Professor LV Wei, Chairman Xia, Vice President Zhao, Committee members, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, and of course the reason we are all here today: new students – good morning! Today I would like to speak to you about what it means to be on an ‘educational journey’.
I have become well-known in the UK for producing a Confucius quote for every occasion, and today is no exception.
Confucius reflected that, ‘The person who asks a question is a fool for a minute; the person who does not ask is a fool for life.’ 愚者不問，問者不愚
This is a very important adage to keep in mind, as you start your university study. To me, it means that the person who is afraid to admit their ignorance by asking a question, never truly develops into who they are meant to be.
The educational journey is a commitment to learning and adapting. Today, your journey begins in earnest.
My own educational journey began a very long time ago. I grew up in rural China, in a poor family in Shandong Province.
Little did I know, back then, that I’d go on to enjoy a career in academia that would take me to the forefront of knowledge and innovation.
Little did I know that I’d become the Vice-Chancellor of a leading UK university.
And I never dreamt that I would be standing before you here today.
Age 16, I went to Northeastern University, with support of a scholarship. Age 24, with another scholarship from the University of Queensland, I was able to move to Australia to do my PhD.
So, through my personal experience, I know just how universities can change lives for the better – our own lives, and more importantly the lives of others, through education and research.
This is one of the reasons I am very proud of the University of Surrey’s partnership with DUFE. Many of you will know how important collaboration is to Surrey: Surrey is made up of many talented individuals, but it’s when we work together, and connect with external institutions, businesses and government, that we are strongest.
To me, DUFE embodies the philosophy of collaboration. It requires great humility and mutual respect to build relations; we all have a great deal to learn from each other, and I hope this is also the spirit in which you will approach your university experience. Here, I hope you will find your independence, develop your leadership, communication, reasoning and critical thinking skills, and prepare yourselves for the exciting future ahead of you. On campus today, you have now joined a new ‘family’ that will always be part of your story – and some of whom will go on to be your lifelong friends. This is one of the best aspects of your university years! Whatever you will do in the future, the friendships and the personal development of these next four years will never leave you.
At this new beginning in your own educational journeys, I would like to offer you some advice: Expect anything worthwhile to take a long time. Even – and especially – in our culture of immediacy, success and happiness are still worth working at and waiting for. The self-knowledge won through life experience allows us to know what success and happiness truly mean. Without this self-knowledge, we might accept other people’s interpretations of success and happiness, and remain unfulfilled.
So, time taken to invest in self-knowledge is never wasted. When people tell you who they are, as American writer Maya Angelou famously advised, believe them. However — when people try to tell you who you are, don’t believe them. Make it your mission to find out for yourself.
This brings me back to my Confucius quote, and how important it is to admit you don’t have the answers.
It can be humbling and disorienting to simply say, “I don’t know,” but it is more rewarding to understand, than to be right — even if that means changing your mind about a topic, an ideology or, above all, yourself.  Learning how to be yourself and think for yourself is the true value of education, because it allows you to offer your own unique gifts to the world.
So do not ever stop asking, changing and growing.
We are living in a time of rapid change, with staggering technological advancement. We are often overwhelmed by the speed, connectivity and urgency of the virtual world. Information goes through our fingers almost without going through our brain cells. But real knowledge and understanding are harder to achieve.
How do we understand what is happening around us? What happens next? What does it mean for me? To paraphrase the Persian poet Rumi: knowledge used to be power, but nowadays knowing what to ignore is even more powerful.
From my own experience, it is important to have the patience to penetrate all the superficial information and discover the meaning and substance underneath. Only by so doing, you will be able to see a further vision and develop the skills to cope with the unknowns and disruptions of the future.
From my humble beginning and throughout my career, I have learned that humility, resilience and foresight are most valuable traits, particularly in the face of great unknowns. As leaders, if we also embody the qualities of empathy, integrity and selflessness, we inspire trust to frame meaning for those whom we lead.
I also think that, more than ever, the world will need to rely on humanities and Social Sciences to provide structure and understanding in the face of uncertainty. Your education here will teach you to value collaboration, share ideas and build bridges. These values will enrich your own character, and the lives of others.
I began by quoting a Chinese sage, and I will conclude by invoking an English one – J.R.R. Tolkien. He said:
‘True education is a kind of never-ending story – a matter of continual beginnings, of habitual fresh starts, of persistent newness.’
Today, I am delighted to see you at the beginning of your educational journey, radiating youthful energy and passion. I think you are well positioned to have a great experience at DUFE because DUFE embodies ambition, excellence and collaboration. I hope your valuable education here will not only equip you to adapt to the rapid changes you will face but also lead the change you want to see for a better society.
I wish you all great success in your studies here at DUFE, and a happy and fulfilling career and life.
我开始引用了一位中国圣人的话，最后我来引用一位英国人的话。 托尔金说: “真正的教育是一种永无止境的故事—一个持续的开始，习惯性的新开始，持续的新奇。”
 Debbie Millman.