This year’s grand commencement ceremony of the National School of Development (NSD) and the Institute of South-South Cooperation and Development (ISSCAD) of Peking University was held on June 27, 2020. To prevent virus infection, the commencement ceremony is synchronically held online and offline. Faculties and graduates who have returned to the campus in accordance with the epidemic prevention and control deployment gathered at the Wan Zhong Square, Lang Run Garden of Peking University, while those who do not return attend through video sharing or watching live broadcast, witnessing and contributing to this extraordinary commencement ceremony together.
Offline ceremony site
The ceremony was initiated with a commemorative video that condenses the phases of students’ life. Later, all the dressed-up professors and researchers accompanied by the starting music came to the stage. The 2020 Commencement Ceremony was hosted by Liu Guoen, Boya chair professor of Peking University, director of Advisory Committee of NSD and member of the National Experts Panel of COVID-19.
He said that it is the first time in his teaching career that students and professors had been departing for half year due to the epidemic, and nobody is certain about when we shall meet again. It is the virus that should be blamed. However, because of the epidemic, the commencement is bound to become one that is hard to forget.
Prof. LIU Guoen
First, Liu announced to play and sing the National Anthem of the People’s Republic of China. The professors, graduates, families and friends no matter online or offline took off their hats and sang together. The singing echoed in the sky of Lang Run Garden and the hearts of the graduates. Second, Yao Yang, dean of NSD and executive dean of ISSCAD, delivered a speech. He said that it had been 16 years since we first held the commencement ceremony in Lang Run Garden. At the beginning, only a small number of students were enrolled. However, with the program expansion of NSD, our graduates are all over the world. Yao congratulated the 933 graduates this year, and highlighted that among them there are another 29 undergraduates attend the ceremony. In addition to economics, some of them will transfer to the fields of sociology, public management and international relations for further study, which is the embodiment of the undergraduate education concept of NSD.
Yao believed that this commencement ceremony is destined to become one of the most unforgettable experiences in our lives. Because the epidemic sweeps across the world, mankind will become stronger and more united. In particular, he shared his insights on life: people strive continuously to strengthen ourselves on the basis of individual tenderness, and it is embodied by empathizing with what others are going through. In such case, we open the door to human civilization. Life is like a journey. We have to be strong. But we should be accompanied by our beloved ones and friends. The best way to win them is to show them our tenderness. Arousing the tenderness makes us stronger, more courageous and it helps us overcome the evil and mediocrity. May you cherish the tenderness and become stronger.
Prof. YAO Yang
Third, the faculty representative shared stories with the graduates. Shen Yan, professor of Economics of NSD and deputy director of Institute of Internet Finance of Peking University, told about her own graduation story during the SARS epidemic period in 2003. She understood that graduates may hold mixed feelings during this epidemic period, but there is no such a moment that we can realize that we are closely related to the fate of our country.
If asking “whether China can still maintain a good development momentum", Shen encouraged everyone to find out the answer by ourselves. But she also shared her opinion. She believed that the positive and inspirational power would be the mainstream. What would happen in the future? She believed we would create the future together. She suggested graduates focus on finding the best solution for the moment, and complete life courses of our own. She said that the "setbacks", "humility" and "bottom line" are three major compulsory courses of life, reminding everyone to set reasonable expectations, carry out proper self-assessment, and keep the bottom line of choices. She hopes the graduates return with the brave young soul when we meet again.
Prof. SHEN Yan
The fourth part of the ceremony was to share the stories of graduates’ representatives. Despite Liang Fang, the representative of graduates with combined master’s degree and doctoral degree, attending the offline ceremony, the other four representatives of graduates with bachelor’s degree, double degree, MBA degree and EMBA degree all gave speeches on video. As one of the first batch of undergraduates of NSD, Li Hongcheng said that there is a kind of spirit for the undergraduates, which is called "come from all around and head to the world". Three years ago, everyone came with expectation. Now, we either continue to study or enter the society, which is undoubtedly an epitome of all the good in the era of freedom. Even though we are under unfavorable situation, such as the epidemic isolation, uncertainty in the future, and original aspiration may be overwhelmed by excessive anxiety and the fear of loss. However, we should pluck up the courage of NSD daring to be the first in Peking University and Peking University daring to be the first in the world. He believes that all of us could call up confidence and keep moving forward.
