Sikh Student Defies Trump In Unifying Commencement Speech

by
Alice Salles
Envisioning a world where everyone trusts one another, this Sikh graduate student used a commencement speech to encourage others to do good in society.

When hoping for unity sounds like nothing but a fantasy, someone comes along to remind us that we're not the only dreamers left in this world.

UC Berkeley Haas School of Business graduate Angad Singh Padda, a Sikh who's native of Chandigarh, Punjab, decided to interview 70 of his classmates after being chosen as the undergraduate student speaker. In each one-on-one, Padda asked his colleagues what mattered the most to them. With the answers, the student then put together a speech that laid out a vision of the world that seems to be the opposite of what we see every day in the news. And to that, we must thank him.

“We want to use our education to go beyond ourselves, to make the world a better place, we want to unify this world,” Padda said while representing his classmates.

Explaining that he came to America wanting to find a way to fight his home state's drug epidemic — the same that killed two of his best friends — he added that once he arrived, he began learning about problems his friends were facing on a regular basis. He also noticed that many of the issues that were keeping people awake at night were much larger and harder to tackle than he expected.

War, hate, poverty, and climate change were just a few of the many concerns his colleagues shared with him.

As he learned more, he started thinking of a village in his home country of India known as Shani Shingnapur, where people don't erect permanent doors.

Putting their trust in God and their neighbors, these residents have chosen to look beyond doubt. As a result, the village has a low rate of crime.

“What if all of us can use our education to create a world just like that village? You know what that world would look like,” he asked an audience of soon-to-be graduates. “There would be no walls or borders, none. There would be no Muslim ban, nobody would call the other person bad hombres. That is the world we have to create.”

Asking his colleagues to put their degrees and skills to good use, he also urged the audience to use what they've learned to transform the world around them. After all, he continued, it doesn't matter how out of reach the dream of unity might be, anything can be achieved if you put your mind to it.

“They say that dreams are not the ones you have when you go to bed. Hell no. Dreams are the ones that don’t let you go to bed,” he said.

Let's hope his message of hope reaches far beyond his class, touching hearts across the nation — we surely need it more now than ever.

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