On the evening of 15 September, Xi’an Jiaotong-Liverpool University held its 2020 Opening Ceremony both offline and online through livestreaming. Attendees included 4,408 undergraduates, 1,083 postgraduate students, and their parents, together with representatives of XJTLU staff.
The theme of the opening ceremony this year was ‘From kids to young adults to global citizens’.
At the ceremony, Executive President Professor Youmin Xi extended a warm welcome to all the 2020 freshmen and their parents, and delivered a speech called ‘Times of Challenge Make Us Stronger’.
In his speech, Professor Xi noted that the difficult college entrance exam process exacerbated by the protracted epidemic battle of earlier this year reminded him of his own struggles to study for and write the exam.
“Despite different circumstances, we all have experienced the long and arduous period running up to that important exam. And now we have one thing in common: instead of being bitter or angry about these challenges, we are guided by our aspirations and have never given up hope.”
After Professor Xi’s speech, audience members heard from others across the spectrum of XJTLU.
First up was Wanyu Zhang from Henan Province, this year’s freshman representative.
She expressed her excitement for the years ahead, adding that XJTLU’s “international teaching resources and environment will give us global thinking and perception, and the research-oriented learning will enable us to effectively expand our knowledge.”
She closed her speech with some kind, hopeful words: “From today on, each of us is a member of the XJTLU family. The harmony here will be created by us, and the future will be woven by us. The more tolerance and understanding there is, the more harmony and warmth there will be.”
Zhang’s speech was followed by words from the postgraduate representative, Neeha Moturu, an MRes Computer Science student from India.
She urged students not to slip into the familiar and comforting, but instead to challenge their perceptions by engaging with many different people.
“It would be a lost opportunity to stick with your own all the time – embrace different... You may or may not change as a person by doing so, but you will get a better understanding both of yourself and others,” she said.
The staff and faculty were represented by Dr Graham Dawson, of the Department of Chemistry, who reflected on his own university experience: “When I look back on my time as a student, I see that I met my lifelong friends through a mixture of study and sports.”
He urged students not to be one-dimensional, but to cultivate all aspects of their personalities. In addition, he said new students may find things overwhelming, like an “avalanche of information. But don’t worry,” he says, “you will figure it all out.”
After Dr Dawson’s speech, audience members were given the alumni perspective from Xiaotian Wang, a 2010 graduate of the Financial Mathematics programme who went on to study at Cambridge. He explained that his time at XJTLU helped him become an independent learner and problem solver, who no longer relied on passive education.
The speeches were capped off by a word from Professor Wenquan Tao, President of XJTLU.
“I would like to express my sincere thanks to all the parents of our students for your trust in this unique institution. I also would like to assure you all that you have made a wise choice.”
What followed was a unique Q&A session for the Opening Ceremony. Both online and offline students and their parents raised questions to President Xi and the University leadership team on issues they cared about. The Q&A session lasted around one hour.
Yinlin Wu, a Year One student from Guizhou province, said that he was impressed by the open environment of XJTLU.
"The Opening Ceremony had an exciting, optimistic atmosphere. The liberal environment of XJTLU left a deep impression on me.”
Wu’s father said he, too, felt the positive atmosphere at the Opening Ceremony, and believes Wu will move forward courageously in his new life at XJTLU, like all those before him.
By Yuxin Dong
Edited by Luyun Shi and Patricia Pieterse
Translated by Yuxin Dong and Xuechen Lu