With the pomp and circumstance of Class Day and graduation weeks behind us, Bwog was surprised and delighted when we were contacted last night by Maxim Pinkovskiy, the Columbia College valedictorian.
Wrote Pinkovskiy: “As the valedictorian of Columbia College does not give a speech on Class Day, I did not get to make a speech. However, some students asked me to write one on my own, so I am sending you what I composed a few weeks after graduation.” Read on, nostalgic recent alums hoping to relive Class Day.
As we leave Columbia today, we are likely to ask ourselves: what has been the meaning of the past four years? Does our diploma indicate that we “have satisfied the onerous and nearly insuperable requirements for the degree of Bachelor of Arts,” or does it mean something more, even if just to ourselves? What do these medieval maces and baroque berets mean in the age of I-Pods and internships? As Plato might have said, what is the form of a university education, and might it have changed irrevocably from the days of yore? Like a good Columbian, when faced with these questions, I turn to the classics. More than two thousand years ago, in a China in the flux of social and economic transformation, Confucius, like us today, was asking himself: what are the fundamentals of a proper education in this world? His response was, as usual, an aphorism:
“To study and in due season to practice what one has learned, is this not a pleasure?”
“To have friends coming from afar, is this not a delight?”
“To remain unembittered even though one is unrecognized, is that not to be noble?”
Confucius, Analects 1:1