Council chairman, Council members, students, parents, secondary school principals, colleagues, friends, ladies and gentlemen,
Today we have the 2017 Inauguration Ceremony. This year, we have 951 undergraduate students and more than 300 masters and doctoral students joining us. On behalf of all the teachers and students of this University, I would like to extend our warmest welcome and congratulations to you.
This is our fourth year in the running since the inception of this University. Looking back, we have grown from virtually nothing and become stronger with the passage of time, moving steadily towards the goals we set at the founding of this University. At the beginning, we had several dozen staff members. Now, we have more than four thousand teachers, students, and staff members. We have established three Schools and twelve Programmes, which have been widely accepted and recognized by students and parents. We have established three colleges and a newly completed campus. Students can start to live and learn happily in their colleges, develop their interests and likings, and build their own college culture. We can say that the academic year that is about to begin will be an important year in the development of this University as it carries the significance of inheriting the past and opening up the future. The first phase of the construction work of this University has now completed, what follows will be our efforts in consolidating our development and creating a world-class research university.
When New Asia College was founded, Professor Qian Mu admonished his students with the following remarks: “For any undertaking to develop, the major conditions are definitely not from outside, it lies with the inner spirit.” The founding and development of The Chinese University of Hong Kong hinges on this kind of spirit. In those days, what the founders of the Chinese University and the passionate young students embraced and put into practice with great efforts was an ideal in education, which was to promote Chinese culture with humanity education, to communicate with the world with Eastern and Western cultures, and to foster talents for the building of the country. This enabled their ideal to be an undertaking that has been passed on for generations. When looking at what transpired in the past today, we can take much encouragement and inspiration from it. It is true that time has changed, and the responsibilities we have and the challenges we face are not entirely the same. Yet this spirit remains unchanged. The spirit of being able to brave difficulties and battle on in adversity for the sake of realizing our ideal is a necessary condition for the success of any undertaking.
Dear students, what I would like to talk to you firstly is that your being here at this University owes much to your industry and diligence, and it also owes a lot to many behind-the-scene supporters who make so much giving and care. I therefore hope that you would be grateful and thank your parents and school teachers. At the same time, you should also thank our government and people in our society who offer care and love to you. They are the ones who support this University through building the new campus, setting up scholarships and grants, helping more students to realize their dreams. Here, I would like to ask parents and representatives of school teachers to raise and let us give them a great applause, thanking them for giving us their care and support.
Students, when you become a university student, you could be asking yourselves how you would spend the next four years at this University and what are you getting from it. I would like to offer two suggestions to you.
First, I hope that you could cultivate in time good habits in the four years you are here. A university offers an important period for a person to cultivate good habits. When you miss this period, it will be more difficult for you to do later. A university is not only a place to acquire knowledge, but also, more importantly, a place to shape the person. In more concrete terms, it is a place for you to cultivate a number of good habits, which will form the norms of your behavior for the rest of your life to restrain yourself and lead you on. There are a number of good habits, such as the habit of self-learning, the habit of reading, the habit of time management, the habit of doing exercise, and the habit of being honest. Four years at the university is short, and the knowledge you learn and the abilities you acquire in these four years are limited, but once you form good habits, you could still continue to explore and pursue your goals in life. I therefore would like you to bear in mind not to take the acquisition of knowledge as the primary goal in studying at university as this is no different from “returning empty-handed from a mountain of treasures”. This is because knowledge has its limits, and it could be forgotten, and left aside. If you only take “knowledge learning” as your goal in studying at university, then when you graduate, you would start to worry about the “knowledge” you acquired is beginning to devaluate. On the other hand, if you could learn the good habit of self-learning, then I think when you graduate, I believe your future will be broad, rich, and smooth.
Second, I hope that you could cultivate the attitude of having a passion for life, getting to know the world and moving forward actively. Life is not always a plain sail or filled with beautiful things all the time. How to spend your life well and become a strong person in life therefore depends on your firm determination, ample wisdom, positive mentality, and embracing a continual passion for life. Roman Roland once remarked: “There is only one heroism in the world: to see the world as it is, and to love it.” “To see the world as it is” is to discover and know this world. To achieve this, it requires your ample wisdom and experience. And to be able to love life even after you “see the world as it is” requires your passion that lies in the depth of your heart. If this is not the case, how can you hold on firmly in face of adversity, darkness, hardship, challenges, and fear? I therefore hope that students could pay more attention to the cultivation of fortitude to become persons with depth, resource, and flexibility. You should foster interests and hobbies, make more friends with common ambitions and purposes, visit places to get to know different culture and customs, learn to discover a wider world from reading, learn to appreciate art, learn to marvel at every tree and every blade of grass in nature, and learn to dig out the interest and meaning from things most ordinary and insignificant. To me, this is what university life should give you, and this is also what you should continue to learn and give back to life.
Lastly, I hope that you could treasure the four years you have here, set your goals, make your planning, and starting from today, spend a meaningful university life.
Thank you very much.