Arisun Tan Class of 2019
Good afternoon distinguished guests, parents, teachers, and fellow graduates of class of 2019.
I am Tan Baichen and I am honored to be here today.
Sometimes I wish today is just a simple day,
when Russael would tell his jokes as usual,
when Delia's office is always crowded with students either for SAT problems or life wisdom, but really, or gossip.
and when, on Wechat, we could find Oscar's new complaint of studying through the night.
Though, today is not simple,
for we are all here, for one purpose, to celebrate the graduation.
Three years were not an easy journey.
But right now I do not want to retrace our hardship nor our success.
I want to talk about the very question that my parents once asked me.
What do you want to be when you grow up?
At the age of 10, my answer was to be an archeologist.
At that time I was deeply lured by ancient Egyptian's mythology and Indiana Jones' films.
But my dream did not survive,
because I soon discovered that archeology was not an adventure to those mysterious mausoleums, but a chore to excavate in mud.
Perhaps most of us all once embraced such a question at a young age.
Our answers may divide-teachers who assign homework at will,
scientists who create time machine,
or doctors who can invent elixir and save lives.
We did not have much complicated thoughts.
Future to us may simple mean next year's birthday party or another long vacation.
Those are our responses at childhood.
Now, if I ask myself this question again, what will I say differently?
Frankly, I do not know.
The wickedest part of this question is that it assumes that growing up is finite, as if a person would at some point suddenly "grow up" and become a completely different person.
So what does the phrase growing up mean?
It is every moment when our brains are rapidly impulsed by neurons, when we have doubts, when we are confused over our identity,when we work on linear functions, and when we just share at a grain of sand and believe that a world exists in it.
Have you ever witnessed the rising tide of Yangtze River, when moonlight melts into water?
To see no bound.
It is a grandeur, but a peaceful one.
So is growing up -- every unnoticeable moment of it weaving together into vastness.
We are, in fact, constantly in a state of growing up.
But what feeds our growing up? That is the second question I want to talk about today.
I believe it is education.
I would love to invite all of us to think about a question. What is the meaning of education for us, and for humans?
It is to inflame their thoughts, I to bestow them unsettledness, and to teach them to ask the question "what is the beginning of beginning."
I believe that these are the purpose of education, and the canon that we should all remember, when in September we wander around our own universities.
To try math, to explore the boundary of mind, and to find balance in our chaotic thoughts.
To read history, to understand the deposits of the past, and to fathom the pain or joy or achievement or frustratin of people back to the time.
To sing poetry, to tip the nostalgia or sarcrasm in permanent pieces of human wisdom, and to be awestruck.
To think, to find our place, and to find the meaning of our lives in the progress of time, of history, and of humans.
This is the best of time,
when we have the opportunity to witness the spectacle of oceans and universe.
We have glimpses of the black hole in pictures;
we have the chance to study in exotic countries;
and we still have boba tea and Starbuks.
This is the worst of time,
when we face the trade war between CHina and America;
when we, as Asians, still face discrimination;
when we still face wars, refugees, and diseases.
We need to have a voice.
What education teaches us is not what we have remembered, but what we believe and hold faith to -- a longing for truth.
We need to see the truth hidden by the distorted mirror;
We need to contemplate the essence of Iraq war and feel the pain in those children's diamond eyes.
We need to, as we interrogate the cosmos, challenge the possibilities beyond impossibilities,
We need to care what we love, because we become what we love.
But still, we are just 17 or 18 years old, right at the gate of adulthood.
Sometimes I am confused of growing up;
we are confused of growing up, for how in a glimpse of time, did those fairytales peel off their layer of fancy?
Today is the mark of the first day of our summer vacation, the last one before our college life.
Summer, such a word with charm.
When summer ends, Hermia and Lysander understand love in A Mid-summer Night Dream,
Elio tastes the joy and pain of growing up in Call Me By Your Name,
and Spaccffico realizes his pursuit for movies in Cinema Paradise.
It seems that summer, as great writers perceive, always encompasses the vigor of youth and of maturity.
Reflecting on my life, I know that I can't live in Peter Pan's Neverland forever; we can't.
Through years, time will flip, things will elapse, and our hearts will eventually become mature, but in the deepest of heart there still rests a belief.
I thougt of Tagore and his Stray Birds.
Perhaps those long lost summers have taught us the lesson, as Tagore did, to stay gold and let life be as bright as summer flowers.
As Wislawa Szymborska once wrote about three oddest words,
When I pronounce the word Future, the first syllable already belongs to the past.
When I pronounce the word Silence, I destroy it.
When I pronounce the word Nothing, I make something no nonbeing can hold.
So is the word Growing up, at the very moment when our parents say to us "you are a grown up man."
Thank you, and Congratulations Class of 2019.