Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. The title of my speech today is "Crossing the Sea" . An English poet by the name of Rudyard Kipling once wrote in this poem "We and They" :
All the people like us are We
and everyone else is They
We live over the sea
While They live over the way
We eat pork and beef with cow horn-handled knives
They who gobble their rice off a leaf
Are horrified out of their lives.
When these lines first caught my eyes, I was shocked--how could two people remain so isolated and ignorant of each other in the past? Todays society, of course, is an entirely different picture. Those people who used to eat with gobble their rice might be as well have taken to fish and chips.
Indeed, just take China as example; Our modern life has been influenced by Western style of living in so many ways that its no longer surprising to see teenagers going crazy about rock-and-roll, whole families dining out at McDonalds and even rather elderly people dressed in Apple Jeans.
However, these are only some expressions of the cultural changes taking place in our society today. What is really going on is a subtle but significant restructuring of the nations mentality. Just look around.
How many college graduates are ready to compete aggressively for every job opportunity, whereas not long ago they were asked just to sit idle and wait for whatever was to be assigned to them by the government?
How many young people are now eager to seek for an independent life whereas only two decades ago they would rely totally on their parents to arrange for their future? Ask anyone who participates in todays speech contest. Who has not come with a will to fight and who has not come determined to achieve self-fulfillment in winning the game? And Im quite certain that if Confucius had lived to see todays China, he would have been horrified to see young lovers kissing each other in public places in an unreserved expression of their passion.
It is therefore evident that we as descendants of an ancient Eastern civilization are already living under strong influence of the Western culture. But it is not only in China that we find the incorporation of the two cultures.
Take the United States as an example: During the 1980s, in face of the overwhelming competition from Japan, many American companies such as the Ford began to adopt a teamwork management from their rivals, the essence of which, lay at the very core of Eastern culture.
Take the Chinese acupuncture as another example: This traditional treatment of diseases is finally finding its way to the West and hence the underlying notion that illness is resulted from the imbalance between yin and yang within the body--an idea which would strike any Westerner as incredible in the past!
Ladies and Gentlemen, we live in a great epoch when the global integration of economy and the information revolution have brought cultures of the world closer than ever before. We live in a particular era when countries, East and West, find themselves in need of readjusting their traditional values. We live, at the same time, at a critical juncture of our evolution because such problems as ethnic conflicts and regional unrest are increasingly posing a threat to the peace and happiness of the whole human race.To cope with such an era and to embrace an evenbrighter future, we need to learn to live more harmoniously in a world community which is becoming smaller and smaller. My dear fellow students, our command of the English language render sit possible for us to gain an insight into Western culture while retaining our own cultural identity.
Therefore, it is our sacred responsibility to promote the cultural exchanges and hence the mutual understanding between China and the rest of the world.
It is my happiest dream that new generation of Chinese will not only grow up drinking Coca cola and watching Hollywood, but also be blessed with the far-reaching benefits of multiple cultures; benefits that our forefathers had never, ever dreamed of.
To end my speech, I would like to quote Rudyard Kipling again:
All the people like us are We
And everyone else is They
But once you cross over the sea
You will end by looking on We
As only a sort of They.