Remarks by Chargé d’Affaires, a.i. David Kostelancik
on the occasion of the McDaniel College, Budapest Campus 2017 Graduation Ceremony
May 19, 2017
Faculty and Staff of McDaniel College,
Family and friends of the College,
And of course, today’s honored graduates,
Jó napot kívánok! Good afternoon everyone!
Thank you very much for the invitation to join you on this very special day. It’s both the culmination of all of your hard work over the past years as well as the start of your next adventure! Congratulations to all of today’s graduates and to everyone in the McDaniel College family who have supported and nurtured them to this point on their journey.
In many ways, the journey is indeed the destination. For you graduates, today is one important milestone on your life’s path. Today represents the culmination of the educational opportunities you have pursued and the global path you have chosen. As I understand the graduating class today hails from seven countries, a testament to McDaniel’s efforts to offer its students the diverse education our global knowledge economy demands. Each of you should be congratulated for your pursuit of an international education, for your decision to look beyond your borders to identify solutions to problems that transcend national boundaries.
If there’s one thing that I’ve learned from my own international experiences, — whether from my own university days living in the international dormitory on campus and 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 that the journey never ends. There’s always something unexpected around the corner, something new to discover, to attempt, and to understand.
That’s something that my own children have taken to heart, as well! One of my sons is currently studying abroad in Moscow, while another will travel to Germany next school year.
And here at McDaniel College Budapest, you’ve had the best possible chance to prepare for those unexpected moments that today’s ever-shrinking world can – and will – present. Not only has McDaniel offered the unique opportunity to interact and share with cultures from around the globe, I am also am particularly honored to know that history and principles that you will carry with you as members of the global McDaniel community mirror the best and most positive aspects of the American experience.
Founded in 1867, McDaniel College opened just after the U.S. Civil War, at the end of a period of great of upheaval and the start of time for rebuilding. It admitted students regardless of race, religion, or gender. That must have been a very bold decision at the time, especially in Maryland, a state caught between the northern and southern traditions.
Today, McDaniel College seeks 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. I can’t think of a better way to fulfill that goal than through the opportunities for cultural and intellectual exchange that you’ve received at McDaniel, whether interacting with our beautiful host nation, Hungary and its people, with the more than 20 nationalities represented in your student body, with your esteemed faculty, or perhaps with your fellow students from McDaniel’s Maryland campus.
The McDaniel diploma prepares you to seize the opportunities that will come your way, whether that means further study, employment in business, government, or civil society organizations, or in entrepreneurial ventures.
The United States is committed to supporting the ongoing development of institutions like McDaniel’s and others, which have flourished in Hungary for decades. You are adding immeasurably to the global academic environment, and contributing significantly to the development of Budapest. We support you – your institution, student body, and rights to academic freedom – unequivocally, and are proud of your myriad contributions locally and to academic freedom writ large.
Later this afternoon, I’ll join the U.S. – Hungarian Fulbright Commission as they celebrate their 25th anniversary. Fulbright is another one of the great success stories for international cooperation, and, like McDaniel, a testament to the power of free academic exchange. Senator Fulbright, who first founded the program in 1946, was himself an exchange student — a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford. His travels opened his eyes the world and to the lives of the people with whom we share the planet.
In describing the legacy of the Fulbright program, he once said,
“The essence of intercultural education is the acquisition of empathy-the ability to see the world as others see it, and to allow for the possibility that others may see something we have failed to see, or may see it more accurately. The simple purpose of the exchange program…is to erode the culturally rooted mistrust that sets nations against one another. The exchange program is not a panacea but an avenue of hope….”
I am confident that whichever path you choose, you will continue to exemplify McDaniel’s tradition of openness and innovation. As you step forward into the next chapter of your lives, I encourage you to pursue Senator Fulbright’s vision: walk in someone else’s shoes, see the world through different eyes, and find all the possibilities in new perspectives.
Once again, thank you for inviting me to join you today and please accept my congratulations on graduating today from McDaniel College Budapest!