ETHIOPIAN STUDENTS ABROAD:
I am very happy to be able to send a few words of greeting to you on the occasion of this reunion of the Ethiopian students who are studying in America. It is good that it has been possible to arrange such a meeting so that you may relax and enjoy yourselves together for a time.
We hope that it will also be a period for renewing friendships with your fellow countrymen and thus strengthening the ties which bind you to your homeland, Ethiopia. It should also be a time when you may take stock of yourself and may consider what return you owe for the opportunity you have been given.
Great and wise men from all countries have told us through the centuries that the most worthwhile sort of life is one of service – ‘Working for the benefit of others.’ The Divine Teacher by word and example taught us that the only worthy way of living is to give rather than to receive.
In the dark days of the occupation our own patriots did not consider personal advantages as they strove to realize their ideal. As you prepare yourselves to return to Ethiopia I commend to you a life which gives to others who are less privileged than we and who have not had our opportunities.
Each of you is old enough and mature enough to know that in the United States and Canada education has seldom been prized only on account of its usefulness to individuals but to society. It is seldom intended to be merely an ornament to the person who obtains it.
This conception of education is equally important for us in Ethiopia, where only education can lead the way to higher standards of living for all people. It is in expectation of a rich return that the Ethiopian Government has spent freely to send you abroad, hoping that upon your return you will make a generous contribution to the betterment of your country.
We do not want you to return to Ethiopia, Americans or Canadians; American techniques in their entirety may be good only in America and Canadian training will be especially applicable to conditions in that country. We hope that you will be wise in choosing those elements from foreign education which are applicable to conditions in Ethiopia and which can be used in our own country.
There is a third thought which I would like you to keep always before you. In a world which becomes smaller and smaller as communication improves, nations must live as neighbours with other nations. Just as your impressions of an American are formed from the individual Americans you meet, so a foreigner’s ideas about Ethiopia depend upon the Ethiopians he encounters and knows.
Each of you is an Ambassador-at-large of your country. If you are kind and tolerant and courteous you make people think well of us – if you are arrogant and proud and unfriendly you discredit us in the eyes of others. It is my earnest hope that you may be at all times worthy representatives of Ethiopia.
Sept. 2, 1950.
Selected Speeches of His Imperial Majesty Haile Selassie – page 43 –