Dear STAR Scholars,
We would like to thank you for making the 2020 STAR Conference a success. According to the initial reports, the A. Noam Chomsky Global Connections Award and Closing Ceremony was watched by over 21,000 people live! We at the STAR Scholars Network are humbled by your love. This is what we say to you: Thank you!
We thank Nepal Open University for hosting the 2020 STAR Conference and we congratulate OP Jindal Global University for successfully bidding the 2021 Conference, which will take place on 6-8 December 2021 in Sonipat, Haryana, India.
We congratulate the winners of the A. Noam Chomsky Global Connections Awards! The new awards recognize scholars for distinctive contributions to transnational research that “demonstrates the very best of scholarly collaboration among scholars around the world”, Anthony C. Ogden, vice president of International Learning and Engagement for the STAR Scholars Network and chair of the 2020 awards committee highlighted.
“Do something, make a difference, and make something happen!” exhorted Dr. Valeau as he congratulated the winners.
We thank the speakers for their insightful remarks.
If you missed any parts of the closing ceremony, here’s a YouTube record.
The Year 2020 will go down as one of the most difficult years in the history of mankind due to the trifecta of unique challenges: the global pandemic and resulting financial crisis, as well as a historic anti-racist movement (on top of the other issues we already had). Professor Chomsky warned that we are facing even more grave issues. He warned us in a somber note that, “We are facing the serious prospect of virtual extinction of the species.”
Even under such circumstances, Professor Chomsky pointed out that the only hope is on internationalism, solidarity, and education. As STAR President Uttam Gaulee pointed out during his presidential remarks, the solutions to the complex problems may not be found in the academic silos. What STAR Scholars are committed to do is to strive to bring higher education leaders, researchers, practitioners, and policymakers in one place to contemplate on practical solutions that will sustain human life while shaping a more humane and more just world.
No matter where you are in the world, we are certain all of you have COVID-19 stories. Perhaps your teaching has been disrupted and your research has stalled because of the chaos and confusion of the past nine months. You have had to surrender the normalcy of your personal and professional life to the realities imposed by the virus. The past few months, at times, seemed to be a solo journey along with a paper calendar.
But the disruption of COVID-19 has also presented each of us with amazing opportunities. We now have time to slow down, to creatively deal with isolation, to realize that each day is a gift that will never come again. We now have time to speak with, instead of emailing, colleagues. We now have the time to drink sunrises and sunsets, to savor a cup of coffee, and to read the book sitting on your table that is not work-related.
The questions and concerns of the past year will be answered in the unfolding and wisdom of future days. Most of us will get on the other side of this virus. But for the families of COVID-19 fatalities, the residuals will take much longer to fade from memory.
We hope that you found some nuggets of wisdom from the illustrious set of STAR speakers. We also hope you enjoyed the inspiring opening remarks by Dr. Krishna Bista and the special selection of Nepali music played by Dr. Keith Wright. I personally liked the articulate definition of “STAR” and “Network” by Dr. Chris Glass: “Stars are both inspiring symbols but also the substance of life. Stars are glimmers of hope that we see in the clear night sky. They help us navigate uncertainty across vast black oceans. Humans are infinitely diverse, but in some ways, we are all made of the same substance: stardust. We are all caught in an inescapable network as Martin Luther King said “we are tied in mutuality of a single garment of destiny.” In reflecting on the vastness of knowledge, Professor Chomsky once said, “You know, we all have little bits of understanding, glimpses, a little bit of light here and there, but there is a tremendous amount of darkness, which is a challenge. Each person who has joined us today is connected to the STAR Scholars network. Each of us has a bit of understanding, a glimpse, a little bit of light. In a network, no one is at the top, and no one is at the bottom. A network is a network because we are connected. Global connections are what bring us here, as we will celebrate today what the Global Connections Awards is what this network is about in advancing upward academic mobility. Today, we leave connected, and tomorrow, we continue to work, and together we shape a humane world.”
We appreciate the participation and engagement of conversation. Out of the many live comments, we picked one here as a token of appreciation: Greg Schuckman commented: “An informed, educated democracy whose ideals are shared around the globe seems to be the only hope that we have as a species if I am hearing Prof. Chomsky correctly.”
Marguerite Dennis, the STAR Mentorship Director, likes to quote Marcus Aurelius: When you rise in the morning, think of what a precious privilege it is to be alive, to breathe, to think, to enjoy, to love. She says, “Life isn’t tied with a bow, but it’s still a gift!”
As we wish you a Merry Christmas, happy holidays, and a Happy New Year, we are aware of the diversity of celebrations and calendars, which make this world an exciting place to live.
STAR Scholars Leadership Team