MFA Design & Technology 2018 (Graduation Speech)
Parsons School of Design

Special Thanks to Dylan and Maddie for these photos!

Mabuhay

is a Filipino word that means live, it also means, cheers to life, live great live long and prosper, may the force be with you and sometimes it can also mean hello

Mabuhay,

I’m Paolo, a Masters Graduate of Design and Technology at Parsons School of Design

When I was asked to speak for 8 minutes here a few days ago I was unsure what to talk about, so I began writing something, alongside the end year thesis preparations. I hope it fits.

I grew up in an environment that cultivated and appreciated culture apart from my own. My accent is a testament to this, tv, radio, magazines, all forms of media influencing this.

At a young age I had a desire, a desire to tell stories, but like all stories, they were inspired by the experiences growing up and those experiences were saturated with a culture not of my own.

Those experiences were not part of where I was from, so I traveled, went far and wide, visited countries where their culture was celebrated, listened to their stories and hope that one day I could share mine.

It’s amazing how 2 years has passed and a lot has happened.

The elections, fake news, surveillance and privacy, policy changes, the fight for our rights, protests, the women’s march, talks of war, and peace negotiations.

In the last two years a lot has indeed happened, and today, we’re here to acknowledge all that has happened within ourselves on our two year journey of Graduate studies at Parsons

I remember the first day being so full expectations and hopes for the future. It was exciting to challenge capabilities and expand potentialities inside our selves, so we talked about classes we wanted to take, stuff we wanted to make, people we want to work with, to strive and create. And yes the first day was great!

I’m sure we have had this similar hope for the future. And who can blame us when we see so much development and innovation in the various fields and disciplines of design and technology, that you know a part of you is itching to contribute to these.

So Bootcamp happened and on the first day we were so stressed to the core, that some of us broke down, broke down so much that the social walls we built coming to program dissolved and we just magically clicked, worked together to get things done.

3 weeks of non stop, Design, Web and Creative Coding and what emerged was united group ready to tackle on courses and projects to come.

And yes we all did, a lot of us here joined competitions, design jams, hackathons, fellowships, the NYC Media lab, all of which allowed us to tackle the worlds problems and design it differently.

Design in the broad sense is about the action of human imagination. It’s puts human imagination into a side of action.

Design is bringing that into being Design acts on it, it produces imagination.

Design matters, more than ever.

How do we design hope?

Where Human imagination has transformed the world and human action has gone to peril. Parsons throws us into situations where we rise to challenge to ask how to design it differently

And a fellowship I’ve had with Havas and the NYC Media lab we were challenged to create hope in the city of New York to fight the doom and gloom conversation of climate change.

Today we are graduating in a world where there are so much demands for us to rally for many things.

There are so much issues that we need to address and deconstruct. So many things that demand our action and our voice.

We are pulled in many directions but all pointing to the same core: the need to find and reconcile with our forgotten and untold narratives.

When the world is so determined to crack down and devour, it is in creation that initiates diversity, equality, inclusivity, and solidarity, among others.

This is why we do what we do.

But when we hear more stories of war and violence, of human right violations, of extreme basic need deprivation, and all these societal ills, it is easy to be defeatist and choose to rely on a magical elixir or on someone who promises to fix all your problems.

Sure, we try to do things in our own way, but it never seems to amount to much. We doubt whether our small acts actually have an effect at all.

We look at the bigger picture and wonder, how can we actually do design something against the weight of all the world’s problems?

We lose our spirits, disheartened and confused by our own struggles that seem to demote our agency and obscure possibilities.

But, it is through our trials, our rapid prototyping that we are able to bring about a seemingly basic and fundamental nature of our humanity.

This is hope.

Now this may sound cliché, but bear with me. When everything seems to be against you to the point that all your aspirations and faculties are exhausted and seemingly nothing remains, what will allow one to continue is hope.

