The semester has come to an end.
It’s a bitter-sweet moment.
It’s bitter because you have to say goodbye to each other and to Yale.
It’s sweet because you return home taking so many wonderful memories with you.
Think back to everything you have achieved during the semester: the talks you gave, the students you mentored, the articles you wrote, the classes you contributed to.
Think back to how you shared ideas and learned from each other in the Good Society Seminar and Salon.
I’ve had the privilege of listening to you analyze the global challenges facing the world, as well as those particular to your own societies. You have demonstrated how you can bring about change, using your platform as an elected Member of Parliament to amplify the voice of your constituents; and as a senior economist in the African Development Bank, leading the multi-billion dollar response to the COVID pandemic. You are boldly raising awareness of the impact of climate change especially on the most vulnerable communities, exploring how tech can alleviate the global food crisis, and get us to net-zero. You are looking at how to scale innovations at the intersection of food, health and the environment – and feeding us jelly fish and flies while you are at it. You’ve shown how urban planners can make our cities more livable – and encouraged everyone – including Yale’s president – to get on a bike. You have debated the value of books, whether free speech should have limits, how dictatorships seek to control narratives – and won a couple of Booker prizes on the way. You have performed together a Belarusian play which spoke to oppression and the irrepressible longing of people to live in a free society. You have shown the power of culture and the arts in promoting political and social change. You know from personal experience how education opened up your worlds – and you’ve shared the initiatives that you work on in Asia and Africa to provide young people with access to quality learning, with leadership training, so that they can achieve their potential and drive change. You lead social enterprises that deliver for the most marginalized in society. You know how to prevent conflict, to mediate solutions.
You have shown your character in your leadership journeys from village to city, from poverty to prosperity, from street to leadership roles.
Remember the walks, the dinners, the games of jenga, the parties, the karaoke….
Remember the new skills you acquired: how to present, influence, negotiate, act…paint, ice skate, play tennis.
And most importantly remember the relationships you built. You have come together as 16 people from different parts of the world, with different languages, cultures, religions – from different backgrounds and persuasions. And you have all invested the time and effort to get to know each other, to find what you have in common, to build trust, to create a good society.
It takes time, it takes effort, it takes intent. It takes generous souls. And you did it.
I have witnessed the personal growth in each one of you over the past four months. I am hugely proud of you.
Fellows, I want to thank you for everything that you have brought to Yale, for enriching our community with your knowledge, your skills, your passion.
I also want to thank all those who supported you during your time here and have been part of your journey.
To the liaisons, thank you for organizing events for the World Fellows in your colleges, across campus, and for introducing them to university life.
To my team: Alice, Holly, Tim – David, Daryn, William, Peter…thank you for all your hard work and dedication.
To the Jackson School, to Jim Levinsohn, thank you for all your support.
To the Starr Foundation, Hank Greenberg, thank you for your commitment to the program and your generous funding.
Fellows, look at you now. Your best selves. Revitalized. Replenished.
Ready to go back into action.
Ready to take on the challenges that come your way.
Ready to adapt to the unknown.
Because you know you have people who have your back, who are your greatest champions, who believe in you. Your fellow Fellows.
It means something to be a Yale World Fellow.
It means you have values and vision.
Values that you live by.
A vision for how you contribute to improving the world.
And you were lucky to be here for the 20th anniversary of the program – when half the network flew in to celebrate, to share their brilliant ideas, to inspire each other. You saw how fellows push boundaries, think outside the box, motivate each other, and support each other.
It is an amazing network that is growing and flourishing, revitalized every year with new members.
World Fellows have the power
To dream, to rule,
To wrestle the world from fools
We can turn the world around
We can turn the earth’s revolution
Fellows have the power.
2022 World Fellows,
In an era when democracies are backsliding, when we face a climate emergency, when wars are raging, you provide hope to all of us for a better world, expertise on how to get there, and the competencies and courage to lead.
Go forth, re-energized, to improve our world.
Go forth sustained by new friendships that will last a lifetime if you continue to nourish them.
You all leave here a couple of inches taller than when you arrived.
Go forth with your heads held high.
Taller in the knowledge that you are great human beings.
Taller with the love of your fellow Fellows
Taller with our love
World Fellows for life.