对你产生不良影响的朋友,等等。     

但归根结底,你的生活状况——你的长相、出身、经济条件、家庭氛围——都不是疏忽学业和态度恶劣的借口,这些不是你去跟老师顶嘴、逃课、或是辍学的借口,这些不是你不好好读书的借口。     

你的未来,并不取决于你现在的生活有多好或多坏。没有人为你编排好你的命运,在美国,你的命运由你自己书写,你的未来由你自己掌握。     

而在这片土地上的每个地方,千千万万和你一样的年轻人正是这样在书写着自己的命运。      

例如德克萨斯州罗马市的贾斯敏?佩雷兹(Jazmin Perez)。刚进学校时,她根本不会说英语,她住的地方几乎没人上过大学,她的父母也没有受过高等教育,但她努力学习,取得了优异的成绩,靠奖学金进入了布朗大学,如今正在攻读公共卫生专业的博士学位。     

我还想起了加利福尼亚州洛斯拉图斯市的安多尼?舒尔兹(Andoni Schultz),他从三岁起就开始与脑癌病魔做斗争,他熬过了一次次治疗与手术——其中一次影响了他的记忆,因此他得花出比常人多几百个小时的时间来完成学业,但他从不曾落下自己的功课。这个秋天,他要开始在大学读书了。     

又比如在我的家乡,伊利诺斯州芝加哥市,身为孤儿的香特尔?史蒂夫(Shantell Steve)换过多次收养家庭,从小在治安很差的地区长大,但她努力争取到了在当地保健站工作的机会、发起了一个让青少年远离犯罪团伙的项目,很快,她也将以优异的成绩从中学毕业,去大学深造。     

贾斯敏、安多尼和香特尔与你们并没有什么不同。和你们一样,他们也在生活中遭遇各种各样的困难与问题,但他们拒绝放弃,他们选择为自己的教育担起责任、给自己定下奋斗的目标。我希望你们中的每一个人,都能做得到这些。     

因此,在今天,我号召你们每一个人都为自己的教育定下一个目标——并在之后,尽自己的一切努力去实现它。你的目标可以很简单,像是完成作业、认真听讲或每天阅读——或许你打算参加一些课外活动,或在社区做些志愿工作;或许你决定为那些因为长相或出身等等原因而受嘲弄或欺负的孩子做主、维护他们的权益,因为你和我一样,认为每个孩子都应该能有一个安全的学习环境;或许你认为该学着更好的照顾自己,来为将来的学习做准备……当然,除此之外,我希望你们都多多洗手、感到身体不舒服的时候要多在家休息,免得大家在秋冬感冒高发季节都得流感。     

不管你决定做什么,我都希望你能坚持到底,希望你能真的下定决心。       我知道有些时候,电视上播放的节目会让你产生这样那样的错觉,似乎你不需要付出多大的努力就能腰缠万贯、功成名就——你会认为只要会唱rap、会打篮球或参加个什么真人秀节目就能坐享其成,但现实是,你几乎没有可能走上其中任何一条道路。    

因为,成功是件难事。你不可能对要读的每门课程都兴趣盎然,你不可能和每名带课教师都相处顺利,你也不可能每次都遇上看起来和现实生活有关的作业。而且,并不是每件事,你都能在头一次尝试时获得成功。     

但那没有关系。因为在这个世界上,最最成功的人们往往也经历过最多的失败。J.K.罗琳的第一本《哈利·波特》被出版商拒绝了十二次才最终出版;迈克尔·乔丹上高中时被学校的篮球队刷了下来,在他的职业生涯里,他输了几百场比赛、投失过几千次射篮,知道他是怎么说的吗?我一生不停地失败、失败再失败,这就是我现在成功的原因。      

他们的成功,源于他们明白人不能让失败左右自己——而是要从中吸取经验。从失败中,你可以明白下一次自己可以做出怎样的改变;假如你惹了什么麻烦,那并不说明你就是个捣蛋鬼,而是在提醒你,在将来要对自己有更严格的要求;假如你考了个低分,那并不说明你就比别人笨,而是在告诉你,自己得在学习上花更多的时间。     

没有哪一个人一生出来就擅长做什么事情的,只有努力才能培养出技能。任何人都不是在第一次接触一项体育运动时就成为校队的代表,任何人都不是在第一次唱一首歌时就找准每一个音,一切都需要熟能生巧。对于学业也是一样,你或许要反复运算才能解出一道数学题的正确答案,你或许需要读一段文字好几遍才能理解它的意思,你或许得把论文改上好几次才能符合提交的标准。这都是很正常的。     

