Professor Xiao Xi
Dear colleagues and friends, fellow students, the graduating class of 2020 of SIPA,
It is so wonderful to speak to you amid this special tough time, a time that puts all the virtues we hold high - integrity, honesty, and unconditional care toward each other- to test. It is a special crisis that spares no one. It asserts great impact on the world and changed almost all social patterns that used to shape our lives. We avoid handshakes and hugs, stop food sharing, keep social distancing, cancel parties and classes, and retreat to dormitories and homes. We went through quarantines, tests, lock-downs. We seemed to lose many beautiful things yet keep the best of them - the faith in ourselves, our beloved Jilin University, and this country! We are strong enough to survive all the setbacks because such faith gives us strength.
Setbacks forge an individual’s character. What fulfills a person is the uncompromised realization of values through hard work. No matter how difficult the situation is and what uncertainty awaits us, we shall never let go any opportunity and excuse ourselves for wasting our previous time. In other words, the bigger the setback is, the sweeter the final success will be. Even in the dark days when we try so hard with nothing in return, we can still smile at it because the root of success grows bigger and deeper. So we take the pandemic as a godsend trial to test our resilience, to build our characters and to make us stronger. A regathering online today to celebrate your graduation confirms it with absolute clarity: you overcame the setbacks imposed by the pandemic, resolved all challenges, removed all obstacles, and claim what you deserve.
Jilin University, where part of our soul forever belongs, has developed us and defined who we are. When she carries you to your dreamed destinations, you are not simple passengers, but become the carriers of all the best things that this university embodies. She is already part of your life, and just like what you did, she has broken the hurdles and climbed even higher toward excellence. We always say, “one day a JLUer, forever a JLUer”, and all alumni are like the seeds spreading to every corner of the world, grow and prosper. Dear graduates, you aspire the days ahead away from university, but eventually you will stop and look back at the place where your dreams started. You know that she will give you eternal encouragement and strength, and will always back you up. She is big enough to support your past and future, and small enough to occupy a corner in your heart. She is so far that the footprints were left to the remotest continent, and so near that you will still miss her even decades apart.
My dear friends, you have witnessed an unprecedented change of the world, seen this country and many more countries’ reactions and efforts to this change, and even taken part in the real fight against COVID-19. As students of international studies, we ought to practice what we have learned from classroom and pioneers in interpreting the change and leading the world which our major is supposed to be all about. A sense of responsibility to love your country, to restore order, to crave for peace and the dignity that everyone is entitled to a share of the planet. It is the responsibility that the time has vested in your generation. No matter where you go and whatever you do, you shall remind yourselves of what you should become from the year 2020: the world rests upon the shoulders of the wise, the brave and the ones with bigger hearts.
Percy Shelley wrote in his “Ode to the West Wind”: If Winter comes, can Spring be far behind? We grow hope in the worst of times, so the best of times shall surely ascend.
Again, I would like to congratulate the class of 2020, and wish you all a very joyful and memorable graduation, and may all the great things happen to you.