The tree of life: deep-rooted and high-reaching
——Commencement address on the graduation ceremony for class of 2018 of the High School Affiliated to Renmin University Chinese-Foreign Education program
Dr. Xiaoning Zhai
Principal of the High School Affiliated to Renmin University
June 21st 2018
Dear teachers, parents, students, good morning!
Today we gather here, on this grand occasion, for the graduation ceremony for students from the Chinese-Foreign Education program Class of 2018.. Here, on behalf of all staff and students, I would like to extend my warmest congratulations! I would like to suggest that our students stand and give a round of applause to your parents and teachers and also to our students.
Students, I still remember your tanned faces at your military training performance in the summer three years ago. From that moment on, the genes of an unyielding spirit and the pursuit of excellence as an RDFZ student have become a part of your body. In the past three years, this has guided your growth and I am truly happy for the change. Today, you will end your years of high school to embark on a new journey with unbound knowledge, friendship and university admission letters, all gained through living and learning at this school. This is an end as well as a beginning. On this special occasion, I would like to offer our students three pieces of advice.
First, stay passionate for your pursuit of dreams.
All big men are dreamers. Mengzi said, “I shall advance even with thousands blocking my path”. The great philosopher Socrates also said, "the happiest thing in the world is to struggle for a noble ideal." Chairman Xi issued a call to our youngsters: “The Chinese dream is historical, realistic and futuristic; it is ours as well as the youth’s’. The dream of the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation will eventually become a reality through the relayed efforts of our younger generations.” He teaches us to closely associate our personal aspirations with the goals of our country and nation.
In the process of pursuing your dreams, I hope you will always keep his words in mind and take the country’s will as your will, your nation’s ideal as your ideal. No matter where you are, you should always remember your Chinese heritage. Keep your country and people at heart, and contribute to the great rejuvenation of China.
Second, be appreciative.
Qualities of truth, kindness and goodness are the most valuable possessions of the human soul. If pursuing dreams is the pursuit of self, then being appreciative paves the road to unlimited good. Gratitude, put plainly, is to always care and appreciate your family. It wasn’t easy for parents to bring you into this world. From your birth to becoming a toddler and until now, your parents have devoted love and care to your efforts to learn and grow. Your parents’ love for you is in their soul and their unselfishness has become instinctual. The love of parents is unrequited. The love of parents is plain. The love of parents is simple and pure. It is for these reasons that we should pass on this goodness and love to the world.
Gratitude towards family can extend to all who have helped us in the past. We thank our teachers for their conscientiousness and virtue. Much of their work is completely unrewarded, yet they are responsible and dedicated. We should thank them for our progress and their efforts are inseparable. We should also thank our classmates because they are the ones who challenge us, inspire us, and help us understand the meaning of friendship by making such an impact on our lives. Many of them will remain our friends forever. We are thankful for everyone around us, even to those who might have only done us a small deed. This kind of emotion will keep us in good faith. It is nourishing to our minds and helps us become generous, peaceful and kind. It will benefit our whole life.
Third, have responsible towards the nation and the society.
Patriotism is our national spirit. “Adhere to the spirit of patriotism, study industriously, strive for innovation and creation, and actively promote foreign communication" are Chairman Xi’s expectations for international students. I hope you will follow his guidance and learn to cherish the pride in yourselves, your alma mater, and your mother country. In this process, I hope you will act as ambassadors of Chinese culture and spread its essence to the world. Likewise, absorb advanced knowledge, ideas and techniques from abroad while simultaneously serving your country. Remember, with greater ability come greater responsibility. Our Chinese nationality exists not only as physical characteristics but as much more. It is the cornerstone of our confidence, self esteem and as a spiritual homeland. "No matter how long the shadow of a tree, the root is ever in the soil; no matter where our students are, they should always keep their motherland at heart!"
Students, today is the day of your graduation, a day long awaited by teachers and parents; a milestone on your life’s journey! As your teacher and principal, I give you my greatest blessing. Yesterday, I cut short my meeting in Shanghai to return to Beijing for this ceremony. Last night I tossed and turned, restless in thought. You shall go forth on a long journey but I know that life has its “roots”. What are our life’s “roots”? They are our family, the love of our parents, our nation, the responsibility as a citizen, our alma mater, the care from our teachers. The root of our lives is our beautiful virtues and lofty ambitions. It is also the cultural lifeline of our unending life.
Regardless of where you go, you are all Chinese. Wherever you are, you are still your parents’ children; you are graduates of your alma mater; you are children of your nation; you are the future of humanity.
Dear students, in your lives, not only is there poetry and yonder but your family and homeland, your country and your mother. Let us plant the root of our lives deep in the soil of our motherland’s culture and let the branches extend out and produce beautiful flowers and enriching fruits. I give you my warmest blessings!
翻译：周轩羽(高三学生) 审稿：Amy Kranz; Thomas Angelo Waterfall；王淑艳