Inspiring our Graduates - Bangkok Prep

Inspiring our Graduates

We are delighted to share the insightful, inspiring and passionate Graduation speech that His Excellency Mr. Tony Cotter, Ambassador of the Republic of Ireland, delivered to our graduates and their family and friends on Friday 31st May 2019.

Chairman of the School Executive Board, Prof. Dr. Anumongkol Sirivedhin

Head of School  Duncan Stonehouse

Teaching Staff

Family Members and

Last but certainly not least this morning, our successful young graduates.

My congratulations first of all to the young men and young ladies who are successfully graduating today!

Today is one of the good days! Well done! Enjoy!

My thanks to your school authorities for their invitation to attend as your keynote speaker this morning.

I am pleased to be here today at this graduation ceremony at one of Bangkok’s finest international schools.

Bangkok Prep is celebrating its 16th year of operation. Over the past 16 years, Bangkok Prep has earned a well-deserved reputation for excellently preparing students like your good selves, towards a University education worldwide.

I hope that your younger colleagues might consider coming to an Irish University. All of Ireland’s universities are ranked in top 5% globally, and in nineteen fields of research, Ireland’s universities ranks in the top 1% globally. Ireland is also a particularly friendly and safe country for international students.

This is my first graduation speech. Maybe also my last! If the truth were told, I would much prefer to be down there with you this morning looking forward to the celebrations this evening rather up here pontificating!

I wish to first quickly mention that I was pleasantly surprised during my recent tour of the school to see the prominence given to the Sustainable Development Goals.

Ireland was actually co-facilitator of the negotiations on the Sustainable Development Goals at the United Nations in New York. We are particularly proud to have played a key role in forging agreement on a set of goals and targets that will hopefully transform our world over the next generation.

My understanding is that a graduation speech is typically about giving some life advice, some lessons learned, some ideas on how to be successful and on how to be happy, and what really matters in life. In brief, to give some advice on how to be happy and how to be successful? Two fairly major questions!

I have been reflecting over the past few weeks on what to say to you today.

What have I learned in the last 40 years or so of my working life which might be of interest or practical use to you?

Ireland is a country with a strong reputation for storytelling. We reputedly have a natural way with words. Many of the world’s most famous writers were Irish – George Bernard Shaw, William Butler Yeats, James Joyce, Samuel Beckett and Seamus Heaney are some especially good examples, all Nobel Laureates.

Ireland also has a whole range of old Proverbs.

I will use the wisdom of these Old Irish Proverbs and the wisdom of some famous Irish writers to corroborate my own six advices to you here this morning.

My first piece of advice to you this morning and possibly the second most important piece of advice I will give you:  Take good care of your family and  friends!

There is a reason why your family and friends are with you here this morning. Family and friends are a most important part of your life. Your life is also of most importance to them. As you grow older, you will appreciate more and more the importance of family and friends!

Some Old Irish Proverbs capture this advice:

There’s no place like home

There is no need like the lack of a friend

You never miss the water until the well has run dry – Meaning: You don’t appreciate what you have until it’s gone

Second piece of advice this morning: Like yourself! Be nice to other people!

The first person you will likely see each morning and last thing at night is yourself in the mirror! “The person who you’re with most in life is yourself and if you don’t like yourself you’re always going to be with somebody you don’t like.”

Treat people well. It costs nothing to be nice! It will come back to you. A real test of character is how you treat people who are less well off than you.

Again some Old Irish Proverbs reflect this advice:

A good name is better than riches.

Better to be a person of character than a person of means

Be nice to people on the way up, you may meet them on the way back down

Third piece of advice: Always remember to say thanks!

One of the most important words in the English language is a six letter word – thanks! Always remember to say “thanks”! There is a much better chance of a favour being repeated if you say thanks the first time.

Fourth piece of advice: Be a good listener!

God gave you two ears but only one mouth for a reason. You should always listen more than you speak. You are never learning anything new when you are speaking! You may learn if you listen particularly to persons older and wiser than yourself.

Some Old Irish Proverbs:

Silence is golden.

Everyone is wise till he speaks

Wisdom does not come before age

Fifth piece of advice: Keep yourself in the best of company!

My daughter, Aisling, recalls at times the advice I gave her many years ago when she was emigrating from Ireland to go to work in what was for us the other side of the world in Australia – “go to the best places and meet the right people”. You will be judged by the company you keep. Good company will help to improve yourself. Spending time with not so good people will likely give you bad habits.

An Old Irish Proverb:

If you lie down with dogs you’ll rise with fleas

Sixth and final and the most important piece of advice this morning: Life is for Living!

Life is not a rehearsal! You only get one shot at it. Always remember it is your life to live and not to live somebody else’s dream. Enjoy your life!

George Bernard Shaw: “You don’t stop laughing when you grow old, you grow old when you stop laughing”

Be ambitious. Be adventurous! William Butler Yeats said – “There are no strangers in this life; only friends you haven’t met”.

The world is increasing a competitive place. You will have to work hard to succeed. Learn from your mistakes.

George Bernard Shaw said “Success does not consist in never making mistakes but in never making the same one a second time”

The world is also increasingly changing with new technology and innovations. Read as much as possible. Never stop learning! Travel!

Try and make sure that you work at something you enjoy. You can easily not be a success at doing something you don’t like. There is a lot to be said for doing something you love and getting paid to do it.  

Some final thoughts from my Irish writers and proverbs:

 Better to spend money like there’s no tomorrow than spend tonight like there’s no money

Fail to prepare, prepare to fail.

Results do not come by chance but through hard work

Poverty waits at the gates of idleness.

A final thought from an Old Irish Proverb –

May you have the hindsight to know where you’ve been, the foresight to know where you are going, and the insight to know when you have gone too far.

Thank you for your attention this morning.

Thank you for listening.

Have a great life!!!





































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