Chasing Dreams at Tongji Speech by Dean Men Honghua At the Opening Ceremony of the School of Political Science & International Relations, Tongji University
Time: 2021-08-22

Chasing Dreams at Tongji

Speech by Dean Men Honghua

At the Opening Ceremony of the School of Political Science & International Relations, Tongji University

September 7, 2016

Dear Students and Teachers,

On this pleasant September day in autumn, the 2016 Freshman Opening Ceremony of the School of Political Science & International Relations (SPSIR), Tongji University is grandly held. On behalf of the Party and administrative team and all faculty members of SPSIR, I would like to extend a warm welcome to all new students! Congratulations on becoming a new member of Tongji! You are now full of vigor and in your prime of life. You are the most beautiful scenery in the University and the most abundant fruit in this harvest season! Thanks for choosing SPSIR as one of the most important stops in your life. I hope that the spirit of Tongji will be remembered and followed by you, and become an ideological force that drives you forward in your lifetime. I hope you will set sail again to embrace a glorious life!

Dear Students,

Life starts with a dream. Dreams contain one's expectation for the future; dreams drive one to move forward; and dreams make one forever young. Dreams boost one's desire for success, point out the way forward, and encourage one to grow and gain. Today, I would like to share with you my own understanding of dreams and youth.

As sparks of fire, personal dreams are the endogenous needs that you, as the young people, must take care of. In the freshman orientation every year, I will always ask a few questions like these: Do you still remember your dreams? Do you still remember the appealing visions? Do you still remember who you want to be? Perhaps what you dream or imagine are too far away or boundless, but they all should be respected and affirmed. As Victor Hugo said: "Life is like to travel, ideal is its route, without which, one has to stop." Time flies; everyone does not have the luxury of standstill and rest, especially you in the prime of youth. The biggest value of personal dreams is to cultivate a persistent character, a spirit of being consistent, and an ability of keeping pace with the times. Meanwhile, dreams are not illusory blueprints or cloud castles. You must not only dare to dream, but also have the courage to chase your dreams. Only when personal dreams are above reality but are chased with real act can they continue to shine with eternal glory and lead the way to future. They are the best testimonial of youth, allowing you to create infinite possibilities in limited time.

As the backdrop of the convergence of sparks, the Chinese dream and the world dream reflect the context of the times that you, as a Chinese, must understand. Sixty years ago, Chairman Mao Zedong said, "In 50 or 60 years, we will usher in an era of making greater contributions to the world." Four years ago when visiting the exhibition "The Road to Rejuvenation", General Secretary Xi Jinping said, "Rejuvenating the Chinese nation has been the greatest dream of the Chinese people since the advent of modern times." Nowadays, China's comprehensive deepening of reforms in China has entered a critical stage, advancing toward the Chinese dream of national renewal. At the same time, the Chinese dream is a dream of making contributions to the world. The Chinese believe in the philosophy that"if poor, attend to one's own virtue in solitude; if advanced to dignity, make the whole kingdom virtuous as well", and actively promote the positive changes in the China’s & relations with the test of the world. The Chinese plan for global governance has attracted worldwide attention. By shaping a new type of international relations and building a global community of shared future, China has actively displayed and created its "world dream" that is rooted in China and benefiting the world. You grow up in a new era where the rise of China and the transformation of the world go hand in hand and complement each other. You see an increasingly powerful China and an ever-connected world, and your personal dreams also depend on and affect the realization of the Chinese dream and the world dream more profoundly.

As the stage to feed the sparks, the Tongji Dream is a homeland that you, as a Tongjier, must be familiar with. In June 2016, Quacquarelli Symonds (QS), a global higher education analyst, released the latest Asian university rankings, on which Tongji University ranked 11th in Mainland China and 53rd in Asia, demonstrating its strong academic influence. But when Tongji is mentioned, what come first to people's mind are often engineering programs such as civil engineering and rail transit. It shows an insufficient understanding about our university. Tongji has been working hard to develop liberal arts with its own characteristics, which is in line with its goal of “building a world-class university oriented by sustainable development”. Liberal arts are an indispensable part of the discipline groups of Tongji. And you are also an indispensable part of the Tongji Dream. To a large extent, the future of Tongji rests on interdisciplinary integration. The university has established a KAP educational principle of "Knowledge, Ability and Personality", aiming to ensure that every student has a solid foundation, practical ability, creativity, global vision and a sense of social responsibility. Over years, the people of Tongji have adhered to its aspirations of "serving the people and the world with one heart, on the same boat, and with the responsibility of rejuvenating the Chinese nation". The Tongji Dream is fundamentally to contribute to national rejuvenation by cultivating talents.

