McDaniel College Convocation Ceremony

Remarks by Chargé d’Affaires, a.i. David Kostelancik on the occasion of the McDaniel College, Budapest Campus 2017-2018 Convocation Ceremony
September 5, 2017
– as delivered –

President Rogers, State Secretary Palkovics, Dean Frenyó, Trustees and Honorees of McDaniel College, Faculty and Staff, Friends of the College, and of course, today’s newest members of the McDaniel family,

Jó napot kivánok!  Good afternoon everyone! Thank you very much for the invitation to join you on this very special day.   I’m really starting to feel like part of the McDaniel family, myself.  I had the honor to join the McDaniel College Class of 2017 at their graduation ceremony last Spring and now it’s my great pleasure to join you, the Class of 2021, at the start of this adventure.

And I hope that you’ll consider these next years of study as just that – an adventure.  I remember my own days as a college student, and I’ve been a witness to my own children’s experiences, so I can still appreciate just how special this time is.  With your teachers and fellow students, you’ll have the opportunity to explore a world of ideas.  McDaniel, with such an international student body, offers an amazing opportunity to meet fellow students, faculty, and visitors from different cultures and backgrounds.

Ever since its founding in 1867, a time of great upheaval and rebuilding in the United States, McDaniel College has sought to prepare students who will carry on a tradition of thinking and acting critically, creatively, and humanely as they take their place in the world.  The new friends you’ll make here — the people to your left and right — are the building blocks of that tradition.  Use this time to engage with each other openly in meaningful discussions and debates about everything from Shakespeare’s take on the human condition to your views and those of your teachers, friends, and world leaders on the most urgent and emerging international issues facing humanity today.

And you’ll also have such a unique opportunity to explore the world – quite literally – starting right here in Budapest!  Many of you might be newly arrived in Hungary, and I encourage you to make this place your home.  Hungary offers so many avenues to pursue cultural interests, to reflect on history, and to try something new – whether sailing on the Balaton or learning a great recipe for gulyás.

And having new friends from all corners of the globe offers exciting options for breaks and holidays!   If there’s one thing that I’ve learned from my own international experiences, — whether from my own studying abroad in what was then Czechoslovakia or from my work as a diplomat everywhere from Washington, DC to Moscow, from Tirana, Albania to Ankara, Turkey, — it’s how an experiencing a new place hand-in-hand with a local guide can help you understand so much more about how other people live, think and feel; how we’re all from different places and maybe we have our differences, but we also share so much.

And I know you’ll have excellent guides when you have the chance to visit and study at  the original McDaniel campus as well, in the hills of Westminster, Maryland.  (I think hiking the hills of Buda over the next few semesters will be good preparation!)

International education and exchange is important to the United States Government, with one of the United States’ most prestigious scholarship exchange programs, the Fulbright Program, just having celebrated its 70th anniversary last year.  It’s one of the great success stories for international cooperation and a testimony to power of free academic exchange.  The long-standing and growing program in Hungary is a clear example.  In fact, the bilateral U.S.-Hungarian Fulbright Commission, with enthusiastic and enduring support from both the U.S. and Hungarian governments, just celebrated its own 25th anniversary last year, as well!

The United States is committed to supporting the ongoing free exchange of ideas, through programs like Fulbright and through international institutions like McDaniel College and others here in Budapest, inspiring academic achievement, bringing economic benefits, and contributing to the vibrant civil society of modern Hungary.

Enjoy your time at McDaniel College and in Budapest!  While I know the year ahead will bring many academic and life challenges, I am confident McDaniel’s tradition of openness and innovation will prepare you to meet them.

Once again, thank you for inviting me to join you today and please accept my best wishes for the coming school year!