had no idea then how true that was going to be or that it would be our
last face to face interaction. Let me begin by offering my apologies for
being unable to see you off in person. Instead, I’ve recorded this
video from the safety and comfort of my NJ residence to offer you my
congratulations on this rite of passage and to share a little advice for
you as you enter the next phase of your lives.
is inherently a moment of intense and mixed feelings. There is the joy
of finally being free, from homework, from test prep, from teachers,
from parents. There is the excitement of beginning a new life in a new
place and the universe of new possibilities you now have access to. But
then there’s also the sadness that comes from the realization that in
order for there to be a new beginning, some things must come to an end.
And of course, as always, there is a degree of fear of that new
beginning, of the unknown and unfamiliar which we as human beings
you say your goodbyes and begin to part ways with your teachers, your
friends, and your families it’s natural to have all of these thoughts
race through your head. Seek comfort in the fact that although moving on
to college will reduce the frequency of your interactions with these
people, it does not have to be the end of your relationships. I
encourage you all to try to keep contact with the people that have
mattered most to you these past few years in whatever ways you can. Good
relationships take a long time to form and require work to maintain, so
value the ones that you have.
have no doubts you’ll all smoothly make it through the transition from
high school to college life. So, let me now focus on the challenges and
opportunities that lie ahead.
are entering your adulthood amid turbulent times. Nationalism, racism,
xenophobia, disinformation campaigns, economic inequality,
authoritarianism are some of tremendous forces destabilizing our
scientifically advanced and interconnected world, causing minds to
shrink and societies to drift further and further apart. You are
preparing to venture out into the world at a time when a global health
emergency has sparked a worldwide economic recession. As a bitter war of
words is underway between world leaders. All of it taking place in the
shadow of the far larger and ever deadlier problem of global climate
are scary, our problems are real and many, and yet because of people
like you and me, there’s still plenty of hope for a better tomorrow. Now
more than ever you should remember and become avid proselytizers of
Sendelta’s core motto, Better Self, Better World. The solution to all of
the world’s problems begins with each individual recognizing their
value and their influence on the world around them. While you may not
think you can help shape the world around you, I can assure you that you
have the ability to contribute to a more peaceful and prosperous world.
You can start with a very simple act as soon as you arrive on your college campus, make lots of friends.
Why does this matter?
on a practical and selfish level I can tell you now that the
relationships you make in college will be far more valuable for your
future career success than anything you will learn in class. The more
relationships you make and the deeper the bonds, the more successful you
will be in life.
a more humanitarian level, it’s people like me and you who shuttle back
and forth between nations, who know and understand the people from
different societies that serve as the antidote to the poisonous forces I
act as the bonds holding different societies together resisting the
forces trying to tear them apart. We are ambassadors of our peoples
helping to share our histories, traditions, and beliefs with our friends
abroad while helping to explain the outside world to those at home
unable to experience it for themselves.
forming relationships, you are learning that the people on the other
side of the world are fundamentally not that different from those back
home, and you are helping those people abroad to realize the same thing.
and misunderstanding fuel the fires of violence and anger that you see
raging around the world. Now is your chance to help extinguish them.
Doing so will be easier said than done though. The reality is making foreign friends can be challenging.
your first months living abroad you will experience culture shock, a
combination of intense and sometimes irrational hatred of the new
environment you live in and a deep longing for what you’ve left behind
at home. These feelings will naturally push you to seek comfort in the
company of your fellow expatriates and to avoid interactions with the
natives. This is going to happen, it’s almost guaranteed. Rather than
ask you to try to resist this urge, I would just urge you to try to
diversify your social groups. Alternate between hanging out with Chinese
friends and foreign friends, and whenever possible act a bridge between
traditional Chinese holidays abroad with your fellow Chinese but try
also encouraging your fellow Chinese to participate in local holiday
celebrations too. Cook traditional Chinese meals in your dorm when you
miss home but also invite your foreign friends to share the meal. Seek
opportunities to better understand and appreciate your host country and
for ways to help your foreign friends better understand and appreciate
fully expect that you will have many fun and exciting experiences ahead
of you. I hope these experiences are boundless in the joy and
enlightenment they bring.
saying farewell, I will broach one last topic because although it may
be hard to hear you are now adults going out into the world on your own
so you must hear it. Along the way, you will also face hardships. No
matter where it is you go, you will eventually meet some of the dregs of
society. They will call you names, insult you and your homeland, they
will try to make you feel like an isolated other and blame you for their
problems. When you fall into these situations remain calm and confident
knowing these two things. One, for every idiot you meet there are ten
more good people worthy of your trust and friendship. Rather than waste
your time reacting to the bad people you meet, focus on maximizing your
time with the good. Two, words can sometimes hurt but the truth is they
have only the power we choose to give them. If you are confident in who
you are, where you come from, and where you’re going there’s nothing
anyone can say that can hurt you.
out into the world with the confidence and determination to face and
overcome whatever obstacles come your way because life does not get
easier, so we must become stronger.
of the Class of 2020, congratulations on your graduation. No matter the
college or the major you now pursue, I wish each of you nothing less
the greatest success in your future.