Entrance Ceremony for the University for Peace-Nippon Foundation Dual Campus Masters Program in International Peace Studies

Manila, Philippines

Honorable , Secretary of the Department of Foreign Affairs, Father Bienvenido F. Nebres, S.J., President of Ateneo de Manila University; Assunta Cuyegkeng, Vice President; Dr. Jose Cruz, Dean of the School of Social Sciences; Mr. John Maresca, Rector of the University for Peace; distinguished guests and friends,

It gives me great pleasure to be here at Ateneo de Manila University to celebrate the third opening ceremony for the UPEACE/Nippon Foundation Dual Campus Masters Program in International Peace Studies.

To the 30 exceptional students here today, you may not have a sense of it yet, but all of you are about to embark on a new chapter of your lives.

The world today is in turmoil.

Everyday my heart aches to see so much violence and suffering taking place.

Recently, the situation has worsened dramatically, as the recent US financial crisis has had a devastating impact on a global scale. Asia has been no exception.

With many countries suffering from an economic downfall, we must be aware that this will be a factor in increasing the tension in regions where conflict and discord are eminent.

In this state, it is critical that we reaffirm our definition of Peace.

I say this because the ways individuals define Peace are as diverse as the people themselves. Most often, our environment and experience play major roles in defining our words.

That is why I ask each of you to take the next 19 months to define what Peace means to you and share that vision with your fellow students from Asia and around the world.

You have been given a once in a lifetime opportunity.

Please remember, however, that the next 19 months depend on you.

So make the best of them.

I am hoping that your collective efforts will one day solve the world’s greatest challenge–achieving sustained Peace.

Allow me to close by thanking my friends at the University for Peace and Ateneo de Manila University for sharing our dream and working tirelessly to make this program a reality.

Let us continue to work together to support the students of this program and to do our part in promoting peace and development in the region.

Thank you