Distinguished guests at Deree College graduation

Good wishes at this year’s graduation of some 1,000 Deree College students came from such distinguished guests as Harvard professor and author Dr Sissela Bok, who, along with Archbishop Demetrios of America, was awarded an honorary doctorate of the college by its president, Dr John S. Bailey. The college is a non-profit educational institution founded in 1875 and still going strong. «It is a great honor to be here at this celebration and I warmly congratulate you,» said Sissela Bok, adding that it was a special pleasure for her to be in Athens, the city where Aristotle first raised the question of happiness and how happiness could shape our choices as one plans one’s future. Bok said that at the age of 20 she had left Paris for the other side of the Atlantic, having just married Derek Bok, then 25, a Dutchman who had gone to the USA with his family and who had written a book about his grandmother who, with her husband, had planted trees on an island in the North Sea, turning it into a bird sanctuary. The advice she had given her 13 children as they left home one by one was that each in their own way should make the world a little bit better. To this, Bok added the words of Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates to US graduates, that they should learn about injustice and inequality in issues of health, wealth and opportunities that condemn millions of people to desperation. Bok concluded with the wish that each graduate would find a way to make the world a better place. US Charge d’Affaires Thomas M. Countryman praised the college, not only for its long years of service but for the high standard of education and the free and objective exchange of ideas. He also drew attention to the great services rendered by its president, John Bailey, who he said he deeply admired. He also congratulated Derek Bok for his work at Harvard, where he has completed his second term as president. To the graduates, he said that the excellent education they had received had prepared them to take their place «as citizens of the world and ambassadors of knowledge and tolerance… By being yourselves, you will represent the best of what our countries have to give.» Bailey then looked back on his 32 years in Greece, saying that the Greek graduates of the college will be bearers of hope, inspiration and inexhaustible ingenuity in this proud country and the whole world, adding that the foreign graduates will continue to be their countries’ best ambassadors. In conclusion, he observed that the national flags around the podium indicated the diversity of the countries these students represent.

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