Zelensky is surprise speaker at Johns Hopkins commencement ceremony

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy surprised graduating students at Johns Hopkins University’s commencement on Thursday, speaking to them in a live stream about his country’s fight for freedom and the students’ fight for their future.

“I won’t be around much longer,” Zielinski told the crowd, telling the crowd that time is of the essence, more valuable than oil, uranium and lithium..

“Some people realize it early, and they’re lucky,” he said. “Others realize it too late, when they lose someone or something.”

As they look back on their years in college, and the rest of their lives, Zielinski asks the graduates, “Would you rather not waste this time of your life?”

“How you respond is how you live.”

Zielinski’s appearance as the school’s graduation speaker was a closely guarded secret, and came after the university president wrote him a letter. It was revealed to the crowd as giant video screens at the event flashed images of fields of sunflowers, the city’s skyline glittering with golden domes and the blue and yellow Ukrainian flag fluttering in the sunlight. These images were followed by scenes of the devastation following the Russian invasion in February 2022, with burning, collapsing buildings, a bombed-out bridge and an overturned tank.

This is how the address of the Ukrainian president comes. The country continues its war. Against the Russians, who attacked in February 2022. Tens of thousands of Ukrainian soldiers and civilians have been killed.

Zielinski said he had recently been on the front lines, in a highly contested area, alongside soldiers fighting for independence and freedom. He told the crowd that soldiers’ time is defined by many factors they cannot control, he said, such as where the next Russian missile or drone will hit.

He said that I am proud that Ukraine is not losing a single day in its defense against Russian terrorism. “Every day we do everything we can to become stronger, protect people more and save more lives.”

Zelensky also praised the United States for its support for Ukraine. He said the president, Congress, “and most of all the American people, like generations before them, have risen to the occasion and are leading the free world to preserve freedom in Europe.”

He told Johns Hopkins graduates that he had no doubt they would all become great doctors, lawyers, engineers, leaders of new technologies and businesses. He also said he believed some would feel a call to serve and “become members of Congress, cabinet secretaries, and yes — yes, maybe one day president.”

“Of course, after President Biden — of course,” he said with a smile. “Please … we don’t need surprises.”

“This century will be our century, a century in which freedom, innovation and democratic values ​​reign,” he told the graduates, “and a century in which tyranny will end.”

“But all of our tomorrows, and the tomorrows of our children and grandchildren depend on our every day,” he said.

As he concluded, the audience of about 10,000 people erupted in sustained applause. Zelinsky smiled from the large video screen, and said softly, “Thank you.”

Johns Hopkins President Ronald J. Daniels announced to the crowd that Zielinski was being awarded an honorary doctorate.

“Your vision, tenacity and unwavering belief in the power of democracy and freedom are a constant source of inspiration to the people of Ukraine and to others around the world who support his cause and ideals,” Daniels said. Is.

Daniels later said in a statement that hearing from Zielinski at graduation was a once-in-a-lifetime experience for students “at a moment when the future of global democracy is at stake. I am excited that our era One of the great democratic leaders will reinforce to them the importance of standing firm on their principles and meeting the challenging moments of history with fortitude and humility that they will surely face in the coming years.

Earlier this week, Oksana Markarova, Ukraine’s ambassador to the United States, spoke to graduates at Boston College. “Freedom is not a given. Opportunities are not a given. Democracy is not a given,” Markarova, who appeared in person, told the audience on Monday. “We all have many battles to fight, many obstacles to overcome, many challenges to overcome. And where we all come together, we will have the strength to do it.

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