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To be an Interesting Person——President's Speech at 2017 Graduation Ceremony

published: 2017-06-26 14:35:07       hits: 

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Dear students, teachers and parents, ladies and gentlemen,

Good morning!

Today, we feel excited to get together to congratulate the graduation of 4962 Bachelor and 3796 Masters and PhD graduates. You are like post cards ready to be sent around the world: you carry with you the postmark of UESTC with good comments from your teachers, the stamp of youth and vigor, and great expectations for the future. It is through you, our beautiful postcards, that UESTC can enjoy her fame, both home and abroad.

In the next few days, you will get one of the most important certificates of your life, which is not only a certificate for your degree, but also evidence of your youth and the sacrifices you have made. Four years ago, when I made a speech for the first time at the opening ceremony as president, I expressed my expectation, that you nurture your dream with impetus and power. During these four years, your hard work and dedication has allowed you to thrive and experience a rich and colorful University experience. You are so awesome! Two thirds of our undergraduates have chosen to further their study, and over 20% will study abroad. Among the first batch of graduates from Glasgow College, 82% have chosen to further their study and two thirds will go abroad. These are truly wonderful results. In addition, the intentional training of the “New Four Skills” - listening, speaking, reading and writing to develop our students’ leadership, has been launched in a comprehensive way. Various recreational and sports activities such as the UESTC forum, the UESTC stage, and the UESTC debating group, are growing in popularity with large numbers in attendance.

Dear students, today I’d like to talk about how to become an interesting person. No matter if you are an undergraduate or graduate, I expect you to be an interesting person, both in your work and life.

As is well-known, science and engineering students are regarded as science geeks, an engineering boy, or IT man. They are considered as hard working, ineloquent, serious, slovenly and rigid. Last year I traveled on a business trip from the East Coast to the West Coast of America and met quite a few of our alumni, including some young alumni on Facebook. They told me that being promoted to a team leader or project manager was quite achievable, but that graduates from Tsinghua stand a good chance of reaching middle level management or even becoming vice- chairman. I asked them the difference between themselves and Tsinghua graduates, and learnt that Tsinghua graduates are very strong in leadership and communication. This was a real shock to me. I guess you have all read the four great Chinese classical novels: Romance of the Three Kingdoms, Journey to the West, Water Margin and A Dream in Red Mansions. A survey shows that the favorite roles are Zhang Fei, Monk Pig, Figured Monk Lu Zhishen and Grandmother Liu. Are you surprised? None of them have the leading roles, however, they are the most popular people in readers’ hearts. Why? Because they share the same feature: they are interesting. Is it important to be interesting? Absolutely yes! Several years dedicated study in UESTC has laid a useful and solid foundation to your expertise, which enables you to find a good job. You will soon discover just how useful this is. When you walk from the college ivory tower to the kaleidoscope of society, you will find that people are obsessed with the concept of “useful” and tend to mark the world, measure life and distinguish friends by the label of “useful” or not “useful”. With the passing of time, there are now more sophisticated egoists, and less idealism; more “useful” people, less “interesting” people. In the long journey of life, if a person takes “useful” as a measure to everything, how boring his life will be! It’s true our society needs capable talented people, but this is a world led by eloquent and knowledgeable people. How do we encourage UESTC students to achieve more through their professional strengths and their soft power, and more importantly, how do we add to their attraction and lead them to a more fulfilled life? That’s what I want to talk to you about today: keep strengthening “useful” hard power, but at the same time try to promote soft power and become an interesting person.

For thousands of years, we have advocated the agricultural civilization’s way of life and thinking. That is, to learn mathematics and chemistry, and to walk around the world without fear. After forty years of development under the reform and opening-up policy, China has transformed into the commercial era, in which talented people who can live in harmony and keep a balance with nature are needed. Take a look back, and you can see how we overvalued hard strength and placed too much emphasis on exams and grades all the way from Primary School to College. But the truth is, a high score doesn’t mean someone is well-educated, and being knowledgeable doesn’t equate to being an interesting person. The future development of China needs tens of thousands of elite people. If a person knows something about politics, economics, history, society and cultural art, is good at communication, is broad-minded and tolerant, it’s very possible they are interesting and the leading person in their walk of life. An interesting person is full of curiosity and wants to learn about things around them. They are popular. They get along well with people around them, they make others happy, and this helps them to make more friends and establish a better career and life. In fact, such people are among us today. Fan Hua is an associate Professor from the School of Micro-Electronics and Solid-State Electronics. She loves teaching her students, and enjoys music and poetry. For the past ten years, she has practiced singing for 40 minutes every day. She is highly accomplished, and her students have crowned her as the Artificial Circuit Goddess. Another example is Li Anwu, one of the graduates from the Liren Honors Class, is in charge of sports activities in his class. He organizes his classmates to do night running every night. I ran with them sometimes. Li’s interest in running has enlightened him to further his study in the best Chinese sports university. Now he has realized his dream and been admitted to Beijing Sports University.

Every one of you can be an interesting person, but what does makes a person interesting? Some hold that a person should be knowledgeable, far-sighted and thoughtful; some think it is someone who loves life, who is close to nature, honest and kind; some say one should explore and develop one’s humor. I think interesting people share at least two things in common: firstly they read more, and secondly they are more observant. These two practices enable people to be more erudite and informed. I suggest everyone should systematically read the history of human civilization. The “New Four Skills” aim at training students’ critical thinking, and helping them to express their capabilities, in order to improve their leadership. Another goal is to improve your soft power, to help you become a well-rounded, developed and interesting person. I hope you can keep training in the “New Four Skills”. Human civilization, especially five thousand years of Chinese civilization, is extensive and profound, and includes not only mathematics, physics, chemistry and other natural science achievements, but also humanities and social science achievements such as politics, economics, culture and arts. As a human being, there is no reason for us to neglect soft power. On the contrary, we should admire, experience, enjoy and inherit this kind of legacy. To observe more, requires that after graduation, you broaden your vision more, so that while you retain your love for China, you also develop an international vision. Try to experience new things, and to cultivate your world view, because your vision determines your mind set and what you can achieve in life. What’s more, I encourage you to look for and amplify the humorous and optimistic nature in your heart. Find the true, the good and the beautiful in life and nature. Seek to refine and improve yourself, by maximizing the interesting and fun things in your life.

Every year of this time I read your graduation remarks on our university Bulletin Board System. Recently someone posted adapted lyrics:

June is the time to say goodbye

Another glimpse of the Main Building

Another match in the Gym

No one wants to leave first

On the fragrant campus

I will never forget you

UESTC, you will always be here for me

This reminds me of last year, when I was hurrying to a meeting in the library, a student carried me there on his electric bike, and took a selfie with me before leaving. I’m wondering whether he graduates or not. I also see our alumni around the world give their big “YES” in WeChat for the double first- class development plan of UESTC. Our students and alumni have all given their attention to the development of UESTC, which proves again we share the same identity: we all belong to the big family of UESTC. No matter where you are in the future, whether you have made great achievements or not, remember this is always your home.

To end my speech, I wish all of you every success and a prosperous future! 

Goodbye everyone!

Translated by Luo Lang