Good morning, ladies and gentlemen, the title of my speech today is “The Doors That Are Open to Us.”
The other day my aunt paid me a visit. She was overjoyed. “I got the highest mark in the mid-term examination!” she said. Don’t be surprised! My aunt is indeed a student, to be exact, a college student at the age of 45.
Last year, she put aside her private business and signed up for a one-year full-time management course in a college. “This was the wisest decision I have ever made!” she said proudly like a teenage girl. To her, college is always a right place to pick up new ideas, and new ideas always make her feel young.
“Compared with the late ’70s,” she says, “now college students have many doors.” My aunt cannot help but recall her first college experience in 1978 when college doors began to be re-opened after the Cultural Revolution. She was assigned to study engineering despite her desire to study Chinese literature, and a few years later, the government sent her to work in a TV factory.
I was shocked when she first told me how she had had no choice in her major and job. Look at us today! So many doors are open to us! I believe there have never been such abundant opportunities for self-development as we have today. And my aunt told me that we should reach our goals by grasping all these opportunities.
The first door I see is the opportunity to study different kinds of subjects that interest us. My aunt said she was happy to study management, but she was also happy that she could attend lectures on ancient Chinese poetry and on Shakespearean drama. As for myself, I am an English major, but I may also go to lectures on history. To me, if college education in the past emphasized specialization, now, it emphasizes free and well-rounded development of each individual. So all the fine achievements of human civilization are open to us.
The second door is the door to the outside world. Learning goes beyond classrooms and national boundaries. My aunt remembers her previous college days as monotonous and even calls her generation “frogs in a well.” But today, as the world becomes a global village, it is important that our neighbours and we be open-minded to learn with and from each other. I have many fellow international classmates, and I am applying to an exchange program with a university abroad. As for my aunt, she is planning to get an MBA degree in the U.K. where her daughter, my cousin, is now doing her Master’s degree in biochemistry. We are now taking the opportunity to study overseas, and when we come back, we’ll put to use what we have learnt abroad.
The third door is the door to life-long learning. As new ideas appear all the time, we always need to acquire new knowledge, regardless of our age. Naturally, my aunt herself is the best example. Many of my aunt’s contemporaries say that she is amazingly up-to-date for a middle-aged woman. She simply responds, “Age doesn’t matter. What matters is your attitude. You may think it’s strange that I am still going to college, but I don’t think I’m too old to learn.” Yes, she is right. Since the government removed the age limit for college admissions in 2001, there are already some untraditional students, sitting with us in the same classrooms. Like these people, my aunt is old but she is very young in spirit. With incredible energy and determination, she embodies both tradition and modernity.
The doors open to us also pose challenges. For instance, we are faced with the challenge of a balanced learning, the challenge of preserving our fine tradition while learning from the West, and the challenge of learning continuously while carrying heavy responsibilities to our work and family. So, each door is a test of our courage, ability and judgment, but with the support of my teachers, parents, friends and my aunt, I believe I can meet the challenge head on. When I reach my aunt’s age, I can be proud to say that I have walked through dozens of doors and will, in the remainder of my life, walk through many more. Possibly I will go back to college, too.
Thank you very much ladies and gentlemen.