A New Generation - A New Idealism

Perinbam, Lewis
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Commonwealth of Learning (COL)

"A NEW GENERATION - A NEW IDEALISM" Notes for an Address by Lewis Perinbam, Senior Advisor to the President, the Commonwealth of Learning, Vancouver, Canada to the AIESEC Global Theme Conference, Basel, Switzerland, May 6, 1997 // I am honoured and pleased to address AIESEC's Global Theme Conference. It is always an inspiring experience to be at an AIESEC gathering of students from all over the world. // With its membership of over 50,000 students in its 741 affiliates in 87 countries, AIESEC represents an influential movement for change. As the largest student-led and student-managed organisation in the world, it commands widespread admiration and respect. Its commitment to the advancement of its member countries and to international understanding and co-operation is a commendable and noble goal that merits unqualified support. // The theme of this session is "The Citizen of the 21st Century"; we must recognise at the outset that the 20th century citizen must be an informed person. This conference will be valuable in helping you to learn from each other; in enabling you to understand the cultural and political forces that shape nations; in cultivating respect for people from different economic and social circumstances and in overcoming outdated attitudes that are barriers to progress. // Knowing that I would be speaking to a gathering of very bright students I wanted to say something original. This is not easy and I was reminded of the Scottish lawyer whose stone front door-step had worn down. Fearing that he might become liable for damages if one of his clients slipped on it and injured himself or herself, he enquired about the cost of replacing it. He was told that a new step would cost one hundred pounds. Being a Scot this alarmed him. It then occurred to him that, if he turned the old step around, there would be a sharp edge on the hidden other side. When the stonemason told him it would cost only ten pounds to turn the step around he quickly had it done only to find that his grandfather had done the same fifty years earlier. // Like the Scottish lawyer, I may not be original; but I shall try to offer a fresh perspective.

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