Wei Ziyi spoke on behalf of the graduates with second degree in Economics. He majors in Russian. He extended the meaning of "long term" from the English transliteration of “long run”, and realizes the difference between long and short term effects in economics. He said that the study experience in Lang Run Garden would accompany him the whole life, thus even influencing the world and others. Wei then recalled bits and pieces in his three-year study experience, and all the instructions, companionship and encouragement harvested from Lang Run Garden. As he is about to usher in a new journey of life, he will practice the spirit of Lang Run. He hopes that his future life would be full of meaning and holds no fear towards challenges for improving the well-being of mankind.
When Liang gave her speech, she first mentioned the multiple impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on the graduation season. Looking back on the five-year study experience in Lang Run Garden, Liang believed that she is constantly discovering and reshaping herself while exploring the cognitive boundary, and has got a clearer understanding of herself and her inner pursuit, which is the most important thing that she has been taught at Lang Run Garden. After graduation, she would like to explore more economic phenomena and operation rules. Even she will face more problems, Liang believes in the power of patient observation and day by day hard-working.
Zhang Hao, MBA graduate representative, regarded the commencement speech as the “Easter egg” of his two-year study in the NSD, and the commencement ceremony as another milestone in his life. Zhang was grateful for the efforts from his family during his study and he appreciated whom he met and what he went through with his classmates. Two years of study reequipped him a suit of armor and operating system, so that he can overcome his fear with a new perspective and attitude, and gain the ability to inspect and plan his life.
Liu Zhanzhao, EMBA graduates’ representative, recalled that it coincided with the 40th anniversary of China's reform and opening up that he had entered Lang Run Garden with another 100 EMBA students. Looking back on his study experience in Lang Run Garden, Liu said that he was impressed by the strong academic atmosphere and broad humanism of NSD. In addition, he has broadened his horizon, increased wisdom and become clearer about his value and belief of life. BiMBA has taught him “business is business”. The business should emphasize corporate performance and profitability, as well as competition and growth. However, we should not only concern about business, but also strive to promote China's progress and make society a better place.
The sixth part of the ceremony was the sharing of special guests. The guest is Lu Mai, vice chairman of China Development Research Foundation and secretary general of China Development Forum. First of all, he told the story of his passing by Peking University twice and the frequent interaction with Peking University people in his work. Lu encouraged everyone to inherit the Peking University’s Spirit of May Fourth Movement and overcome the difficulties caused by the current epidemic. In expounding the spirit of patriotism, progress, democracy and science demonstrating in the May Fourth Movement, Lu, with his growing experience as an example, pointed out that patriotism is the core and today the performance of patriotism is to participate in reform and innovation to realize national modernization.
Recalling his research and practice of the Development Research Institute of the Rural Development Research Center of the State Council and the China Institute for Economic Restructuring in the 1980s, Lu briefed the establishment process of China's market economy as a basic economic system, and advocated that those who hold patriotism must keep an open mind and understand the position where the country is. Every Chinese has the responsibility to rational expression of national and people's interests. Lu also hopes that all graduates of NSD will maintain their sympathy for the bottom people and vulnerable groups, and finally hopes everyone to recognize the current situation and calmly respond to it, seize the opportunity and learn to choose, and have ideals and be down-to-earth.
After Lu's address, Dean Yao Yang presented him with a commemorative card for graduation speech
The seventh part was held by Yao for the ISSCAD. After bidding farewell to Lu, Yao invited Professor Justin Yifu Lin and Professor Fu Jun to take seats on the stage. Then he briefed on the history and graduate information of ISSCAD before inviting Zhang Maoyu, vice chairman of China International Development Cooperation Agency (CIDCA), to deliver an online speech.
