Learning During A Pandemic
A Speech by President Dawn Dekle at AUN's Spring 2021 Pledge Ceremony
Good morning everyone, and welcome to our pledge ceremony at American University of Nigeria. Before we take the pledge, I want to share some reflections with you. One year ago this month, a global pandemic swept the world, and we had to close our university. We had curfews and home isolation, face masks, and hand sanitizer, and social distancing became the norm. Sadly, despite these protective efforts, some of our family and friends did not survive the virus.
Then Vaccinations began rolling out, and although we’ve not yet fully returned to our previous patterns of life, we’re at a place where we can envision that. But as we return to school, it’s worth thinking about the ways the pandemic has disrupted education, and how we should respond. We wonder now: What should we study? What is the curriculum of the future? How has COVID-19 changed what and how we learn?
One thing that hasn’t changed—We are still; the American University of Nigeria. But what does it mean to be “American?” Besides the educational focus on liberal, broad-based education, it also means we are a future-oriented country. Americans are entrepreneurial, and problem-solvers. During the downtime forced by COVID-19, we did not sit on our hands- AUN not only developed a new Safeguarding policy for our campus community, but we also started new construction projects on Campus, in anticipation of the day we knew we would welcome our students back.
Americans also take inspiration from the wisdom of the native tribes that inhabited their continent before the first European settlers arrived. One of my favorite proverbs from the Apache tribe is “it is better to have less thunder in the mouth and more lightning in the hand.” Benjamin Franklin, one of America’s most famous inventors, had his own way of expressing the same philosophy as the Apaches. As he phrased it, “well done is better than well said.”
I agree with the Apaches and Ben Franklin. You will have many people in your life who will talk enthusiastically and perhaps even persuasively, but far fewer people in your life who actually do something besides talking. I encourage you to be part of the second group –the doers. Get busy doing, grab the lightning in your hand, and transform your natural energy into productive outcomes.
It is a time of great opportunity to be entering university, at the pivot point of a pandemic. You are not just witnesses but active participants in a great transformation of education. At AUN, we have embraced this period as a time to adapt our courses to shifting circumstances, which will be valuable long after the pandemic is over. Stallion Nation is resilient, and as we evolve, we make sure we are reinforcing the idea of community.
I have confidence that as you take the AUN pledge today, you will internalize what it means to be a member of our AUN learning community.
New students, you are welcome – you are now members of our learning community, the Stallion Nation.