Take a moment to appreciate the Spring 2018 End of Voyage Video, featuring a portion¬†UWC Maastricht student Joelle Powe’s heart-warming and moving convocation speech. A full transcript of Powe’s speech has been provided below:
“Good afternoon everyone,
I am really grateful to be one of the people speaking on behalf and with you today. A big congratulations to everyone who completed the voyage. I invite you to close your eyes for a moment. Really, please, close your eyes. I’ll let you know when to open them.¬†
Remember the hands that yours have shaken. Lean into that honor. The honor of touching your hands to the hands of the house mother on your homestay in the township. Your sneakers were kissed by the rocks of Myanmar. Your hair was frazzled by the mindful Japanese wind. Your skin colored by the celebratory Ghanian sun. Understand that you will re-enter the world a gem. Polished and wonderfully molded by this voyage. These experiences represent a new privilege, a privilege that comes with responsibility to operate with a bigness of heart, post-voyage.
How will you honor the vastness of your experience?
Open your eyes.
I don’t have the answer. But allow me to share these suggestions.
Let’s live here in the Kaisersaal every day. Today the Kaisersaal is hosting our convocation, an exciting celebration of our efforts. Some nights the stage is witnessing our dance, song and poetry. The following morning, it’s our odyssey through knowledge, where we dive into questions and issues during Global Studies. Then, it’s a safe space for emotion, and evenings of sharing personal stories. Who am I now? Let’s talk about sex. After listening to panelists from around the world, it’s the hot-spot for bonding, and on one stormy night, it was where tears of feeling helpless about issues of race and gender were shared amongst circles of friends.¬†
Many of us are leaving the ship and going into new internships, handling rejections and acceptances, even entering marriages. How will we show up to these ventures by living in the Kaisersaal? Let’s bring up uncomfortable topics, stretch our minds to think globally, and continue to clap for the people who are shining, as we did in the Kaisersaal. This is a space of transitions and active engagement, a space where we are always traveling, pushing and growing together. That’s what living in the Kaisersaal means.
Step up and step into your life with your creativity, constructing spaces like we did in the Kaisersaal. Students sheepishly thought they could create an event, and each time we were touched or blown away by humor, talent, or a meaningful display of culture. The Kaisersaal opened its stage even to those who had no talent. (laughter)
So move through the world with open minds like you did in the Kaisersaal. Willing, ready, excited to learn new things, like a powerful South African author’s personal narrative. Let’s remember how the Kaisersaal was a space of recognition when we had the crew talent show, shining light on the faces that work behind the scenes for us. Let’s take that with us in our suitcase, a habit of acknowledging and expressing gratitude to those who support us.¬†
With that, I would like to do my best to convey to the thousands of minds and waves of effort that contribute to the nature of our experience on Semester at Sea. There’s the ship and its long-standing history, the program and its coordinators in Colorado. Then there are the live painters right here: our ideas,¬† professors, the crew, the deans, the ocean, the storms and us students, who add color to our ship’s canvas every day. We can hardly pin down a specific face responsible for any one thing. A special thanks to the adults on the ship, who regularly shape-shift into roles we need them to be. From RD to counsellor, to event planner, the lifelong learners who were our friends. The deans who steer us in the right direction, and the professors who opened their hearts while sharing this adventure.
To the medical team, who calmed us with Pepto-Bismol, the field office who was responsible for so many of our amazing experiences, and the communication team that captured it all, thank you. There are so many thank-yous to say to too many people. So if you enjoyed this voyage and are full of gratitude, express this through your new way of being. More than the stories that we tell to our friends, and the Instagram and Facebook posts, our new way of being will speak volumes about the places that we have been. Let’s remember the vastness of the world we experienced, and honor the responsibility that the privilege comes with. Strive to perform in the way that the Kaisersaal facilitates space for celebrating differences, has time to acknowledge the work of others, and is always challenging us to meet discomfort with openness.¬†
Thank you very much.”