Rector’s Speech in Congregation 2023 (10/06/2023)

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

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

Distinguished Members of the University Assembly and the University Council,

Dear guests, parents, teachers and students, ladies and gentlemen,

Welcome to the 2023 Congregation of the University of Macau. We are gathered here today to witness a milestone moment in the lives of over 1,700 students. On behalf of the University of Macau, I am delighted to extend my warm congratulations to all graduates, and my sincere gratitude to the teachers and parents that have cared for, supported and guided them throughout their studies!

Dear graduates, of the four years of your university lives, you have lived through three of them under the shadow of the Covid-19 pandemic. It would not be an overstatement to call you the ‘Extraordinary Class of Covid Survivors’. In these extraordinary times, you have experienced exceptional growth and demonstrated determination, courage, and embodied the spirit and qualities expected of youth of the new era. Among the graduates seated here today are those who have volunteered selflessly in the combat against the pandemic, those who have served as teachers in rural mountainous regions of China, those who competed fiercely in various sport, technology, language and cultural contests as well as those who have acted as cultural ambassadors and left their marks all over the world through our student exchange programmes. Over these unusual four years, you have made extraordinary efforts and attained extraordinary achievements. The skills you have gathered will lay a strong foundation for more adventures in your next chapter in life.

At present, ‘our world, our times, and history are changing in unprecedented ways.’ We are being tested by a series of challenges – relentless geopolitical conflicts, exacerbating competition over advanced technologies, persistent and on-going social problems, just to name a few. All of these issues may continue to evolve. Not only will they have a continued and far-reaching impact on the development of all countries in the world, but they will also affect each and every one of us. They will be unprecedented challenges and opportunities.

Dear students, a young person who has successfully completed higher education should have the qualities, courage and determination to navigate stormy seas, cope with changes, embrace opportunities and lead a meaningful life. You have gone through your learning and formative years amidst a technological revolution, a once-in-a-century pandemic and a changing global order that is unseen in a hundred years. You should be able to rise above any challenge and difficulty with calm and ease. At this critical historical juncture and under these extraordinary circumstances, the wind is just right to send your sails surging forward towards your dreams. I, therefore, have three pieces of advice or wishes for you.

First, I hope you will be brave to seek new vistas and never stop learning. The world now is going through a period of great leaps, profound transformations and deep adjustments. Artificial intelligent programmes such as ChatGPT are developing rapidly. A new round of technological revolution and industrial reform driven by innovation is taking shape and gathering ferocious speed. It took Facebook four and a half years to reach 100 million users, Instagram two and a half years, and ChatGPT merely two months. The use and development of technology may bring disruptive, fundamental changes to human society. We must learn to embrace and adapt to new technologies and their applications, strengthen our ability to learn by ourselves, readily expand our knowledge boundaries and evolve effective methods to learn and update ourselves. At the same time, we must develop a lifelong interest in learning, and turn our hunger for knowledge into a desire to innovate and create. For you, graduation is not the end of your learning, but a new beginning, and it is only by continuing to learn that you can fly higher and further!

Second, I hope you will shoulder the responsibilities of the times and make the most of your youth. Although each generation has their own distinctive features, the youth in China have always been committed to the same cause. Each generation brings forth new talents and each generation has their own mission. The prosperity of our country and the rejuvenation of our nation lies in your hands and can only be assured if you take up this cause and strive for it. Time pushes forward, and so must we. The growth and experiences in the process will inevitably help us build a stronger mind. Remember the saying – ‘With dreams in heart, responsibilities on shoulders, we will march forward with determination and strength.’ I hope you will make the best of your youth and continue with the core value of love for the nation and Macao. I hope you will align your personal growth with the development of Macao and the country, and fully play your important role as the young generation of pioneers steering us forward, developing the One Country, Two Systems framework and contributing to the grand rejuvenation of our nation.

Third, I hope you will aim for greater achievements with your country and the world in mind. As the young generation of the new era faced with a complex and ever-changing environment at home and abroad, you should have an optimistic vision of the future of human civilisation, develop a world view that ‘all men share the same destiny and walk the same path’ and make this one of your core values, and for that, you must join the grand mission of building a community with a shared future for all mankind. You need to constantly work on yourself, cultivate your character and your mind, and develop an international outlook that is underpinned by extensive and profound knowledge. You need to tune in to the call of our country and our times, aspire to serve all of humanity, foster a mindset that is open to different opinions and views, dare to pursue noble dreams, and accomplish greater objectives with an ever more forward-looking vision and ambition!

Dear students, you are about to embark on a new journey in life. I hope that in your future adventures you will continue to bear the mark of the motto of UM – ‘Humanity, Integrity, Propriety, Wisdom and Sincerity’, and that you will achieve excellence and realise your dreams despite all the challenges and difficulties that may come your way!

Congratulations on your graduation and I wish you a bright future ahead! To all our guests I wish you all good health and all the very best!

Thank you!