July 10th marked our graduation at the University of Kurdistan- Hawler. I had the honor of giving the students' commencement speech. For this blog I thought it would be a good idea to write to you what I said, and here it is:
Vice chancellor, distinguished guests, professors and lecturers, parents, siblings, relatives, friends and last but definitely not least the class of 2010!
In one of our initial classes on political philosophy, it was Dr. Greaves who introduced us to John Lock and his ideas of the Tabula Rasa- he said the human mind is like a white paper and with education it begins to be filled. That is how I can sum-up our educational journey in the University of Kurdistan Hawler, a Tabula Rasa that is now filled with knowledge, information, experience and most importantly lessons for life.
For most of us we leaped into an education system unfamiliar in many ways, like the Greek Philosopher Aristotle wrote, “The root of education is better but the fruit is sweet”. We certainly tasted much bitterness in our four year journey.
We wrote essays and undertook research in a different language and we endured the many changes of the university. But here we are today, in what seemed like a never ending voyage, has come to its end with a blink of an eye. The sleepless nights have paid off. We conquered C++ and eradicated plagiarism. Every single one of us, as we receive our degrees we know too well that we have put our hearts and souls into this. The fruit is indeed very sweet.
As I stand here and look into your sparkling eyes, I have flashbacks of our time in UKH. Together in the past four years we have laughed, cried, danced and mourned. The university became a second home, and the students a second family.
It is difficult to say good bye and know that our paths will leads us to different directions. Goodbye is undeniably that saddest and hardest word we will ever say. But for all of us this is the beginning of another road, and we ought to be excited because the future is waiting for us.
I don’t want to say something cliché like UKH gave me wings to fly, no. In fact UKH did not give me wings, although it taught me how to fly, how to keep flying in the sky and how to take off from the ground. Isn’t this the best way to be equipped to face the world?
We quoted and cited many scholars. Soon our names will be on the back page of essay papers cited as references. Days will come where our books will be on library shelves, and our decisions and actions will influence not only us, but our society, for so many people, their future is in our hands!
As we climb the ladder to the top we should not forget what it was that originally began our journey. Dreams at the back of the mind of our grandparents are reality today. As victims of genocide, ethnic cleansing and people who were forbidden to dress in our traditional clothing and speak our mother tongue, today we are empowered by education to secure our identity and existence.
Over two decades ago our future lay in the hands of cruel regimes that detested who we were. Those days are over, today, as young people full of hopes and dreams, the future is in our hands, the future is ours! We are in control of our future, because we are empowered by quality education.
We believe that we are what Kurdistan needs!
We believe we have the audacity to confront and take on any challenge!
We believe this nation can stand on its feet and teach the world many things!
We believe we have the potential to accomplish what is otherwise the impossible!
And we must believe the future is in our hands!
Class of 2010, finally I want to remind you of what Elenour Roosevelt said “the future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams” my message to you this evening is “let your dreams take you to the mountain peeks of Kurdistan” together we can move a mountain. You must have dreams not just for yourself, but for this region, because after all the future is ours.
Ladies and gentle man, distinguished guests, I assure you, today the University of Kurdistan- Hawler has just unleashed a new millennium of young people who are eager for prosperity, development, success and who will make fruitful citizens of this society. The university has cultivated seeds that will be trees of the forest in the years to come.
To the first undergraduates of an English language University in Iraq!
To the future leaders, decision makers and visionaries!
To the class of 2010!
Yes! We graduated!
Yes! The future is ours!
Thanks to Photographer S. Hamed
Speech by- me!!