Valediction by Abdelhadi Izem, Arabic Language Fulbright Fellow

Thank you very much for your generous introduction, thank you all. What a pleasure for me to be standing here. When I was asked to make a commencement speech I immediately said yes. And then I went to check what the word “commencement” meant. Thank you President Ellen for letting me be  a part of this. I am pretty sure my Mum is going to be very proud of me .

I still remember the first time I arrived at Marlboro. It was a Saturday morning. The first people I met were Ellen, the president, and Richard, the dean, and that was a good sign for me. From the very beginning, I fell in love with Marlboro and thanked god I was placed here. I loved the trees, and learned their names. I loved the buildings, and the view from my window. I loved everything here.

I will never forget the day when I broke my ski poles in the Wendell-Judd Cup. I had only skied once before the race—still I decided to participate. I got lost; I broke my ski poles, which slowed me down. But I didn’t give up, because I wanted  to finish the race no matter what. I was very happy that I finished the race, and that I was not the last .

The reason why I chose to speak about this race is that it makes me think of you seniors. I know some of you skied smoothly and made it to the end, but some of you had to struggle. There were times when you felt you wanted  to quit. There were times when you got lost, just like me, but here you are. You made it, and you should be very proud of yourselves

By this time tomorrow, the end of a good chapter of my life will be marked. I will be heading back to Morocco with lot of stories to share with family and friends. And right now I have a strange feeling, like I am not only going to miss all the inspiring  people of Marlboro, but I will also  miss the person I am at this time and this place. There is one thing I am absolutely sure of: I will never be completely at home again because my heart will always be here.

Last but not least, to the Marlboro community I say thank you for making this year the best of my life and only god knows how much I love you. To the newly graduate students, from the bottom of my heart, I wish you the best of luck. After four years you spent here, you are now equipped with all the tools you need to find your own path in life. I hope that our paths will cross again some day. Thank you.