不要害怕提问。不要不敢向他人求助。——我每天都在这么做。求助并不是软弱的表现,恰恰相反,它说明你有勇气承认自己的不足、并愿意去学习新的知识。所以,有不懂时,就向大人们求助吧——找个你信得过的对象,例如父母、长辈、老师、教练或辅导员——让他们帮助你向目标前进。     

你要记住,哪怕你表现不好、哪怕你失去信心、哪怕你觉得身边的人都已经放弃了你——永远不要自己放弃自己。因为当你放弃自己的时候,你也放弃了自己的国家。     

美国不是一个人们遭遇困难就轻易放弃的国度,在这个国家,人们坚持到底、人们加倍努力,为了他们所热爱的国度,每一个人都尽着自己最大的努力,不会给自己留任何余地。      

250年前,有一群和你们一样的学生,他们之后奋起努力、用一场革命最终造就了这个国家;75年前,有一群和你们一样的学生,他们之后战胜了大萧条、赢得了二战;就在20年前,和你们一样的学生们,他们后来创立了GoogleTwitterFace book,改变了我们人与人之间沟通的方式。     

因此,今天我想要问你们,你们会做出什么样的贡献?你们将解决什么样的难题?你们能发现什么样的事物?二十、五十或百年之后,假如那时的美国总统也来做一次开学演讲的话,他会怎样描述你们对这个国家所做的一切?     

你们的家长、你们的老师和我,每一个人都在尽最大的努力,确保你们都能得到应有的教育来回答这些问题。例如我正在努力为你们提供更安全的教室、更多的书籍、更先进的设施与计算机。但你们也要担起自己的责任。因此我要求你们在今年能够认真起来,我要求你们尽心地去做自己着手的每一件事,我要求你们每一个人都有所成就。请不要让我们失望——不要让你的家人、你的国家和你自己失望。你们要成为我们骄傲,我知道,你们一定可以做到。     

谢谢大家,上帝保佑你们,上帝保佑美国。     

 

美国总统奥巴马98开学演讲 英文全文    

Hello, everybody! Thank you. Thank you. Thank you, everybody. All right, everybody go ahead and have a seat. How is everybody doing today? (Applause.) How about Tim Spicer? (Applause.) I am here with students atWakefieldHigh SchoolinArlington,Virginia. And we've got students tuning in from all acrossAmerica, from kindergarten through 12th grade. And I am just so glad that all could join us today. And I want to thankWakefieldfor being such an outstanding host. Give yourselves a big round of applause. (Applause.)             

I know that for many of you, today is the first day of school. And for those of you in kindergarten, or starting middle or high school, it's your first day in a new school, so it's understandable if you're a little nervous. I imagine there are some seniors out there who are feeling pretty good right now -- (applause) -- with just one more year to go. And no matter what grade you're in, some of you are probably wishing it were still summer and you could've stayed in bed just a little bit longer this morning.                    

I know that feeling. When I was young, my family lived overseas. I lived inIndonesiafor a few years. And my mother, she didn't have the money to send me where all the American kids went to school, but she thought it was important for me to keep up with an American education. So she decided to teach me extra lessons herself, Monday through Friday. But because she had to go to work, the only time she could do it was at 4:30 inthe morning.                             

Now, as you might imagine, I wasn't too happy about getting up that early. And a lot of times, I'd fall asleep right there at the kitchen table. But whenever I'd complain, my mother would just give me one of those looks and she'd say, "This is no picnic for me either, buster." (Laughter.)            

So I know that some of you are still adjusting to being back at school. But I'm here today because I have something important to discuss with you. I'm here because I want to talk with you about your education and what's expected of all of you in this new school year.                            

Now, I've given a lot of speeches about education. And I've talked about responsibility a lot.             

I've talked about teachers' responsibility for inspiring students and pushing you to learn.             

I've talked about your parents' responsibility for making sure you stay on track, and you get your homework done, and don't spend every waking hour in front of the TV or with the Xbox.                           

I've talked a lot about your government's responsibility for setting high standards, and supporting teachers and principals, and turning around schools that aren't working, where students aren't getting the opportunities that they deserve.             

