Convocation: Your Learning Matters

Another world is not only possible, she is on her way. On a quiet day, I can hear her breathing.” 

-Arundhati Roy

Once upon a time in a land far, far away raged a terrible war. The war was so terrible that many of the people of the land fled with whatever they could carry, across mountains and seas, into strange places where they lived in camps. And as many as could manage in desperation tried to flee even further to places in the cold north where they hoped there would be jobs and homes, meals and schools. But the lands of the north saw the wave of poor, desperate people coming and they said, “Stop the trains, Do not let them cross the borders. We can’t possibly help so many.”

A boat carrying refugees turned over in the waves, and many of its passengers drowned. One was a 3-year-old boy, in a red shirt and blue sneakers. When his little body washed up on a beach, someone took a picture, and the picture was shown around the world. And the people of the cold northern lands said, “We must help. Whatever our governments fear, we want to help. Refugees ARE WELCOME HERE.” Citizens of Hungary, Germany, Denmark, France and other countries too are greeting refugees with train tickets, meals, flowers, rides, and opening their homes to show their support and willingness to help. Refusing to accept the decrees of their respective nation-states on “quotas,” they are asserting their own refugee policies that are more inclusive and responsible and honest.  They are also showing that they have learned something from the history of refugees 70 years ago, who were not welcomed and not helped.

I tell you this story, a true story, to show you that what you see and what you know, what you make space in your hearts and homes to care about, and what you do with your knowledge matters. This story has been one of favorites this summer. But there are others, many others, that show the same thing. When you choose to see truth and act with courage, you can change the world.

At Dublin School, our mission is to teach students to seek truth and act with courage. Mr. Bates has asked the faculty this year to focus on this ultimate phrase in our mission, and it is essential in a true education, one that asks you to be changed by what you know. Seeking truth is not simple, and it necessarily involves asking lots of questions, thinking critically, and listening to different points of view. Your teachers are eager to provide opportunities for you to do these things. As you incorporate Dublin’s principles into your lives, you will become people who open their hearts and minds to knowledge, even difficult knowledge, who respond to issues in the world, who speak up and create solutions, and offer sandwiches to hungry people in train stations wherever you live. You will build your dreams and you will change the world.