The Big Sick and Silicon Valley star Kumail Nanjiani in a splendid commencement speech in Iowa last week talked about issues of racism and immigrants. During this speech, the 39-year-old talked about his journey from Pakistan to Chicago and how life changed in this period. “When I came to Grinnell I was a devout Muslim who had never romantically touched a girl and I was going to get a degree that guaranteed me a job,” Nanjiani said. “By the time I graduated I was basically a Rastafarian with a white American girlfriend and a philosophy degree. College changes you, is my point,” he added.
Nanjiani who moved to the US after growing up in Karachi as a teenager graduated from Grinnell in 2001 with a liberal arts degree. “You can go slow. There is no rush. Allow your dreams and goals to change, but live an intentional life. Think: “Am I doing what I want to be doing every day?” And be okay with failing. That’s what I learned getting rejected at all these auditions: Nobody is paying attention to your failure. The world is full of people failing; people are failing all around you. Failure is boring. Your failure will not be so spectacular that people will write articles about your failure,” he said in a speech that is likely to inspire a lot of people.
Watch the full speech here:
Talking about the racism he had to face in the beginning, Nanjiani asked other graduates on keeping an open mind to things. “We cannot expect others to understand our point of view if we don’t understand theirs. And it’s uncomfortable and awkward and infuriating and it hurts your brain, but with that pain can come growth and real change. Being a fish out of water is tough, but that’s how you evolve. I think that’s scientifically accurate — I don’t know, I had a liberal arts education,” he said.
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He said those who had to go through the tough times due to racism must be proud of their children today. “To those of you who were able to be here, as nervous as you were to get through customs and immigration, I hope that you are just as proud to watch your children walk across this stage. And I hope that today, you see the America that we love,” he said.