ICU 2013 Autumn Matriculation Addres by Junko Hibiya, President


Junko Hibiya, President

I would like to welcome all members of the incoming class to the ICU community. May I also offer warm greetings to those family members who are with us. The class includes students from more than 30 countries, including 1 each from Argentina, Brazil, Ethiopia, Mexico, New Zealand, Romania, 14 from Germany, 31 from the UK, and 223 from the US, among others.

ICU was founded exactly sixty years ago through international cooperation with the aim of vindicating the possibilities of a world community by realizing on its campus an international community that will be a laboratory in international culture and understanding. Coming from diverse educational and cultural backgrounds, you are expected to enrich the ICU student body with different and innovative ways in which to meet the challenges of the new global age.

Are you familiar with the "Millennium Development Goals: MDGs"? They integrate the United Nations Millennium Declaration adopted at the Millennium Summit in 2000 and international development goals adopted by major international conferences and summits in the 1990s. These goals set out 8 time-bound targets with a deadline of 2015. The first goal is to eradicate extreme poverty and hunger.

The second goal is to achieve universal primary education, with the target of ensuring that, by 2015, children everywhere, boys and girls alike, will be able to complete a full course of primary schooling. According to the 2012 issue of UNESCO's Education for All Global Monitoring Report, however, enrolment in primary education in 2010 was 91% in the world, 81% in low-income countries and 77% in sub-Saharan Africa. The year 2015 is the year after next. Today, one in ten children on the earth still cannot receive an elementary school education; the ratio is even worse, one out of four, in sub-Saharan Africa. Some of you may take it for granted to be enrolled in an institution of higher education. However, it is worthwhile reminding ourselves that there are many who are forced to abandon hope of receiving even an elementary school education.

You will take the "Student Pledge" shortly and promise to lead a student life based on the principles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Our first students, matriculating in April 1953, were introduced to the congregation just like today. And each one signed a pledge. This has since been a tradition at ICU, at every matriculation ceremony, for the past sixty years.

The first article of the University Declaration of Human Rights states, "All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights." A moment ago, I noted that, in today's world, many are still unable to complete an elementary school education. Such a situation prompts careful reflection on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. You who have been granted a great blessing to study at undergraduate/graduate level should not waste the opportunity. What should you do, through your studies and extracurricular activities at ICU, to realize a world where all people can live without suffering want or fear? Give this question serious thought.

The MDGs advocate further six goals: the promotion of gender equality and empowerment of women, the reduction of child mortality, the improvement of maternal health, the struggle against HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases, ensuring environmental sustainability, and global partnership for development.

Here at ICU, we require students to approach issues from diverse points of view and to acquire the ability to analyze them carefully, logically and critically. I urge you to acquire these abilities and to contribute to the achievement of these goals, as a global citizen.

The declaration's first article continues as follows, "Human beings are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood." In the life that you are about to begin here, you will surely meet a great diversity of people. I ask that you seek to understand those who are different from yourself, and, through that understanding, redefine the relationships between you and others. On this campus, there will be many opportunities where, through the mutual support of others, you will gain considerable experience in "acting towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood."

I noted earlier that it is indeed a great blessing to be able to study at the undergraduate/graduate level. At the beginning of today's ceremony, we read the second half of Verse 48 in Chapter 12 of the Gospel according to Luke. To each and every one of you who are here, much has already been given. Those graduates who walked the same path before you have become those to whom much has been entrusted and who met what has been required. Please spend each day at ICU as a valuable one so that you may follow them. May the years ahead of you be fruitful.

Junko Hibiya