Searching for Better
Shantou University Commencement Ceremony 2018

29 June 2018

Honorable Chairman Wang, distinguished guests, council members, parents, faculty, staff and dear students.

Today is full of joy and excitement. Class of 2018, congratulations. We are gathered this morning to celebrate this special day for you, just as it is an especially memorable day for me.

I grew up in war and strife, and I have learnt from life that a grateful heart always powers up joy and hope, and on this special day there is plenty to be thankful for. So in gratitude, why don’t we start with a thunderous round of applause for your teachers, for their knowledge and experiences that have enriched your lives; for your loving parents who have been there for you in quiet support; and for each other, and the memories you shared; and last but not least, for Shantou University which will be part of your lives forever.

You have learned a lot in the past four years that will carry you into the world with strength and creativity, help you fight through the labyrinth of destiny, to transcend limitations into possibilities, to battle forces of indifference and incompetence, to build hope and to shape a new world.

Circumstances should never define your essence. In whichever domain, if you set your mind to it, you can achieve lots of things. When there is obstacle in the way – you can clear it, when there are people in the way – you know how to get ahead of the curve with your cognitive strength, your calm demeanor, mobilizing the benefits of scientific advancement, modernisation and industrialisation, conflating them to achieve a new paradigm of success.

I am absolutely certain that you are blessed with monster talent, and you’ll do amazing things. You know how to unleash your talents to follow your dreams. You are not one of those who need to wait for a rising tide. But inside your positive vision, what kind of a world do you see?

Could you see beyond yourself? In all our Do good and Be Good promises, the selfish, callous man sees a different world from what the scrupulous and benevolent man sees; are you Prince Charming or Prince Harming?

Modern milieu is very different. The world of new challenges calls for the need to find variables with values. The uninitiated like only to bask in the comfort zone, which leads them nowhere. Things won’t be disrupted unless you ask how they could be done differently.

The thrivers focuses on actionable changes understand that there is key that empowers them greatly. Humility.

Humility is rejuvenating, enriching, emboldening. It safeguards you from the faults of a culture of entitlement steeped in pretentiousness, arrogance and hubris. People with intellectual humility, who are humble by nature, tend to be more open-minded and potent problem solvers, since they recognise that their own opinions might not be the only valid option. Humility, curiosity and openness are the elixirs to a fulfilling life.

If you want to change the world, a functioning conscience matters as much as having talents. At its core, the idea of purpose is the idea that what we do matters to people other than ourselves. It will differentiate you between being a problem solver or the problem, an inspiring human or a one dimensional whip-lashing bully.

Many assumed that at my age, time is only all now. Yet even if I cannot stop time, I still get high on life. I still know what it is like to dream a dream. When I look up towards the night skies and feel my cosmic insignificance, even if I feel resentful and disillusioned to the brutal factors that contributed to the world’s creeping sense of hopelessness, that I am still determined to don a new set of armour everyday, to think, feel and act, to keep searching for variables of value helping others to achieve a full life.

If One person can dream, and together we can build a dream. My dear graduates, Alumni and friends. 38 years ago, where we are now was once a swamp, many mocked me that this is but a fool’s dream, I believe then, as I believe now, that only through education can we fulfill the promise we hope for the future. Throughout this long journey, I am grateful to many friends and the warm smiling faces of our students, it is your love and support that had made it not so lonely.

Today, I will be stepping down as honorary chairman of Shantou University and my son Richard and my colleagues will continue my mission and work. Empathy and generosity cannot be taught, it is a choice. Stay logical, stay ethical, stay honest. Helping others to achieve a full life furthers one’s own humanity. It will also aspire to a world of openness and change. That’s your winning game.

And for all that we share in the past and all that goodness we will built together: Today you are proud to be part of Shantou University. Tomorrow Shantou University will be proud to be part of you.

Congratulations again. Good luck and my warmest to everyone forever. Thank you so much.