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2020 PKUSZ Commencement Speech—Professor Sang Yop Kang

On June 24, Peking University Shenzhen Graduate School Graduating held Commencement Ceremony for the Class of 2020, the following is the full-text of professor Kang’s speech on the Commencement:

Chancellor Zhan, fellow professors, distinguished guests, most importantly, graduates, family members, and friends. Hello, I am Professor Sang Yop Kang of Peking University School of Transnational Law. Graduates, at your celebrated moment, it is my great honor to make a speech in front of you and the people who you love and respect. Graduates, you are now at a glorious juncture, one of life’s most significant achievements. You just finished your study at Peking University, one of the finest academic institutions in the world. Most of all, I would like to sincerely congratulate you on your graduation.

As a person who went to school before you, and as a person who entered into society before you, I have a lot to share with you. However, since not much time is given to me today, I would like to briefly talk about several points.

First, of course, graduating from Peking University is significant. But graduation does not mean that your education is over. Graduation is just a big step forward into another chapter of your life. Life is a continuous learning process. Please be prepared to learn about the next challenges you will encounter soon.

Second, when I think about the past, I am surprised that the distant past seems like yesterday. Yes, time goes by fast. Life is too short. In this short but precious life, we have to do what we want to do the most. Success comes more often when you do something happily.

Third, the rapid development of information and communication science has made it so easy to access large amounts of knowledge through electronic devices. We may feel that we do not need to interact with others or get advice from others. Societies around the world, especially after the COVID-19 pandemic, may become more disconnected. However, I cannot overemphasize the importance of sincere conversations between individuals. No matter how busy you are, please take the opportunity as much as possible to communicate with people regularly. You will find the value of human relationships.

Fourth, as graduates of Peking University, you have already accomplished a great achievement. After graduation, if you do what you like with confidence, you will be able to achieve greater success in your fields. However, you should not confuse “confidence” with “arrogance.” Arrogance weakens your efforts and, even worse, invites hatred and anger from those around you. Being confident doesn’t mean that you have the right to disparage others. I hope that you will choose the life of 中庸 where modesty and dignity are harmonized.

Fifth, so far, your path has been relatively stable. But life after graduation will be a winding road. You have to recognize that difficulties can always be encountered. It is natural that one day you will experience failure. People who have only experienced tremendous success can collapse drastically and completely when they face difficulties, even if such challenges are relatively small and easy to overcome. This is because such successful people have been victorious without going through the process of learning lessons from failure. When faced with harsh reality, please make sure that you are not overwhelmed by the situation. Given that failure is inevitable in your life, the important thing is to know how to get back on your feet when you fail.

Sixth, so far, you have been competing with others and with yourself. After graduation, unfortunately, life will be even more competitive. Society outside of school is a jungle. In the jungle, the speed at which you move forward is important, but finding the right path is much more essential. Sometimes you need the courage to go back the way you came. Please don’t isolate yourself as you navigate through the jungle. Instead, please listen to the people you love and admire, and take time to set the right direction to go.

Seventh, most importantly, please maintain a healthy body and mind. When you lose health, you lose everything. Success and happiness are the next things to think about after being healthy. Please, even in the midst of a busy professional life, always try to keep in good health.

Dear graduates, once again, congratulations on your graduation and your remarkable accomplishments. Please take time to relax at least for several days with family and friends, and then prepare for your departure to the next chapter of life. I sincerely hope that your future will be filled with glory, wisdom, and happiness. Thank you.