Thursday, 16 May 2013

Reflection Speech- The Me I'm Becoming By Shalom Otuene

"Many who were seated in the commencement hall during the ‘Seniors Award Dinner’ were lost in laughter as Shalom gave her “humorous speech.” From where I was seated, I could see as the founder, H.E. Atiku Abubakar shook his head in total amazement, perhaps, wondering to himself, “Who’s this lady? Why isn’t this girl an actress in Gollywood or better still, Bollywood?”

More than the humor of the text was the thought provoking question in Shalom’s speech, “What does tomorrow mean to you? Deep question I would say. Shalom Otuene is indeed a raw talent with a great sense of humor. 

Please check out her speech below and leave a comment if you so wish:

Today marks a great milestone for members of faculty and staff; all of whom are happy we are moving on with our lives. It is equally a moment of joy for our dear parents who have shouted their hearts out and footed the bills; and of cause the extra-ordinary class of 2013 - as we collectively celebrate our achievement of another landmark for our glorious future.

Your Excellencies, President Margee Ensign, members of faculty and staff, proud parents and well-wishers, I say a big thank you for being part of our commencement ceremony.

Coming to AUN is a fulfilled dream - the dream of our parents to give us the best and our own dream of having the best. Before I came to AUN, my favourite phrase was ‘I don’t know!’ With so much apathy and nonchalance I would quickly reply even before any sentence sounding like a question is completed… ‘I don’t know!’ One day immediately one of my elder sisters said ‘When are you…’, I immediately replied ‘I don’t know!’. With a deep sigh she continued ‘… going back to school.’ And just to prove that I really do not know, I said I would have to check the school’s website as resumption date wasn’t announced. I knew this attitude of mine wasn’t a good one. But I enjoyed the fact that it saved me from work.

Coming to AUN, I tried the ‘I don’t know’ pattern in my classes. Oh no! What a big mistake I had made!
From instructors like Prof Ajayi who would call you out to write on the board, to Prof Imade who would praise you with names I have never heard before like super jumbo fly student, just for answering a question, I knew I had to sit up.

To make matters worse, ICP my major wouldn’t just accept my ‘I don’t know’ attitude.

Prof Imade would make me imagine I’m a senator and so I should produce a resolution to an on-going national or international issue, Prof Lim would make me write reaction essays for in class readings; stating clearly what I agree with and where I felt the author was wrong, not forgetting my own conclusion, Prof Gbara, would make me discuss with details, breaking news I felt was of no importance to me, Prof Mayer who in trying to make me understand him would give a joke and still laugh all by himself, Prof Sims would make me produce a thesis and solutions including theories for problems I did not create, and of cause the fear of being in Prof Hansen’s class left me with no other choice than to do all these. From people who took his class, I hear he would give 50 pages of work to read and write on right from the first day of class. 

Out of class we had to think of community service projects to carry out. We had to belong to one club or the other; all into developing the university and the community, which justifies AUN’s unique development focus.
This meant I had to know! I just had to know at all times! And even when I sincerely did not know, I had to think and produce an answer quickly! There was no chance to be silly anymore.

Gradually from my first year to my last day in AUN, my favourite phrase became ‘What can I do to help?’ this question was anticipated even before my classes.

This has made me, or rather the ‘Me I’m becoming’: the me who would seize any opportunity to impact a life, the me who would no longer do things brashly  but would take a minute to critically think and provide empirical examples alongside.

Albert Einstein once defined insanity as “doing the same over and over and expecting different results”. And so ladies and gents, I am honoured to humbly introduce to you my new-found lifelong friend from AUN, which is called: ‘Improvement’. 

We must seek to improve our lives every day no matter the little progress we see. Improvement brings about change. However, “no man is an island”- John Donne. Therefore, if we seek to improve ourselves only, we would only be prolonging change. Selfishness amongst other egoistic characteristics has become the order of the day and so today strife and bitterness is inevitable.

Do not think only of your own good, think also of others and what is best for them. Helping improve others should move beyond the need for recognition or followership. It should be a necessity; needed for global change.

The change story has become redundant as I sometimes felt I had heard enough. I sometimes thought why it was so important anyway and why have we not seen it yet. Then I realized change is happening whether we like it or not. The world is not the same way it was yesterday, which path it turns to - negative or positive depends on us. With one person here, another there all effecting positive change, soon change would have evolved all round. Like Tola - another brilliant graduating student would say in Pidgin English, “that one no be today”. And yes I agree with him. “Tola, na tomorrow”. What does tomorrow mean to you? Our parents worked hard yesterday so that ‘the you’ they had not yet seen could have a better future. And so if we do not live to see the all-round change at least our children would, if they don’t our grandchildren would! Change must occur.

The moment you stop improving on yourself, you are no better than a dead man.

Just the same way our dream of having a good education and graduating has been fulfilled; we must also work towards achieving the dream of having a better world.

Live your life in such a way that tomorrow, somebody somewhere would thank God for creating you."

Shalom Otuene
Twitter: @huntlya


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