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Commencement Winner Reflects and Looks to the Future

Ayusa YES Student Commencement Winner Reflects and Looks to the Future

The rich history and tradition of high school graduation ceremonies give students the chance to reflect on the past and look forward to the future. Ayusa wanted to start a new tradition, one that encourages reflection from our students, one that gives a student the chance to address their graduating class with an inspiring speech.

Ayusa held a contest for students to submit their commencement speech to the Ayusa Class of 2015. Our winner was an insightful and reflective Ayusa YES student – Dunja from Bosnia-Herzegovina.

Below, Dunja shares how the end of their exchange program is but the beginning of a “more powerful and significant” path for all of the students.

Congratulations Dunja and the Ayusa Class of 2015!


Dear Class 2015,

We’ve made it!

It feels so good to say that. Can you believe that it is already time for us to go back to our home countries?

How fortunate and privileged we are for having this opportunity of spending a year in a completely foreign country, sharing our cultures and experiencing a life in a different one. A year ago I would have never pictured myself in this position, as an ambassador of my country. Representing an entire nation is certainly a huge responsibility but nonetheless, one huge privilege.

How much have we grown since we got here? Well I remember a while ago I ran into a very interesting quote by the iconic French author Gide who said that an individual cannot discover new oceans unless he has the courage to lose sight of the shore. At the time, I couldn’t completely grasp this thought.
Now it seems so utterly logical and I want to say that all of us lost sight of the shore for this experience opened so many doors for us and gave us a new perspective and outlook on life. Our decision to embark on such a wondrous journey was consciously or not a big step toward our transformation to mature, independent and responsible people. Just think of everything you’ve done this year. You were thrown into this new environment because you were brave enough to take a risk, to grow, to empower, to connect with people from different cultures, to become the best version of yourself.

Now we’re here at the end of the journey and we are beginning and carving a path that is much more powerful and significant for all. Much like our wonderful host families without which we would not have even been here, who have selflessly and wholeheartedly allowed us to be a part of their homes and who have made an everlasting and altering impact on our lives, let us, youth leaders, do the same thing and follow their example and make a difference in this world ourselves. Let’s inspire and empower youth to get involved in their communities, show them how one benevolent deed at a time can make a tremendous impact on a community in the long run. We are capable of great things and I encourage all of you exceptional individuals to believe so too. Let’s not let this experience be in vain.