Speech at the Graduation Ceremony 2017

Dear students, dear members of the staff, dear families and friends; dear graduates!

Wow! You are here! You did it. Today, you officially graduate from the Liberal Arts and Sciences Programme in Freiburg. For that, we would like to congratulate you in the name of all LAS students!

Only last Wednesday we welcomed our new cohort to UCF. In our speech to them at the opening celebration, we tried to explain to them what studying LAS means using a slightly cheesy garden-metaphor, where the LAS program is a garden, in which every one is standing on their own little piece of soil. In that speech we mentioned you. We told them how inspiring it is for us to see, what you made out of this program and how much you seem to have learned. It is hard for us to tell how this program shaped you and how you as a cohort and as individuals developed throughout these years. But we see the result: you standing there on top of the LAS mountain with your diploma. You have gone where we want to go. And we can see and talk about how you shaped this program. You certainly left a lot of traces on your journey and smoothed the way for all the LAS generations that followed you.

Talking to some of you, we have the impression that this trail up the mountain at UCF was a lot foggier when you came here. As the second cohort, there were some footprints before you, but no one had ever gone to the top, no one even knew if there was one and what it could look like. We are impressed how you handled uncertainty and sometimes even chaos, and, ultimately, did not stop believing that this could be the right thing for you. You dealt with problems and you found solutions. From understanding the Stupo to writing a Bachelor thesis you managed to go your way and climb to the top. And even though there were obstacles, for you there was no limit on your way up. You saw the potential in this, you pursued your own academic interests and you created an environment where ideas can flourish and daydreams became true. We are talking about the students council.

In the preamble of the students’ council charter, our constitution,  it says: „the UCF Students Council  expresses the students’ right and desire for self-determination and carries the spirit of the Liberal Arts and Sciences and its hallmark explorative character into the extracurricular life of the students. It is responsible for establishing and maintaining a peaceful social environment within the UCF marked by the values of equality, tolerance, and responsibility.“

Hallmark explorative character – to us, that sounds like a very good description of something that is hard to describe. We can see this character in the cozy reading room, full of inspiring quotes, or looking at photos from field trips and seminars on our website. We can feel it, hitchhiking to Maastricht, dancing on LAS parties or simply sitting in the common room. We can also taste it, drinking punch and eating Lebkuchen with the staff at the directors’ punch.

And for that, we want to thank you. You leave behind a community that sticks together and flourishes full of ideas and hopes. You leave behind ideas that are beloved and structures that create more ideas. You inspire us, the ones coming after you, to reach for greatness and believe in finding our own way. No matter where you are heading now, you shaped this home, you shaped the ones coming after you and for that we are grateful. No matter where you go now, you will always be welcome here! Be it at the next hike, running dinner, jam session or camping, you are invited to join us and we will send you at least one more email, asking you if you want more emails from us.

Of course, we are also very curious to hear from YOU. Curious to know where you are going now. No matter if you continue studying right away, start working, take some time for traveling or do something entirely different, we are convinced that you have all the potential to get along in the world out there. LAS might not have taught you every single detail of every single topic, but it seems to have taught you how to make decisions, how to find your way and how to change your perspective. We are sure that you will succeed in your dreams and continue to impress and inspire the people around you. There are always challenges on the way, but you certainly learned to see them as chances.

We hope that you stay in touch with us and let us know how you are doing every once in awhile. We hope that when you look back at your time in Freiburg you think about friendship and community, about parties and celebrations, about creating great things and inspiring people. We hope that you look back on right decisions and wrong ones that turned out right. We hope you look back on great classes and interesting discussions, on interests that developed and things that worked out. We hope that you are able to look back and find many wonderful memories of your time here. We thank you for all that you did and wish the very best for everything ahead of you!

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