Your Majesty, Your Royal Highness the Crown Prince, Your Royal Highnesses, Your Excellencies; distinguished guests, family, friends, faculty and staff; alumni, students, and, most especially, the graduating class of 2015. I am honored and delighted, on behalf of the faculty and staff, to welcome all of you to our sixth commencement.
Today we celebrate the Class of 2015, we honor the promise of this school and we recognize, if only for a moment, all of those, past and present, who have made this extraordinary moment, this day, possible.
Creating a school is no small undertaking, and it takes the efforts and the imagination of a great many people. We thank our parents and our families for their support and for the great trust they have placed in us. We thank our faculty – your teachers – who have worked with such care and dedication. We thank all of our staff who take care of this beautiful campus and for making the events of the last few days possible. We thank as well all of those who serve the kingdom, who protect its borders, who ensure our safety, and who work for peace, and we are grateful for the prosperity we enjoy because of their efforts, commitment and courage.
We thank our board of trustees and its chairman, His Excellency Karim Kawar, for their leadership and stewardship – and we are grateful to all of those who have supported this school as it has grown in strength and character and reputation.
And of course we thank His Majesty for the inspired vision we see realized around us. We are here today, having gathered from countries and continents across the world, for one simple reason: because the people of this kingdom and many, many others from around the globe, rallied behind His Majesty’s vision for a new kind of school in the Middle East, a school that would be radically inclusive and residential in character; a school that would be proudly and distinctly Jordanian, but open to students from across the world and all backgrounds; a school that would seek, through the leadership and lives of its graduates, to forge a better future for all.
In the story of the founding of this school and its continued growth, which we must never take for granted, there is a great lesson in what can be accomplished when people come together to work for something much larger and more noble than themselves.
That story is also in many ways the story of your class, the Class of 2015. Your individual accomplishments are considerable and humbling, but your greatest gift – and what I will most remember – are those moments when you came together to reach for something beyond yourself and greater than yourself: in this year’s Round Square International Conference, in permanently bringing MUN to this campus, in your leadership of Kursi Wa Kitab and the Jordan Model Parliament; in your many efforts to make this campus and this community more responsive to the urgent questions of environmental sustainability and social justice; in your athletic teams, in the orchestra, and your theatrical productions and musical performances; in the way you imbued our classrooms with imagination, curiosity and intelligence; in the collective spirit and energy you have created as a class together, and the grace and sense of purpose with which you ended the year.
Our culture tends to celebrate the individual, and it is fitting that we do so, especially today. Yet the story of this school and your class reminds us that nothing that is truly valuable, truly meaningful and enduringly rewarding can be accomplished alone, in isolation, and without the support of others. As a student at King’s – and we hope beyond King’s – you must not simply, in the words of the great Mahmoud Darwish, think of others; you must learn to work with others and for others.
His Royal Highness Crown Prince Hussein, Class of 2012, captured the challenge of the next decades, the challenge you face, when, at the UN last month he spoke of empowering young people “to fight the war for their own future.” That, he noted, can only be accomplished when young people come together “to form intellectual networks and alliances that can reach out to members of their generation and lead public opinion [in support] of the values of co-existence, respect for diversity and the rejection of violence.” Few students in the world are better suited than you to forge those alliances, and you, the graduates of 2015, representing nations from across the world, all backgrounds and walks of life, are uniquely positioned to meet that challenge.
As I look out at you, I am a little envious; not simply for your talents and accomplishments or your impressive list of university acceptances, not simply because you are ready and poised for success, but because, together, you have before you the possibility for heroism – the opportunity to fundamentally change how this part of the world is understood, to act as ambassadors for the kingdom and champions of its aspirations, to bring people together and to shape the future.
As you leave here, know that you will remain united through this school, your second home and family, and that you take with you the collective strength of everyone assembled here. We will miss you, but we know you will be back. As Ms. Tessa said last night: go safely, go well.