The national anthem echoed through the Assembly Hall arches, as the deans, faculty, trustees, and President Fadlo Khuri marched forward to commence the annual Opening Ceremony of the 2017-2018 academic year on Monday, September 4.
Khuri opened the ceremony with his speech titled “Against the Grain” addressing an eager audience. He stressed on the importance of the American University of Beirut in giving back to the communities, adding that during “this era of great crisis [we] must focus our consideration on our bold purpose of keeping up with improving the human condition.”
Khuri then spoke about the prominence of opportunities during this era of calamity in countries such as Yemen, Iraq, and Syria. This is a chance for individuals “to define opportunities and then embrace them, to become more tolerant of taking risks, overcoming doubt, and lending a hand to the less fortunate,” he added.
Khuri also spoke about how “opportunities [like these] transform individuals to transform ordinary into extraordinary. Individuals that will serve, sacrifice and provide aid to the less fortunate. Any individual that graduates, studies, works, or visits the American University of Beirut is portrayed as an actualizer, as a beacon of hope and relief to the world”.
President Khuri, with similar valiant principles as the late Abraham Lincoln, said: “We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained, it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory will swell when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature.”
Khuri then reflected on the basic principle of keeping the American University of Beirut up to standards and maintaining a collective bond and the same vision of agency of humanism. He hoped to step boldly forward and to make differences and changes as a community as “no man is an island and neither are universities.”
The speech ended with an emphasis on his strong belief that the American University of Beirut is an “actualiser” that transforms words into actions. The American University of Beirut community strives for better days and to be a beacon of hope, a sanctuary during this time of predicament for countries around the region that works against the grain to boldly achieve and provide opportunities that will “actualise the world into a significantly much better place than the past.”