But at the end of the day, we can have the most dedicated teachers, the most supportive parents, the best schools in the world -- and none of it will make a difference, none of it will matter unless all of you fulfill your responsibilities, unless you show up to those schools, unless you pay attention to those teachers, unless you listen to your parents and grandparents and other adults and put in the hard work it takes to succeed. That's what I want to focus on today: the responsibility each of you has for your education.             

I want to start with the responsibility you have to yourself. Every single one of you has something that you're good at. Every single one of you has something to offer. And you have a responsibility to yourself to discover what that is. That's the opportunity an education can provide.                           

Maybe you could be a great writer -- maybe even good enough to write a book or articles in a newspaper -- but you might not know it until you write that English paper -- that English class paper that's assigned to you. Maybe you could be an innovator or an inventor -- maybe even good enough to come up with the next iPhone or the new medicine or vaccine -- but you might not know it until you do your project for your science class. Maybe you could be a mayor or a senator or a Supreme Court justice -- but you might not know that until you join student government or the debate team.                    

And no matter what you want to do with your life, I guarantee that you'll need an education to do it. You want to be a doctor, or a teacher, or a police officer? You want to be a nurse or an architect, a lawyer or a member of our military? You're going to need a good education for every single one of those careers. You cannot drop out of school and just drop into a good job. You've got to train for it and work for it and learn for it.             

And this isn't just important for your own life and your own future. What you make of your education will decide nothing less than the future of this country. The future ofAmericadepends on you. What you're learning in school today will determine whether we as a nation can meet our greatest challenges in the future.                            

You'll need the knowledge and problem-solving skills you learn in science and math to cure diseases like cancer and AIDS, and to develop new energy technologies and protect our environment. You'll need the insights and critical-thinking skills you gain in history and social studies to fight poverty and homelessness, crime and discrimination, and make our nation more fair and more free. You'll need the creativity and ingenuity you develop in all your classes to build new companies that will create new jobs and boost our economy.             

We need every single one of you to develop your talents and your skills and your intellect so you can help us old folks solve our most difficult problems. If you don't do that -- if you quit on school -- you're not just quitting on yourself, you're quitting on your country.                            

Now, I know it's not always easy to do well in school. I know a lot of you have challenges in your lives right now that can make it hard to focus on your schoolwork.             

I get it. I know what it's like. My father left my family when I was two years old, and I was raised by a single mom who had to work and who struggled at times to pay the bills and wasn't always able to give us the things that other kids had. There were times when I missed having a father in my life. There were times when I was lonely and I felt like I didn't fit in.                           

So I wasn't always as focused as I should have been on school, and I did some things I'm not proud of, and I got in more trouble than I should have. And my life could have easily taken a turn for the worse.             

But I was -- I was lucky. I got a lot of second chances, and I had the opportunity to go to college and law school and follow my dreams. My wife, our First Lady Michelle Obama, she has a similar story. Neither of her parents had gone to college, and they didn't have a lot of money. But they worked hard, and she worked hard, so that she could go to the best schools in this country.                    

Some of you might not have those advantages. Maybe you don't have adults in your life who give you the support that you need. Maybe someone in your family has lost their job and there's not enough money to go around. Maybe you live in a neighborhood where you don't feel safe, or have friends who are pressuring you to do things you know aren't right.             

But at the end of the day, the circumstances of your life -- what you look like, where you come from, how much money you have, what you've got going on at home -- none of that is an excuse for neglecting your homework or having a bad attitude in school. That's no excuse for talking back to your teacher, or cutting class, or dropping out of school. There is no excuse for not trying.             

Where you are right now doesn't have to determine where you'll end up. No one's written your destiny for you, because here inAmerica, you write your own destiny. You make your own future.             

That's what young people like you are doing every day, all acrossAmerica.             

Young people like Jazmin Perez, fromRoma,Texas. Jazmin didn't speak English when she first started school. Neither of her parents had gone to college. But she worked hard, earned good grades, and got a scholarship toBrownUniversity-- is now in graduate school, studying public health, on her way to becoming Dr. Jazmin Perez.             

I'm thinking about Andoni Schultz, fromLos Altos,California, who's fought brain cancer since he was three. He's had to endure all sorts of treatments and surgeries, one of which affected his memory, so it took him much longer -- hundreds of extra hours -- to do his schoolwork. But he never fell behind. He's headed to college this fall.             

