On Wednesday we had a village meeting - our first in a while. Often, village meetings renew my perspective on being part of this UWC network. No matter what happens, what controversy arises, what is said, I always see friends leaving arm in arm after. It is so inspiring. Kay read a beautiful reflection about how our village meetings often revolve around small things (10:30 rule, spoons in the cafeteria, new furniture) but the hope is that if we can solve these day to day issues, one day in the future we`ll be able to help solve global crises and emergencies. By recognizing our common humanity in this unique village we are developing strong ties across oceans and mountains. When I hear the news, I hear it differently. If there is a bombing in Israel or Palestine I immediately think of my friend who lives across the hallway. I want to make sure she is alright. If I am shopping in a store and pick up and item made in Nepal, I think of my Nepali friend and how he is doing. I feel a completely different connection to the world.
Some of you will acquire wealth, some will acquire power, and some will achieve fame. Wealth, power and fames are not ends in of themselves but means to ends. If you acquire wealth, I hope you will remember that it is a gift, however hard-earned and therefore it must be shared with those less fortunate. If you acquire power, I hope you will remember that it gives you a tremendous opportunity to serve the powerless. If you achieve fame, it gives others, including the less fortunate to get to know you and seek your help.
You’ve earned on merit a special kind of education. It is my hope that what you’ve learnt about human values and human relationships in the international and multicultural environment of Pearson College will be a life long influence on your judgments and attitudes.
Pearson College has changed since I arrived here as a student in the fall of 1977. But the spirit of idealism commands the shores of Pedder Bay today as it did three decades ago.
You must never trade idealism for cynicism, and never confuse cynicism with wisdom. Cynicism corrodes, idealism strengthens. Cynicism imprisons, idealism liberates. Cynicism destroys, idealism builds.
May the idealism of Pearson College serve as a continuing source of inspiration, and spur you to build bridges of understanding throughout your lives. And wherever your paths may lead, may you always work for a better world.