Yueqian Lin at Commencement 2024

Undergraduate Representative Yueqian Lin

Hello, DKU Trailblazers! Class of 2024, can you believe this? We made it! Over four years, whether through Zoom or in person, we dream together, strive together, and achieve together. Congratulations, my friends! This is our moment to shine!

And this moment is not ours alone. We share it with our parents, friends, faculty, and staff members. With profound gratitude, thank you all! Your dedication and support have been our guiding stars. Without you, our journey would have been a path untaken.

As I thought about a theme that captures our time at Duke Kunshan, I found myself standing in a crowded and shaky subway, trying to maintain my balance. And by the way, thank to Mr. Yan’s Tai Chi class, I was able to stand firm. I asked myself, what does the third ever class of DKU mean? The motion brought to my mind the wisdom of Lao Tzu in Tao Te Ching: “The Tao begot one. One begot two. Two begot three. And three begot the ten thousand things.” In this verse, “three” symbolizes the synthesis from opposites like yin and yang, giving rise to endless possibilities. This reflects our growth from novices to graduates, now standing at the threshold of infinite potential.

I try to follow Lao Tzu’s wisdom here and summarize our four-year journey in two aspects: first, we transform ourselves from driven individuals to enlightened graduates, ready to embrace life’s endless possibilities; second, we met at DKU, a dynamic crucible where Eastern and Western philosophies intertwine, forging us into rooted global citizens.

We are the living representation of Lao Tzu’s words.

We arrived here with desires—the dream of making an impact, the passion for knowledge, and the hunger for growth. At first, our visions were formless. They slowly took shape as we grappled with complex ideas and diverse perspectives through our interdisciplinary classes, seminars, and discussions.

Then, true growth came through unparalleled challenges. From the anxiety of studying abroad to the fear of our first presentations, we were pushed beyond our comfort zones. As we navigated the complexities of an ever-changing global landscape, we encountered failures that forged us, setbacks that strengthened us, hopes that humbled us, and excitement that elevated us. Through adapting to online learning, building connections despite distance, and persevering in the face of uncertainty, we discovered essential truths about ourselves and the world. These were the metaphorical “deaths” and “rebirths” that tempered our spirits and shaped us into the resilient individuals we are today.

Through it all, we immersed ourselves in a wealth of experiences. In our common core courses, we predicted the world of 2041, analyzed the influence of pandemics, debated ethics of marriage. We also explore different cultural traditions, visited various industries, and competed in numerous competitions. I just could not list all the wonderful things we did together. With each new level of understanding, we grew more capable and more ready to face any challenge that came our way.

If we consider the global community as “one” and the East and West as “two,” then, DKU proudly stands as the vital “third”: it is a vibrant crossroads where the rich wisdom of Eastern and Western cultures converges, sparking our intellectual and personal growth.

We came from diverse backgrounds, crossing oceans and continents to gather here in Kunshan, united in our shared goal to grow as individuals and make a positive impact on the world. Over the past four years, through countless debates, presentations, and conferences, we’ve seen a fusion of perspectives from different cultures and backgrounds. These experiences have contributed to proposing new ideas and laying the groundwork for making a change.

Let me share a personal example. When conducting research, my ideas often originated from in-class discussions, where insights from different domains intersected and fostered new ways of thinking. Collaborating with scholars from Wuhan, Duke, and beyond enriched my academic journey, preparing me to tackle global challenges. And I’m not the only one; DKU offers these unique opportunities to almost everyone, which are so rare to find elsewhere.

Think about your own experiences over the past four years. Maybe you joined a club and interacted with diverse stakeholders; maybe you worked as a student assistant and honed your intercultural communication skills; or maybe you collaborated with students with different work styles and leveraged diversity for innovation. Although our experiences are different, we have all grown through the unique challenges and opportunities presented by the fusion of diverse cultures at DKU. These experiences have equipped us with the skills and mindset to navigate an increasingly interconnected world.

Now, many of you have found your next adventure: some of us have become popular social influencers; others have entered coveted graduate programs; others have joined renowned organizations. But most importantly, each of you has achieved something that you never thought possible before. We, the third graduating class, have each found our own “ten thousand things” at DKU. After today, we will scatter across the globe, and the unified “one” of our class will diverge into our “dual” roles: as graduates of DKU and as members of the global community. And I encourage you to remember: as the “third” graduating class of DKU, endless possibilities await you.

My fellow trailblazers of the Class of 2024, as we forever cherish our bond as DKU’s third graduating class, let us shatter the confines of our past, unveil our authentic selves, and courageously step into a realm of boundless possibilities. Together, we will rise to the challenges ahead, bring to life the “ten thousand things,” and cast great honor upon the name we proudly carry—our beloved alma mater: Duke Kunshan University. The world is ours to shape!

Thank you all, and once again, let us shout out in joy and celebrate this tremendous achievement!

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