“… I’m a bit hesitant to because I don’t think there genuinely is a dichotomy between what we had here and the real world. This is also real. And if ever anyone ever tried to convince you that the experience that you had in this school was like a cocoon or a bubble, that it was rampant idealism, that it was so good that it couldn’t possibly be real … just remember that that was because we actively shaped our reality to be that way. And if we did it before, we can do it again; we are well-equipped to respond to situations that we may find ourselves in that we recognise need fixing. We know how to listen without prejudice. We know that empathy is not a weakness, but passivity is. We know never to simply acquiesce but to think carefully about why we do the things we do. So … Class of 2017, I am sure that you will all go on to do great things. But, and perhaps more importantly, I hope that we also do good things. And kind things. And things that we may not necessarily be obliged to do, but that we do … because they are the right things.”
“… We have so many global crises, from climate change to global financial crisis, from pandemics to global terrorism, all these are happening … And this is why it’s very important for graduates of the United World College to try, to strive to achieve global leadership positions. Because while you are in college, as you look around this room, you accept the different nationalities, you accept the different costumes—effortlessly—and you know that at the end of the day we live on one small planet, planet Earth. And if we screw up planet Earth, we don’t have planet ‘B’ to go to. So I hope that after you leave the school and as you progress in your life, you will always remember the values of the United World College. Take them with you and when you achieve positions of power, please take care of planet Earth. And with that, let me offer you my warmest congratulations.”
Professor Kishore Mahbubani, East Graduation guest speaker, Dean of Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, Former Chair of the UWCSEA Board of Governors - Kishore's speech is part of the UWCSEA Graduation playlist
“ … I learned that there is so much that every individual can do to help make the world a better place and every single person has the power to do that and I am one of them. I got to learn so much about myself and the world like many of you through IfP , Round Square and even just taking care of each other as a family in the boarding house, where we all come from many different places and cultures. And this is why I took a gap year. I returned back to Cambodia to initiate an IfP conference to empower youth in Cambodia to bring about change to our country through service. I want every single one of you to know that you can make a change. But don’t do it because you’re told to, do it because an issue is concerning you or bothering you or because your heart just wants to help those in need …
Every single time I went back to Cambodia for a visit from UWC, it was never easy. I experienced culture-shock in my own country …
But don’t walk away.
You can find a way to integrate back.
Your home and your people need you.
They need someone who got to see what is outside of their community and bring back new experiences. But to connect or reconnect with family, friends, your new or old community, it all takes patience, understanding and effort before you can make that difference …
So … Class of 2017, I have learned two important lessons that I hope resonate with you:
First, you’re never too young to start making a difference that your heart desires. You don’t have to wait until you have a house, a car or a well-paid job, you will find a way to make it possible. Do it while the fuel is burning in your heart to make that change! Because if you don’t, it will fade.
And second, we often glamorise global service, but you can make a difference in your home communities as well. And in order to make that difference you need to connect or reconnect. It won’t be easy, but all obstacles can be overcome, if you keep working hard, keep being hopeful and remember why it is so important to make that local impact.”