It is my pleasure to inform you that Daw Aung San Suu Kyi — renowned Burmese opposition leader, chairperson of the National League for Democracy in Burma, and 1991 Nobel Peace Laureate — will visit the University of San Francisco on Saturday, September 29, 9:15AM to 10:45AM. Suu Kyi, who lived under house arrest for more than 15 years, will receive an honorary doctorate from the University.
The ceremony will be streamed live on www.usfca.edu/suukyi. Local public officials will be present to welcome her to San Francisco on behalf of the City.
Many may recall that in December 2007, the University honored the Buddhist monks of Burma at a commencement ceremony with an honorary doctorate for their courage, compassion and commitment in seeking to protect the human and democratic rights of the Burmese people in the face of a harshly brutal military dictatorship. Graduating students were told then that the chant of Do-aye (“It is our task”), a statement of determination heard on audio recordings from Burma during the protests, should evoke in them a passion to accept their responsibility for righting the world’s wrongs.
It is indeed our honor to again shine a ray of light on Burma at this pivotal moment in its history and serve as the host for the Bay Area Burmese community in War Memorial Gymnasium, the venue for their gathering with Daw Aung San Suu Kyi. This is their moment to at long last reunite with Daw Aung San Suu Kyi after her many years of detention. It does mean, however, that the University community's access to the event is extremely limited. We encourage all to watch the live simulcast or the recorded video, which will also be made available on our web site after the event.
The letter informing us that USF was selected as the host site for this historic visit noted that "USF's record of commitment to social justice, support for Burma's cause and Daw Aung San Suu Kyi are exceptional and played a significant role in our decision…We hope this meeting and her visit to USF will inspire your students greatly. We also hope it will foster a great tie and USF could help with the rebuilding of Burma's educational system and the young people there." I am confident that the University community will not place itself among those who "have the experience and miss its meaning." Daw Aung San Suu Kyi 's visit to USF is compelling evidence of the University's being "internationally recognized as a premier Jesuit Catholic urban university with a global perspective that educates leaders who will fashion a more humane and just world for all. [Vision, Mission and Values Statement]" As we welcome Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, let us also celebrate the mission that is ours and upon which so much depends.
Please check the USF Facebook page to join the photo campaign to welcome Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, and click here to participate in the educational events leading up to the Sept. 29 meeting with the Burmese community.
Stephen A. Privett, SJ