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20th Congregation - Faculty of Humanities, Valedictory Speech

Good morning, distinguished guests, members of the faculty, professors, my fellow graduates, ladies and gentlemen:

I feel greatly honored today to be giving the valedictory speech as the representative of MA graduates of 2014. To my fellow graduates, allow me to express my warmest congratulations.

Time flies by quickly. Now, we are about to go our separate ways. On this special day, however, I do not feel any kind of sorrow, because graduation signifies not an end but a beginning. My dear fellow graduates, wherever you will be, whatever you may do, I wish you good luck. I wish our friendship will last forever.

More than one year ago, my friend asked me a serious question with a perplexed expression when I decided on studying Chinese Culture in Hong Kong:“A year is a short time, but do you think it necessary to spend a whole year on learning unnecessary knowledge?”

I suppose that I am not the only one who have heard this question or similar. I don’t know how you answered but I am not here to invoke any complicated theory to demonstrate the necessity of studying humanities. Without a doubt, it is impossible to explore any kinds of knowledge in a year’s time. As far as I am concerned, understanding the principle behind things is far more valuable than acquiring pragmatic knowledge in limited time.

Let me, then, turn to my precious experience in the past year in the Department of Chinese Culture at Polyu as an illustration.

In an interview with the BBC in 1959, Bertrand Russell, the major British thinker, spoke across the gulf of time – a thousand years, to be exact -- to remind future generations: “When you are studying any matter, or considering any philosophy, ask yourself only what are the facts and what is the truth that the facts bear out. Never let yourself be diverted either by what you wish to believe, or by what you think would have beneficent social effects if it were believed. But look only, and solely, at what are the facts.”

I would much rather summarize my past year in Polyu as a trajectory of pursuing the fact, I, or I should say we, did our best to pursue facts in every class we attended. We did it in among ourselves in discussing our schoolwork. We did it in the papers we wrote and the presentations we gave. And in the feedback from our dear teachers, there is plenty of evidence that they have done a tremendous lot to speed us on our way to the same goal. All this has added up to an unforgettable experience that makes me understand the meaning of Lord Russell's words. Let me be presumptuous and rephrase him: do not believe in anything or anyone without first of all subjecting it to your own critical thinking. That is really essential, especially in this frenzy world full of charlatans, self-styled experts and scoundrels.

At last, my dear teachers please accept my deepest appreciation and respect for your conscientiousness, amiability and patience. I can never thank, praise and venerate you enough. For as long as I live, I will cherish in my memory the time that I spent studying under your tutelage at Polyu.

Thank you very much.