It is easy to dismiss hope especially when one believes that he/she has everything and the problems of the world feel non-existent. But when we have fallen to our lowest points to the point of despair, it is through hope that we are able bounce back.

What does this mean? According to Gabriel Marcel, a French philosopher, illustrious during his time,

Hope is a “returning home, of finding one’s own way again,” to regain what was lost to despair and affirm the value of life.

But that’s not all. Hope grants us the creative, dynamic, flexible, non-specific power, which influences us to find ways out of our plight. It is this creative fidelity that Marcel posits allows one to be a “really alive person.”

This is because it involves other people, realizing their subjectivity and expressing our own, which grants us an access to something greater than our own selves.

Ultimately, it is hope that makes us believe that what we are doing, our works, concerns, passion, entire life, matters.

Hope is a continuous strive for improvement in our relations with the self and others- a strong desire for transcendence.

And with the skills nurtured from the New School here we are empowered with the desire to create and bring to life things that will help us ask better questions, and ultimately, get others to follow suit. A place where we are provided with a platform to help, collaborate and be critical on the world around us.

Where the program places you to study the liminal space between technology and the arts, the moral implications, choices and ideas on AI, genetic, biology, collaboration, and a lot

Because together we believe creativity isn’t a concept, it’s a calling. It’s what drives you out into the world to make the things that make a difference.

We learn creative problem solving by dissolving walls between academic disciplines so we can rigorously rethink everything.

Together we draw inspiration from human insight, we purposely collaborate we try things over and over again and we become invaluable to a world that doesn’t exist yet.

Creativity in the right hands changes everything

Because it’s not what you know, it’s what you create with what you know.

Remember, make the future catch up to you

I want to thank everyone who made my two years, our two years in Parsons insanely great, and made each experience something I hope for.

I will miss those moments on D12 where we can all hang and complain how dirty it is.

Those moments on D12 when you bother someone and ask if they have a phone charger, or if they know how to do motion graphics, sew this seam, create a pattern, work on open frameworks, java script, unity or the typical “Hey can you look at my design” questions.

I’m sure we’re all going to miss those moments, because probably after this, we’ll all start charging everyone for consultation on the same things.

From our initial 3 bootcamp teachers to our DT professors John, Anezka, Melanie, Ben, Chris, Evan, Nick, Colleen, Katherine, David, Kyle, Ayo, Ethan, Brad, Anthony, Mattie, Justin, Barbara, Lisa, Morry, Jessie, and the rest of our professors who helped us on our DT journey thank you so much.

But a special shoutout goes to our program Director Sven Travis thank you for starting this program and being the guiding force leading all of us to design tomorrow. For 20 years DT has been on the forefront of the world because of Sven, thank you so much!

To my family at the back who arrived here yesterday from LA. Thank you the support, phone calls, emergency responses, healthcare and all the rest. As well as to my mom who kept that little motivational poster on the bathroom that stuck with me through the years and I would like to share that with you today.

Never put off for tomorrow, what you can do today — Benjamin Franklin

And of course to everyone here, Batch of 2018 Working with all of you has been amazing, I will never find any cohort that is just as passionate, motivated, critical, focused, loving, caring and hard working as all you. All your projects inspire me to keep hoping for tomorrow

And being with all of you at New School, Seeing everyone take that chance, living life, from the passionate rallies and protests, everyone self initiated, is awe inspiring.

Each one fighting to tell their story, their story of life, their story of struggles the story of identity, their story of hopes and dreams told through the amazing work that they produce

Coming together here at school with the principles to engage the world a desire to challenge the status quo, Binds us together as a community, a community of peace and human well being culturally resilient yet able to adapt to the modern world

and from our individual stories, we collectively make today a story we share together.

And as we continue to live life

Let us create, design, document, promote, inspire and empower. At the same time remmebering to try and to help others.

Let us embrace life through the actions of human imagination!

Thank you everyone and I will see you on the next email chain on the US List

Mabuhay

POTATO!