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Once a refugee, new MSFS graduate W. Gyude Moore inspires a class

W. Gyude Moore

W. Gyude Moore

A previous post discussed the talk given by General Wesley Clark at the MSFS Tropaia Ceremony on Friday, May 15. Lauren Burgoon of the Georgetown Blue & Gray has also written an excellent account of the student speaker, W. Gyude Moore. Moore was elected by his class to deliver an address, and, as the previous post noted, he gave a very moving message to his classmates. From Burgoon’s article on the Georgetown website:

William Gyude Moore (G’09), the student speaker at the tropaia and diploma ceremony for the Master of Science in Foreign Service (MSFS) program, is at peace with his uncertain future.

Better than any of his fellow graduates, perhaps, Gyude knows that current circumstances mean little. The Liberian born Gyude took the audience back to his adolescence in West Africa, where he and his family were forced to flee fighting. His mother had just given birth to twins days before the family ran for safety – his frail newborn sister did not survive the family’s journey.

Later in a refugee camp in Côte d’Ivoire, Gyude had a case of dysentery so acute that his family accepted his death as inevitable.

“It doesn’t require much creativity or imagination to appreciate the vast chasm between the child who lay dying in a refugee camp and the man who is delivering this address today,” Gyude said. “Just because a person is in one place today, that doesn’t mean that’s where he’s going to end up. I want you to remember that.”

Things won’t always go as planned for MSFS graduates, Gyude told his classmates, but with disappointments comes transformations.

“It’s not a matter of if we’ll shape the future,” he said, “it’s a matter of when.”

Moore’s views on development, information technology, and democracy can also be seen in a video from The UN Youth Forum in 2006 here:


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Anthony Clark Arend is Professor of Government and Foreign Service at Georgetown University and the Director of the Master of Science in Foreign Service in the Walsh School of Foreign Service.

Commentary and analysis at the intersection of international law and politics.