Each year on March 26th, we celebrate Hijos de la Tierra (Children of the EARTH) Day, which marks the anniversary of the inaugural day of classes at EARTH University. Thirty years later, we are commemorating that historic institutional milestone in the midst of an unprecedented moment in human history. In a matter of days, we have all altered our daily activities, and we have begun to understand that “the future isn’t what it used to be”.
It is now more evident than ever that the destiny of all human beings is inexorably intertwined. At a time when the ways in which we work, learn, consume, and relate to one another are evolving to protect the health and even the lives of our loved ones, colleagues, and neighbors, all of us – and especially those of us who belong to the EARTH community – face two fundamental challenges regarding our values and our leadership, which are both central to the University’s mission.
Our values are not those we declare but those we demonstrate through our actions and reactions, especially at times when living by those values could yield negative material and social consequences. My own value system is rooted in the conviction that the dignity of every human being must be respected and upheld by all. In the weeks and months to come, we will have to decide whether we will uphold the privacy rights of people infected by the virus or add to their social isolation; whether we will share our resources with those who need them most or pursue our own “survival” at any cost; whether we will work together for the common good or exploit this situation for personal gain at the expense of others.
Our leadership will also be tested. The world needs effective, enlightened leaders who will help the world overcome the short-term crisis and prepare everyone for a reality that will not only be different but that we can also help to shape. Leaders like our EARTH graduates, who today work in 50 countries to create meaningful opportunities for those who lack them, are already on the frontlines. They and all of us must demonstrate our capacity for empathy and love in order to make decisions that, even if unpopular, are necessary to take care of those we serve. We must defend and protect all human beings regardless of their nationality or any other characteristic. And for those of us who have been around longer, with every decision we make comes an opportunity to leave a mark on those who follow.
Today I invite us to celebrate together the achievements of the first three decades of this great institution. At the same time and knowing that the world is changing for good, I want us to set ever-more-ambitious goals to improve our global society in greater harmony with our planet. I believe that by working together with our nearly 2,500 alumni as well as our strategic partners and donors, we can turn this humanitarian crisis into an opportunity to build a better world.
President, EARTH University
Watch the video of the president explaining some of the actions the University is taking about COVID-19: