My farewell speech to fellow cohort members as we reached the conclusion of our studies (edited for publication):
“Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, good evening.
Thank you for permitting me to speak to you tonight and share my thoughts on the Oxford experience, how it shapes our personal transformation, and the lessons learnt.
Like many of you, we have travelled far-and-wide to be at Oxford. I remember with the utmost respect on the first day when we started our programme, a number of my fellow British cohort members complained about the distance they needed to travel to arrive to Oxford whom shall remain anonymous.
When asked by them at the time – what does your journey entail to come here? I explained how it commences from Melbourne to London and concludes at my arrival to Oxford station – a 30 hour trip in total.
Since that account, I never heard any more complaints.
The journey from Melbourne to Oxford for me has stretched in total to 271,856 kilometres or 168,923 miles, 400 plus hours on a plane, and 65 plus hours on a train or bus.
Was it worth it? Yes indeed it was.
For each of us, we had our reasons that brought us to Oxford.
For me, it was a personal aspiration long in the making.
Firstly, I was indebted to my 8 year-old self whom one day dreamed of attending Oxford while reading about universities in my encyclopaedia. My young self circled Oxford in red pen from the long list of universities with the intent of attending this institution.
Secondly, I owed it to my five year-old son to set the example that any dream or aspiration is possible to accomplish if we truly believe and set our minds toward that achievement.
As we come to the conclusion of our last module, I would like to take this opportunity now to express upon reflection what I have learnt at Oxford and where that journey has brought us.
I recall with fondness during our first college dinner at Queen’s, I identified in my speech to you that the Oxford experience for us is one of transformation.
It is about having the belief in one’s self to dream and be aspirational.
It is about having the courage and drive to learn from our studies, teachers and peers to be the best that we can be.
It is about applying that knowledge to leave your mark in the world.
It is plainly put about personal transformation.
I learned that this transformation journey toward being a master builder is a continuous one and it does not conclude when we finish our studies. It is one that will carry through for the remainder of our existence.
The power of the knowledge we have acquired from our studies at Oxford enables us to become foxes. It is up to you now how you use this knowledge to leave your mark in the world.
During my time here, I had the privilege to know you, learn from you and develop meaningful friendships and relationships that will remain ever lasting.
Each of you have brought something special to our cohort and you as individuals, have undoubtedly left your mark at Oxford whether it is through your ideas, personal contributions, the University itself, or more importantly toward one another.
You have all set forth the example.
You have each in your own manner from your diverse backgrounds made an invaluable contribution and lasting difference in my life and amongst yourselves. It is therefore, my earnest hope that I have or will pay back that difference in kind.
Even though our time here as students is drawing to a close, the curtain of opportunities are open and limitless.
Oxford will remain always there in our memories, in our hearts and part of ourselves.
As master builders, we have created a community and it will hence never cease to exist and will become an embodiment of our being.
In closing, to all of you, I thank you with gratitude for the privilege to study at Oxford University.
I thank you for being my peer.
I thank you for being my teacher and mentor.
I thank you for the opportunity to learn from you.
I thank you for all of the new knowledge and wisdom that I will use to leave my mark in the world.
I thank you for all the times of laughter and support.
I thank you for being an integral part of my personal transformation.
Most of all, I thank you from the bottom of my heart for being my friend.