President's Speech at the Opening Ceremony
Ladies and Gentlemen, my dear colleagues, and most importantly, the new students of 2014:
Good Morning. It is my great honor and pleasure to talk with you today. Dear new students, I wish you all a warm welcome to Zhejiang International Studies University and congratulations to all of you on surviving high school! I’ve noticed that you come from 10 different provinces including Shandong, Jiangsu, Anhui, Fujian, Jiangxi, Shanxi, Gansu, Hebei, Guangxi and some of you are from Xihu District of Hangzhou, Zhejiang Province! I want to extend my gratitude to all of you for choosing Zhejiang International Studies University.
Today is your second day here, so let me give you a short briefing about us and what we can offer you. I’m sorry if what I’m about to say disappoints you, but you will no longer enjoy the pleasure of sitting through eight hours of lectures for five to six days a week. You will no longer have the privilege of waking early for mandatory self-study. Teachers and parents will no longer be chasing you around trying to coax you into studying for one more hour or finishing another practice test. No one will tell you what you should do next; you are now the sole person making decisions for yourself.
I can assure you, however, that your time here will not be boring. We have many wonderful opportunities for you. For example, you can choose from a wide variety of interesting electives and lectures. We offer our students not only internationalized curricula, bilingual classes, courses taught completely in English but also courses on Chinese classics. We invite scholars to deliver lectures of various kinds both at the university level and at college level. We also offer special programs and courses to students from abroad, which are open for all students. As you all know, college isn’t just a place for you to bury your noses in books. It is also a platform for you to gain new experiences and to prepare yourselves for your future careers. As a foreign language institute, we have partnerships with higher education institutions and organizations all over the world. We provide our students with more than 30 study-abroad programs and many overseas internship opportunities. For example, we have students going to the United States and Mexico to teach Chinese every year. We also have cooperation with Beijing Foreign Studies University and Beijing International Studies University. Our students are encouraged to experience university life in Beijing by applying for exchange study with either of these two universities. It has always been, and will continue to be, our mission to provide opportunities for our students. Thirty five years ago, I was a student just like you. Now with a professional career spanning more than 30 years in academia, I’ve witnessed success stories for thousands of graduate and undergraduate students. As a person that has been there and done that, I would like to share a few thoughts with you on how to make the most of your college life.
First, aim high, work hard, and be the master of your own life. Think about where you would like to be in three or four years. Set your goals and work steadily towards achieving them. If you find that your study field isn’t your favorite, you can always choose a minor, or work hard to get into a master’s program of your choice. If you are worried about your college expenses and need financial aid, you can always apply for scholarships, tuition reduction, and work study opportunities. Our faculty and staff are more than happy to help you. If you are concerned about job opportunities after college, study hard and participate in as much internship as you can. I can assure you that graduates with outstanding academic performance and extensive work experience are always highly desired. Don’t let your past, your community, your family, or what others tell you or say about you be an excuse for not working hard today. You are the master of your destiny. What you do today determines where you will be in three or four years.
Second, cherish every learning opportunity. Three or four years in college is the best time to dig deeply into your study field and enlarge your general knowledge. Knowing your field well in college lays a solid foundation for your future career or your follow-on education. Thirty five years ago, when I was an undergraduate, resources were scarce. I bought almost every English book I could find and read them from cover to cover. It paid off. The solid English foundation I built enabled me to graduate from my MA program one year earlier than my peers and it helped me survive and thrive in both my PhD studies and my teaching career. On the other hand, don’t perceive courses outside your study field as unimportant. In a 2005 commencement address given by Steve Jobs at Stanford University, he discussed learning various beautiful typefaces in a calligraphy class he took in college. This may not have seemed important at the time; however, ten years later, it came back to him when he was designing the first Mac computer. He used this knowledge when creating typefaces for the first Mac. You never know what will be useful later in life. Seize every opportunity to learn as much as you can.
Last but not least, be happy and lead a balanced life. Be mindful that success is not just about academic achievements. Good health, love from your family, and support from friends are all essential elements of success. Don’t take anything for granted. Be grateful and appreciative for every opportunity you are given, for every help that you are offered, and for every precious day that you have. Keep your family informed about your college life and express your love and appreciation to them as often as you can. Care for your classmates and friends, and give them a hand whenever they’re in need. Working hard today will result in academic achievements. Being a compassionate, loving, and appreciative person today will help you achieve happiness throughout your life.
Once again, thank you for choosing Zhejiang International Studies University. It’s a great honor for me to welcome you and share my thoughts with you. I wish you all a happy day and a fun, productive, and rewarding four years.