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Speech delivered by President CHEN Jie at the Tongji University Commencement Ceremony 2020

The University News Centre
July 15, 2020

At 5:30 p.m. on July 1, the 99th anniversary of the founding of the Communist Party of China, the Tongji University Commencement Ceremony 2020 opened grandly at the 129 Sportsground on the Siping Campus.


At the ceremony, President CHEN Jie delivered the following speech, entitled: “Sail forward, braving the robust wind and towering waves,” and sent his affectionate messages to all Tongji University graduates 2020.


Dear students, teachers, and parents,

Good evening!

We are gathered here on the sportsground, or in the “cloud,” for a special commencement during this pandemic time. On the birthday of the Chinese Communist Party, we are witnessing jointly the important moment when nearly 10,000 Tongji students have completed their degree programs and are about to embark on a new journey in life.


On behalf of Tongji University, I would like to extend my heartfelt congratulations to the 3,887 bachelor’s degree graduates, 5,079 master’s degree graduates, and 856 doctor’s graduates. At the same time, I would like to pay sincere tribute to the parents who have spared no pains to nurture you, and to the teachers who have worked so hard to guide you to success.


Affected by the pandemic, we have had a very special semester, which provides invaluable experiences for every student who is about to commence their career in society. During this period, we have experienced the contrast between a fragile life and an indomitable spirit, feeling deeply the ups and downs of emotions between uneasiness and calmness, and gaining a profound understanding of each individual’s responsibility to the nation and public.


Since the outbreak of the pandemic, the 1.4 billion Chinese people have been united in their efforts under the strong leadership of the Party Central Committee with Comrade Xi Jinping at its helm. They have succeeded in containing the spread of the virus throughout the country after arduous efforts. The National People’s Congress of the People’s Republic of China and the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference were both held successfully, the resumption of production and business resumed in an orderly manner, and the national economy gradually recovered which all injected confidence and momentum into the global economic recovery.


In just a few months, we have experienced national prevention and control, witnessed heroes performing in harm’s way, and learned how to breed hope in times of difficulty. We went through self-quarantine, donated money and materials, and provided volunteer services. In the fight against the pandemic, we have tempered our bodies and minds, going through the twists and turns of life, taking necessary actions, and thus growing in wisdom. We have been shocked and touched countless times and that will never be forgotten. We will never forget the medical staff who saved others at the risk of their own lives, the serene streets, and quiet campus after the “pause” button was pressed everywhere. And we will always remember the value concept of “people first” and “life first,” both held high. Tongji students who will soon leave your alma mater, you should learn to connect historical experience with civilization’s heritage, integrate the spirit of science and rational thinking, and express our philosophy on life and outlook on the world.


Dear students, never forget your experiences of fighting the pandemic nor the times on campus that makes youthful memories engraved in your minds. Many students are unable to be here and must attend today’s graduation ceremony online. Everything at Tongji is full of emotions. The years of Tongji are a beautiful scroll unfolding in the hearts of all our graduates--an indelible scenery engraved in our hearts, that includes the North and South Building, Sakura Avenue, Sanhaowu Garden, the Rock bearing the University Name, Tongxin River, the University Auditorium, and the 129 Sportsground where we find ourselves now. As time goes by, you may still be recalling the ignorance and haste when you first stepped onto the Tongji University campus; you may still have fresh memories of your courses and examinations; you may still have vivid memories of those late nights and difficult questions; and you may still have unfinished experiments and unfulfilled wishes. But, you're already sitting here about to say goodbye to your alma mater.

Thank you for the meeting, knowing, accompanying, and staying with Tongji in the best years of your life. All of the experiences, gains, knowledge, and abilities you accumulated at Tongji have laid the foundation for you to display your talents, render your meritorious service, and make a distinguished career in the broader world. Being knowledgeable and realistic, you should strive to become the pillars of society and professional elites. As Tongji people, you should be ambitious and innovative in being the backbone and mainstay of national rejuvenation!


Dear students, the graduation bell is about to ring, and you will bid your classmates and teachers a final farewell with all good memories of the campus. You are leaving the campus to enter the “sea” of society. The new Tongji generation emerging in the New Era has inherited the historical roots of this century-old university and the destiny of the nation. With the nation engraved in our hearts, Tongji graduates will engage in scientific and educational undertakings and this is our eternal sentiment for the country and the family. It is the Tongji people’s constant responsibility to stand bravely at the forefront of the tide and dare to be the vanguard of the times. As you are about to begin a new chapter in your lives, I would like to offer you four pieces of advice.


