Before I begin my speech, I would first like to pay my respect to the past, present and future and acknowledge the important roles Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people continue to play within the St James community.
My name is Fred Duku Silver and I am a motivational speaker for young people. I get invited and travel to different schools and events to inspire young people to believe their dream is possible. I am also the President of the Shining Snow Flake Initiative. The initiative aims to provide informative community education about homelessness and the delivery of long-term sustainable solutions.
Currently I am still undertaking my double degree in Bachelors of Business and Bachelors of Laws (Honours) at Queensland University of Technology.
When I was asked to speak at today’s event, I had no idea of what to talk about because my time at St James was one of those emotionally fulfilling experiences which cannot be put into words. But having had the time to think about it, the three things which have made my time at St James a liberating experience and I would like you to take home with you today is the connected environment of the college, the inclusivity it provides and last but not least the social justice and ministry opportunities.
As you can tell from today’s visit, St James is a really small school with just over 420 students located in the heart of the city. The size of the school for me meant that I had a sense of connectedness not just with the other students but also with the staff and volunteers. Every morning when I entered through the gates, it felt like I was entering into my second home because everyone knew my name and I knew everyone’s name. St James is not just a place where the students and teachers know you. It’s a place where the Principle calls you by your name. At St James the Principle is like our shepherd because he knows the name of each and every single one of his sheep. This is one of the reason why on my last day of school, I said – “I didn’t make friends at St James. I made family.”
Secondly, although St James is a small school, it is an inclusive one in which it includes and make welcome students from a diverse spectrum of the Australian population, regardless of race, background, religion, ability or social or economic means. The inclusive enrolment policy is in the heart of the college. St James is so inclusive that we have our own world cup soccer where students team up with the other students from their country to verse the rest and the indigenous students are the only ones left to represent Australia. For some reason the African countries always seem to win.
In my business studies I found out that a company’s culture is the only truly unique identifier. Things like the products, strategies and even the techniques can be duplicated. The only truly unique identifiers are the values and norms of the organisation. In short, its personality! I am grateful to have graduated from a high school with so many different personalities. I believe I was able to build a sense of global citizenship within St James and now I am able to communicate and relate to people from different cultures and background. In our ever changing society this skill is the key to a successful career and life.
Last but not least, the social justice and ministry opportunities. Challenged by the Gospel and inspired by Edmund Rice, the St James College Community nurtures and engages the hearts and minds of young men and women. The college is very proud of its various outreach programs that support student development. The college offers our students with a large array of opportunities to engage students in Social Justice and Ministry. As there are so many, I will not outline all of them, I believe the student leaders will be eager to share their experiences with you. However, the one I will point out is the Brekkie Van. The Brekkie Van is a street van in which staff, students and community members help the marginalised in the local community by volunteering their mornings from 5am to venture out on a Van to serve breakfast for the homeless and return before their classes.
My involvement in the Brekkie Van was one of the inspirations behind The Shining Snow Flake.
Because I am chasing after my dreams and making strides in societal change, I was invited by the United Nations to attend the 2016 Summer Youth Assembly. The 2016 Summer Youth Assembly will take place at the United Nations Headquarters, New York City August 6-16. I will be departing in 7 days. It will focus on empowering youth leaders and young professionals in the implementation of the United Nations’ 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Because of the cost involvements I was not in the position to pay all of them. However, St James helped cover all of my travel expenses to and from the USA. To show my gratitude, can you all please join me in giving them a huge round of applause.
To recap, the three things which have made my time at St James worthwhile are the connected environment of the college, the inclusivity it provides and the social justice and ministry opportunities. However, there is so much to St James, for example the sporting activities. St James is the best school in Queensland for Basketball. Or its location. Because of the proximity to the city, students of St James are able to link to many industry, art, cultural and sporting venues. At St James everyone has a different story. To find your St James story, there is only one thing to do, become a part of it.
You don’t have to be great to start but you have to get started to be great, my name is Fred Duku Silver and to get in contact with me please talk to the college.
May we all stay Faithful Forever.