My Mother Was At The NED Convocation & Here’s How She Felt About Ashraf Habibullah’s Viral Speech!

Ashraf Habibullah's Viral Speech
Image Source: NED Photography Society

Just yesterday, a hilarious video went viral in which we could see an elderly man, wearing LED lights jacket and singing old classics at the NED Convocation 2018–2019. The man in the video is not a small deal but Mr. Ashraf Habibullah, a successful NED alumnus and a founder/CEO of a big software company in the US who was invited as a guest speaker to motivate the students.

So, when a man of his stature decided to have a good time at an event as formal as convocation, not only the video broke the internet but also was highly criticized for not respecting the decorum.

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Here’s the video!

Before anything else, it is important to condemn the part of Mr. Ashraf’s speech that glorifies catcalling and harassment. For a person who holds an influential position and is looked up to by thousands of students, it was indeed very irresponsible on Mr. Habibullah’s part to share a story that justifies predatory behavior.

That said, a professor from the NED university shared that we are being shown the incomplete picture.

I wouldn’t have believed in any of this unless my mother who attended the NED Convocation 2018-2019, had not shared her account.

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Right after the conclusion of the ceremony on Saturday, my mother rang me up and for someone who usually doesn’t have much to say, she just couldn’t stop talking about how fun the event was. I could feel the excitement in her voice so I pushed her to share the convocation details and the first thing she shared was Mr. Ashraf’s speech.

She told me that before his speech everyone was getting bored and were sitting half asleep, but this old guy came and woke everyone up. He started his speech with a gesture that I found pretty cool. Mr. Ashraf explained that he wanted to celebrate with the young graduates and since he could not light up the campus, he would wear a jacket embezzled with LED lights as a celebratory symbol.

The act set the tone of the speech and then the jolly alumnus went on to share that he himself was a below average student who liked singing more than studying. The vivacious Mr. Ashraf sounded nostalgic and narrated his success story with bits of songs and jokes sprinkled throughout and concluded his speech on a very emotional note which left both the students and the parents overwhelmed.

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The second my mother told me this incident, I was filled with bewilderment which was followed by, “Ammi, are you making this up?” to which my mother laughed and said, “this time. I am not!”

I was sure right there and then that this would go viral but didn’t know that people would criticize Mr. Ashraf for rather breaking the decorum and acting “unprofessional.”

Yes, he justified eve-teasing, that part should be condemned but he spread smiles and gave memories to the thousands of students and parents who were having a dull time before his speech with his larger than life personality. His infectious energy translated across the crowd and left everyone in a jovial mood which is something that we must appreciate.

Here’s hoping that in the next NED Convocation, the media won’t show things out of context and the people will understand that its okay to break the decorum once in a while especially if its a cause as noble as making people smile.