Firstly, the global pandemic requires us to think calmly and act proactively.


The sudden onset of the pandemic has severely tested the response capacity of countries around the world, as well as the resilience, willpower, and ability to act as individuals. We are also motivated, grateful, and have learned to give in times of extreme difficulty. In the face of the profound changes brought about by the pandemic in our work, study, and life, we found that anxiety, fear, and retreat will not solve any problems. Only through calm thinking can we respond proactively to progress forward. Marking the Tongji’s many great achievements made, 165 Tongji medical staff were dispatched to Wuhan and LI Xin, a doctoral graduate of the Shanghai East Hospital affiliated to Tongji University, was one of the “heroes working in harm’s way” in the fight against the pandemic. Teams from the Schools of Medicine and Life Sciences and Technology worked around the clock to study pathogenesis, to develop vaccines, and to explore stem cell therapies. the University organized an interdisciplinary team to develop independently intelligent identification and geographic information systems for the COVID-19 pandemic prevention and control, for. The Tongji Architectural Design (Group) Co., Ltd. completed the design of a 9,800-square-meter emergency treatment room for the Shanghai Public Health Clinical Center in just 60 hours during the Spring Festival. The German Alumni Association of Tongji University immediately raised funds for anti-pandemic materials and donated them to domestic hospitals; MA Mingjie, a doctoral candidate of the College of Transportation Engineering, initiated an anti-pandemic team of college students in his hometown to participate in local pandemic prevention and control. WU Xudong, a bachelor’s degree graduate from the College of Civil Engineering, decided to join the China Construction Third Engineering Bureau Co., Ltd., which shouldered the heavy tasks with determination in the construction of two makeshift hospitals of Huoshenshan and Leishenshan. These wonderful actions taken by Tongji people in the fight against the pandemic serve as a long-term motivation for us to move forward.


Secondly, the world is facing changes which require us to gain deep insight and a profound understanding of the world.


China is currently in its best period of development in modern times, and the world today is undergoing profound changes unseen in any previous century. Amid development, change, and adjustment, the world is full of competitions, scientific and technological innovation are extremely active, the industrial revolution is gaining momentum, and major disruptive technologies are emerging, making the uncertainties facing the world even more pronounced. Amidst changes, Tongji people have always been defenders of national interests and the creators of China’s miracle. On January 29, 1948, just 72 years ago, Tongji students fought heroically against the reactionary Kuomintang authorities for the people’s liberation in and around the 129 Sportsground where we are today. Not long ago, the 600 km/h high-speed maglev prototype train, co-developed with Tongji University, completed its test run successfully on the maglev test track at the Jiading campus of Tongji University, which marked an important breakthrough in developing China’s independent R&D and testing capability of key technologies for the high-speed maglev train. Academician ZHENG Shiling, who has been awarded the country’s “The Most Beautiful Teacher,” often asks himself: “As a scientist, what contributions should I make to the discipline?” This is a true portrayal of “sharing weal and woe with the motherland and benefiting the world with science and education.” This tradition has been passed down by Tongji students from generation to generation: LAN Yisha, a bachelor’s degree graduate of the College of Electronic and Information Engineering, served as a reviewer of several internationally renowned journals and was admitted as a doctoral candidate at prestigious universities such as Cambridge and Oxford universities with excellent results. Aliyu, an international student from the School of Medicine, published many high-level articles in internationally renowned academic journals and participated in the “Perception Tour of China’s Capital” to Beijing as a representative of outstanding doctoral candidates. MA Teng, a bachelor’s degree graduate of the College of Civil Engineering, developed a “bridge steel structure crack real-time monitoring system,” which increased the frequency of crack monitoring information updating from once every six months to several times a day. Through their persistence and determination, each generation of Tongji people blossoms in the uncertain world to promote the progress of the times and interpret the splendor of their own lives, serving as a continuous driving force for national development and rejuvenation, as well as the spiritual source of Tongji people.


Thirdly, the outside world is full of uncertainties, so we must seize opportunities and rise to challenges.


At present, great progress has been achieved in China’s development, while the Chinese society is also undergoing rapid development and change. The targeted poverty alleviation, rural revitalization, new urbanization initiatives, and coordinated development across regions are all new goals and tasks in China’s social transformation and development. Tongji students must have a deep understanding of the structural changes occurring in society and appreciate fully the opportunities for development brought about through social transformation. “Crises” is often accompanied by “opportunity,” which serve as a step forward for the brave and an invaluable asset for the wise. Tongji students should have great perseverance and courage to face the crises and challenges ahead bravely, and strive to find, create, and seize opportunities.


