In a commencement address at Georgetown University, where he received an honorary degree yesterday, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told graduates to choose service, be bold, listen, champion progress and act with passion and compassion.
Here is the full statement of the UN Secretary-General:
Please join me in saluting the families, friends and faculty who shared in your journey and achievement.
Thank you for this honorary degree. I humbly accept on behalf of the dedicated United Nations staff around the world, working day and night, for peace, development and human rights. This honour is for them.
I am at home at Georgetown.
Your list of graduates reads like a United Nations directory.
It includes so many people, particularly, among them, United Nations spokesperson, Stephane Dujarric.
You must have listened to so many statements, every hour, every day.
But there may be some things that you don’t like. So if you don’t like anything I say, blame him!
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Since I like to speak in the local language wherever I travel, he taught me an important phrase:
I asked him what it means.
He said it means: “what rocks!”
I asked him what that means.
He said: I have no idea. But it’s good.
I think you all rock! I know that some of you have spent the whole night, rocking and dancing!
Again, congratulations again on this big day.
You have reached a pivotal moment in your lives. Our world is also at a crossroads.
Seventy years ago next month, the United Nations was born in San Francisco.
Since then, the United Nations has helped end wars and start progress in places where nearly all hope was lost.
We have protected millions of people– but repression and exploitation continue.
The ozone layer may have been saved – but the existential threat of climate change looms.
Today, we face multiple tragic crises, from Syria to Yemen to South Sudan.
There are more refugees — 50 million — than at any time since the end of the Second World War.
Inequality is growing. Extremism is spreading.
At the same time, we have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
We are the first generation that can end global poverty.
We are the last generation that can slow global warming.
Here are three ways you can lead.
First: Make the choice of service.
There are many paths, including the one I chose: public service.
What is important to remember is that history does not measure a person by his or her bank account.
What counts is how much one gives back to the world – and how courageously one fights for what is right and for those in need.
I will tell you my personal story. In 1962 I was in Washington, DC, just visiting as a student. As one of the international students, I was invited, luckily to the White House, and I met President Kennedy. I was part of a group of one hundred