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China Focus: Commencement speeches by university heads aim to inspire

(Xinhua)    21:02, July 05, 2017

"Compared with the graduates of 2016, you are 350 grams heavier on average, take four fewer lessons, read 1.7 more books, fall in love 0.13 more times; and the ratio of being single is lowered by 3.3 percentage points," said Xiong Sidong, president of Soochow University in eastern China's Jiangsu Province.

University commencement addresses like this have become a hit on Chinese social media.

The speeches consist of not only banter and jokes, but ardent expectations for the country's youth.

According to a survey released by the China University Media Union, in a total of 117 commencement addresses made by university presidents in 2017, "responsibility," "passion," "gratitude" and "dream" were among the most frequently used words.

Chen Jun, president of Nanjing University, expounded on "Chew vegetable roots, make great achievements," the motto of the school's predecessor in the early 1900s.

Vegetable roots, in a narrow sense, refer to the bitter root of a vegetable, but in a broad sense mean hardships that one may encounter in life.

"You must be able to endure setbacks and work hard before making great achievements," Chen said. "In another way, vegetable roots are just like life. One needs to chew life calmly to know its taste."

"I remembered the school motto when I visited Nanjing University at the age of 15. Since then, it always inspired me when life was not easy," said Internet user "Tracy" on Twitter-like service Weibo.

Dou Xiankang, president of Wuhan University in central China's Hubei Province, stressed the importance of responsibility with the story of He Jiang, a Chinese student who grew up in an impoverished village and graduated from Harvard.

He Jiang said in his commencement speech at Harvard that he hopes to use the knowledge he has learned abroad to improve village life.

"Rather than complaining about his birthplace, He Jiang endeavors to spread knowledge in needy places," Dou said. "This is what a young intellectual should do."

Dou expressed his hope that graduates maintain the deepest sympathy for human misery and take responsibility for making the world better.

Li Yuanyuan, president of Jilin University in northeast China, called on graduates to learn from late geophysicist Huang Danian.

Huang studied and worked in Britain for 18 years before returning to China in 2009. Over the ensuing years, he helped China soar in a number of fields, transforming the nation into a leader in deep earth exploration.

"Huang gave up a high salary and well-off life abroad to return and serve his home country. Over the years, he made painstaking efforts and selfless contributions in deep earth exploration, filling the country's gap in multiple technical fields," Li said.

We should learn from Huang to make our personal ideals and pursuits part of the Chinese dream, Li said.

"I was so fortunate to have listened to Professor Huang's lecture and was impressed by his humor and sincerity. We are so proud of him and will carry on his spirit," said "Cuixiaotao" on Weibo.

Qiu Yong, president of Tsinghua University in Beijing, recommended the book "A Short History of Chinese Philosophy" written by Chinese philosopher Feng Youlan (1895-1990).

Qiu said a graduate should become a person of thoughts, an aim that would take a lifetime to achieve.

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)(Web editor: Chen Lidan, Bianji)

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