IB Director General, Dr Siva Kumari, was recently invited to the International School Moshi, Tanzania—Diploma Programme Graduation Ceremony. Read excerpts of the commencement address below
“Good afternoon everyone. Jambo and namaste.
I am honoured to be invited to be a small part of your very special celebration – the 40th graduation ceremony at the International School Moshi.
Some of you may know that the International School Moshi (ISM) is the very first IB World School in all of Africa. In all IB offices we have a video conference room named Moshi to honour this school and its unwavering commitment to the IB’s philosophy. So many IB staff know of ISM.
ISM has a laudable mission and vision, “an education that is inspirational in nature, holistic in perspective, global in context and responsible in practice. It is a notable one and we at the IB are delighted that we are able to play a vital part in enabling this school to deliver its mission through the IB’s own mission which works with ISM. I’m equally impressed by the collective depth of knowledge about the IB among the faculty and administrative leadership.
I’m very pleased to be back in Tanzania. Like many in the world I came to know the towns of Arusha and Moshi because they are starting points for those who hike Kilimanjaro. I have come to adore these places and the parks as one of my favorite places in the world after being here twice about 10 years ago and getting to know Tanzanian nature and in particular Kili. It is some of the most magnificent natural landscape that I’ve seen in the world.
Proud parents, Diploma Programme Teachers and very happy students I offer you a hearty congratulations.
Together all of you are clearly marking a memorable milestone. That being the entry of these young adults into the big wide world! Your teachers will miss the relationships they’ve developed with graduating students. Parents, you will hopefully have to worry a little less as you see your children develop into university entrants. And students, I’m sure you are deeply thrilled to be done with your IB diploma.
You’ve successfully completed a course of study unlike any other and enter the world as not only well-rounded learners but as well-rounded individuals who are discerning thinkers, capable of analysing viewpoints, communicating with confidence and to a variety of audiences both in oral and written form.
You have prepared yourself well for higher academics…..You’ve debated your ideas with each other, with your teachers and you learned how to do so respectfully but with confidence. You have been asked to give your best in subjects you like and some that you may not like so much. You’ve been asked to write a 4,000 piece essay which prepares you well for college life.
You have primed yourself well for life….You’ve persisted in your courses that I’m sure tested you, frustrated you and energized you. You have learned, I hope, to pace yourself, to seek balance, to live a little while taking on a challenging programme, you’ve learned to meet deadlines or at least know your problems in meeting deadlines.
Most important of all you are prepared to be knowledge creators rather than simply regurgitating information. You know how to research sources; you know how to present knowledge, to think critically. As we in the IB travel to academic institutions around the world this is what we hear from universities and employers.
Let’s focus now a bit on other equally important attributes that you are already familiar with as you’ve completed this programme.
You may know or your parents may have told you that life for you will be different than it was for them. This is a statement every generation makes to the next one. So remember, all of us as young adults were told this when we were your age.
Such is life. The world evolves, we know that. But what is important is to focus on how you will deal with the world you enter. It is with the same trepidation that we adults entered. Will I succeed? Am I good enough? Will I make something of myself? These are the same questions your parents will likely have in their minds while they fully believe in you as we all do.
You have been prepared well for dealing with the world we live in today. You are entering a world where information is at your fingertips, where intercultural understanding is even more important today and indeed inescapable; where one has to transcend borders, cultures, religion and politics. Where country borders are merely passport checking spaces as the world of work asks us to collaborate with people around the globe. You are entering the world at a time where economic powers are clearly not as skewed to the west. You are entering a world with significant pockets of deep civil wars or ideological wars. Seeking a peaceful world is needed today as it ever was.
I also urge you to take deep pride in your own culture, upbringing and schooling. Cherish it while respecting that of others. You’ve been educated to be a critical thinker who cares deeply about issues they want to address. And to learn the arts, sciences, mathematics and humanities which are needed to achieve informed intellectual and balanced contributions to the rest of humanity.
Again….Use these tools wisely and don’t lose this tool set. In a world that is moving toward interdisciplinary you hold an advantage. At a time when interdisciplinary thinking is being highlighted in academia and business, you have a chance to use your academic preparation.
As I migrate through the world spending almost each week in a different continent, I have to hold on to a few tenets to remain sane and grounded. I’ve led a life that started in India, professionally was established in the USA, on to Singapore, back to America and now in Europe. I have to think a lot more about how to retain my own brand and not be just a watered down indistinguishable amalgam of life’s influences. So let me give you some advice from this perspective.
Firstly, stay closely connected to those who give you strength. To do that you will have to first discern between those who bring you down and those who propel you in life. Find those who strengthen you. You are worth it and they are invaluable. Equally remember to give strength to others. They will value you and you will get more in the bargain. Forgive those who are naively and unnecessarily less than nice to you. They are not worth your time now or ever. So always keep up those connections that are important to you, take time to make them strong and make time to allow them to see how you’ve grown.
Secondly, find meaningful areas of study that matter to you. Try to find your passion and don’t be afraid to take risks that will allow you to test areas to find what you love. You might need to take a few detours or open yourself up to lots of experiences. If you do find your passion, all the cliches will come true. You will not think of work or learning as work. You will enjoy life and be happy and make others happy. Success will surely follow.
Finally and most importantly. Try to make this world a better place every day. Don’t ever think you don’t have a role in it. You can do so in big and small ways every day. Not everything you do has to be newspaper worthy. Not everything you do will deserve an award but realize your own strengths in making yourself and those around you feel your ability to make the world a better place. Give the best of you every day and remember to leave your personal mark on this world. This is in your power, own it, use it and build on it as you grow. Don’t waste ‘you’ in this world.