New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern will fly to Boston and personally address Harvard graduates in May – a full two months before her hermit kingdom reopens its borders to the rest of the world.
The left-wing NZ Labour Party leader and former president of the International Union of Socialist Youth will travel 9,100 miles from the capital of Wellington to appear before the prestigious 369th Commencement in the U.S. on May 26.
Meanwhile Americans and other tourists remain barred from her island nation until July – at the earliest.
Harvard President Larry Bacow said he was delighted she had accepted the invitation:
Prime Minister Ardern is one of the most respected leaders on the world stage and we are delighted she will join us in May to celebrate the Class of 2022.
From climate change and gender equality to COVID-19, she has modeled compassionate leadership that has brought together empathy and science-based solutions to address the most challenging issues of our time. I very much look forward to her address.
Ardern will be the first in-person Commencement speaker in two years, taking her leave from a home country that has enforced some of the harshest coronavirus lockdown restrictions in the world.
She will be the 17th sitting world leader to deliver a Harvard Commencement address. Former German Chancellor Angela Merkel served as the school’s last in-person Commencement speaker in 2019.
MASK OFF: New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern admitted she wants to create two classes of citizens based on vaccination status. https://t.co/JItW1BI772
— Breitbart News (@BreitbartNews) October 25, 2021
On February 3, Arden announced a phased reopening of her country.
Vaccinated New Zealanders in Australia can travel home from February 27 without a requirement to stay at state-managed quarantine facilities, while global Kiwis will be able to do so two weeks later.
They will return to a country that has been in turmoil since a pushback against Ardern began last month as New Zealanders protested to regain their freedoms.
Foreign vaccinated backpackers and some skilled workers can come to the country beginning March 13, while up to 5,000 international students will be allowed to enter from April 12.
Tourists from Australia and other visa-free countries – like the U.S. – will only be allowed in by July and those from the rest of the world will be kept out until October under the plan which was revealed even as the country reels from ongoing protests against Ardern’s strictly enforced vaccine mandates.
Hordes of vehicles blocked streets around New Zealand’s Parliament on Tuesday, in a protest mirroring others building around the world demanding an end to coronavirus restrictions and vaccine mandates. https://t.co/haqWykV3IF
— Breitbart News (@BreitbartNews) February 8, 2022
All arrivals would still have to self-isolate for 10 days, Ardern said.
Harvard applauded Ardern’s acceptance of the honor, pointing to her being named to Fortune’s 2021 World’s 50 Greatest Leaders list, Time magazine’s 100 Most Influential People list twice, and Forbes Magazine’s list of most powerful women repeatedly as reasons to hear her speak in person.
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