Bani Adam!

Friday, November 23, 2022

Dedicated students, distinguished colleagues and dear friends,

Happy Friday, on Wednesday!

Of all celebrated American holidays, Thanksgiving is the only national celebration that must be proclaimed each and every year by the president, starting with the first proclamation in 1789 by President George Washington. As an immigrant, perhaps the concept of celebrating the triumph over the challenges of emigration, which propelled the pilgrims who marked the first anniversary of their arrival, resonates more profoundly with me. This uniquely non-denominational, intercultural, most American of all holidays was first celebrated more than 150 years or earlier before the first U.S. Independence Day celebration.

As a diverse, multicultural and international university, represented by over 70 nations, many ideological beliefs and political perspectives, S&T is provided a great opportunity every Thanksgiving to heed the advice of President Abraham Lincoln, who asked all Americans to give thanks “with one heart and one voice.” With all our differences, as Americans, native or naturalized, we have much to be grateful for. A glance over the unfortunate and unnecessary global conflicts gives immediate cause for aspiration, empathy and gratitude. From the Ukrainian resolve to the courageous resistance of Iranian women in the blatant face of tyranny, to the unprecedented, recurring natural disasters, we have the perspective to be thankful for what we have and, more importantly, consider the plight of the unfortunate among or beside us.

Thanksgiving offers the opportunity for us not only to be thankful for what we have, but also to appreciate the contribution of every member of our diverse S&T community. I am thankful for our students, faculty and staff who bring their talents, skills and wonderful work ethic to advance our mission. We give thanks for the strength that we gain from our diversity, and for the wisdom that we gain from our differences.

As I write this note this Thanksgiving week, I try to be mindful of the struggles of so many who simply seek basic human needs, security of employment and personal freedom. I am reminded of a poem, “Bani Adam” (children of Adam), by 13th century Iranian poet and philosopher Saadi, who with his humanistic and optimistic approach likened all members of humanity to members of the same body:

“Human beings are members of a wholeIn creation of one essence and soul,

If one member is afflicted with painOther members uneasy will remain,

If you have no sympathy for human painThe name of human you cannot retain.”

A heartfelt Happy Thanksgiving to all; I am grateful for all of you.



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