Harvard Orator Eunice Alison Nyang’or Mwabe | Harvard Commencement 2019 | Summary and Q&A

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May 29, 2019
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Harvard Orator Eunice Alison Nyang’or Mwabe | Harvard Commencement 2019

TL;DR

Growing up in Kenya, the speaker learned about America through media, but her experience as an international student at Harvard challenged her stereotypes. She realized the importance of humility, learning from others, and embracing differences.

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Key Insights

  • 🖐️ Media plays a significant role in shaping stereotypes and perceptions of different cultures and countries.
  • 👶 Stereotypes can limit understanding and growth, preventing individuals from embracing new experiences and perspectives.
  • 🛃 Observing and participating in customs and traditions of different cultures can provide a more nuanced understanding of those cultures.
  • ❓ Humility and a willingness to learn from others are essential qualities for personal growth and effective leadership.
  • 🇺🇸 Although Harvard is not representative of the entire United States, it provides a diverse and enriching learning environment.
  • 🍃 Personal accomplishments and achievements do not define one's worth, and humility is essential for engaging with others and leaving a positive impact on the world.
  • 🤗 Embracing diversity and being open to different perspectives can lead to personal and societal growth.

Transcript

EUNICE MWABE: As a little girl, growing up in a farm just outside of Nairobi, Kenya, I spent a lot of time wondering how about the world outside. I spent my weekends watching TV and listening to music. I watched old '60s movies on school nights when I was supposed to be asleep and I read a lot of books. I mean, a lot of books. I devoured media beca... Read More

Questions & Answers

Q: How did the speaker's upbringing in Kenya influence her perception of America?

The speaker relied on media, such as movies, to learn about America, leading to stereotypes and limited understanding of the country.

Q: What was the speaker's experience as an international student at Harvard?

The speaker found that her stereotypes and misconceptions about America were challenged, and she learned the importance of humility and embracing different perspectives.

Q: What did the speaker learn through observing American customs and rituals?

By participating in American traditions like the Super Bowl and creating a March Madness bracket, the speaker gained a deeper understanding of American culture and the universality of human experiences.

Q: What is the main message the speaker wants to convey to the audience?

The speaker emphasizes the importance of humility, curiosity, and learning from different experiences and perspectives, even as Harvard graduates.

Summary

Eunice Mwabe shares her childhood experiences and misconceptions about the United States based on the media and stereotypes. She discusses the transformative nature of her anthropological studies at Harvard and the importance of understanding and empathizing with different cultures. Mwabe emphasizes the universality of joy and pain and encourages humility and learning from new experiences.

Questions & Answers

Q: What led Eunice Mwabe to be fascinated by people, cultures, and history?

Growing up in Nairobi, Kenya, Mwabe was thirsty to understand the world outside her comfortable and joyful upbringing. She spent her weekends watching TV, listening to music, and reading books, which sparked her curiosity about different cultures and people.

Q: How did media shape Eunice Mwabe's perception of the United States?

As a little girl before the advent of social media, Mwabe's knowledge about America came from movies and TV shows. She specifically mentions watching movies about American high schools, which fascinated her. These images contributed to her limited understanding of the country.

Q: How did Eunice Mwabe's misconceptions about the United States affect her experience as an international student at Harvard?

Despite her exposure to American media, Mwabe admits that her assumptions and stereotypes about the United States were challenged during her time as an international student at Harvard. She realized that movies and TV shows had not prepared her for the realities she encountered.

Q: What did Eunice Mwabe learn about American culture through her anthropological studies?

Mwabe's anthropological studies allowed her to observe and participate in American rituals, social dynamics, and customs. She delved into concepts like personal space, kinship systems, and the nuances of everyday interactions. She also engaged with American news as an empathy exercise to understand different perspectives.

Q: What did Eunice Mwabe discover about the universality of experiences?

Through her interactions with the class of 2019 at Harvard, Mwabe concluded that people are people and joy and pain are universal. She witnessed shared experiences and emotions, such as amazement and concern for social inequalities, reactions to racial injustices, and empathy for the struggles faced by the homeless.

Q: What message does Eunice Mwabe convey to the graduating class of 2019 at Harvard?

Mwabe advises her peers to embrace humility and recognize the worth and value of every individual, regardless of their accomplishments or educational background. She encourages a willingness to learn from those who are different and to use their Harvard education to make a positive impact in the world.

Q: How does Eunice Mwabe define humility?

Mwabe asserts that humility is not downplaying one's achievements or status, but rather seeing all of humanity as equal. It involves being open to learning from diverse experiences and using one's education and opportunities to make a difference, rather than seeking validation or proving one's worth.

Q: What kind of leadership does Eunice Mwabe advocate for?

Mwabe believes that the world needs leaders who possess both courage and humility. She describes this rare blend as the ability to engage with what is different, strange, or even unacceptable while approaching life with wonder and a willingness to serve others. Leadership should be defined by love, learning, and leaving spaces better than they were found.

Q: What does Eunice Mwabe hope for the graduating class of 2019?

Mwabe hopes that the class of 2019 at Harvard will embody the values of courage and humility in the years to come. She envisions a generation that loves and serves humanity, embraces diversity, and uses their education and opportunities to make a positive impact in the world.

Takeaways

Eunice Mwabe's speech highlights the importance of challenging misconceptions and stereotypes, embracing humility, and learning from diverse experiences. She emphasizes that joy and pain are universal, and it is crucial to recognize the worth of every individual regardless of their background. Mwabe calls for a leadership that combines courage and humility to navigate a changing world and make a positive difference.

Summary & Key Takeaways

  • The speaker grew up in Kenya and learned about America through media, which influenced her stereotypes and perceptions.

  • As an international student at Harvard, she realized that stereotypes can be misleading and limit understanding and growth.

  • By observing and participating in American customs and rituals, she learned the importance of humility and embracing different perspectives.

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