Rector’s Speech in Congregation 2022 (28/05/2022)

Honourable Secretary for Social Affairs and Culture, Ms Ao Ieong U, representing the Chief Executive of the Macao SAR and the Chancellor of the University of Macau,

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

Distinguished Members of the University Assembly and the University Council,

Dear guests, alumni, parents, faculty and students,

Good afternoon! Welcome to the Congregation 2022 of the University of Macau (UM).

Today will be a memorable day for the more than 1,800 students who have graduated from our undergraduate programmes and are about to embark on a new journey in their lives. This comes after overcoming the challenges brought about by the pandemic that has affected their studies for nearly three years. I am delighted to be here with you all to witness this important moment in your lives. On behalf of the University of Macau, I would like to extend hereby, my warmest congratulations to all the students who have successfully completed their studies. My sincere appreciation also goes to your teachers and parents for their hard work and dedication.

Dear students, you are the first batch of undergraduates that were enrolled since my joining UM in 2018. This has added to the sense of connection I have with you. Like myself, you have spent four unforgettable years at the University together. We have witnessed and experienced what can only be described as a difficult yet remarkable period for the University and Macao as a whole. We have overcome challenges during the pandemic and strived hard to forge ahead and take our careers to greater heights.

These four years have undoubtedly been an incredible challenge and experience for me personally. As the administrator of the university, I have had to assume responsibility in the face of the unprecedented difficulties and do my utmost to safeguard the physical and mental health of students, faculty and staff in the midst of a pandemic, while ensuring the smooth operation of the University’s teaching and research. At the same time, I have also continued to improve the talent cultivation system to meet the development needs of the country and the SAR, explore new paths in the mechanism to encourage research innovation and transfer of results and to satisfy market demands, strengthen the University’s social service, and make rational and efficient use of resources to actively promote the development of UM. I am very pleased and also touched that our efforts have received the appreciation, cooperation and support of all our faculty and students, and that all specific areas of work in the University achieved unprecedented synergy, moving forward hand in hand and overcoming difficulties. This unity of purpose and effort has veritably enabled the University to sustain its momentum and enhance its international reputation. It has also given me greater confidence for the future development of the University of Macau!

As students, you may find that these four years of university life have been different from what you might have imagined or expected. You have had to face academic challenges and various kinds of stress. Some of you may understandably feel that four years at the university have passed in a blink of the eye, leaving you confused and uncertain about your future. Dear students, I would like to suggest that you can take this moment to reflect on the hardships and hard work you have been put in over the last four years. You will find that you have developed a unique character as a ‘UMer’, gathered specialised knowledge and honed your skills and abilities. You should feel proud of yourselves and have the courage and confidence to embrace the future.

Here, I would like to share three ideas with you.

First, Positivity and Resilience. Today’s complex and volatile world, with the ever-changing situation with the pandemic has given us a real sense of how precious peace, tranquillity and stability are. There may be challenges in terms of employment during the pandemic. However, I am confident that all these hurdles will be temporary. We should maintain a positive outlook on life and look to the future. I was born and raised in a mountain village in Sichuan Province. The circumstances I faced back then were way harsher than they are now. Today, that mountain village in my hometown is dubbed ‘Village of Doctors’, because it has produced more than 20 people with a doctorate. Many of them currently work as presidents or professors at top universities in the Mainland. When we were teenagers, we were convinced that ‘knowledge can change destiny’. Therefore we were not afraid of hardships and difficulties. Step by step and with unremitting efforts, we eventually entered a better phase of life where we could realise our personal value. Hard work during youth is beneficial for a lifetime, so never idle away your time. I hope you can stay ever optimistic, viewing obstacles as tests, and remaining cheerful in the face of adversity. Perseverance and an enterprising spirit are important for finding purpose and achieving excellence in life.

Second, Make a Mark and Say No to ‘Lying Flat’. Dear students, you are now in the prime of your youth. Being the next generation, you are the future of the country and the SAR and, therefore, are entrusted with certain social responsibilities. I know that there is a trend among young people to make fun of each other as having taken up a ‘Zen’ attitude or that of ‘lying-flat’. But the pursuit of dreams and the realisation of personal values are serious matters and should not be regarded with such passivity. The new era has brought about many platforms and opportunities, but at the same time, it poses greater requirements and responsibilities. We have been born in an opportune time with historic responsibilities ahead of us. In this ever-advancing and ever-evolving world of today, I hope you will be brave to shoulder responsibilities and be keen to strive for achievements, instead of being mere bystanders giving in to the passive ‘lying flat’ mentality. I hope you will contribute to the prosperity of the country and Macao in your own way, to the best of your ability, so as to live up to what is expected of us at this historical juncture.

Thirdly, Expand Horizons. ‘If you can imagine it, you can achieve it. And if you can dream it, you can become it.’ How we think influences how we see the world and how we act, and it ultimately determines how we are valued in society. Through the ages, those who achieve great things all began with a great vision. Only a vision that is broad and sufficiently forward-thinking can create enough room for you to unleash your full potential. The Guangdong-Macao Intensive Cooperation Zone in Hengqin, adjoining the UM campus and separated merely by a wall, serves exactly that function – a major platform for Macao to take part in the development of the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area, a physical embodiment of the ‘mutual discussion, joint development, joint administration and shared benefits’ mechanism, and a promising land for your future career development. I urge you to take the long view, aim high and step on this bigger stage, to make good use of your knowledge, creativity and abilities, and make improvements and contributions.

This year marks the first year in the University’s five-year plan. As the action plans have strategically outlined, the University will actively work towards various development goals. My dear students, as you are about to graduate from here and embark on a new chapter in life, you may also try setting goals and action plans using the five-year time frame, so that you have your life well-planned for the next five years. I hope that this will help you put your dreams into action and create marvellous chapters of life that are uniquely yours.

Dear students, as the pandemic remains serious worldwide, you must take good care of yourselves. We will be thinking of you, no matter where you are and where you will be going. We all look forward to the day when the pandemic eventually comes to an end and life returns to normal. Last but not least, I wish you all good health, good luck and every success in your future endeavours. We hope to see you often on campus in the future. I would also like to wish all our guests and their families good health and all the very best. Thank you!