05/01/2020 No. 155
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A NPU Student’s Inspiration
By a Student of Northwestern Polytechnic University, Xian
October 1, 2011

Hello, Mr. Xiao (肖云飞)! It was a great opportunity to listen to your lecture this afternoon. I benefited a lot from it and felt much honored! From your nearly three-hour seminar, as a student, I have learned a lot of what my university has not taught me. At the same time, I also agree with many of your ideas, for example, your love concepts and humanity analysis. Here, I express my highest respect for you!


Your talk today has very rich content and broad scope. It shows that you are a knowledgeable and studious person. In your speech we can find a main theme and that is humanity. Based on humanity, you talked about love, the university and life, from which we gained a lot of inspiration. And now, I would like to talk about my views on the university. Should you have any suggestions, please advise, Mr. Xiao!


Mr. Chen Yinke (陈寅恪) had a famous saying and that was "independent spirit, free thought." These words were written as the inscription for Mr. Wang Guowei (王国维). In fact, this was part of the mission at the time for universities including Peking University to train a new generation of students to have "independent spirit, free thought." Just because of this tacit understanding of adhering to this principle of educating people, the individual colleges and universities trained a large number of intellectuals with noble ideas and rigorous academic disciplines. These intellectuals changed the face of the old China and became the backbone of building a New China! However, with the outbreak of the Cultural Revolution, and later Deng Xiaoping's reform and opening-up policy, the education of China went through wild fluctuations. This virtually produced a fault zone in education. Many good people were washed away and were obliterated in the waves of history. In order to make up for the loss to the pace of the world during the Cultural Revolution, the reform and opening up stepped up investment in the education of science and technology. Hence, with the slogan of becoming a strong country with technological power, humanistic education has gradually been ignored. Schools are no longer the land for educating people, but machines for blindly imparting knowledge into students. In schools, achievements become the complete information for judging a person. This single education has for a long time greatly deprived the freedom of the students and thwarted their personalities. The urges of teachers and parents become repeating ringing in our ears. The theory of “entrance examination changing the fate" becomes the extreme pressure that we have to carry in ourselves as a source of strength. However, in the university, especially in the kind of engineering-based university like ours, which does not pay attention to basic social sciences study, studying hard for professional majors becomes our daily task. The university life is not as free and relaxed as it was in our imagination. To say it clearly, it is a continuation of high school. Our "independent spirit, free thought" disappeared. This is not what we want, but the environment does not enable us, nor does anyone come to guide us. Perhaps we are all accustomed to such a high-pressured life and no longer want to make changes. So, attending classes, eating meals, studying, sleeping, and attending classes. . . is our normal life, Taking graduate school entrance examinations, taking doctoral qualifying examinations and going abroad become our goals for attending the university. We rush to them like ducks, but few people stop to think what all this is for in the end. In my sophomore year, I awakened. In fact, in my freshman year a disappointed love affair hit me hard, but it was also the best time for a thorough reflection upon myself. I finally got out of this siege.


Now, I do not study as hard as I did before, but rather spend a lot of time for socializing, traveling, reading, and listening to lectures at various universities, etc. For over one year, I have learned a lot of things that the University could not teach me. Through extensive exchanges, I got to know many people of vision, ambition, excellent ideas and insight.  I revere a number of thoughtful and learned celebrities and teachers like you.  Although these did not help my specialized courses, they really are extremely important ways to cultivate a true person. I think that it is extremely important to learn two kinds of abilities in the university, which will produce lifelong benefits; these are good attitude and independent thinking. Good attitude can make people become unflustered under pressure, unruffled, avoiding emotional swings between sorrows and joys, while having inner calmness. However, today's college students rarely have such a quality. Restlessness is a true portrayal of the mentality of today's college students.  Perhaps, this is an after-effect of the education in primary and high schools. Or perhaps it is due to our pain of having difficulties making the right choice or being unable to keep our own feelings under control in such an era of explosive information and rich choices. We have adapted to our parents and teachers making decisions for us or to go with the flow. Our own views have since evaporated. In this era of explosive information and broad range of choices, a lack of humanistic cultivation and a weak basis result in the restlessness of today's college students as a whole. However a successful person must have a good attitude. People who can control their emotions are bound to be very powerful. Next is the ability to think independently. After learning to think independently, we can always be active and use our own minds rather than relying on others to think about the problem. University years are the best time of our life.  We are going to complete the relaxation and recharging of our brains so that they have the ability to think independently. They can tell you what you want, what to do, and what can be done, rather than follow the great flow of the crowd. They can make the right choices that are most important for university students, which absolutely cannot be done without independent thinking.


This is what I felt and thought today after listening to your lecture.  If there is anything wrong, please make comments and suggestions, Teacher Xiao! If in the future there is the opportunity and it is convenient for you, then I would still like to follow your instructions and learn from you. This will help me to follow a path that is "learning knowledge from thousands of books, accumulating experience by traveling thousands of miles, reading countless people to gain many of the social experiences, and making new discoveries with the help of an accomplished teacher"!


Note: Teacher Xiao, I heard that Liu Peng asked me to re-send this message to you, please see the file enclosed! In addition, I wish you a successful speech at Columbia University!

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