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Listening to the Music of Carleton: Unlearning & Relearning Ourselves
Commencement Speech in Two Voices
Faisal Mohyuddin 00
Sachin B. Patel 00
Faisal: Long enough have you dream'd contemptible dreams,
Now I wash the gum from your eyes,
You must habit yourself to the dazzle of the light and of every moment of
Sachin: And with these words from Walt Whitman's Song of Myself, we welcome you:
Faisal: Asalamu Alaikum.
Sachin: And Namaste, Class of 2000, families, friends, distinguished faculty and staff, and Presidents Lewis and Clinton.
Faisal: We stand before you on this lovely late spring morning, the birds lost in song, sunlight filtering through the air, our voices ready to take flight, ready to unfold the wings of our words. So, listen, Sachin.
Sachin: Yes, listen, Faisal.
Faisal: Listen to the music of Carleton. Listen to the chiming of Willis Hall. Listen to the murmurs of Laird. Listen to the beakers clanging in Mudd, the echoes of the chapel, the whispers of the dorms. Listen to all the motions, all the rhythms of our Carleton where we have learned how to learn.
Sachin: Through all this natural music, we hear the past as it meets the present about to embrace the future. Just a few years ago, we all entered Carleton, leaving behind and bringing with us the experiences that shaped the identities of who we all were in this world. And so much has changed since then.
Faisal: Once, Sachin was an Indian American Hindu, but was that all he was?
Sachin: Once, Faisal was a Pakistani American Muslim, but what more was he?
Faisal: Once, according to our histories, that's all we were and all we were supposed to be.
Sachin: You don't need us to tell you what has been happening between Hindus and Muslims, Indians and Pakistanis for the last two years, fifty years, five hundred years. Even at Carleton, we feel the effects of this turbulence.
Faisal: Some of us may remember, during our New Student Week, President Lewis's reflections of his time spent in Pakistan. The story of how he learned from a friend that we should first give a little bit of ourselves before expecting to receive anything from another.
Sachin: Showing us how you begin to learn about friendship. And just a few months ago, when President Clinton visited South Asia, he put into practice President Lewis's words by giving of himself as he tried to bridge the histories of India and Pakistan...
Faisal: A bridge that sometimes seems may never be built.
Sachin: A bridge that we have seen built at Carleton, a bridge whose formation began off-campus in London where we were suddenly roommates, thrown together in a different world where we began seeing history through the present, seeing ourselves through each other.
Faisal: Noticing the similarities that exist in our differences.
Sachin: Besides English, we speak the same language, although they are written differently.
Faisal: You, Sachin, speak Hindi and I speak Urdu; but when you speak and I listen, the words are the same.
Sachin: Starting at Carleton, this process of learning each other was intensified in London. We were distanced from what was familiar, with our eyes opening wider, we stepped out of our histories, stepped almost out of time itself, to unlearn and then relearn our pasts in this "classroom without walls," changing the way we viewed the Carleton campuschanging the way we viewed ourselves.
Faisal: Sachin, you were no longer just an Indian American Hindu. I actually think some of my Pakistani Muslim-ness rubbed off on you!
Sachin: I think you're right. You don't know how many times I've been called Faisal in the last few years!
Faisal: And people constantly call me Sachin!
Sachin: Yes, we slowly began to "contain multitudes," as Whitman would say, flashes of contradictions in our newfound understandings, the unlearning of who we were.
BOTH: We became plural selves
Faisal: Deepened, with the ability to celebrate each other, emerging with wings, ready to fly, with the ability to learn by relearning everyone and everything around us, learning...
Sachin: From all sources: Now our professors were our teachers...
Faisal: Our friends were our teachers...
Sachin: Our roommates were our teachers...
Faisal: We ourselves became teachers...
Sachin: Teaching each other with words,
Faisal: Movements, absences...
Sachin: All of us dancing...
Faisal: Even in stillness.
Sachin: Holding out our hands,
Faisal: Studying together,
Sachin: Listening to the music of Carleton together,
Faisal: Laughing together,
Sachin: Pulling all-nighters together,
Faisal: Partying together,
Sachin: Hurting together,
Faisal: Letting the pain teach us,
Sachin: Growing together,
Faisal: In different directions in one place.
Sachin: Carleton, you have shown us how to learn, shown us how to listen.
Faisal: And while India and Pakistan continue struggling to improve their relationship, our friendship continues to grow, inspiring hope.
Sachin: There is music in our world that invites us to listen. Music that has manifested itself in the sounds of Carleton, a music that will soon become a part of our history.
Faisal: Now, as we leave Carleton, entering the unfolding arms of the new millennium, it is up to usClass of 2000not to be limited by who we once were, or even by who we are now.
Sachin: We must continue to unlearn and relearn ourselves in a constant effort to look beyond who we are.
Faisal: Imagining bridges where there may not be any, willing to build them if none exist.
Sachin: And we end with the words of Rumi, the 13th century Persian poet:
Faisal: Not Christian or Jew or Muslim, not Hindu, Buddhist, Sufi, or Zen.
Sachin: Not any religion
Or cultural system.
Faisal: We are not from the East,
Or the West,
Sachin: Not out of the ocean or up
from the ground,
Faisal: Not natural or ethereal,
Sachin: Not composed of elements at all.
Faisal: We do not exist...
Sachin: We belong to the beloved, have seen the two
worlds as one
Faisal: First, last, outer, inner, only as
breath breathing human beings.
Maintained by Marla Holt of the News Bureau
Last Updated: Monday, 12-Jun-2000 16:52:20 CDT