Greetings everyone – families, friends and faculty members – who are in this room with us or who are tuning in online from different parts of the world. On behalf of the graduating class of GLOBED cohort 6, we would like to share a few words with you.
First of all, thank you very much for being with us on this special occasion. Not all of us can be physically here together but we are grateful for the opportunity to connect and share this moment with you.
Dear Cohort 6, how many of us remember that moment? That moment a little more than 2 years ago when we made an important choice that changed the trajectory of our lives? That moment we clicked Send on an email accepting the offer to become a part of GLOBED Cohort 6. Where were you? What were you feeling? Nervous? Excited? Happy? Sad? Unsure? Hopeful? A mixture of all those emotions and more?
I think many of you (especially those of us who are non-Europeans) can relate to what I am about to say. To be honest, I was most excited about the mobility aspect of the GLOBED program. As someone who had never set foot in Europe before, it was a dream come true. Imagine travelling to a different country every semester! How worldly! How adventurous!
“That sounds so cool!” was the unanimous response I got from family and friends who heard the news. I must admit. I imagined myself wandering along the cobbled streets of Europe. I saw myself studying at a cute little café while church bells toll in the distance. I envisioned learning to speak a new language fluently by the end of this program – sprinkling “si”, “gracias” and “por favor” in my daily interactions like a local. I realize now how optimistic and naïve I was. Even though I have lived in a foreign country for more than half my life, I did not fully grasp the complex realities and challenges that await me as an international student in Europe. I did not foresee how walking in unfamiliar streets where people speak in tongues you do not understand would make one feel so lost and lonely. I could not have imagined that we would be sitting in the UAB classroom, refreshing the screen every few seconds to get an appointment for TIE while Xavi talks about educability in front of the class. I also did not realize that dealing with administrative and bureaucratic hurdles (from housing contracts, vaccine certificates and residence permits to visas) in different countries would take so much of our time and energy. (Side note: very thankful to our Spanish-speaking and German-speaking friends for helping us out with a lot of these challenges.)
The past two years have been an intense learning journey. So many lessons learned, not just within (but more so outside) the four walls of a classroom. We learned about key international actors in global development and education; some of us gained insider perspectives on how they worked (or not worked) through our internships and research projects. Combining the theoretical knowledge we gained from our coursework with real-life experiences, we developed a more critical understanding of IOs, international development and the role of education. “Reflexivity” and “positionality” are no longer just terms we heard in the classroom, but they have become embedded into our lives as we find our own way as academics and professionals. How will all these learnings be a part of our next steps?
Yesterday, I got to listen to some of your thesis presentations. It reminded me of the Basic Research Methods class during the first semester, where Aina gave feedback on our research questions. (The general feedback we got was: Too broad! Trying to do too much in a thesis. OR Too narrow! It shouldn’t be a yes/ no question.) All of us had a lot of reservations and felt unsure about tackling our research projects. We were not confident that we could pull it off. But here we are today. Theoretical frameworks built. Research Methodologies explained. Findings discussed. Research limitations acknowledged. Theses submitted on time (at least to my knowledge :D). Let’s give ourselves a butterfly hug for making it to the end.
Today we are celebrating the end of our GLOBED journey and the beginning of our new chapters. Some of us may have our lives sorted more than others (by sorted, I mean just knowing where you will be in the next three months). No pressure, but how are we feeling? Nervous? Excited? Happy? Sad? Unsure? Hopeful? A mixture of all those emotions and more? No matter what, know that things will work out one way or another. Know that there are people who believe in you, who have your back, who will support you, no matter where they are in the world.
I know that today we are not all here physically, but I would like to remark on the importance of the bonds that were built during these two years. Thank you for being there during the moments of crisis, the ones of extreme happiness, the moments of learning, and of course, the moments of unlearning. Thank you for caring and for showing up, even if you just met me two months ago. Thank you for showing me how vast and wise this amazing world can be. Thank you for showing me the importance of not stopping talking about the struggles (even with all our privileges) that can be part of the amazing journey of studying abroad. If I had the chance, I would go through these two years again, but only if I can make it with you.
I would like to conclude with a quote by an author called Zora Neale Hurston. She wrote, “There are years that ask questions and years that answer.” Our GLOBED years were undeniably both. We arrived with curious minds and open hearts, seeking knowledge and understanding. We delved into new subjects, questioned established beliefs, and challenged ourselves to think critically. The
knowledge and experiences we gained here didn’t merely raise questions; they also provided us with answers, solutions, and insights. We have emerged from GLOBED not only with questions but with the tools and wisdom to find answers. Indeed, life is a journey of questions and answers. Our GLOBED years have prepared us for this journey by nurturing our curiosity, providing us with
answers, and instilling in us the values of open-mindedness and integrity.
Congratulations, Class of 2023. May your future be defined by the profound questions you dare to ask and the meaningful answers you discover.
8th of September 2023, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona