“Unity is the expression of the loving power of God and reflects the reality of divinity.” Abdu’l-Baha
Good evening Parents, Faculty, Friends, and our Graduating Senior Class of 2022.
Nations’ Graduates, tonight we share a defining moment. You are completing a cycle of education as you cross the bridge to become young adults engaging in life-defining decisions and choices, and I am retiring from my long-term post as Executive Director. Together, we will leave this beloved School that has been a second home to us for so many years.
When I arrived in 2004, many of you were just arriving into this world. It was the year that Isabela, the daughter of our teacher, Amelia, was born. I remember visiting those of you who were in our Nursery School—back when you had tiny legs and big round faces and would explore the chácara looking for plants and bugs. You held so many surprises in your chubby little hands. Once I jumped when one of you gave me a caterpillar. How quickly you have evolved.
Now you carry a world of ideas and creative systems of thinking in your heads. You can choose the opportunities that match your ideals. You are equipped and ready to enter the arena of world society.
You are leaving a learning environment where we have cared for you like a family member, one that has helped prepare you over the years to develop the autonomy and capacities you need to find your purpose and path in life. You have strong foundations for the maturity you will need to face the world outside these doors. We are confident you will be distinguished.
The class of 2022 will leave an unforgettable legacy. You didn’t just live through the pandemic during your High School years; you were tested and tried through months of crises. You learned how to overcome adversity with grace.
Abdu’l-Baha states, “Anybody can be happy in the state of comfort, ease, health, success, pleasure, and joy; but if one will be happy and contented in the time of trouble, hardship, and prevailing disease, it is the proof of nobility.”
These difficulties did not hold you back! Our annual theme for the school year was hope. You have learned to transform hope from a passive wish into a dynamic reality.
I am awed by the manifestations of your intellectual and moral leadership—the service projects you have created, your academic achievements, including entry into some of the world’s most competitive universities and programs, and the spirit of genuine camaraderie you show toward others. Your dance at the Nations Festival celebrated your incredible talents and the triumphs you have achieved.
Nonetheless, moving on is bittersweet. You are completing a fantastic cycle in your lives and departing with excitement, but with no small measure of anxiety. We share a common challenge as we face momentous change and unmapped futures. We feel a tug in our hearts. The tug is all School of the Nations has given us and all we offered to it. The bond is forever, and like a strong bungee cord, it will bring us back in memory, if not in person, time and time again. It is a tie that both secures us and sets us free at the same time.
Your parents chose School of Nations for its mission, and I came here for the honor of serving a vision I passionately embrace. You have often heard that School of Nations educates students to be world citizens based on standards of academic, bilingual, and ethical excellence and the development of students’ capacities to know, love, and serve humankind. This mission does not end now. You are forever ambassadors of Nations’ values. It is not just our School’s mission; it’s your life mission!
The mission to transform ourselves and contribute to the betterment of society through love, knowledge, and service to our fellow man must continue. This is a win-win proposition for young and old. These core values are the keys to living a happy, purposeful, and successful life.
What other school talks about love in its mission? Ours does. Our foundations are built on love. Love creates, transforms, and regenerates human beings. And we know its all-powerful source, its eternal source. Love comes from the creator of the universe, the everlasting, the ever-giving. We can always find our way to the only deep and true connection, immediately available and ultimately powerful—God’s love. His forgiveness and mercy are always there, always present. We can find Him in the quiet of our hearts. His uplifting guidance comes to us through prayer and meditation.
We have learned about the power of love in community life. We know what the absence of in-person connection looks and feels like from years on Zoom. What can replace a hug, a sports event, a festival, and learning in a real-time, hands-on environment? We have rediscovered love’s powers through collaboration, teamwork, and friendship.
The Baha’i Writings say, “Unity is the expression of the loving power of God and reflects the reality of divinity.” Abdu’l-Baha
I will not dwell on the many definitions of knowledge. You had top-quality teachers who facilitated your learning in so many different and creative ways. You know what is worth learning and why. When love and knowledge are linked, they form a superpower. When we become empowered and capable with love and knowledge, our next big question is how to direct these forces and invest our spiritual and mental energies wisely. And we believe the answer is in service to our fellow man—our human family. Selfishness and excessive materialism deplete the superpower effects of love and knowledge. Selfishness and materialism act like kryptonite. They drain you, causing you to lose the force that makes you a positive change agent.
We create inner happiness, external well-being, and peace when we unite love, knowledge, and service. You know this when you see and experience it because you have created the encounters, the learning environments, and the events where we grow and make wonderful things happen. You have felt in your veins the transformative powers of love, knowledge, and service woven into our Festivals. You have also observed in quieter moments when a friend or teacher reaches out to you with wise and comforting words. You have seen how alumni leave the School and distinguish themselves time after time in universities, careers, and society. Nations’ students make a difference wherever they go.
Keep our mission burning in your heart, and stay in touch. Be confident.
Hold my hand, and I’ll hold yours as we jump into the future together!
Lisa Perskie Executive Director School of the Nations