Let me start by saying that I am very proud to be addressing you today as the students of Toronto University for the last time. In some moments we shall receive the diplomas and become the 2005 graduates of the Linguistics faculty, newly-fledged Masters of Art in Translation. I guess that after the strain of final tests, credits and exams, not to mention the time-consuming graduation theses (and its nerve-racking presentation), most of us were looking forward to this moment, when the studying is over, the diploma is in your pocket and you are free to do what you like. But I want you to look around you and remember this moment. Look at your group-mates and your teachers, because from now on life will scatter us around the world, and most of us will meet only at alumni parties. Recall the best moments of studying that we shared.
Our first lectures in September, when we came so sun-tanned and so full of summer stories that the teacher had difficulties silencing us up to start the lecture, and we tried hard to write it down with fingers stiff from a long idle vacation time. Remember our coffee breaks, our first collective truancy, when we gathered together and went to play snowballs. Recall your student friends with whom you tried hard to answer the eternal questions and find the sense of life. Remember the surprise we all felt when we understood that we are no longer the youngest in the campus, when the freshmen fussing around and asking for directions caused us to smile at them and patronize them. Remember your favorite teachers who made you feel a tiny spark of interest glowing inside you and managed to support this spark and helped us to discover who we are and what we’d like to do in the future. Remember everything and carve this moment in your memory.
We are now standing on the threshold of the real adult life. From now on no one will put us an “A” or an “F” for well or poorly done homework and evaluate our progress. We are free to go our own way, and it will be absolutely different for everyone. Some will continue studies on the post-graduate level and become university tutors or scientists. Others will rush to apply their skills on practice and become good translators or interpreters. Some of us will require time to think and will go traveling. When university studies are over, it is time to create our own lives, and for this we have the whole world at our disposal. As John Updike said, “you cannot help but learn more as you take the world into your hands. Take it up reverently, for it is an old piece of clay, with millions of thumbprints on it” (2). So my first piece of advice is not to hesitate to step over the threshold of the door that is already open for us. With the knowledge and friends we gained from our alma mater, the University of Toronto, we will overcome every obstacle. The main thing is to search hard for the job that you really like, and have persistence and faith. A favorite job is not found lying in the street, it should be looked after. But in the end it will be there for you, and you’ll feel that it’s your cup of tea as soon as you start it. Don’t settle and keep looking.
But however winding and different our life paths will be, we are all the graduates of one university, and we share the common concepts of our University – knowledge, spirituality and freedom. The University gave us an opportunity to get good academic training, balance our personal priorities and feel free to choose whatever path we like. We have gained education, that is “what survives when what has been learned has been forgotten” (B.F. Skinner) (2). To be serious, I think that with these concepts we are, as Clinton said, “doomed to succeed”.
So let me wish you luck and perseverance. I wish you all successes on you life path. I hope to hear about you well before the alumni party: when I will be reading the newspaper article about a breakthrough in translating studies or about the new President’s interpreter, I will know whom to think of – one of us – graduates 2005. Good luck to us all!