For a graduation speech to be memorable, it needs to include the usual words of motivation with solid-yet-unique advice. Well, unique is the perfect word to describe the commencement address from Silicon Valley’s Kumail Nanjiani.
With the current, tense political climate, Nanjiani instantly lightened the mood with an interesting suggestion for the graduates of Grinnell College in Iowa: “Have sex with an immigrant,” the comedian said during his speech. “We’re going through a tough time right now, and it would just be really great for morale.”
Nanjiani, who moved from Pakistan to the United States for college, graduated from Grinnell in 2001. Sixteen years later, the Hollywood actor was invited to deliver the commencement speech to the 2017 graduates and to receive an honorary degree as Doctor of Humane Letters.
The 39-year-old spoke about his college experience as an immigrant from Pakistan and explained just how much the move changed his life. “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,” the comedian 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.”
Setting aside the jokes for a second, Nanjiani also offered the graduates some words of wisdom in a time where prejudice still exists. “We cannot expect others to understand our point of view if we don’t understand theirs,” he said. “It’s uncomfortable and awkward and infuriating and it hurts your brain, but with that pain can come growth and real change.”