Dear Class of 2020,
First of all, many congratulations! Your efforts and hard work have allowed Wellington College China to make great achievements this academic year: at a glance, our graduates have already received a total of nearly 200 university offers. Nearly 40% of these offers were from universities ranked among the top 10 in the world.
I am very proud of our graduates, and I would like to share three special words that best encapsulate my thoughts and feelings on this momentous occasion with you all.
The first word is passion.
Our pupils receiving great offers from top institutes is some of the best news I could hope for. What makes me the happiest, however, is that our pupils have all gone in a diverse range of academic directions – the holistic education at Wellington College China has inspired them to pursue their passions. Studying at top institutes is but another step for them to achieve further successes in their lives.
I want to let you in on a little secret of mine: when I was in school, I didn't know what my passion was. I ended up studying Computer Science at Oxford University – I could do it, but I didn't love it.
I was good at maths and science, but the kind of education that I received when I was in school focused a lot on what we should do rather than what we wanted to do – which is probably true for most in my generation in China, and probably still true for a lot of people in China today. As a good student, my time was filled with homework and exam preparation. I had very little spare time to pursue what I felt was my passion. 20 years on, I'm still trying to work out where my passions lie outside of my profession, and I see that as, almost, a regret.
This is why Wellington is so important to me, and why I'm committed to bringing it to China to offer it to more young people so they can enjoy what you have enjoyed. They can find out more about themselves – who they are and what their passions are – before they leave school at 18.
You're very lucky to be in that position. Very many congratulations.
The second word is diligence.
Passion is our destiny, but passion alone is not enough; it has to be matched by an equal amount of hard work. Graduation is a celebration of your own hard work, and it is also the perfect opportunity to express your gratitude towards your Masters, school leaders and teachers.
You probably don't realise how much hard work and rigour goes into tracking your progress, analysing your needs and putting together teaching plans that suit you as individuals. I have recently completed another cycle of board meetings for all of our schools, and I've seen a massive amount of data and reporting that demonstrates exactly that: the amount of time our teachers devote to their pupils extends far beyond regular school hours and classes – they are constantly searching for the best teaching tools, methods and innovations that will enhance our pupils’ learning.
So, regardless of what you pursue, match it with an equal amount of hard work and you'll be well on your way to excellence.
The third word is responsibility.
Our 2020 leavers have graduated in a year that is very special to all of us.
The COVID-19 pandemic has made me reflect a lot. Over the past few months, we have all been exposed to a massive amount of miscommunication and misunderstanding both inside and outside China through official news channels or social media. It saddened me to witness this.
It seems that a certain level of mistrust and blame-shifting between nations – and even the World Health Organisation – is on the rise. It almost seems like globalisation is working in reverse.
You probably don't know how special you are. You're not only fluently bilingual, you are also cross-cultural; you can appreciate and understand the world from both ‘east’ and ‘west’ perspectives.
The 21st century is a time when the east is meeting the west. Your linguistic skill and cultural insight means you have a special place in this world, and with that comes responsibility: whatever you pursue, whichever industry you get into, wherever you choose to work and live, you will be a bridge that connects the east with the west.
You will be facilitating communication and deepening the understanding and appreciation between eastern and western cultures, and as such, you will be contributing towards world peace. Only as one united humankind can we truly pursue prosperity and peace. You must remember the responsibility on your shoulders.
You should always remember that your alma mater is home for you. Wherever your life takes you, you are always welcome to come back.
Once a Wellingtonian, always a Wellingtonian. Do come back and see us often.
Founder and Chairman
Wellington College China
30th June 2020