The 2022 Commencement Speech by the Executive President
May HeXie Education Make You the Brightest Star
Dear students, alumni, colleagues, parents, and friends of XJTLU:
It is a great pleasure to be part of this gathering. On behalf of the University, I would like to use this special and important occasion to extend my warmest congratulations to you, the over 3,500 undergraduate, masters and PhD students in our graduating class of 2022 to graduate in July, and give a special welcome to more than 100 alumni joining us who were unable to attend the onsite graduation ceremony in the previous years due to the pandemic.
I sincerely thank our faculty members, parents, and friends of the XJTLU community for your longstanding trust, dedication and support.
The Covid-19 pandemic has created many challenges in the past few years. But as the saying goes, hard work is required to uncover gold. Your positive attitude and hard work have enabled you to acquire a unique and meaningful experience.
Summer is upon us, and with it comes natural beauty and optimism. As the poet Yang Wanli said, “The emerald lotus leaves reach as far as where water and sky meet, and lotus blossoms bathing in sunshine exhibit a distinctive dazzling pink.” This is the season for good news.
At a time when hand-written letters are rare, I happened to receive one from Chuwen Song of Xiangshan District, Guilin. As it turns out, Chuwen was one of the students I had met from XJTLU’s Summer Undergraduate Research Fund project when I visited the chemistry lab one summer break. I remember he had long hair, and I jokingly asked, “Are you an artist?” He replied that he could play the keyboard.
Today, Chuwen gets ready to go to the University of Houston to pursue his doctoral degree in chemistry. In his letter, he wrote: “Thanks to you and XJTLU, I had complete freedom to do and study whatever I wanted in college. SURF gave me a taste of what research was all about, and the collegiate education at XJTLU has built a strong foundation for my future!”
I have received many more pieces of good news from parents over WeChat, with students receiving offers from the University of Oxford, Harvard, Yale, London School of Economics and Political Science, Imperial College London, and University College London, just to name a few.
They told me that they were happy with their decision to enrol at XJTLU, saying: “In the warm and relaxed environment of XJTLU, the students were able to learn, grow, and make achievements while having a great time.”
One parent whose child was about to enter a world-renowned university told me: “As one of the top students from Anhui, when my child decided to apply to XJTLU, many of our friends and family were puzzled. Looking back after four years, we are tremendously grateful we made the right decision. Our gratitude goes to the University for the first-rate training and learning experience, and we wish the very best for XJTLU as it continues to achieve new milestones.”
I hear many similar stories. When parents and students express their gratitude to the University for helping them realise their goals, I would like to say that it is your own achievements and efforts that have made XJTLU what it is today, and an even better version tomorrow!
It is always difficult to say goodbye. The world we know today is experiencing unprecedented changes, and I constantly think about what kind of education can lay a solid foundation for your future. No matter what challenges you encounter and what path you choose, you will become competitive global citizens, making remarkable achievements on the world stage.
Wilhelm von Humboldt, a famous German educational reformer, once said: “Education is a continuous process that shall never end in a person’s lifetime. Education is the purpose of human existence, and the embodiment of the highest value in us.”
My view is this: learn to respond to your true calling, and support the meaning of life! Life is a long journey from better to better. Upon facing thousands of possibilities, how can education help one choose a meaningful path?
In my Teacher’s Day address in 2018, I proposed the idea of winning the future with a HeXie mindset, where I introduced the theoretical model of the HeXie mindset. As a further study, the HeXie education model was developed. This model covers three steps: learning, growth, and conduct, running through five levels of personalised, interest-driven, lifelong learning modes. Continuous exploration and effective practice convince me that with the guidance of this model, no matter what path they undertake, our students can still realise their vision and mission effectively.
Professor Youmin Xi shares his innovative practices in his book Be Independent--The Road of HeXie Education, Tsinghua University Press, 2021.02.
A vision is the life one wants to live, or the person one wants to become. Mission, on the other hand, is a lifelong responsibility; a goal to be achieved. They may not be apparent at the moment, but as long as you have a sense of direction, you will gradually find out what you really want as you progress in life.
Graduation is the start of another journey, a time when you need to think about your HeXie theme, which is the key task or core business you want to focus on in the next few years. This can be pursuing academic studies in a field of interest, or starting a career or a business.
In order to achieve the theme, we can rely on two educational principles: one is a formal education, that is, an education offered by universities that is designed and spearheaded by educators.
The second principle involves self-directed and informal learning, a proactive form of education that is designed according to individual interests, goals and development needs. They can be either completed on campus, or via a combination of online and offline means while you pursue your career.
