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Speeches That Sent Off '09 College Graduates

Also: Why ''Star Trek'' is so popular. And reggae music by Ziggy Marley. Transcript of radio broadcast:


Welcome to AMERICAN MOSAIC in VOA Special English.


I'm Doug Johnson. This week we:

Present graduation speeches by famous speakers at several American colleges …

Answer a listener question about "Star Trek" …

And play music from Ziggy Marley's new reggae album.


Graduation Speeches


Most colleges and universities have a special person speak to their students during graduation ceremonies. Mario Ritter tells us about several graduation speeches given last month by some very famous speakers.

MICHELLE OBAMA: "There are few things that are more rewarding than to watch young people recognize that they have the power to make their dreams come true. You did just that. Your perseverance and creativity were on full display in your efforts to bring me here to Merced for this wonderful occasion."


That was part of a speech First Lady Michelle Obama gave last month at a graduation ceremony at the University of California, Merced.

The ceremony honored the school's first full class of graduates since opening in two thousand five. Missus Obama praised the determination of the students, who sent thousands of letters to the White House asking her to come speak at their graduation. Her speech gave a message of hope to people living in areas affected by drought, high unemployment and housing problems.

President Obama was also busy with graduation events. He spoke at Arizona State University in Tempe and the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland. But it was his speech at the University of Notre Dame in Indiana that received the most attention. For days, activists near the Catholic university protested Mister Obama's appearance because of his policies supporting abortion. The president recognized this dispute in his speech.

BARACK OBAMA: "The question, then -- the question then is how do we work through these conflicts? Is it possible for us to join hands in common effort? As citizens of a vibrant and varied democracy, how do we engage in vigorous debate?"

Other members of the Obama administration gave speeches as well. White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel spoke at George Washington University in Washington, D.C.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton spoke to graduates at New York University in New York City. She introduced a new program for young people to work with American embassies to create "digital diplomacy".

HILLARY CLINTON: "That's why today, I am please to announce that over the next year, the State Department will be creating Virtual Student Foreign Service Internships to harness the energy of a rising generation of citizen diplomats."

The environmentalist Paul Hawken had a very direct message for graduates at the University of Portland in Oregon. He told students it was time for them to learn what it means to be a human being on Earth at a time when every living system was failing. He said the Earth is hiring and it was up to them to join together and do what is needed to help save the planet.

Star Trek


CAPTAIN KIRK: "Space. The Final Frontier. These are the voyages of the Starship Enterprise, its five year mission to explore strange new worlds."


Our listener question this week comes from China. Min Yu wants to know why "Star Trek" is so popular in America.

This is a timely question. The newest film version of "Star Trek" was released last month. It is based on the television series that began in the nineteen sixties. "Star Trek" tells about a huge Federation starship operated by a multicultural crew that explores the galaxy.

The newest "Star Trek" movie is about the characters in the first television series and how they met. It shows James T. Kirk, Spock and Leonard "Bones" McCoy as young men training to become officers. The movie has been a big success. And it has introduced "Star Trek" to a new generation of fans.

People who love all things "Star Trek" are often called Trekkies or Trekkers. Serious Trekkers join fan clubs, read "Star Trek" magazines and attend events like "Star Trek" conventions.

We asked two Trekkers why they love the series. Clara Park of New York City says she first fell in love with "Star Trek" in the late nineteen eighties by watching the "Next Generation" television series. She says she liked its perfect world with no disease, no discrimination and a very orderly government. In college she went to a "Star Trek" convention to meet the actor Patrick Stewart who played the role of Jean-Luc Picard. Miz Park says it was very exciting to meet him and see fans dressed up as characters on the show.

Miles Watson of Los Angeles, California, says watching "Star Trek" on television is one of his earliest memories. He praises the show for its writing which skillfully sets off the chemistry among the three main characters. They were played by William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, and DeForest Kelly. Mister Watson says the universe shown in the series sparks the imagination by creating a sense of wonder. He says many shows he watched as a child were filled with action. But few were as filled with adventure, mystery and excitement as "Star Trek."

Lincoln Geraghty is a film studies professor at the University of Portsmouth in Britain. He has written books and articles on "Star Trek." He studies the ways Trekkers have formed communities of support to tell stories about how the series helped them overcome difficult situations. Professor Geraghty says that "Star Trek's" message of hope, community, and self-improvement are central to American culture, history and identity.


Ziggy Marley


Ziggy Marley is a musician with a special link to family. His father was the reggae star Bob Marley. Ziggy Marley grew up making music with his brothers and sisters in their band, the Melody Makers. Ziggy recently released his third album, "Family Time." His five children helped influence his ideas for the record. He says music can be an important link between a parent and child. Barbara Klein has more.



That was the title song, "Family Time," from Ziggy Marley's latest album. Like many songs on the record, this one has a special guest performer. Marley's daughter Judah was three years old when she made the recording with her father.

He says he invited his daughter and fifty of her friends to the studio on the first day of recording. He wanted them to bless the studio with their young spirit.

Here is the song "Cry, Cry, Cry" which Ziggy Marley performs with the singers Jack Johnson and Paula Fuga.


Ziggy Marley says these children's songs are aimed at teaching younger generations about reggae music. He says this music helps children grow with open minds and open hearts. Part of the money from album sales will help a school in Port Antonio, Jamaica.

We leave you with "Walk Tall" sung by Ziggy Marley and Paul Simon.



I'm Doug Johnson. I hope you enjoyed our program today.

It was written and produced by Dana Demange. For transcripts, MP3s and podcasts of our programs, go to

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Please join us again next week for AMERICAN MOSAIC, VOA's radio magazine in Special English.