The Doors that Are Open to Us
Good morning ladies and gentlemen:
The title of my speech today is "The Doors that Are Open to Us ".
The other day my aunt paid me a visit. She was overjoyed. "I got the highest mark in the mid-term examination!" she said. Don't be surprised! My aunt is indeed a student; to be exact, a college student at the age of 45.
Last year, she put aside her private business and signed up for a one-year, full-time management course in a college. "This was the wisest decision I have ever made," she said proudly like a teenage girl. To her, college is always a right place to pick up new ideas, and new ideas always make her feel young.
"Compared with the late 70s," she says, "now college students have many doors." My aunt cannot help but recall her first college experience in 1978 when college doors began to be re-opened after the Cultural Revolution. She was assigned to study engineering despite her desire to study Chinese literature, and a few years later, the government sent her to work in a TV factory.
I was shocked when she first told me how she (had) had no choice in her major and job. Look at us today! So many doors are open to us! I believe there have never been such abundant opportunities for self-development as we have today. And my aunt told me that we should reach our goals by grasping all these opportunities.
The first door I see is the opportunity to study different kinds of subjects that interest us. My aunt said she was happy to study management, but she was also happy that she could attend lectures on ancient Chinese poetry and on Shakespearean drama. As for myself, I am an English major, but I may also go to lectures on history. To me, if college education in the past emphasized specialization, now, it emphasizes free and well-rounded development of each individual. So all the fine achievements of human civilization are open to us.
The second door is the door to the outside world. Learning goes beyond classrooms and national boundaries. My aunt remembers her previous college days as monotonous and even calls her generation "frogs in a well." But today, as the world becomes a global village, it is important that our neighbors and we be open-minded to learn with and from each other. I have many fellow international classmates, and I am applying to an exchange program with a university abroad. As for my aunt, she is planning to get an MBA degree in the United Kingdom where her daughter, my cousin, is now doing her master's degree in biochemistry. We are now taking the opportunity to study overseas, and when we come back, we'll put to use what we have learnt abroad.
The third door is the door to lifelong learning. As new ideas appear all the time, we always need to acquire new knowledge, regardless of our age. Naturally, my aunt herself is the best example. Many of my aunt's contemporaries say that she is amazingly up-to-date for a middle-aged woman. She simply responds, "Age doesn't matter. What matters is your attitude. You may think it's strange that I am still going to college, but I don't think I'm too old to learn." Yes, she is right. Since the government removed the age limit for college admissions in 20xx, there are already some untraditional students, sitting with us in the same classrooms. Like these people, my aunt is old but she is very young in spirit. With her incredible energy and determination, she embodies both tradition and modernity.
The doors open to us also pose challenges. For instance, we are faced with the challenge of a balanced learning, the challenge of preserving our fine tradition while learning from the West, and the challenge of learning continuously while carrying heavy responsibilities to our work and family. So, each door is a test of our courage, ability and judgment, but with the support of my teachers, parents, friends and my aunt, I believe I can meet the challenge head on. When I reach my aunt's age, I can be proud to say that I have walked through dozens of doors and will, in the remainder of my life, walk through many more. Possibly I will go back to college, too.
Thank you very much, ladies and gentlemen.
From Walls to Bridges
I'm studying in a city famous for its walls. All visitors to my city are amazed by the imposing sight of the city walls, silhouetted by the setting sun with gold and shining lines. With old, cracked bricks patched with lichen, the walls are weather-beaten guards, standing still for centuries in protecting the city.
Our ancestors liked to build walls. They built walls in Beijing, Xi'an, Nanjing and many other cities, and they built the Great Wall, which snakes through half of our country. They built walls to ward off enemies and evil spirits. This tradition has been maintained to this day as we still have many parks and schools walled off from the public. I grew up at the foot of the city walls, and I've loved them since my childhood. For a long time, walls were one of the most natural things in the world.
My perception, however, changed after a hiking trip to the Eastern Suburbs, a scenic area of my city. My classmates and I were walking with some international students. As we walked out of the city, we found ourselves flanked by taller and taller trees, which formed a huge canopy above our heads. Suddenly an international student asked me, "Where is the entrance to the Eastern Suburbs?"
"We're already in the Eastern Suburbs," I replied.
He seemed taken aback, "I thought you Chinese have walls for everything." His remark set off a heated debate. At one point, he likened our walled cities to "jails," while I insisted that the Eastern Suburbs were one of the many places in China that had no walls.
