“Make a difference to this world, and bring down artificial barriers of national interests. Aspire to be Malala Yousafzai, the youngest Nobel laureate in the world.” With these words, Ambassador of Bangladesh to Thailand. H.E. Saida Muna Tasneem inspired 206 graduands from 22 countries to confront and tackle major challenges facing humanity.
Delivering the graduation address at the 128th graduation ceremony of the Asian Institute of Technology (AIT) on December 14, 2017, the Bangladesh Ambassador exhorted students to remain steadfast in maintaining human values and engage in humanitarian work. “The most important thing is to be a good human being, and we must be tolerant and secular,” she stressed. She mentioned the importance of secularism and the need to respect each other’s religion and culture. Quoting Pope Francis who had earlier spoken of the “globalization of indifference,” the Ambassador asked students never to forget compassion as a core element on human conduct.
In an address interspersed with quotes from Steve Jobs, Barack Obama, Pope Francis and Malala Yousafzai, Ambassador Tasneem spoke about AIT’s greatest strength - its international orientation and multicultural ethos. As a Trustee of AIT, I am proud to say that AIT is perhaps the most multicultural institution in the world, she added, as she complimented the Institute for its energy, intelligence and brilliance.
She mentioned the association of Bangladesh with AIT, adding that besides students and officials who train at AIT, Bangladesh has strengthened its association by endowing the Institute with a Bangabandhu Chair Professorship established in honor of the founding father of Bangladesh, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.Tracing the journey of Bangladesh, she stated that the founding principles of the country were secularism, democracy, Bengali nationalism, and social justice.
Delivering his address, AIT President Prof. Worsak Kanok-Nukulchai congratulated the graduands on their academic achievement. However, life is a journey, and graduation should be considered the beginning of this journey, Prof. Worsak remarked. The AIT President stated that virtually every major issue in this world like climate change or natural disasters are global in dimension. Further, the spread of Information Technology ensures that every event is spread around the globe within a very short time span. “AIT plays the role of grooming students as globally responsible citizens, and the institute equips students with tools to confront these global challenges,” Prof. Worsak said.
While asking the students to acknowledge the contribution of their faculty members, donors, friends and family; the AIT President asked the students to maintain a strong linkage with the Institute and give back to AIT.
Delivering the outstanding alumnus address was Dr. Veerapong Chaiperm, Governor of Industrial Estate Authority of Thailand (IEAT). Recalling that he graduated with a doctorate from AIT in Environmental Engineering in 1991, Dr. Veerapong presented lessons from the real-world situation as he spoke about the concept of “4.0.” Listing four elements of 4.0 in the form of the right sensor network, big data, analysis, and implementation, Dr. Veerapong stated that the challenge is to develop as an engineer and also protect as an environmentalist. “In the real-world; known is not enough, and we need know-who also,” Dr. Veerapong quipped as he stated that AIT is a good platform that provides these networks. The distinguished alumnus, who is also the President of AIT Alumni Association (Thailand), asked graduands to look around for networks, look behind for their family support, but look in front towards AIT since it is the Institute that has made them what they are today.
Two-hundred-and-six students from 22 countries graduated from AIT at its 128th graduation, and graduating students hailed from Asia, Africa, Europe and the Caribbean. Thailand and Myanmar with 50 students each provided the maximum number of students in this batch. They were closely followed by India (30), Vietnam (28), Sri Lanka (14), Nepal (9), Bangladesh (4), Indonesia (3), Afghanistan, Fiji, Lao PDR and People’s Republic of China (2 each).and Bhutan,Cambodia, Germany, Ghana, Hong Kong, Jamaica, Malaysia, Nigeria, Pakistan and the Philippines (1 each).
The candidates were presented by the Chair of the Academic Senate, Prof. Mukand Singh Babel, and introduced by the Deans of the three Schools, namely Prof. Voratas Kachitvichyanukul, Dean, School of Engineering and Technology (SET), Prof. Rajendra Shrestha, Dean, School of Environment, Resources and Development (SERD), and Prof Lawrence Stephen Abeln, Dean, School of Management. Intermission numbers were provided by children of the AIT International School. Prof. Sivanappan Kumar, Vice President for Academic Affairs was Master of Ceremonies. Dr. Somchint Pilouk of Environmental Engineering and Management of SERD delivered the message on behalf of graduating students.
Dignitaries who attended the AIT graduation included five ambassadors — H.E. Saida Muna Tasneem (Bangladesh), H.E. Mr Khaga Nath Adhikari (Nepal), H.E. Mrs. Maria del Carmen Martinez Arosemena (Panama), H.E. Ms. Donica Pottie (Canada), and H.E. Mr. Asim Iftikhar Ahmad (Pakistan). H.E. Dr. Subin Pinkayan, Chairman, AIT Board of Trustees also attended the graduation. Other dignitaries included representatives of embassies and diplomatic missions of Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Germany, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Peru, Sri Lanka and Vietnam; representatives of Thai organizations, ministries, federations, institutes, universities and international organizations; alumni, donors, and the private sector.