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Five Words of Advice From Dean Bartoli  

Andrea BartoliAs we kick off another academic year, Dean Bartoli offers five words of advice for the Diplomacy community.

I came to this country without learning English. I learned it here. And I can tell you that to try to say anything in a language that is not yours is difficult. It's actually very difficult to say anything meaningful even in a language that you do know. Very often there is no one that is interested in what you have to say. And the environment can be so dismissive that when you are trying to say things, nobody pays attention. 

So, what is different about diplomacy? The fundamental tenet of diplomacy is that in order for you to say anything meaningful, you really need to listen. Let me say that again. You really need to listen. You really need to listen. And spend a lot of time listening, paying attention, and asking again.  Today I am going to say five things: Be Curious, Ask, Engage, Give Back, and Lead the School. But it's fundamentally one thing: make yourself attentive, in such a way that your life will be an example and lead others where all should go. Where we would like everyone to go. You may have understood quite clearly by now that at the School of Diplomacy, we are not interested in 'me, me, me.' We are not interested in 'mine, mine, mine.' We are only interested in 'us,' in 'everyone.' The horizon of 'the good of all' is an important horizon. And there is a lot to be curious about.

Photo of Dean Bartoli speaking to a crowd of studentsI just went around to some of the different tables here and it's spectacular how much you can learn by just speaking with people. I learned about a wonderful class. I learned about the writing team. I learned about genealogy and wonderful traveling that Kyle did. We learn when we are curious. Curiosity, about the world, about others, is a discipline and  a discipline to be practiced also for yourself. When I say be curious about others I are not asking you to be intrusive or obnoxious. To be curious about others is also to be curious about yourself. Why are you intrigued by this person? Why are you offended by this situation? Why do you think that this is right? Why do you think that this is so phenomenally important that you want to have more of this? Take your feelings seriously. I need you, I'm begging you, to take yourselves seriously because we together are the School of Diplomacy. The School of Diplomacy is not just the Dean, it's not just the faculty, it's not just the administrators. It's everybody, especially the students. The revolution that we started five years ago is that the students are leading with me. If you are at the school with me, you are leading. And you need to be aware that I am expecting you to lead because you are curious,  curious about what you see outside yourself but also inside yourself. 

So ask. Ask good questions. Learn to ask questions of your life. Life is essentially words that make sense to you. We need to learn the words we want to use. The words that you want to say about yourself, about others, about what you see around you. So ask, ask, ask. Ask others, but also ask yourself. Especially yourself. I don’t know how many of you have been a competitive swimmer but I was a competitive swimmer when I was younger. And I learned to ask myself how to improve my performance. It's like language. There is no end. There is no limit to improvement. There is no limit to improving your performance in anything. In language, in swimming, in learning. It's just an opening to infinity. Be open because the possibilities are limitless. In this process, engage everyone but especially your professors. These particular professors here at Diplomacy are a special breed. I can tell you, they're very happy to see you. They don't have enough of you. 
So overcome your fears and uncertainties. Please go and speak with your professors. This is why we want to start the year this way, sitting together, because we want you to see your professors as friends that you can speak with and can engage with and can hang out with. And speak about everything. They have much to share with you. 

Group photo of Diplomacy students

But you have much to share as well, so give back. Start giving back immediately in the way  that works for you. Giving back is not just about money, it's about offering your time, volunteering, feedback and imagining new things, because this is the way the good of all is made. The good of all is made by people thinking and doing what is right for everyone. And if you can do that, you are going to lead the school with me. 

Last year, the School of Diplomacy celebrated 20 years, and now, we are opening the new 20. I see just from today that these are going to be very good years. Welcome home.

Categories: Nation and World

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  • Gwen DeBenedetto
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