And then there's Shantell Steve, from my hometown ofChicago,Illinois. Even when bouncing from foster home to foster home in the toughest neighborhoods in the city, she managed to get a job at a local health care center, start a program to keep young people out of gangs, and she's on track to graduate high school with honors and go on to college.              And Jazmin, Andoni, and Shantell aren't any different from any of you. They face challenges in their lives just like you do. In some cases they've got it a lot worse off than many of you. But they refused to give up. They chose to take responsibility for their lives, for their education, and set goals for themselves. And I expect all of you to do the same.             

That's why today I'm calling on each of you to set your own goals for your education -- and do everything you can to meet them. Your goal can be something as simple as doing all your homework, paying attention in class, or spending some time each day reading a book. Maybe you'll decide to get involved in an extracurricular activity, or volunteer in your community. Maybe you'll decide to stand up for kids who are being teased or bullied because of who they are or how they look, because you believe, like I do, that all young people deserve a safe environment to study and learn. Maybe you'll decide to take better care of yourself so you can be more ready to learn. And along those lines, by the way, I hope all of you are washing your hands a lot, and that you stay home from school when you don't feel well, so we can keep people from getting the flu this fall and winter.                    

But whatever you resolve to do, I want you to commit to it. I want you to really work at it.               I know that sometimes you get that sense from TV that you can be rich and successful without any hard work -- that your ticket to success is through rapping or basketball or being a reality TV star. Chances are you're not going to be any of those things.             

The truth is, being successful is hard. You won't love every subject that you study. You won't click with every teacher that you have. Not every homework assignment will seem completely relevant to your life right at this minute. And you won't necessarily succeed at everything the first time you try.                            

That's okay. Some of the most successful people in the world are the ones who've had the most failures. J.K. Rowling's -- who wrote Harry Potter -- her first Harry Potter book was rejected 12 times before it was finally published. Michael Jordan was cut from his high school basketball team. He lost hundreds of games and missed thousands of shots during his career. But he once said, "I have failed over and over and over again in my life. And that's why I succeed."             

These people succeeded because they understood that you can't let your failures define you -- you have to let your failures teach you. You have to let them show you what to do differently the next time. So if you get into trouble, that doesn't mean you're a troublemaker, it means you need to try harder to act right. If you get a bad grade, that doesn't mean you're stupid, it just means you need to spend more time studying.             

No one's born being good at all things. You become good at things through hard work. You're not a varsity athlete the first time you play a new sport. You don't hit every note the first time you sing a song. You've got to practice. The same principle applies to your schoolwork. You might have to do a math problem a few times before you get it right. You might have to read something a few times before you understand it. You definitely have to do a few drafts of a paper before it's good enough to hand in.             

Don't be afraid to ask questions. Don't be afraid to ask for help when you need it. I do that every day. Asking for help isn't a sign of weakness, it's a sign of strength because it shows you have the courage to admit when you don't know something, and that then allows you to learn something new. So find an adult that you trust -- a parent, a grandparent or teacher, a coach or a counselor -- and ask them to help you stay on track to meet your goals.             

And even when you're struggling, even when you're discouraged, and you feel like other people have given up on you, don't ever give up on yourself, because when you give up on yourself, you give up on your country.                          

 The story ofAmericaisn't about people who quit when things got tough. It's about people who kept going, who tried harder, who loved their country too much to do anything less than their best.                     

It's the story of students who sat where you sit 250 years ago, and went on to wage a revolution and they founded this nation. Young people. Students who sat where you sit 75 years ago who overcame a Depression and won a world war; who fought for civil rights and put a man on the moon. Students who sat where you sit 20 years ago who founded Google and Twitter and Facebook and changed the way we communicate with each other.                    

So today, I want to ask all of you, what's your contribution going to be? What problems are you going to solve? What discoveries will you make? What will a President who comes here in 20 or 50 or 100 years say about what all of you did for this country?             

Now, your families, your teachers, and I are doing everything we can to make sure you have the education you need to answer these questions. I'm working hard to fix up your classrooms and get you the books and the equipment and the computers you need to learn. But you've got to do your part, too. So I expect all of you to get serious this year. I expect you to put your best effort into everything you do. I expect great things from each of you. So don't let us down. Don't let your family down or your country down. Most of all, don't let yourself down. Make us all proud.                           

Thank you very much, everybody. God bless you. God blessAmerica. Thank you.

 
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