My Speech at IU School of Education’s Winter Convocation

I am honored to be the graduate speaker at IU School of Education’s Winter Convocation. I used this opportunity to express how grateful I am to the faculty members and the fellow students in the school. I also shared with the audience my thoughts on our missions as educators and educational researchers in a global era. Below I would like to share with you, my dear readers, part of my speech:

Now we have graduated from our school. As we celebrate our achievements with our mentors, friends and family, my dear fellow graduates, please allow me to raise this question for us to ponder together: What are our missions as educators and educational researchers in this global era?

For me, as we acknowledge the privilege of receiving an education like ours, it is important to keep in mind those left out or left behind by globalization: They are the poor working class families who became jobless in America’s Rust Belt; they are the rural kids in China’s underdeveloped countryside whose parents had to left for work in the coastal cities; they are the teachers and students without basic supplies of paper and pencils in Uganda’s village schools.

Addressing these issues has never been easy. But as educators and educational researchers, we have our own strengths, approaches and commitment.

The first role model that occurs to me is our school’s alumnus Karen Ross. Currently an assistant professor at University of Massachusetts Boston, Karen just published her book Youth Encounter Programs in Israel: Pedagogy, Identity and Social Change. Perhaps the prospect of middle east peace process has never been dimmer than now, but Karen’s work has powerfully demonstrated that, the carefully implemented and grounded peace education programs will create long-term impact on its youth participants, and sow the seeds of social change.

The second example that I think of is Apple Suwannawut. Apple suffered from serious visual impairment. She completed her Phd in IST department through listening and reading Braille. In her own work, she strives to increase the accessibility of online learning platforms for learners of disabilities. When she returned to her homeland, Thailand, she became a youth leader and a renowned advocate for the rights of disabled people. She has been invited to numerous public events and her stories inspired many more people to pursue their dreams.

And of course, how can we forget our wonderful faculty members! Here please allow me to take this opportunity to express how grateful I am to my advisors, Dr. Phil Carspecken and Dr. Barbara Dennis. Thank you—for your unfailing support to not only my academic work but also beyond it, for your insightful intellectual guidance as well as the freedom you gave me to explore what I am interested in most, and above all, for showing me the value of being an exemplary teacher.

My dear fellow graduates, we are not alone here. No matter where you came from, no matter where you are going, we are connected, because of this school, because of our shared name, as educators and educational researchers. As you embark on new journeys, let’s all remember our life here—we used to sit together—equally, freely, peacefully, joyfully—and, we used to read inspiring works, work through challenges, and draw strength from one another.

This is our school’s commitment to us. Let it be our commitment to the world.