Convocation address delivered by Dr. Cordelia Premkumar at the Graduation Ceremony of the first batch of IB Graduates of Nelson Mandela State International School Berlin on the 6th July 2007.

Honorable Principal, members of staff, distinguished dignitaries, parents, students and guests,

As I behold the pageantry of today’s celebrations, my memory carries me back to the very first day in the school in the year 2000, when we were hardly thirty-five students and a handful of teachers. SICSB, as it was known during those days, was a toddler who was learning to walk. Being the only school of its kind created on an experimental basis by the Berlin Senate, the school built itself brick by brick thus pursuing its destiny to finally blossom to the present stage. Yes! We have made it and today Nelson Mandela has become a household name in the academic circles.

More than the laurels one collects on his life’s journey what rewards him most is the fulfillment which alone gives meaning to life. What is witnessed today is a spectacular event but then what we envisage as educators is not merely to produce academic scholars but to create a generation of tall men and women who would dare to salvage the society from the perils of modern day predicaments.

We are living in the age of information technology and innovative revolution. The dawn of this new millennium has brought with it many new developments and achievements in the fields of science and technology. Net revolution followed by the promotion of server television is imparting a fresh look to the new century. Web handies and the micro computers, on the other hand, are trying to make the communication network much stronger. The Japanese are vying with the Germans in producing the domestic robots. The list is not exhaustive but only illustrative.

On the other hand the much developed modern man requires much more tolerance towards his neighbours and a deeper understanding of his environment. A proper integration with the neighbouring community is felt to be the call of the day. In these circumstances, education plays a vital role. Call for an united Europe turns out to be an empty cry in the absence of an educational programme that aims at the integration of the society. A closer look at the present day crisis amply reveals that most of our modern day maladies are the outbursts of ethnic intolerances and racial prejudices.

If one thinks of a Europe without boundaries only in term of a single currency, or a common market or even a common military without taking into consideration the inevitable need to unite people in hearts, our efforts will be counterproductive.

In this connection schools play a vital role in shaping the young generation. Education trains our minds, prepares our hearts and strives to bridge the cultural gaps by building relationships. The launching of an international Comprehensive school is one such laudable land mark in Berlin. What this school is trying to achieve is to create a symphony orchestra of varied talents drawn from the cross-section of the society. By bringing different nationalities together to interact in a common media with the aid of an international language we strive to promote knowledge and integration.

The poet laureate Rabindranath Tagore, while founding the Shanthiniketan in the most naturalistic surrounding of green woods, did not hesitate to call himself a world citizen. Thus he broke the national boundaries and cultural barriers to call himself a citizen of the world thereby claiming the entire globe as his own nation. The philosophy of life determines the destiny of one’s future and at the same time develops an attitude towards the contemporary society. What you believe is what you become. This is the simple lesson one draws from history. Schools can either be the breeding grounds of ethnic animosity or the hatcheries of international understanding and global brotherhood. I read with amazement a three year old child`s letter to God wherein he writes, “God we know you created the earth but I fail to understand as to who has drawn the boundaries in between the lands?” In a world torn apart by hate and animosity we require more bridges and less and less separating walls.

Towards this end, dear graduates, your contribution counts a lot. As you pass out of this citadel of character building, we as educators release you into the world as little flames to light the society. Come; let us build a better tomorrow! Finally, dear young graduates, as I wish you an awesome time of celebration, let me remind you not to rest on your laurels but to focus on the future. Your best days are not behind you, they are still ahead of you!

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19.03.2018 Nelson-Mandela-Schule · Staatliche Internationale Schule Berlin | Nelson Mandela School · State International School Berlin