On the afternoon of 11 June 2020, we hosted our first ever virtual closing ceremony for our Master of Science in Public Policy and Human Development (MPP). The event formally concluded the academic year and gave us the chance to congratulate our students for completing their programme courses.
Beyond a live musical performance, we heard from numerous staff and students — ending the toughest of years on the highest of notes. Below is a selection of quotes from standout speakers including our Director-Dean, our Academic Programme Director, and the President of our DEMOS student association.
“I want to highlight the commitment of the course coordinators, lecturers, tutors and guest lecturers. Thank you for your professionalism and efforts to be able to be here today celebrating the completion of courses.
“Resilience is this academic year’s trademark… An extra sign of appreciation goes to the instruction that transitioned to distance education without much notice; for some it was three days, for others two weeks, and for one lucky group it was a month and a half. We owe you this invaluable experience of being able to continue learning.”
“The start of possibly the most challenging assignment of the specialisation coincided with the transition from in-house to online teaching – and there you were literally left to your own devices: your computer and sometimes not-so-stable internet connection exploring fresh grounds in statistics and Geographic Information Systems, which were new to many.
“There were limited help lines and sometimes challenging group dynamics. That said, I can’t tell you how proud and happy myself and Dr Valerie Graw (the co-coordinator of the specialisation) were to see how we managed and flourished and even enjoyed it. This shows great promise for you and for your future. As scholars employees, friends and global citizens, we wish you all the best!”
“The most important lesson we all learned was about diversity. In these particular circumstances of a global pandemic, when it is time to rebuild better societies, respect for diversity will be key… Diversity and inclusion are key values of UNU and the UN as a whole. But what does it actually mean? Respect for diversity, in theory, diverges from the practice. In our cohort, we are open-minded and sensitive to multiculturalism, which is one of the reasons we chose and were chosen for this programme.
“We have experienced the challenge of diversity and we should all be thankful for this opportunity, where we had to learn from each other, and learn how to cope with our multiculturalism, differences in terms of age, background, and religion. We might not have always been on the same page, but in the end we learned how to accept, understand and tolerate each other’s perspectives.”
“Our MPP Programme attracts students from all over the world and we pride ourselves for sending our alumni all over the world to try to make a difference. This is something that actually might become very difficult in the period after COVID-19… I would like to encourage you to leave that doom and gloom picture behind you and think about what you have learned in our programme and how you can use that to make a better world even in the COVID-19 era.
“If I have to summarise in a few words what you learned in this programme, then I would say that multilateralism and international cooperation in all kinds of fora like the UN and the EU is the way to go forth. We need your generation to make this happen.”
The opinions expressed here are the authors’ own; they do not necessarily reflect the views of UNU.