In order to become a strong support and an important platform for the realization of the Tongji Dream, SPSIR has firmly embarked on the road of transformation and development. We have established the following visions and goals: First, implement a differentiated development strategy, grow into a center of teaching, research and consultation for political science, especially international studies, and aim to rank top ten in the discipline evaluation for international relations during the 13th Five-Year Plan period. Second, focus on strategic studies, create a highland for China's strategic studies, and build an academic platform with great influence at home and abroad. Third, strengthen the integration of liberal arts, sciences and engineering to create an important platform for interdisciplinary cooperation at Tongji, and promote cooperation in teaching, scientific research and consultation among all departments to form a coordinated development trend. Fourth, cultivate elites with a global vision, strategic thinking, and a good knowledge of international affairs and national governance. To this end, we have improved the management structure of the School to lay a solid institutional foundation for the discipline development and provide guidance for your studies in a more systematic and professional way. Following the idea of "making the School stronger through talent cultivation", we have built a teaching and research team good at tackling key issues to provide you with excellent teachers who will "propagate the doctrine, impart professional knowledge, and resolve doubts". We have focused on key research projects and established a first-class and world-renowned strategic research platform, which you can utilize to better learn. And we have become more internationalized and developed a pattern of international cooperation to help broaden your horizon. The ancients said: “Those who sail on a flat boat are stable in their lives; those who take on the main road are prosperous in their career." You come at a time when the School strives towards a new stage of stability and prosperity via restructuring. We at the School will pave the way for your growth by deepening reforms and meanwhile, expect your growth to add luster to the School.

Dear Students,

You come here with dreams for excellence. We have the responsibility to help you achieve such dreams. I believe that Tongji will provide you with a high starting point. But do not deem this attractive place "a port of anchorage". President Xi Jinping once said, "Young people are always energetic and full of dreams. Young people should aim high, acquire more knowledge, temper their will, and make their formative years rewarding in an era of progress." As your teacher, I expect you to:

First, be patriotic and develop a global vision, creating a better future for China and the world. In an era when the interaction between China and the world draws global attention, you young people should love our country and have a global vision to integrate the personal dreams, national dreams and world dreams seamlessly. I hope you will be ambitious and knowledgeable, and make progress with the times. As Abraham Lincoln said, “Everyone should have such confidence: I can take on the responsibilities that others can assume and those they cannot. In this way, you can hone yourself to obtain more knowledge and a greater state of mind.” Only in this way can you become a qualified member of Tongji, who is sensible, responsible and broad-minded and can think in terms of the big picture.

Second, develop in an all-around way, pursuing personal growth and comprehensive ability. As the ancients said, one needs to cultivate the moral self before regulating the family, governing the state well, and making the whole kingdom peaceful and happy. Self-cultivation is the cornerstone for achieving greatness. To cultivate the moral self is to know better of virtue, improve the state of mind, and acquire more knowledge; and to cultivate the moral self is to learn about living and show gratitude to life. Leveraging the resources and platform of Tongji, you should acquire knowledge, develop abilities, bring forth new ideas, learn from social elites in wisdom and vision, learn about the society and take a global perspective to perfect personality and become wise thinkers. At the same time, I hope you will not complain about the society, even though it is not what you expected. The trifles of life are a trial for the majority, while the beauty of dreams is a gift for the few. I hope that you all will be persistent in your own dreams and become the few in the future.

Third, sail on the same boat, upholding solidarity, mutual assistance, diversity and unity. Sailing on the same boat not only paraphrases the name of Tongji University, but also demonstrates the Tongji spirit. The Book of Rites says, "Learning alone and without friends makes one feel solitary and uncultivated, with but little information." By communicating, inspiring and helping each other, you can gain a better command of knowledge and improve your problem-solving ability. Besides, you can realize personal values and have a positive attitude towards life by working together to achieve success in the good atmosphere of mutual help. I hope you will form a community to share both responsibilities and benefits. Perhaps you can make certain achievements on your own, but the boat shared by all needs to be rowed by all. This is precisely where your personal dreams blend with the Tongji Dream.

Dear Students,

You can neither turn back the clock nor repeat your youth. I am envious of you, who are young and vigorous; and I am proud of my colleagues for their achievements. Your past may have nothing to do with Tongji, but your present and future are binding up with Tongji. In the next four years, you will form ties with teachers here. Because of you, my colleagues and I can relive our youth and feel the joy of growth with you.

Last but not least, I hope you will stay true to the original aspirations and not abandon the beautiful vision for future because of the cruel reality. I hope you will keep moving ahead and not stop your pace because of occasional setbacks. I hope you will follow your bent and not lose your true self because of the environment. And I hope you will assume your social responsibility and not give up the bright sunshine because of the temporary dark clouds.

You are the future of the country and the world. I’m looking forward to your promising future!

Thank you!