Today we are gathered to celebrate the graduation of our first high school cohort from the Tongwen Division. This is a historic moment for our school.
As the founding Superintendent, I am very glad and honored to have witnessed your growth for the past three years. You have contributed to making our school what it is today. I could still remember three year ago when our school first opened, all of our students and teachers were crammed in the Hongyin Building; most of our campus was still under construction. Time flies, now, you are going to graduate.
Education is everything to the future, just like you, the young people decide how the future looks like. It is with the pursuit and dream of good education that we are gathered here to build a school integrating Chinese traditional culture with IB holistic educational philosophy. They say it’s destiny that our paths cross here. Today is your graduation day, which means you are now at the age of independence. With the commitment to your dreams, your family and the community at large, you now begin a new journey!
In past three years, we have had laughter, tears, ups and downs. No matter what, the school appreciates and remembers every student, parent and teacher here forever, who have given us opportunity, trust and dedication.
You are the first cohort to graduate from PKUES (Jiaxing). Upon your graduation, I would like to give you one piece of advice, be your best self.
For a long time, our society has been abducted by a utilitarian concept deeply entrenched in our belief, that is, the amount of love, appreciation and recognition that one is able to get depends on their personal excellence. If you could demonstrate excellence as such, I will be close to you, otherwise, I leave you out in the cold. If you were excellent, I will recognize you, otherwise, I belittle you. The so called personal excellence defines our values and determines how we treat each other. However, excellence of this kind does not guarantee a successful career, nor does it promise a happy life. We must learn to understand who we are, accept it and try to become our best self. The same goes for the parents. Accept your child as they are. Each child is unique. The key is to build up their confidence, help them develop a strong character, encourage to strive for their own success and become their best self.
How to be your best self? I have three suggestions.
Firstly, be gritty.
Recently, the news of Huawei and Mr. Ren Zhengfei has swept across our nation. I personally believe that Mr. Ren is the model of Chinese entrepreneurs. Surely, there are many successful businessmen like him from all all walks of life. The question is, how do they achieve such exceptional success?
Research by Professor Angela Duckworth from the University of Pennsylvania has found that grit is the key to success. I still remember the night that I ran into some students in the iGEM group. They told me they were going to stay up all night in the lab in order to obtain the results. I could only imagine how many days and nights they had spent on this project to achieve success. Fight for your passion and stick to your goals until you make it, that is what we call being gritty.
We keep asking which is more important, making good choices or trying hard? But there is one thing we forget, grit. In times of uncertainties and changes, choices could be changed, and trying hard might not be enough. However, be gritty, and you will make it eventually.
The prerequisite of growth is you must have the mindset, which means you believe you can change. From this point of view, I could say that the reason why most people fail is because they do not believe that making great efforts could lead to a good result.
As you graduate from high school, I believe you all get the result based on how much effort you have invested. No pain, no gain. Look at your classmates and the progress you have made, you will understand what I am talking about. Being gritty could enable you to change for the better.
Secondly, be strong inside.
In the IB learner profile, we can see the wordings like risk-takers, open-minded, reflective and principled. All of these have a connection to being strong inside.
To be strong inside, first you must have self-confidence. You need to know yourself and accept who you are, then you will have self-confidence and know how to make changes. Here, I want to share my own story. I believe a large part of what I have achieved today can be attributed to self-confidence. Such personality runs in my family. My father suffered a rough life experience. He went to do physical labor in rural areas after graduating from high school. No job security, no social status, my father was at rock bottom. Still, he never complained. In my memory, he was always positive and strong. He believed things could change for the better. My father’s strength and optimism have shaped my beliefs. I always believed that I could find a way out of poverty and I made it. I have strived for the dream to seek for the good education for almost thirty years in Beijing. Here I am, I made it.
The second thing we need is composure and concentration. This is from Buddhism. As long as you are concentrated, you could persist in one thing and overcome any setback. In fact, people's achievements depend on two points: talent * effort = skills; skills * efforts = achievements. Talent is how soon your skills can be improved when you make effort. Achievement is the result of your efforts to use the acquired skills. In fact, there is not much difference in the IQ for everyone, but effort and persistence do make a difference.
Thirdly, be knowledgeable and open-minded.
To be empathetic is a vital component of EQ. Respecting different cultures, customs and civilizations can help us become knowledgeable and open-minded. To survive in a changing and diverse world, we need to cultivate the ability to embrace difference. Only in this way, can we think and act in a reasonable, objective and just manner. Learn to accept the various kinds of people and things, never force your own ideas onto others.
To be grateful is also an important indicator of a knowledgeable mind. As the old saying goes, a little give, a lot of returns. We must learn to be grateful to our parents, teachers and classmates, then we could have a happy life.
Last but not least, reading and traveling are also necessary to broaden our horizon. Some of our IB teachers here can attest to this statement. In the US, there are still lots of people who think China is poor and dangerous, like what you would see from those 1960s image. I must say that, now you have lived in China, you should have seen the enormous changes because of the reform and opening-up policy. Our teachers, being well-read and well-traveled, possess the ability to appreciate diversity. Different people will have different views on the same topic, like the Xinjiang issue and the Taiwan issue. The main point is to have a global perspective, experience different civilizations and have the heart to care for the well-being of all humanity.
In conclusion, be firm and persistent, be strong inside, be knowledgeable and open-minded. These are the qualities that will take us to a bright future.
Lastly, on behalf of the board and school, I’d like to express my heartfelt appreciation to all of you who have given us understanding and support for the past three years.
Farewell students, to your old selves and the lovely campus, say hi to the unlimited possibilities and hopes!
I wish you all the best. This is your home. Its door will always be open to you. Thank you!