First Lady Michelle Obama urged graduates of George Washington University last weekend to go global. The Class of 2010 had just successfully met her challenge to them to dedicate 100,000 hours to service in the greater Washington, DC community. She challenged the graduates to take their experience to the world:
“Yes, that can mean serving in the world’s most broken places. Or it can simply mean surfing foreign news sources to get an idea of how other young people see things in other parts of the world. It can mean continuing your own personal and professional growth by traveling far and wide. Or it can mean reaching back to convince the students behind you to try study abroad programs, especially students from communities and backgrounds who might not normally consider it. It can mean seizing that overseas opportunity with a company. Or it can mean staying here and fixing the world by doing business with the world, and, at the same time, creating opportunity in your own community.” (see http://blogs.suntimes.com/ for the full text)
The First Lady’s words are all the more important for students to hear at a public university such as the University of Iowa. The strengths of university like ours lie precisely in the opening of minds to the unfamiliar, the expansion of horizons, the transformation of the local into the cosmopolitan.