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Home » Maria Ressa’s Speech at Harvard Commencement 2024 (Transcript)

Maria Ressa’s Speech at Harvard Commencement 2024 (Transcript)

Here is the full transcript of 2021 Nobel Peace Prize recipient Maria Ressa’s speech at the Harvard Commencement 2024.

Listen to the audio version here:

TRANSCRIPT:

Thank you, President Garber, and thank you, former President Gay, who called me last year to extend this offer. It’s an incredible honor to address the distinguished Harvard faculty, the mysterious Harvard Corporation, and the loving friends and family who have traveled far and close to be here with you today. But wait, most of all, despite everything, because you worked really hard, I am so thrilled to congratulate the battle-tested graduates of the class of 2024. Thank you.

This was a harder speech to write than the Nobel lecture, you know, because since 2021, the world has gotten so much worse. We live in a dystopian science fiction world where everything can change in the blink of an eye when you have been forced to turn crisis into opportunity. No one knows this better than the class of 2024.

A pandemic meant no high school graduation. Your first year here in lockdown, wearing masks, afraid of contact, you laid out all of the problems, the existential problems we face today. We were pushed online in the virtual world and that made things worse because the accelerant to conflict and violence to us against them, to wars that have killed tens of thousands sparking historic campus protests, that accelerant is technology.

It turned what once used to be our civilized Harvard thinking slow public discussions into what’s become a gladiator’s battle to the death. I know this firsthand. The Philippines, America’s former colony, 110 million people was social media’s Petri dish. For a crucial six years, Filipinos spent the most time online and on social media globally, and we became the testing ground for these American tech companies.

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