At the end of every term, our institute holds a luncheon, gives awards, and has a student speaker. Today, listening to the student speaker, a young man from South Korea, I was moved. Last term, listening to the student speaker, a young man from Iraq, I was moved. In fact, each and every speaker since I have been here has given a moving speech of their own creation. And each and every speech shares a common theme, one that I only just realized today, or at least, the realization hit me hard today.
These students come from such diverse backgrounds, such different cultures – starkly different at times – and yet, in as little as eight weeks, often form a tight-knit community and lifelong friendships. The speaker today told a story of how he came to the US with a number of stereotypes and at first considered the others students simply classmates. Then, one day, he realized the stereotypes had disappeared and that those surrounding him were friends. He talked about how important it is to learn about and meet people from other cultures. The speaker last term made all of us stand and take a moment of silence for those killed in Paris, Beirut, Syria, Iraq and other places. His speech stressed that our differences make us special, and our coming together makes us strong, and that all of this is important to make a better world, one that can be free of the violence we reflected upon.
What all these students have realized is that our differences make us beautiful, and despite these differences, our shared humanity makes us family. The powerful thing here is that this is a lifelong lesson that students will take back to their countries, their friends, and their families – bringing more love and tolerance to the world. And the world sorely needs more of this.