Let’s Build Our World Anew

South China University of Technology
School of International Education
Graduation Ceremony. Saturday, 25 June 2016.

Professor An Ran,
Professors and laoshis,
Graduates and students,
Distinguished guests,
Ladies and gentlemen,

Forty-two weeks ago, my classmates and I arrived at Baiyun International Airport as the second cohort of the YES China students, a 1-year Master’s program. Our hearts were overwhelmed with mixed feelings:

  • we were hopeful – of the opportunity that lied before us,
    but we were also worried – about the culture shock we might experience;
  • we were happy – of the prestigious scholarship that was offered to us,
    but we were also sad – of the family and loved ones we had to leave behind for almost a year ….

Mr. Mohammed Awoel from Ethiopia left his hometown just a month before his wife was about to give birth to their first child – a baby boy also named Mohammed. And he is not alone. Mr. Tirtha Pokhrel from Nepal has also been recently blessed with a baby girl named Nirmala, the second child in the family, whom until today he has not seen in person. I can only imagine how these new fathers desire to be home soon to hold and to embrace their new-born babies, while they fight hard to study for their MBA and finish their dissertations.

Most of you have studied longer: some three years, some four years, some five years … or even longer …? For most of us, there may not a new baby waiting for us back home, but one thing unites us: our world NOW is NOT the same world that we left behind.

  • With the experience we have gained in 华工
    a whole new range of opportunities is now open in front of us.
  • With the degree we have earned from华工
    there’s a whole new vista of possibilities that is now waiting for us to explore.
  • TODAY marks the end of one chapter in our lives
    But TODAY also marks a new beginning.

On behalf of YES China scholars of 2015/2016 I would like to thank the professors who have taught us, a class of 27 students coming from 15 countries, as it must not be easy for anyone to do this. Of these, special thanks are due to Professor 安然 An Ran and Professor 黄嫚丽 Huang Manli – two professors who not only have excellent expertise in their areas, but also exceptional teaching skills and sincere care for the academic well-being of their students.

Our gratitude also to the laoshis who have done their part in supporting our study here. Of these, special thanks are due to Ms. Sherry Shen 沈媛媛 who, beyond anyone else in the university, has provided a competent, smart, and tireless help that has made the YES China program work smoothly for us as well as for 华工.

Finally, let us not forget to thank our family members – our spouses, children, parents – who have patiently supported us back home so we can be here. Some of them have flown from far away. Ms. Khambay’s children are now here with us: Souvida and Phattarine have come all the way from Laos. Mr. Pras’ wife Santhi and their daughter Farrah have also flown in from Indonesia. [I do hope you enjoy Guangzhou and our beloved campus.]

Dear Class of 2016,
Either you’re a bachelor’s, master’s, or Ph.D. graduate,
Today marks the end of a chapter in our lives. But today is also a new beginning. Shortly we will be going back home. But let us NOT return to the SAME OLD WORLD we left behind.

  • Let us GRAB the new opportunity in front of us!
  • Let us EXPLORE the new possibilities!
  • DON’T waste your education by returning to your same, old world and be satisfied with it.
  • For our countries, for our communities, for our families, for ourselves. Let us build the world anew.

There is a saying in 华工:

Once a 华工人, always a华工人.
Today you take pride in being 华工students.
Tomorrow 华工will take pride in you being 华工alumni.

Let us make this saying come true. Let us make华工 proud of what we will contribute through our lives and our works.

Dear Class of 2016,
As a saying goes, “above all else, above all else, guard your heart, for EVERYTHING you do flows from your heart.”

Congratulations, graduates!

Congratulations, Class of 2016!


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