Congratulations and Good Luck
Awards Ceremony, Friday 28th October 2016
The week before Graduation is busy. Last-minute grades are recorded. The family and friends of the students who are graduating start arriving and walk through the WMU building with wide eyes. The parties start! And with the building of excitement, twin tensions also emerge: the end of some things and the beginning of many others.
One party that reflects both these things is the Awards Ceremony held by the Nippon Foundation for its sponsored students, marking the end of their study and the beginning of their new role as Sasakawa Fellows. This year’s Ceremony was held on Friday 28th October 2016 at WMU – in the Sasakawa Auditorium! – followed by a reception in the World Bistro, beautifully transformed for the occasion from student cafeteria into an elegant reception area.
In the Class of 2016 there were 21 Nippon Foundation-funded students graduating. They came from Bangladesh, Benin, Cambodia, Egypt, Indonesia, Japan, Jordan, Kenya, Morocco, Peru, Philippines, Sudan, Thailand and Vietnam; the list reflecting the breadth of philanthropy practiced by this remarkable Foundation. Mr Mitsuyuki Unno, Executive Director of the Nippon Foundation, gave the main address to the students, noting that graduation from WMU was just one stop on the journey each maritime professional was making. What the Nippon Foundation now hoped was to see was that each new Sasakawa Fellow should become an internationally-renowned name and active participant on the global scene, leading in fields related to the ocean. He hoped that the new Fellows, sensitive to the changes in the world, would move beyond existing research into the challenge of applying it to emerging sciences and policies. Perhaps the world’s perception of the ocean could be made more positive?
Mr Unno then delighted the new Fellows – and the audience – by congratulating each student in their home language. A remarkable feat!
University President, Dr Cleopatra Doumbia-Henry also gave a memorable address and Mr Eisuke Kudo, Advisor to the Sasakawa Peace Foundation was as ever warmly hospitable in his welcome remarks. We were also honoured that former IMO Secretary-General and WMU Chancellor Mr Koji Sekimizu attended the event. Mr Sekimizu was to receive an honorary doctorate from the University at the Graduation Ceremony the following day.
With certificates given to the new Fellows and all speeches made, the distinguished guests, Fellows, their families, friends and WMU staff then proceeded to the Bistro for the reception. What a generous, Japan-inspired buffet we were treated to! The Bistro was filled with talk and laughter and amazingly, became a reunion of old friends. A number of senior Fellows were present at the Awards Ceremony: Kyaw Zeya (Myanmar 1996), now Adjunct Professor at WMU; Anete Logina (Latvia 2009) who was to be conferred with the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Maritime Affairs the following day; Wai Lynn Htut (Myanmar 2004) who was at WMU to see his son receive his MSc; Jenette Mujingni (Cameroon 2012) who has just entered WMU’s PhD programme as the first recipient of a PhD fellowship donated by Copenhagen Malmö Port; Safaa Al Fayyadh (Iraq 2010), currently enrolled in the WMU PhD programme and Hiep Duy Khuong (Vietnam, 2009) who was in Scandinavia on business. These reunions were furthered the following day by the attendance of Kosal Thun Leng (Cambodia, 2009) and Dothy (Indonesia 2001) who were both in Sweden and able to attend the Graduation Ceremony.
Mr John Paul Palattao from the Philippines had been chosen to represent the Class of 2016 Fellows in thanking the Nippon Foundation. He addressed the gathering, noting the generosity of the Foundation and the opportunities afforded each Sasakawa Fellow, firstly as WMU students and then later as Fellows taking their place in the world. He assured the Foundation that each Fellow was sensitive to their future responsibilities and pledged always to fulfil the expectations of the Foundation. The network of Fellows was both a resource and a commitment; the new Fellows would be proud to take their places beside the many WMU graduates who preceded them in that very special union.
With many raising of glasses the evening ended; the end of a party, the beginning of new careers as Sasakawa Fellows. And for 21 students from 14 countries across the world, the next day would bring the end of their time as WMU students, and the beginning of a new life as WMU graduates.
Assistant Registrar (Student Services)
World Maritime University