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BBIS Graduation 2021 - Director's Speech

Dear Graduating Class of 2021,

It has been very encouraging listening to your reflections on your experiences. Nobody here would disagree that your cohort has faced unprecedented challenges since March 2020. But you have found your own ways to deal with those challenges. You have shown pioneering attributes of courage, determination and resilience.

You have learned to ask for help, from friends, family and your teachers and counsellors. You have found new hobbies and activities to fill your time. You have become involved in community activities. Some of you have exercised more. Others have changed your routines to become more focussed and productive. I have made the same kinds of changes, and your parents will recognise they have too. There are times I have needed to share my worries and anxieties with people I trust. I have learned to show some vulnerability with my colleagues – after all, we are in this together. I have exercised more, to work off my corona kilos, and to give me time to think and reflect. Just like you, I have found new ways to manage my stress levels.

Something that can be said about you as a year group - you have maintained grace under pressure. For that, I am very proud of you.

All of you have discovered things you can do to help you overcome the challenges you have faced. And this is something about all human beings – we have a remarkable ability to overcome threats. If there is an obstacle in the path, we inevitably find a way around it. That is what makes human beings so successful. But our success has had a profound impact on sustainability, with many consequences that can exert their effects on a global scale. This is one reason why BBIS sets out to inspire you to be responsible, compassionate global citizens who make a difference. Global citizens are knowledgeable about the world. They cooperate with others, and use their problem-solving skills to make a positive difference. We do not have to look far to find an example of the power of this in action. The challenge of the coronavirus has been met with an incredible response. Never before have vaccines been developed, and approved, so rapidly.

This has only been possible through international cooperation and collaboration between teams of scientists around the world. But developing vaccines is not the solution in itself. There has been a national tendency to prioritise vaccination availability for each country’s own population. The global pandemic, still in its exponential growth phase worldwide, can only be overcome through international cooperation and equitable access for those nations with fewer resources. Global problems require global solutions. Global solutions can only be found through international collaboration.

You are about to move on from here, pioneers in your own ways, each of you living unique lives that have never been lived before. Your experiences in response to coronavirus challenges will have shaped you, no doubt. But our hope is that your experience at BBIS has helped you become more confident about your own identity and culture, and helped you to see the importance of learning about, and understanding, the identities, cultures and languages of others. Because that is the key to unlocking not only equity, inclusivity and justice; but also to appreciating and understanding global problems, and responding as responsible, compassionate and informed global citizens, to the challenges you will face throughout your lives. It will help you to make an impact on a local and global scale. BBIS is your home, and you are always welcome to visit. And when you do, we are looking forward to hearing about the impacts that each of you are bound to have made.

Thank you.

Nicholas Hazell