George Saunders begins his commencement address at Syracuse University with a joke. He claims that the kind of speech he is going to deliver is usually delivered by someone old and uninteresting, after which he claims that he fits the description.

Saunders then suggests that young people should ask an older person about their regrets in life and moves on to talk about his own. He claims that he does not regret the thoughtless things he has done and the humiliating moments, but that his main regret is connected to one of his former classmates, a girl he calls Ellen. During Saunders’ seventh grade, Ellen was usually mocked by others for being different and, eventually, her family moved away. Saunders states that his regret is connected to not being kinder towards Ellen, although he was not actively unk...

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