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Wednesday, 30 May, 2018

On Friday 25 May, BBIS held its 2018 Graduation Ceremony for 84 students.

The ceremony was a time for reflecting on our students’ lives at BBIS, and for looking forward to their lives and unbound potential beyond BBIS.

We were treated to excellent speeches.  Isabelle and Nick were chosen by their peers to share the podium and speak on behalf of the graduates; Isabelle representing the IB Career-Related Programme and Nick representing the IB Diploma Programme. Their speeches unified the cohort, containing shared reminiscences, peer-to-peer advice and inspiration. 

The guest speaker, also chosen by the students, was a member of staff, new to BBIS this year. Mr Abdulhamid Okash, the Grade 11 and 12 study hall supervisor, is a graduate in Law from the University of Homs. His speech was an engaging blend of personal experience, wisdom and humour. He had two pieces of advice for the students:

The first is to be resilient. The American writer, Geyer Tulley, observed that, persistence and resilience only come from having been given the chance to work through difficult problems. I appreciate that you have faced some difficult problems already in your lives and overcome, or at least dealt with them. But, chances are, there will be more challenges ahead. Dieter Uchtdorf suggested that, It’s your reaction to adversity, not adversity itself that determines how your life’s story will develop.

We already know that the kind of jobs you will do in your lifetime will probably be many and varied; you might even pursue several careers. The thing is, many of the jobs you will do haven’t been invented yet. The world of work has changed dramatically over the past decade or two, mostly due to increased use of technology and with the constant improvements in artificial intelligence, who knows what is in store

Knowing that change is inevitable, you need to be flexible to accommodate the changes and challenges before you. In the words of the Japanese proverb, the bamboo that bends is stronger than the oak that resists. In a storm the strongest tree can crack and collapse. Bamboo might be shaken and be damaged but it will remain standing and firmly grounded. Its other strength is that it is connected, through a strong root system, to others of its kind. Take what you have learned here, and will continue to learn, and apply it, creatively, to these and the other many different situations you will encounter.

My second piece of advice is to respect and to listen to your parents but this does not mean that you should not strive for independence at the same time. Ultimately, you must follow your own path and take ownership of, and responsibility for that path.

The BBIS graduation orchestra, made up of students from Grade 6 to Grade 12, staff and parents, enhanced the programme delightfully. While it is not unusual to have musical interludes to enhance such ceremonies, it is a feature of the BBIS Graduation Ceremony that all of the works performed are compositions by Grade 12 music students.

For the third year in a row, one of our graduating students was presented with the ECIS Award for International Understanding. The citation on the award reads; Awarded to a student who is a good representative of their own country, with a positive attitude toward the life and culture of others, able to converse in at least two languages, a contributing force in the life of the school, with the ability to bring different people together into a sense of community, thus furthering the cause of international understanding.

The recipient of the award receives a letter from the ECIS which reads, in part, … This award carries with it not only our acknowledgement of your achievements to date, but our sincere hope that your future will continue to be marked by a commitment to good will and understanding amongst all peoples. We are proud of you as a product of one of our own international schools and we are happy to have had the opportunity to offer this recognition. We are counting on you for the future.

This year’s recipient, a popular choice from across the school, was Kristian. Anyone who has had the privilege of knowing him will appreciate that he goes far beyond meeting all of the criteria for receipt of the award.

The ceremony, much of which was the result of student input, was an effective mix of dignity, pride and light-heartedness.  It was followed by refreshments and, later, by a dinner and further celebrations organised by a parent committee and held at a Berlin hotel.

An important chapter in the lives of our Grade 12s closed with graduation but a very exciting one opened. While some of us have seen this scenario played out annually for decades, each graduation remains unique because of the individual students that make it so.

We wish all of our graduating students the very best. It has been a privilege to share part of their life’s journey with them.