“Dear Class of 2024,
I congratulate you on your achievements.
As you graduate from your school or university, wherever you are in the world, you are told you can change it — that you can make it a better place. You are talented, capable and you have the energy and enthusiasm of youth. You hold all the tools to make positive change. You are the ones who can and will transform society.
We who are older watch with mixed emotions as you go out into the world. Pride is at the forefront – so much pride in all you have achieved and all you will achieve. But we are also wistful and nostalgic. You remind us of ourselves, back in the days before we were tamed by society and its expectations, in the days when we too were filled with the idealism of youth.
It was a time when we were honest with ourselves, not yet burying our honesty under layers of duty and respectability. As time has gone by, our lives have been filled by responsibilities: work, families, and the pressure to conform that comes with modern-day life. Gradually we have learnt to prioritise the expectations of others over our dreams.
Over the years, we have been instructed many times to “be realistic”. Idealism is apparently seen by much of the world as something frivolous. And yet, isn’t idealism a precious asset — one of the most important attributes in the world? How can it be frivolous to be idealistic? Where would we be without idealism, a potent concoction of enthusiasm, energy and faith that inspires our actions, but is so easily lost? If only it were possible to bottle idealism, because if we do not hold onto our ideals, then we will stop striving to achieve them, and if no-one strives for a better world, then it will never happen.
Of course, idealism must be married with dedication and hard work if you are to make real change, but I ask you not to be cowed by so-called reality checks. “You can never end poverty in the world.” “You can never stop wars.” “There can never be equality.” Maybe so, but should that stop you from aiming for an ideal world? One where everyone can go about their daily lives without fear of guns or bombs? Where every child has a full belly and a roof over their head? Where students may read their books in peace and debate their ideas without threat? All the work in the world is of no use if there is nothing to motivate it.
Never be ashamed of your idealism. Never be afraid to speak the truth. The alternative is conforming to pressure and succumbing to cynicism. Instead, build your world view on a foundation of what you know to be right and you will lead the way on whichever path you choose to follow.
Your generation faces great challenges, greater perhaps than ever before. But if you hold on to the fire within you, then I believe there is nothing you cannot achieve. As you follow your chosen path, it can be difficult to bear the burden, not only of your own hopes and dreams, but of those who came before you and those who will come after. I beg you not to allow the pressures of life’s challenges to blind you to your values and your belief in the possibility of a better world. Remain always true to yourself, your hopes, dreams and ideals.”

Moza bint Nasser, Chairperson of Qatar Foundation
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