The 2023 Graduation Ceremony of ISSCAD was held on June 30.
Here is the full speech of Jaroslaw LINKA, graduate of MPA Class 2022, at the ceremony.
Ladies and Gentlemen, esteemed faculty, and exceptional graduates of the Institute of South-South Cooperation and Development at Peking University, Class 2023.
My name is Jaroslaw Linka, I come from Poland. I am honored to deliver this speech on behalf of the graduating students and welcome you to this special Commencement Ceremony. I stand before you today with a profound appreciation for the transformative journey we embarked on in September last year. As we gather here to celebrate our achievements, let me share a story that captures the very essence of our time here and embodies the ideas of the Institute of South-South Cooperation and Development and the immense power of learning from each other.
Upon arriving in Beijing and completing quarantine, I was repeatedly questioned about my decision to enroll in the ISSCAD master program. My long-term fascination with Chinese culture and spectacular economic growth was the primary and most apparent reason. I wanted to increase my understanding of China's development model and gain in-depth, first-hand knowledge from the top experts in this field. Obviously, I also desired to meet Prof. Justin Yifu Lin and attend his seminars, as he is well-known in Polish economic and political circles, and his theories and scientific achievements are frequently discussed. All of these objectives were met, and the academic program exceeded my expectations.
However, I wanted to pay special attention to something that makes ISSCAD and the offered program unique. Imagine a winding path stretching through the picturesque landscape of the Peking University campus, next to the famous Boya Pagoda and Weiming Lake. The sun paints a golden hue across the horizon as I find myself walking alongside two of my newly met in-person classmates. One is from the vibrant continent of Africa, and his tale illustrates the region's tremendous resilience and cultural richness. The other, a brilliant intellect from Asia, radiates wisdom rooted in centuries of tradition and innovation. With each step, the conversation flourishes, and new bridges of understanding are built. During these thirty minutes, we exchanged numerous ideas in which diverse perspectives intertwined and complemented one another, showing the great beauty and potential of South-South cooperation. This unplanned conversation on the stroll to the new ISSCAD building made me realize the truth of Confucius' words: "When I walk with two others, I will learn from at least one." (In this instance, definitely from both...). Subsequent seminars and lectures illuminated for me the most significant benefit of attending ISSCAD study, which is its participants and their diversified experiences, worldviews, and cultures. This makes ISCCAD and its programs a compelling and unique source of knowledge. The knowledge that cannot be found easily in books because it is concealed in heartfelt, passionate stories and discussions, occasionally polemics, and also in empathic perceptions of the complex problems of developing nations.
There were moments when we walked metaphorically alongside those whose views contrasted, shaped by the experience of various local histories, traditions, and struggles. Each person, however, is a valuable piece of the puzzle of the ISSCAD educational process, offering a unique perspective here, revealing new insights, and sometimes questioning the assumptions commonly accepted by others.
Nelson Mandela once said, "Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world." Our education at ISSCAD has been a transformative journey, enabling us to grasp the complexities of global challenges and empowering us to contribute meaningfully to their resolution. We have learned that true education extends beyond textbooks and classrooms; it is a lifelong pursuit that inspires us never to stop learning and constantly adapt to an ever-changing world.
Dear friends, fellow graduates - our achievement today and the knowledge we gained at this prestigious University comes with great expectations and responsibilities for our developing communities. Let us not be content with our individual achievements but strive to lift up our nations together. As we move forward, let us draw inspiration from China's economic success and adapt its lessons to the unique contexts of our own countries. Walking along this path together, we can overcome the challenges that lie ahead and build a world where opportunity and prosperity know no boundaries. Applying the wise words of an African proverb, "If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.", let us choose to go far, hand in hand, drawing strength from one another and working together to shape a better future for our nations and the world.
Reflecting on our time here, we recognize that our accomplishments are not solely our own. They are the culmination of the unwavering support and guidance we received from our esteemed and dedicated professors, who tirelessly imparted their wisdom and nurtured our intellectual curiosity. Thank you for challenging us, inspiring us, facilitating our discussions, and helping us realize our potential. You have instilled in us not just knowledge but also a sense of duty to use that knowledge for the betterment of our countries and societies.
In addition to our esteemed faculty, we want to express our gratitude to the administrative staff of ISSCAD, whose tireless efforts ensured the smooth running of our academic activities. We wish to thank Eliza, Helen, Ling, Sarah, Cosmos and Edward for your everyday care, love and commitment. Your behind-the-scenes work often goes unnoticed, but your dedication paved the way for our success today. It is impossible to mention all your merits, but thank you for the efficient coordination of our arrivals and quarantine, which was a massive challenge in times of COVID restrictions. During the lockdowns, your 24-hour rotational stay at Global Village was exceedingly touching. The ability to create a family atmosphere, which we felt in our everyday contacts, is also worth emphasizing.
Finally, we sincerely thank the people of this Great Nation of China and the Chinese government for their visionary leadership and commitment to developing nations. Through initiatives like the Institute for South-South Cooperation and Development, you have provided a platform for scholars and students from different nations to come together and contribute to the development of their homelands. Your financial support and encouragement have not only transformed our lives but also empowered us to be change-makers so we can create a world where sustainable development, peace and prosperity are not mere aspirations but living realities.
Fellow graduates of Class 2023, please accept my warm congratulations on this remarkable achievement. May the winds of fortune be forever at your backs as you go forth to make your mark on the world.
In closing, let me leave you with a little humor to lighten the atmosphere. Dear friends, fellow graduates, I wish you the long and fruitful holiday that you deserve after a year of hard work and sleepless nights. However, I must warn you that the majority of ISSCAD alumni never take vacations. Well-equipped with new knowledge, they realize that even taking a break would require meticulous analysis of "comparative leisure advantages" and optimizing their relaxation with the precision of "metaheuristic growth theory". Consequently, it is typical for us to immediately begin working for the advancement of our nations with the ingrained motto, "Time is Money, Efficiency is Life."
Thank you, thank you all for listening.