Zhang began with hearty congratulations to the ISSCAD graduates and gratitude to all the ISSCAD teachers before pointing out that the ISSCAD, as a key project to promote South-South cooperation in China, is an important platform for the training of high-end talents in developing countries, the exchange of governance and administrative experience, and the research on development theories. He highly praised students who, despite the COVID-19 pandemic, persisted in learning and research activities and completed college education with excellent performance, and who expressed their adamant support for China in a variety of ways.
At a time when it has been the 70th anniversary since China started providing foreign aid, Zhang described in details tremendous nationwide and worldwide efforts made by China against the COVID-19 pandemic, and also harbored high hopes for all graduating students: to become outstanding contributors to national development and public management, practitioners in the future development of their respective home countries, participants in South-South cooperation, and promoters of human society’s progress. He also hopes everyone to face challenges, battle against the pandemic together, promote cooperation, uphold multilateralism, and cherish precious friendships.
The eighth part was an address made by the dean of the ISSCAD along with teacher representatives sharing their ideas and thoughts. Professor Justin Yifu Lin, co-founder and honorary dean of ISSCAD and dean of the Institute of New Structural Economics (INSE) at Peking University, began by congratulating this year’s 39 ISSCAD graduate students and expressing his delight to see that everyone was healthy and safe at such a special moment when the COVID-19 pandemic was rampaging across the world.
Lin said that the pandemic is also a warning that human beings are very vulnerable and that stronger international cooperation is required to tackle problems in a broad range of fields including the pandemic, such as climate change, poverty, and hunger. China has set a good example in the battle against the pandemic and economic development and China’s experience is supposed to help other countries effectively and boost everyone’s confidence in overcoming current difficulties and future challenges.
Lin also hopes that education experience in ISSCAD will boost the confidence of graduating students and help them contribute to their home countries and to the whole world in the future. In the end, he expressed his gratitude to government agencies and everyone who supported the ISSCAD’s development and the commencement ceremony.
Justin Yifu Lin
The ninth part was for representatives of the ISSCAD graduates to share their ideas and thoughts. Chigaru Farai Anthony Muga, a doctoral graduate from Malawi who enrolled in 2017, began with his gratitude to the Chinese government and Chinese President for their support. He said that one of his learning objectives at ISSCAD is to combine theory, inference and practice, as he found the separation of theory from practice to be an enormous problem. Furthermore, he also hopes to gain a better understanding of the secret behind the growth of China’s economy from both a macro and micro perspective. With a deep understanding that the development stage differs among countries, Muga also hopes that, after returning to his home country, he can dedicate what he has learned to its development and growth.
Chigaru Farai Anthony Muga
The tenth part was a grand session for conferring degrees to graduating students. Due to the impact of the pandemic, it was impossible for them to attend this session on the spot. However, in order to ensure all students have fond memories of graduation, the NSD and ISSCAD specially ordered custom-made and brand-new academic dresses and sent them to all graduating students as graduation mementos. As Professor Fu Jun, Professor Xu Jintao, Professor Yu Miaojie, Professor Zhang Li, Professor Gong Yuzhen, Professor Wang Hao, Professor Zhao Yaohui, and Professor Yao Yang took the stage to read the list of all graduates from the ISSCAD and NSD, the photo of students wearing academic dresses was also presented on the big screen.
After the tenth part drew to an end, the eleventh part began with everyone singing the Song of Motherland. The final episode was a simple but grand farewell to graduating students, which touched the softest innermost part of students and teachers either in front of their screens or on the spot.
Friendships between students and teachers are among the most beautiful emotions in the world. At the time of parting, everyone’s heart was brimful of humble gratitude, sentimental attachment and uninhibited melancholies. Professors at the forefront of the stage, as well as class advisor and administrative staff representatives assembled in a formation, were waving goodbye to graduate students. While students on the spot were stepping forward to shake hands with and bid farewell to their teachers, those who were watching this ceremony online, were waving goodbye in front of their screens with the picture of Lang Run Garden appearing in their minds. After two hours, the special commencement ceremony of 2020 came to an official end.
Source: The National School of Development (NSD) and the Institute of South-South Cooperation and Development (ISSCAD) of Peking University