Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Graduating from Columbia University in New York

It was the 22nd of May 2002, my big day graduating from Columbia University's School of international and Public Affairs (SIPA). I was so happy to have my papa beside me on that special day who flew 15,000 miles all the way from India to watch his first son do the ceremonial walk and get his degree for the Master of International Affairs. The night before on the 21st of May, my school SIPA had its own little graduation ceremony for its 700 graduate students who walked down the isle of St. John's the Divine, the largest cathedral in North America. As I was appointed as the Lead Marshal of my graduating class by the Deans of SIPA, I had to lead my fellow students as the pipe organs played in the background that night. It was such a romantic experience as the sound echoed in my ears. The cathedral was so huge that it could fit all the 7000 friends and family members of the graduating students. Our graduation speaker for SIPA was New York City Major Michael Bloomberg. He reminded us of what happened in 911 one semester before our graduation, and that we must be strong and defend our freedom. Huge screens were hung from the top of the cathedral projecting the walk, so that the people at the back of this massive cathedral could see their loved ones get their degrees. It was a grand event that night and I could still remember everything just like yesterday.

The next morning the full graduation ceremony took place outdoors on the university campus for all the 15 schools of Columbia University where about 10,000 students and 50,000 cheering family members took part. Our out going Columbia President Dr. George Rupp gave his farewell and blessings to his graduating students before saying goodbye to his own colleagues at the university. My colleagues and I from SIPA did not realize that we were on the front page of the New York times the next day, probably we attracted too much attention waving the different mini flags representing the countries that our graduates came from. It was truly a very colourful and spectacular event.

The following are excerpts from President Rupp's speech:

"Our destiny cannot be divorced from the fate of the rest of the world, including those furthest from us in geography, ideology, and socioeconomic status. The United States may be the world's lone superpower. But we cannot simply impose our will, even on those who seem relatively powerless.”

"One challenge we face together is, then, to make globalization work for the impoverished as well as the wealthy. To meet this challenge will certainly require more generous programs of foreign assistance than the post-Cold War world has so far produced. But it will also entail designing incentives and, when necessary, enforcement mechanism to assure that all the players follow the rules of the game.”

"So today we are challenged to rethink and re-order the ways we live together. First, globalization requires a reorientation of our stance in the international arena'a reorientation that recognizes how intimately we are interconnected with even those most distant from us. And second, along with our embrace of markets, we must affirm the legitimate role of public institutions in requiring adherence to rules of conduct and standards of quality to which all participants are held accountable.”

1 comment:

mayfereen said...

What can i say? number one is that you have done us all proud. Reading it made my heart skip beats of excitement and pride. just keep doing what you love and strive for better and better heights. all the best fro evrything and god's blessings always and forever