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Every summer marks the monastery’s exam season. Last year, my father happened to be on the Island during this stressful time of the year. Seeing my somber expression, he expressed his concern. I told him other than memorizing new materials in the Speech of Gold in the Essence of True Eloquence, I also have to review what’s been taught in class, prepare for the debate exam, and continue with my Tibetan lessons in order to fully understand the Five Great Treatises and many other great teachings. Truth to be told, it was overwhelming.

Father looked at me and gently said, “My expectation for you is not to place first. But rather, to remember that everything you’ve learnt is to help others.” 
“Why don’t you want me to aim for the highest?” I couldn’t help but wonder.

With father’s words in mind, an idea suddenly came to me one day. If I really set my mind on helping others, I can use every bit of wisdom I’ve gained to fulfill this task. Even if I still have a long way to go, I will never stop learning in order to help more people. I suddenly realized that the goal father had helped me set was indeed the greatest.

As if a rock has been lifted, I decided to share my debate topic with a classmate who has a similar topic. Despite it being something I’ve dedicated much time and effort to, I helped her better complete hers. Although this would mean that I’d have to prepare a new topic from scratch, my mind has never been so determined and at ease. Because this is life’s new lesson for me: to put others before myself.

*The author of this writing came in first place in last year’s debate exam.