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Brave the World Alone and It Will Open Before Your Eyes


Respected leaders, teachers and beloved family members and classmates:

Good morning!I am Li Zixuan from the School of Electronic and Computer Engineering. It is truly an honor to represent the 2021 graduates of Peking University Shenzhen Graduate School and share some parting words with you on this occasion.

Li Zixuan

I remember the first time I met with my advisor three years ago. He asked, “Zixuan, why do you want to go on and study for a Ph.D.?” Without thinking, I just said what came to mind, though the answer was quite naïve. I said, “Because I want to change the world. I hope that my existence can make one small change in the world.” Now, I’m about to graduate, and I still haven’t become a lady Avenger fighting villains and saving the world. Maybe, in the future, I won’t have the chance to become a superhero or a great historical figure. But I can be a hard-working common person.

The truth is someone in a job and sticking to it, making big achievements and changing one’s field through hard work is changing the world even more. But changing the world doesn’t happen instantly, it takes a lot of time. During this extended period of time, we must cope with loneliness, even begin to enjoy it. Up to now, I would say, during my three years of graduate studies I have often been lonely. My research direction is one rarely seen in the School of Electronic and Computer Engineering. Whenever I faced a problem, it was hard to discuss it with my fellow classmates in the lab. Many times, the only person I could rely on was myself. In order to achieve the best possible research results, I would often still be grinding away in the lab or writing a paper in the office at four in the morning. And, I’ve decided that as I go abroad to further my studies, I will immerse myself even deeper in solitude.

Last October, as most of my classmates were all chasing the jobs they have been itching for, I still didn’t know what my future direction was. I experienced being lost and confused. But when I later published articles in SCI, received a national scholarship and, in the year of the ox, received an offer from Oxford University, I felt it was all worth it. After braving the world alone, it opened before my eyes.

After a while, I slowly realized, it isn’t only me who is walking a lonely road, all those who wish to change the world, including all Nanyaners who are ready to take on social responsibilities, must cope with their loneliness.

SECE classmates are always calibrating equipment and this is done to resolve the problem of China’s need for domestic computer chips. SAM classmates are still testing and characterizing in the middle of the night and this is done to create better batteries. SCBB classmates toil away at column chromatography and this done to create better pharmaceutical drugs. SUPD classmates are constantly on the road and this is done to survey and resolve safety problems and other issues in cities. SEE classmates have wastewater as a constant companion in their labs and this is to control wastewater and protect China’s natural environment. STL classmates have endless cases to read and this is so there can be lawyers with more human concern. PHBS classmates go through tough military-business academy style training out of the aspiration to create structural reforms in finance for China and the world.

I believe that the brilliance of the sun and the moon will eventually shine into our eyes, and the storm will eventually witness the traces of our soaring in the sky! Not only Nanyaners, but all PKUers throughout history have often faced more lonely moments than others. Cai Yuanpei, Chen Duxiu, Li Dazhao and Hu Shi, these four men, were the first to be awakened in a time of great chaos. In an era of suffering, they made belief blossom, how lonely were they. Peng Liangyou, Dean of the Peking University School of Physics, once said that if scientists truly want to perform good research, they must have the strength of character to “sit out” for 10 years.

To flourish, you must cope with loneliness. If you want to change China’s situation and make her more powerful, then the experience of countless PKUers shows having the ability to be alone and the courage to take on tough problems is essential. Like how a seed must endure a lonely winter to eventually break through the soil and bloom.

The path forward will be thorny and you won’t be able to see the end. On this path, we may be alone, but we will be lucky. There are many people walking the same path along with us. Our advisors and teachers are also quietly walking the same path. They are using their experience and learning to selflessly help us. When we reach a point where we feel we can’t take it anymore, just look back, we will have the unconditional love and support of our parents. We also have many classmates who have been fighting by our side late into the night in the lab and on weekends in the study room. They have the same ambitions and are walking the same path of hope. So, even if we must part today and become workers in countless different industries, PKU alumni are our constant partners on the path ahead, and PKU is our constant support.

In the television series commemorating the 100 Year Anniversary of the Communist Party of China, “The Era of Awakening”, Cai Yuanpei says to Lu Xun, “I believe the logo you have designed for PKU will be carried forward by generation after generation of scholars and will never fade.” As for today, though we must leave Nanyan, we are still lifelong PKUers. We will carry Lu Xun’s hopes and wear the logo he designed. In solitude, we will burst forth from the soil and bloom, and our companions on the way will take our hand as we go forward to become better versions of ourselves. When, in the darkness of night, we look up and see the vast sky, every star seems so distant and lonely, but really, no star in the galaxy is alone. Let us be like countless of those who have come before. Let us be shining stars. Let us use our little bit of light to light up the world. Let us offer our little bit of strength to scientific progress and the rejuvenation of our country.

Finally, with all my heart, I wish PKU Shenzhen a happy 20th Anniversary. I hope that Nanyan can nurture even more PKUers who can change the world. Thank you, everyone!

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