Universiteit Leiden

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International Studies students receive their diploma

On 1 September 2023, 280 students received their Bachelor Diploma of International Studies. The students were awarded their diplomas in the historic Pieterskerk in Leiden: the UNESCO world heritage site, where the university was originally founded in 1575. A large audience of about 700 people consisting of friends, family, and staff members gathered to celebrate the graduates’ achievements in a joyful atmosphere.

Words of welcome

After the impressive entrance of the lecturers in the academic procession, followed by the graduates, professor Isabelle Duyvesteyn, Chair of the International Studies Programme, officially opened the ceremony. She started with extending good wishes to the graduates: wishing them lots of happiness and she expressed the hope that they will do many good things with the knowledge they have acquired. Still, there is a puzzle: what leads to human happiness? Is it health, wealth or praise, admiration and glory? Professor Duyvesteyn concluded that neither of these things lead to lasting happiness. Research shows that it is relationships with other people that make us happy and healthy. The programme strives to create connections by emphasizing the importance of seeing the world through the eyes of others, in a very international and diverse classroom environment.

Subsequently, Saskia Goedhard, Executive Director of the Humanities Faculty welcomed the graduates and their family on behalf of the Faculty Board. She emphasized the importance of this moment when students become not only alumni of Leiden University, and part of an old tradition but also ambassadors for the university and the International Studies programme all over the world. She congratulated the graduates and the programme on this achievement.

After those warm words, the awarding of the diplomas started with students with the specialisations in the regions Africa, East Asia, Europe and Latin America.

Alumni speech

Then it was time for alumna and former student member of the Programme Board Sophia Healey, to give this year’s Alumni Speech.

Sophia started with a quote from her father, something he used to say to her when she was younger: '99% of life is showing up'. This appeared all too simple: the key to having a fulfilling career is simply showing up. However, Sophia learned that reality was more nuanced. First of all, students need to persevere through many instances of showing up: lectures, tutorials, exams, repeat. Moreover, there are so many different communities for which our students show up: study associations, education committee meetings, university council, sports teams, UNICEF etc, etc. And it is about more than just showing up, hard work is needed to create and maintain those communities. So, it is all about where and how we show up. And finally, life is not all about education and career, but again about the relationships we build.

The ceremony continued with students from the regions Middle East, North America, Russia & Eurasia and South and Southeast Asia.

Best thesis

When all graduates had received their diploma, the Golden Stork Award for ‘Best Thesis’ was awarded to Maria Tamara Lozano for her thesis "Episodic Framing of Indigenous Protest: An Analysis of the Othering of the Minga’s Involvement in Colombia’s Paro Nacional of 2021". The Award was presented by the chair of the Board of Examiners, dr. Kamila Krakowska Rodrigues. She noted that that the Stork Committee focused in their deliberations on the extent to which the nominated theses contextualize their local case studies within a global dynamic and on the multidisciplinary character of the adopted approach, the two pillars of academic identity of BA International Studies. Maria Tamara's thesis stood out for its strong methodological underpinning including a solid justification of the adopted multidisciplinary research design, and clear awareness of the global resonance of the presented local findings.

Commencement Speech

At the end of the ceremony, professor Marina Terkourafi, delivered the commencement speech. She started with reminiscing on her own graduation: 'What would that younger self have found useful as an inspiration to hold on to -- at least until the drinks and merriment of the afternoon begin?'. Professor Terkourafi went on to explain that it is important to remember where you come from and how far you have come. We teach our students not to all think alike, but rather to help them recognise the validity of different ways of thinking. And it is not just important to be able to recognise the perspectives of others: your own unique perspective and ways of thinking are just as valuable. The key lies in listening carefully, taking good ideas on board and acting upon them. 'Don’t be complacent. Make a difference from where you stand.'

After the commencement speech the ceremony closed officially by Jaap Kamphuis, the master of ceremonies and programme manager. While enjoying some festive drinks, the celebrations continued informally.

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