Graduation Message — May 22, 2020
AIT President Dr. Eden Woon
First, I must apologize to you that one of the unforgettable moments of your life will not happen this May, namely your Graduation Exercise. This is because another unforgettable moment of your life has happened—namely, the Coronavirus Crisis that is hitting the world.
This virus has devastated many countries, including some of your home countries. The devastation takes its toll in human lives, in illness, in the economy, and in our way of life. AIT’s way of life was affected starting March 18th when we had to stop our face-to-face instruction and migrate to interactive online learning. Thanks to our faculty’s diligence, our staff’s hard work, and thanks to your adaptability and patience, we were able to deliver a good quality AIT education to you without delaying your graduation. It is just that, sadly, the Graduation Ceremony itself cannot take place this Spring. I do welcome you all to come back, however, in December and “walk the ceremony” again if you so wish, and bring your parents too at that time!
But I have to admit, whether “normality” can be achieved by December is anybody’s guess at this point. This is because this is a global pandemic, with impact globally. And even if the pandemic subsides, what the Post-Covid-19 world looks like is a big question mark. Therefore, our graduates are walking very much into an uncertain world. Frankly, life as we knew it before January may not return again soon, or some say even ever.
But hopefully as you graduate from AIT, you leave equipped with three characteristics:
First is a dedication to study and improve the human race’s relationship with nature. AIT being an institution whose mission is “Social Impact with Innovation” and which places a heavy emphasis on Sustainability should have given you an appreciation of how formidable nature is, even as this virus has brutally reminded us of this fact. The world needs you, more than ever, to explore and teach and promote the way we co-exist with Mother Earth.
Second, is an appreciation of how globally connected we are and how dependent we are on each other. This pandemic cannot be solved by one or a few countries. It can only be tackled by the whole world working in unison. AIT being one of the truly international universities in the world, with students from 33 different countries and no country having a majority of students here, gave you an excellent opportunity to interact and empathize and work with people from different corners of the world.
Third is an ability to adapt. You should be confident that you will be able to adapt to the new world, to the “New Normal” as many people put it. The education you received at AIT not only provided you with specific knowledge, but an ability and nimbleness and belief in yourself to adapt to new environments and new requirements. As the world is being turned upside down by Covid-19, with the outcome very much unclear, this is a good confidence to have.
So as you graduate today from AIT, equipped with an appreciation of nature, a willingness to work with global partners, and the ability to adapt, we wish you success in a very different world than the one you experienced when you entered AIT a few years ago. But we are proud of your achievements, and we are thankful to you to persevere through your last few months of education at AIT as unforeseen circumstances forced us into emergency measures. You will never forget your last few months at AIT, and we will never forget you! Good luck!!