The key is to determine your vision and mission, and goals in different stages of life, plan and adjust the learning process to cater to your needs, in order to have a successful life and career.
Pursuing study, learning to study and mastering how to learn so as to gain enlightenment, gaining knowledge, insights, and wisdom so as to attain perfection. The HeXie education model’s five stages of learning: inheritance learning, reflective cognition, exploratory integration, interest-driven accumulation, and mindset upgraded progress.
In honour of enlightenment, an ancient building donated by people with enthusiasm for education, was set up at XJTLU campus in June 2022 to support teaching and campus activities. Professor Xi named it as the Hall of Eureka, Enlightenment and Ecstasy (EEE) and this sentence is the couplet he created for the Hall. On the plaque at the entrance it writes HeXie Mindset, accompanied by a couplet on the theme of XJTLU motto: “Knowledge gives you light to see the world, perseverant action gives you wings to fly across the globe.”
The first, inheritance learning, is standing on the shoulders of giants, as you acquire knowledge that has been accumulated by humankind through time.
The second, reflective cognition, means using critical thinking to understand truth. Through reflective learning, you can acquire a vast amount of tacit knowledge to constantly strengthen your awareness of the world, proactiveness and adaptability.
The third stage of learning is exploratory integration. On the basis of the first two approaches, conduct an exploratory integration analysis of issues you’ve encountered via research-led learning. This will help you form a more comprehensive view of the world as well as a deeper understanding of the issues at hand, while expanding your knowledge base and enhancing critical thinking and research capabilities.
The fourth stage, interest-driven accumulation, is the key step in acquiring deep knowledge in a particular field. Today, you have access to a vast universe of knowledge, endless summaries of human experience, and dazzling technology and tools. However, it’ll only lead to a shallow understanding of knowledge unless there is an accumulation process.
Having undergone four years of training at XJTLU, many of you have come to realise the importance of this stage, and have started the accumulation process and adjusted your learning in accordance with your goals and future plans, in order to build strength for a productive life and career later on.
The final step is the mindset upgraded progress. All learning and experience will lead to a change in mindset. Proactive and effective learning can help upgrade your mindset and character continuously.
Margaret Chan, former director-general of the World Health Organization, has said disinformation and conspiracy theories have been more prevalent in the Covid-19 pandemic. This has had a “devastating” impact.
This illustrates how narrow-mindedness and isolation can hinder the search for truth and meaningful global cooperation, and that solving the world’s pressing conflicts and issues calls for the upgrading of everyone’s mindset.
Your life needs to be trained in this complicated and volatile world. Only by constantly challenging our own views and understanding can we achieve the upgrading of the mindset and truly realise the core XJTLU philosophy of having a happy life and successful career.
I sincerely hope that these five stages of learning will help you light your path, build your wings and chase your dreams.
Professor Xi shares his life experience in his book, What Management Could be and Do—The life story of the practitioner of idealism, Peking University Press, 2022.08.
At this time of year, I can’t help but reminisce about my own graduation. Back then, I could have chosen to attend the elite Li Zhengdao Theoretical Physics Research Class and follow his ambition of marching to the unknown and pursue study in the United States, or I could pursue a career in system engineering management, a nascent field in China at the time.
I ultimately chose the latter and devoted myself to the era of China's reform and opening up. I participated in the research of the Three Gorges Dam Project and other large-scale projects, established the HeXie theory and obtained the first doctoral degree in the field of management engineering in China.
Looking back on my early life journey and the years when I led the development of XJTLU, although the road of exploration was difficult and tortuous, there was tremendous joy in making continuous breakthroughs.
It is inspiring to see some meaningful progress achieved in promoting education reform in China and around the world. I also came to realise that in the face of an increasingly uncertain, complex, ambiguous, and fragile world, determination and courage alone are simply not enough.
Equipping yourself with a HeXie Mindset is the most effective tool. Learn to predict trends and seize the right opportunities, position yourself properly and accurately, operate in the right way, pool various resources, and balance multiple stakeholders with wisdom to achieve your goals. The HeXie education model will undoubtedly help us upgrade our HeXie mindset and support us as we enter a life filled with challenges and opportunities.
Dear students, the graduation ceremony is a crucial moment to start your new journey. I hope you will continue to upgrade your HeXie mindset, and carry the memories of XJTLU and the lofty goals you have for a bright future.
So what are you waiting for? Let’s go!
Professor Youmin Xi
Executive President, XJTLU
Pro-vice-chancellor, University of Liverpool