facing this audience on the stage, i have the exciting feeling of participating in the march of history, for what we are facing today is more than a mere competition or contest. it is an assembly of some of china’s most talented and motivated people, representatives of a younger generation that are preparing themselves for the coming of a new century.
i’m grateful that i’ve been given this opportunity, at such a historic moment, to stand here as a spokesman of my generation and to take a serious look back at the past ×× years, a crucial period for every one of us and for this nation as well.
though it is only within my power to tell about my personal experience, and only a tiny fragment of it at that, it still represents, i believe, the root of a spirit which has been essential to me and to all the people bred by the past ×× years.
in my elementary years, there was a little girl in the class who worked very hard but somehow could never do satisfactorily in her lessons.
the teacher asked me to help her, and it was obvious that she expected a lot from me. but as a young boy, restless, thoughtless, i always tried to evade her so as to get more time to enjoy myself.
one day before the final exam, she came up to me and said, “could you please explain this to me? i want very much to do better this time. ” i started explaining, and finished in a hurry. pretending not to notice her still confused eyes, i ran off quickly. nat surprisingly, she again did very badly in the exam. and two months later, at the beginning of the new semester, word came of her death of blood cancer. no one ever knew about the little task i failed to fulfill, but i couldn’t forgive myself. i simply couldn’t forget her eyes, which seem to be asking, “why didn’t you do a little more to help me, when it was so easy for you? why didn’t you understand a little better the trust placed in you, so that i would not have to leave this world in such pain and regret?”
i was about eight or nine years old at that time, but in a way it was the very starting point of my life, for i began to understand the word “responsibility” and to learn to always do my duties faithfully and devotedly, for the implications of that sacred word has dawned on me: the mutual need and trust of people, the co-operation and inter-reliance which are the very foundation of human society.
later in my life, i continued to experience many failures. but never again did i feel that regret which struck me at the death of the girl, for it makes my heart satisfied to think that i have always done everything in my power to fulfill my responsibilities as best i can.
as i grew up, changed and improved by this incident and many other similar ones, i began to perceive the changes taking place around me and to find that society, in a way, was in its formative years like myself. new buildings, new commodities and new fashions appear every day.
new ideas, new information, new technologies. people can talk with each other from any corner of the earth in a matter of seconds. society is becoming more competitive.
words like individuality and creativity are getting more emphasis and more people are rewarded for their hard work and efforts. such is the era in which this generation ,grows and matures.
such is the era in which this generation will take over the nation from our fathers and learn to run it. yet in the meantime, many problems still exist.
we learn that crimes take place in broad daylight with crowds of people looking on and not assisting. we hear that there are still about 1 million children in this country who can’t even afford to go to elementary schools while enormous sums of money are being squandered away on dinner parties and luxury cars.
we buy shoddy medicines, or merely worthless junk in the name of medicines, that aggravate, rather than alleviate our diseases since money, many people believe, is the most important thing in the world that must be made, even at the expense of morality and responsibility.
such an era, therefore, determines that we are a generation with a keener sense of competition and efficiency and a greater readiness to think critically and act creatively.
such an era, furthermore, demands, that we are a generation with a clear perception of our historical responsibility and an aggressive will to take action and solve the problems. history has long been preparing these qualities in this generation and it is now calling us forward to give testimony to our patriotism and heroism towards this nation and all humanity.
standing here now, i think of the past ×× years of my life as an ordinary student. probably i’ll be an ordinary man for the rest of my life. but this doesn’t discourage me any, for i know that with my sense of responsibility and devoted efforts to always strive, for the best, it’s going to be a meaningful and worthwhile life that i will be living.
standing here now, i think of the past ×× years of this nation, which has achieved greatness that inspired millions of people of my age, most of whom will not attain fame or prestige and only a few of whom will be remembered by posterity. but that doesn’t discourage us any, because we know that the world watches, the world listens, the world is waiting to see where this nation will be heading in a time of rich opportunities and fierce competition.
i can’t ever forget that little girl in my class who couldn’t had the same opportunities as any of us here to enjoy a wonderful life today and a hopeful world tomorrow.
it is the sacred responsibility of this generation to face up to the challenges of the new century and to devote our sweat and blood, our wisdom and passion, to the historic cause of making this nation a greater and happier land for every one of us.
we are not going to evade that responsibility. we are going to let people down. and people, far and near, will hear of us. frost will be brought to their backbones and tears to their eyes when our stories are told and retold, so let us go forth, my fellow members of this luckily chosen generation, and meet the new century in victory and glory.