Rector’s Speech in Congregation 2019 (25/05/2019)

The honourable Chief Executive of the Macao SAR and Chancellor of the University of Macau, Dr Chui Sai On,

The Chair of the University Council, Dr Lam Kam Seng Peter,

The members of the University Assembly and the University Council,

Distinguished guests, dear alumni, teachers, students and their families,

Good afternoon. Welcome to the 2019 Congregation. Today we are here to witness an important moment in life of more than 1,500 graduates and to celebrate another fruitful year of the university. First of all, on behalf of the University of Macau, I would like to extend our warmest congratulations and best wishes to all our graduates; our utmost gratitude to the staff and parents for their devotion and dedication; and our heartfelt appreciation to the local community for their care and support to the university over the years.

Taking this opportunity, I would like to say a few words to our graduates. When I was your age, my firm belief was that ‘Knowledge changes fate and vision brings success’. This is similar to what some people say, that vision determines the limits of your potentials and achievements. In the course of pursuing my dreams and aspirations, I have studied and worked in different places; I have come to realise how important vision is to one’s personal growth and career development. On this big day, when you are bidding farewell to the university to start a new chapter in life, I wish to share with you some of my thoughts on vision.

First of all, vision requires altitude. When you climb to the peak, you will see huge mountains all looking small under your feet. This is how altitude shapes your vision. In the face of increasingly fierce international competition, global vision is a key yardstick to evaluate the competitiveness of talent both present and future. A large soaring bird commands a panoramic view; a frog in the bottom of the well has no clue about the sea outside. This is a fitting analogy to emphasise that the broader your vision is, the wider your world gets. Human vision also varies depending on one’s perspectives. There is a Chinese saying that mountains take different shapes and sizes when you look at them from different angles; and people with ordinary vision normally cannot see the wood for the trees. That is to say, your vision affects your understanding of the world and governs your reasoning and thoughts. Therefore, your vision directly determines your problem-solving ability and ultimately your competitiveness in society and the world. Your vision decides your fate.

‘To go a storey higher in order to see a thousand miles farther’ is another expression that relates vision with altitude. ‘To stand tall and see far’ and ‘To feel inspired at greater heights’ also express the same idea. One can go up mountains or towers to reach sufficient height, but it is more important to reach new heights on a firm footing that is supported by knowledge and experience. University life enriches our knowledge, but it only raises us to a higher level of foundation. Now that we can stand on a higher ground, we need to learn to broaden our vision in order to achieve greater success.

Our nation is now unprecedentedly close to the centre of the world stage. The metropolises in the mainland and our city Macao are becoming more and more globalised, and are participating in more intense international competitions. Against this backdrop and with this general trend, it is the objective view that we should have global vision and qualities at an international level in order to survive and to develop. In this regard, our university has been striving to create a positive, open, inclusive and diversified environment, as well as an internationalised campus culture for students. To this end, the university provides students with more learning and exchange opportunities both at home and aboard; widens their horizons and exposure; and encourages them to learn and think with a macroscopic and open mind. Students of the University of Macau can now go on exchange and study at more than 150 renowned higher education institutions around the world. These opportunities not only help students improve their language proficiency in a native environment and strengthen their disciplinary knowledge, but also enable them to gain experience through living in a different cultural environment. Many graduates here have gone on exchange programmes, studied or competed abroad in the past four years under the arrangement of the residential colleges, faculties or the Student Affairs Office. Apart from enriching specialised knowledge, students have broadened their outlook by getting to know and understand different cultures worldwide. For example, every year the International Integrated Resort Management programme organises their students to go on exchange and field study in the US. By gaining a better understanding of the latest development in tourism and leisure, students can better align their level of professional capabilities with international standards. As a student in the Department of Portuguese, Ip Chon Chao had the opportunity to enhance his language skills and broaden his experience through an exchange programme at the University of Lisbon. After graduating in 2009, he secured an interpreting and administrative job at a steel plant in Angola, involving himself in the development of a platform for cooperation in business services between China and the Portuguese-speaking countries. Four years later, he founded his own company in Angola with friends. In addition, the projects of three teams from the University of Macau, namely Silk Road Macau, Nan Jia Zhi Zao and Team Whee competed against hundreds of other projects in the final round of the 2018 China College Students’ Entrepreneurship Competition; the teams were victorious and brought home two silver and one bronze medals. Furthermore, students are encouraged to participate in poverty relief through education at Congjiang County, Guizhou Province in mainland China. The saying ‘Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime’ can be used to describe the experience of our students; they are able to use their power to help the people in need and contribute to national development.

Dear students, ‘Our life has a limit, but knowledge has none’. This old saying echoes what we often talk about, ‘It’s never too old to learn’. We live in an ever-changing world where change is the only constant. As you travel along your path in life, you will find that you are sailing against the current – either you keep forging ahead or you keep falling behind. Only by constantly learning and scaling new heights can we enrich our knowledge and refine our senses. Only by constantly broadening our horizons can we avoid complacency in life or acquiring a tunnel vision. Only by doing so can we be well-positioned to prevail in fierce competitions. The Outline Development Plan for the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area is an important strategy for national development in the new era. It was officially issued three months ago, signifying that the bay area development is now in full swing. It is a discernible trend that Macao will integrate itself into the Greater Bay Area and the overall development of the nation. Many opportunities will be available as a result of this important development, including those for our young graduates to show their capabilities.

Dear students, there will be a time for you to ride the wind and cleave the waves; you will set sail to touch the clouds and cross the deep blue sea. As the ocean is boundless for fishes to leap, the sky has no limit for birds to fly. You are in your prime, therefore, aim high and dream big. You should care about the destiny of your nation, and weave your dreams into the development of your country. I hope that you can seize the opportunities presented to you, and continue to climb higher and look farther. Your knowledge will enable you to stand taller, your far-reaching horizons will expand your vision, and your broad state of mind will empower you to create a bright future. I wish that you can spread your wings and soar high like an eagle.

Last but not least, my heartfelt congratulations to the new cohort of graduates once again! I wish all of you the best of luck in your future endeavours, and my best wishes to all the guests here.