by Rami Abi Zeid
Ever since Rami Abi Zeid (BE ’21) played the violin at an AUB commencement, he planned what he would say at his own graduation celebration. Following are excerpts from his imagined speech to his classmates.
I hate AUB. These were the first words I uttered the moment I set foot on this campus. It was the 4th of September, 2017. That was my perspective at the time. A perspective that was strengthened after I miserably failed my first exam.
And what was there to like? AUB seemed like a beehive—hot, sweaty, far from home, and filled with all sorts of busy people moving back and forth with no attention to spare. Cold-hearted automata, I thought, blinded by dubious protocols.
There’s an old proverb that says: “Those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who couldn’t hear the music.”
Then, I started to listen. I can tell you I studied the people of AUB well. And after I could hear,
I started to see. The faint glimmer that had lain hidden brightened up, the slight murmur that stood muffled got louder. All revealed something more, a quest for success, a pursuit of greatness perhaps, a search for abundance.
Indeed, my friends, such journeys of a thousand miles begin with a single step. We have successfully achieved this first step, today, on this momentous occasion. What we sought was always in front of us, in the places we saw, in the people we met; all were part of the puzzle. We simply needed to seize it. Such is AUB’s message; spare no effort in paving your path, waste no time in scouting what you seek, for it is all within your grasp.
A short poem by the illustrious Rumi reads:
You were born with potential.
You were born with goodness and trust.
You were born with ideals and dreams.
You were born with greatness.
You were born with wings.
You are not meant for crawling, so don’t.
You have wings.
Learn to use them and fly.
Let us never lose sight of where we’re going. Let us never accept a descent into abysmal ignorance. Let us never give in to foul temptations. We must think well to act well, making use of the logic we have long fostered as true men and women of science, swearing by only true and verifiable facts. Such are the tools of sane judgement. Such are the weapons we have vowed to wield.
We have seen horrors in a country so dear to our hearts tarnished by spiteful men. We have seen what neglect and nonchalance do to beauty, how they ordain it to deformity. Let us know we are the power of change, we have the ability to deter an ill-fated timeline, be it from within or afar. We have the might to save ourselves and save others. That is the mission we are due to fulfill.
In retrospect, I can say that once we got in, we were never the same. I can tell it by looking at each and every one of you: where there was conflict, now I sense resolve, where there was doubt, strength. Life really begins today; there are no more rules, guidelines, boundaries. Only the ones we set for ourselves. We have been given opportunities like no other and without exploiting them we’ll never discover how far we can get. Let us embrace these opportunities and embrace life, fruitful and abundant as it is meant to be.
In closing, and on this very day, the 4th of September, 2021, I can tell you, truly, that yes, I do hate AUB. I hate it for having to leave it now when we went so well together, for leaving it now when it all makes so much sense. But every story needs an end to make way for yet another chapter full of hope and dreams.
AUB is not what you see in front of you, it’s not this legacy-fraught campus, these two-century-old buildings, these state-of-the-art labs and facilities. That’s not it; for AUB is not a place, it is a people!
Let us always work together, let us never give up, and hand in hand, we can move mountains.
Good luck, Class of 2021.