» “Continue learning and stay open,” Director-General tells UMass graduates
26.05.2017 - ODG

“Continue learning and stay open,” Director-General tells UMass graduates

On 26 May 2017, UNESCO Director-General, Irina Bokova addressed the commencement ceremony for undergraduate students at the University of Massachusetts Boston (UMass).

“There is something that makes UMass unique,” said the Director-General before a hall packed with over 3000 graduating students, parents and faculty members. “You believe in the power of diversity to widen and strengthen our capacity to create, to enrich societies and stoke new ideas […] This is more than a philosophy – it is a path to nurturing global citizens, one that resonates with the heart of UNESCO’s mandate and values,” she continued.

Chancellor Keith Motley recalled that the University of Massachusetts Boston is one of the most diverse public university in New England, with students originating from over 140 countries around the world and with a minority student population above 40 percent. Addressing to the 2017 graduates, he said “you have had the privilege to receive a higher education which will open you tremendous opportunities. But it also comes with responsibilities: do not forget to give back to your community”.

In her keynote address, the Director-General advised the student to always be prepared for the unexpected. “This is not the end of your learning days. It is only the beginning. Education is a lifelong process,” she said. She highlighted the importance of knowledge to promote peace and tolerance in times of crisis as well as the power of education to transform lives and its key role in innovation and sustainable development. “Education and knowledge are humanity’s ultimate renewable energy,” she stated.

Furthermore, the Director-General, highlighted what she called the greatest challenge of our time - living together in our diversity - and the only way to respond is “to treat everyone on an equal footing, to make the most of our differences, to learn from them and to work with people from a myriad of backgrounds.”

On the same occasion, the Director-General received an honorary Doctor of Science from the UMass for her “longstanding service to the cause of sustainable development, poverty eradication, cooperation in education, culture, the sciences, and communication, and above all lasting peace”.

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