That debate had no winners, but I did learn a lot from this international student. For instance, he told me that universities like Oxford and Cambridge were not surrounded by walls; the campuses were just part of the cities. I have to admit that we do have many walls in China, and as we are developing our country, we must carefully examine them, whether they are physical or intangible. We will keep some walls but tear down those that impede China's development.
Let me give you an example.
A year ago, when I was working on a term paper, I needed a book on business law and found a copy in the law school library. However, the librarian turned down my request with a cold shoulder, saying, "You can't borrow this book, you are not a student here." In the end, I had to spend 200 yuan buying a copy; meanwhile, the copy in law school was gathering dust on the shelf.
At the beginning of this semester, I heard that my university has started not only to unify its libraries but also link them up with libraries of other universities, so my experience will not be repeated. Barriers will be replaced by bridges. Through an inter-library loan system, we will have access to books from any library. With globalization, with China integrated into the world, I believe many of these intangible walls will be knocked down.
I know globalization is a controversial issue, and it is hard to say whether it is good or bad. But one thing is for sure: it draws our attention to China's tangible and intangible walls and forces us to examine their roles in the modern world.
And how about the ancient walls in my city and other cities? Should we tear them down? Just the opposite. My city, like Beijing and other cities, is actually making a great effort to preserve the walls. These walls attract not only historians and archeologists but also many schoolchildren trying to study our history and cultural heritage. Walls have turned into bridges to our past and to the rest of the world. If the ancient builders of these walls were still alive today, they would be proud to see such great change in the role of their walls. They are now bridges that link East and West, South and North, and all countries of the world. Our cultural heritage will survive globalization.
A Scene to Remember
Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen:
Today I would like to begin with a story. There was once a physical therapist who traveled all the way from America to Africa to do a census about mountain gorillas. These gorillas are a main attraction to tourists from all over the world; this put them severely under threat of poaching and being put into the zoo. She went there out of curiosity, but what she saw strengthened her determination to devote her whole life to fighting for those beautiful creatures. She witnessed a scene, a scene taking us to a place we never imaged we've ever been, where in the very depth of the African rainforest, surrounded by trees, flowers and butterflies, the mother gorillas cuddled their babies.
Yes, that's a memorable scene in one of my favorite movies, called Gorillas in the Mist, based on a true story of Mrs. Diana Fossey, who spent most of her lifetime in Rwanda to protect the ecoenvironment there until the very end of her life.
To me, the movie not only presents an unforgettable scene but also acts as a timeless reminder that we should not develop the tourist industry at the cost of our eco-environment.
Today, we live in a world of prosperity but still threatened by so many new problems. On the one hand, tourism, as one of the most promising industries in the 21st century, provides people with the great opportunity to see everything there is to see and to go any place there is to go. It has become a lifestyle for some people, and has turned out to be the driving force in GDP growth. It has the magic to turn a backward town into a wonderland of prosperity. But on the other hand, many problems can occur - natural scenes aren't natural anymore. Deforestation to heat lodges are devastating Nepal. Oil spills from tourist boats are polluting Antarctica. Tribal people are forsaking their native music and dress to listen to U2 on Walkman and wear Nike and Reeboks.
All these appalling facts have brought us to the realization that we can no longer stand by and do nothing, because the very thought of it has been eroding our resources. Encouragingly, the explosive growth of global travel has put tourism again in the spotlight, which is why the United Nations has made 20xx the year of ecotourism, for the first time to bring to the world's attention the benefits of tourism, but also its capacity to destroy our ecoenvironment.
Now every year, many local ecoenvironmental protection organizations are receiving donations - big notes, small notes or even coins - from housewives, plumbers, ambulance drivers, salesmen, teachers, children and invalids. Some of them cannot afford to send the money but they do. These are the ones who drive the cabs, who nurse in hospitals, who are suffering from ecological damage in their neighborhood. Why? Because they care. Because they still want their Mother Nature back. Because they know it still belongs to them.
This kind of feeling that I have, ladies and gentlemen, is when it feels like it, smells like it, and looks like it , it's all coming from a scene to be remembered, a scene to recall and to cherish.
The other night, as I saw the moon linger over the land and before it was sent into the invisible, my mind was filled with songs. I found myself humming softly, not to the music, but to something else, someplace else, a place remembered, a place untouched, a field of grass where no one seemed to have been except the deer.
And all those unforgettable scenes strengthened the feeling that it's time for us to do something, for our own and our coming generation.
Once again, I have come to think of Mrs. Diana Fossey because it is with her spirit, passion, courage and strong sense of our ecoenvironment that we are taking our next step into the world.
And no matter who we are, what we do and where we go, in our minds, there's always a scene to remember, a scene worth our effort to protect it and fight for it.
Thank you very much.