by Lyu Xiaoyu
Fellowclassmates, professors, distinguished guests, good afternoon! I’m Xiaoyu, agraduating master’s student. I feel deeply honored to deliver this speech onbehalf of the graduating class of 2017. I also feel honored yet bemusedabout the fact that I am speaking in front of my family in a language they don’teven understand. Does that mean I can say whatever I want?
In the past year, many of ushave developed deep friendships. However, today is the day for us to bid farewellto people who will always have a place in our hearts. I always find it fascinatingto recall the first time I met someone when the time comes to say goodbye. Doyou still remember what your friends were like when you first met them inSeptember 2016? What brought you together? Maybe it was a group presentation orthat first assignment in your target language; maybe you were roommates gettingused to each other’s quirks. Perhaps you connected at the Halloween party whenevery one was at their spookiest, or the New Year’s Eve Celebration at Zifeng towerwhere the guys were dressed like Wall Street elites and the ladies like Oscarnominees. I know I won’t forget the BBQ. Eli, Jake, and Carlos were super hot thatday grilling food for us under the sun. I will definitely endorse you guys onLinked in as grill masters. In addition, we had some great teams representing theHNC: a basketball team that had the ladies screaming, a dragon boat team thatwould make Admiral Zheng He proud, and of course our laladui, aka cheer squadchamps. You guys did an awesome job creating connections between every HNCer.
The HNC is a place for us totruly understand a different culture beyond books or the news. Here at the HNCwe learned to abandon our stereotypes, question our generalizations, and understandthat values are not determined by borders. There are also times when our valuesclash, like a Wechat sticker that can be interpreted in many different ways,but we are all open to communication, which leads to genuine understanding.This, I believe, is the essence of cultural exchange.
The HNC is also a place forus to develop a keener perception of what is going on in the world. In the spanof two semesters, we have experienced an upheaval in global affairs: a dramatictransition in the White House, a failed gambit by the Italian prime minister, animpeachment in South Korea straight out of a Korean drama, and a dark horsevictory in France. Every time we rack our brains to write a paper on theseissues, we are not simply finishing a task for a grade. Instead, during thewriting process, we think deeply about these problems, gradually sharpening ourperception of the world. Such a mindset is of great significance, because as FrancisBacon once said: “Studies pass into and influence manners.” What we have learnedand experienced at the HNC will be internalized into our value systems andpersonalities.
Today is the day to saygoodbye. No more of Margie’s singing or Taylor’s dancing, no more boxingclasses with Corey or Korean lessons with Tim. No more of Professor PAT’s contagiouslaugh, Professor Joe’s endless weekly posts, or Professor Christoffersonsitting in her office before a deadline to see who waited till the last minuteto turn in a paper. Each of us is both driver and passenger on the bus of life.For the past year, we pulled over at a stop called the HNC and invited other passengersto get on our bus. Now is the time for those passengers to get off and continuedriving their own buses. However, this isn’t the only bus stop in the journeyof life. We will definitely keep in touch, and maybe even catch a ride on eachother’s buses again. That is why this ceremony is called a “commencement”,since it is not just an ending, but also the beginning of something new.