Three Bits of Wisdom for One Planet’s First Graduating Class

One 26 June 2018, One Planet International School celebrated its first graduating class, the class of 2018. Zelalem Amare, the school’s co-founder and executive director addressed the graduates with the last lesson of their high school career, imparting three pieces of wisdom. Here is an extract from his speech in English: Number 1: Know Your Station. The principles this school was built on say you are a noble human being. In the school pledge you have been saying every day, it says, “I will do what is right and noble.” Know that you are noble. What does this word mean? It means you are honorable. You are principled. You are moral. You are decent and upright. You are polite and self-sacrificing. You are virtuous, and you are just.
This nobility is not given to you by anyone, and also, it cannot be taken away from you by anyone. It was not given to you by the school, or by the government, or even by your parents… it was given to you by your creator. It is your job to maintain your nobility, and to act in such a way which is worthy of your station. And to know, that no matter what harsh words someone may say to you on your path of life, no one can take that away from you. Do not let anyone tell you “you are not good enough”, “you can’t do that”, “it is too late for your to be this or that…” You are noble. And you can do anything you put your mind to. Anything at all. Number 2: Do Not be Content with Mediocrity. Because you are noble, do not be content with mediocrity. Let’s remember the school pledge again. “I will strive for excellence in all I aspire to do.” As you leave out this door today, and begin your path in this world, do whatever it is you chose to do with excellence. If you are going to be a doctor, be an excellent doctor. If you are going to go into business, be an excellent and trustworthy business man or women. If you are going to be a brick layer, be the best brick layer the world has ever seen.  Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “If you can't be a pine on the top of the hill, be a scrub in the valley--but be the best little scrub by the side of the hill. Be a bush if you can't be a tree.”
Number 3: Be the healer for this world. The world is sick. Our country is in need of healing. You are all well aware of the diagnosis and the treatment. You have the passion and the energy. You are the treatment for this world.
Study the problems of the world. Which problem moves you? Is it education? Health? The environment? Injustice? Study and diagnose the problems of the world, of our country, and find out which medicine it needs. Chose your path. Study. Learn with excellence, and with your trained mind, apply your medicine to these issues. Choose a career which will benefit many. If your vision is limited to you and your family, well and good. But One Planet students are known for setting a higher standard. We seek to serve the world. If you desire to make a difference in the world, you must be different from the world. You be the guide to those who don’t have any direction. You be the light for those who are in darkness. You bring healing to the world.
Some of you may not know yet what you want to do. That’s OK. You have plenty of time. Mahatma Gandhi said, “The best way to find yourself, is to lose yourself in the service of others.” You can do great things if you start with small steps. Wake up each day, and take a small step. Have a vision of where you want to be, and take one small step in that direction. As you start out on your journey, your vision may become clearer or even change directions. But that’s OK, because it is easier to get somewhere when you are already in motion, than when you have come to a complete stop. When you meet each other 10 years from now, I hope you will compare yourselves with one another, not by how much money you make or what job you got or even by how famous you are. I hope it will be by how many people you have impacted, by how many people’s lives you have changed, by how much you have sacrificed in the path of service to your fellow human beings.
If you hold an orange seed in your hand, it does not look very grand. But when you plant that seed, and it sacrifices its own life to the earth, only then can we see how great it is. When we see that beautiful orange tree, full of green leaves and heavy with juicy, life-giving fruits, only then will we understand its beauty and realize its full potential.

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