Brian Chen Class of 2019
Greetings to Administration, faculty, staff, family and friends. And to my fellow graduates of HFI Class of 2019, congratulations!
I am Boyuan Chen from the Class of 2019, and it is my honor to be here today.
The first thing I would like to do today is to represent Class of 2019 and express our highest gratitude to teachers and parents. We would not be here without them.
It is almost surreal to see all of us today in our gowns, with offers from top universities around the globe, ready to receive our high school degree. We haven't been more similar than this moment we share together. However, in other ways, beneath this moment, we couldn't be more different: we are going to different universities—even different countries—and are setting foot on different paths. It's like how Toni Morrison described sisters, that "a sister can be seen as someone who is both ourselves and very much not ourselves - a special kind of double." We are also both each other and very much not each other.
A recent experience of serving as an alumni interviewer reminded me of what we were like before we got here. We have such drastically different backgrounds—we came from different schools, we have completely different social circles, some of us even grew up in different cities. Yet, we were also so homogenous. We had just come out of Zhongkao, studying exactly the same thing. We had not had a dream school yet, except for Harvard and MIT. Most of us hadn't discovered our passions, still believing STEM is the way like any other Chinese high school student.
So, what is it, that has brought us together in some ways, and set us apart in others?
From the moment we started school on August 15, 2016, 2 weeks earlier than any other high school in Guangzhou, we opened a path, different from what we had experienced and what our friends in regular high schools were experiencing.
We had four English classes in the first year, one of them was taught in a distinguished Irish accent; we ate drumsticks on train rides to Hongkong for good fortune; we took take outs into the classrooms; we answered bonus questions about our teacher's ties.
Our shared experiences, while differentiating us from our former classmates in traditional high schools, as well as our future classmates in high schools overseas, somehow brought us together. Familiarity and bonding have been bred between us. We made friends, close friends, and even life-long friends, with individuals that had different backgrounds from ours.
Yet, the freedom we have here has also encouraged us to identify and achieve our individual potentials. Even before choosing different AP courses, in 10th Grade, we were already granted sufficient free time to explore and experiment with different subjects. In the second year, our passions developed even further. We took the courses that we had chosen to take, and did things that we were interested in. Sitting here today means we have all been successful, in our own ways.
Some of us read books of philosophy; some of us wrote poems. Some of us danced on stage; some of us competed in football matches. Some of us held AI conferences; some of us organized music festivals. Some of us went into university labs; some of us worked as interns in companies. Some of us published essays; some of us submitted art portfolios. Some of us traveled for debates; some of us went around the city for photographs…
During this process, we developed skills and passion in different fields of study, most of which do not even exist on high school curriculum and are unthought of by both ourselves and our parents, to whom I do want to express special thanks for supporting their children on paths they chose themselves. Today, sitting in this auditorium, we are not just high school graduates, but future business managers, lawyers, scientists, engineers, designers, musicians, sports managers, consultants, politicians, philosophers, and the list goes on and on.
The best part is, we are not going into these professions because everyone is doing so, nor because someone is telling us to do so, but because we have taken the effort to think, to explore into ourselves—our passions, our strengths, our potentials—which all contribute to our unique understanding of our own future. We are brave enough to venture into the uncertainties of uniqueness.
When we set our foot on universities campuses this fall, we are stepping into a much larger world. We are meeting new people—different people—whose political, cultural and religious backgrounds varies drastically from ours. We will face opportunities beyond our imagination, with which we will be able to further consolidate and excel in our respective fields.
What we will be facing, is somehow similar to, yet far more challenging than, what we have faced in the three years in HFI. But I believe that every one of us will be able to settle the differences with individuals from other backgrounds through identifying our shared human experience, and discover our own uniqueness through reflecting on ourselves. In this way, we will be able to become responsible global citizens and a member of the community of common destiny for all mankind, while retaining our own individuality and diversity.
Thank you, thank you all for listening. And I wish a bright future for us all.