Tongji students should write their theses on the motherland to serve the national strategy and social development because the Tongji people have always been fully committed to continuous refinement. Tongji University has been helping Yunlong County to be increasingly well off in all aspects. Over the past eight years, Tongji University has been doing its best to meet the needs of Yunlong County and to contribute to the poverty alleviation and development of the region. LI Guohao, the former President of Tongji University, used the only newspaper edges around him to calculate and demonstrate the safety of the Yangtze River bridges in Wuhan and Nanjing when he was locked up in a “cow shed” during the “Cultural Revolution.” Academician WANG Pinxian, hailed as “Deep-sea Warrior,” led the eight-year-long major research project, “South China Sea Deep Plan,” at his venerable age. Additionally, he promoted the establishment of the National large-scale scientific project “National Submarine Scientific Observation Network.” At the age of 82, he dove into the South China Sea seabed three times in a row and was hailed as “The Most Beautiful Diver” on the way to strengthen China’s maritime development. Academician XU Zuxin, in the face of the Suzhou Creek, which was black and smelly all the year round, worked hard on the front line of the project to eventually transform the river from black to clear to return the beauty of the river to the public. GE Yaojun, President of the International Association for Bridge and Structural Engineering and professor of the College of Civil Engineering, was faced with the world-renowned shaking problem of the Humen Pearl River Bridge. He wrote a pledge to the leaders of Guangdong Province: “I will not return to Shanghai if the shaking problem is not solved,” and led the team to overcome the difficult problem faced until the bridge resumed traffic. YANG Jianhua, a Tongji alumn and the chief design officer of Leishenshan Hospital, led his team to deliver the construction drawings in only three days and completed the hospital construction in a mere 12 days;a nearly impossible task.


The spirit of the predecessors flows through our blood, endlessly. LUO Lifu, a master’s degree graduate from the School of Mechanical Engineering, LI Xingzhen, a master’s degree graduate from the School of Law, ZOU Hongchun, a master’s degree graduate from the School of Mathematical Sciences, and other nearly 100 students have been recruited as grassroots civil service candidates in various provinces, cities, and autonomous regions to serve the grass-roots construction. This is how Tongji people create national glory in the face of opportunities and challenges, and gather the supporting force continuously for shaping social order.


Fourthly, to open a new chapter in life, we need to move forward with determination and composure.


Dear students, the new journey is about to commence. I would like to share three pieces of advice with you:


First, students should always keep their mission in mind and be courageous to assume responsibilities.


Each generation has its mission and responsibility and, only if you have struggled and taken responsibility when you were young, will you not regret it in your twilight years. You should adhere invariably to their ideals and beliefs, set lofty goals, be innovative and enterprising, confront external challenges calmly, and shoulder your responsibilities. In the process of paying attention to every detail and doing every small thing well, we nurture hope and pursue excellence. As long as there are ideals in youth, no matter how far, we can be reached. As long as there are responsibilities on our shoulders, no matter how difficult they are, you will never give up.


Second, our students should have a broad mind and a wide view.


No matter what profession you are engaged in, you should be rigorous and serious, tolerant and open-minded in dealing with people, should uphold the spirit of collectivism, and should be keenly aware of the changing world so that your future is linked closely to the fate of your country. As the old Chinese saying goes, “The sea is vast for it embraces so many rivers; the cliff is firm for it stands high enough without any selfish desire.”  If we dwell on the immediate difficulties, we will be entangled in troubles; if we do not care about the momentary gains and losses, we can go far with ease.


Third, our students should remain undaunted despite repeated failures and be persistent.




Struggle is the eternal theme of life, you should steel yourself in hard work during your youth, temper your willpower in perseverance, judge opportunities and challenges accurately, and be firm, persistent, and indomitable in spirit. Success only comes through hard work. No matter how difficult the road ahead of you is, you are always closer to your ideal than standing still as long as the direction is correct. Persistence leads to success. You should be devoted to pursuing knowledge, make unremitting efforts, and let hard work and perseverance be the most glamorous backdrop of life!


Dear students, the dream has set sail and the future has a long way to go!


Take up the heavy responsibility on your shoulders and forge ahead, and Tongji will always be your strong backing and your warm home!


Finally, I conclude my speech with a popular phrase: “There is a kind of sweetness, that is, we’ve graduated!”


I sincerely wish you a happy graduation and a promising future!



 Source: https://mp.weixin.qq.com/s/Ud6MVbyvrhblvZ7DRiO33g