Dec 14, Duke Kunshan University held a closing ceremony to celebrate its newest alumni - 63 students of the undergraduate Global Learning Semester (GLS) program. The GLS Class of Fall 2016 who come from countries around the world were awarded program certificates at the ceremony and will also receive course credit from Duke University.
The ceremony kicked off with an inspirational speech by Dr. Haiyan Gao, vice chancellor for academic affairs, in which she congratulated all the students for their accomplishments and vividly recalled the various academic and extracurricular activities they had enjoyed together.
“I hope each one of you will be the ambassador and spokesperson of Duke Kunshan University as you are the graduate of the Duke Kunshan University’s GLS program – You represent Duke Kunshan University,” she said.
Dr. Haiyan Gao
At the end of her speech, she also shared with the audience a touching story of a former GLS student giving back to Duke Kunshan University. “One day in last November, I woke up and checked my email as I always do, and one email subject quickly caught my attention – ‘Professor, I Want to Donate’.” Feng Xiaotong, a Spring 2015 GLS alumnus, decided to donate his “first pot of scholarship” – an amount of RMB 15,000, entirely to Duke Kunshan. Touched by his generosity and appreciation to the university, Dr. Gao wrote in her response, “Your donation is more meaningful than a donation in the amount of thousands or millions because you donate all you have to Duke Kunshan University.”
“After you leave here, please spend more time on improving yourselves instead of pursuing big titles,” said Feng Xiaotong in his special-guest speech later to the graduating class. “As an ancient Chinese philosopher once said, your accomplishment is not about how rich or famous you are, but about your choices and your wisdoms.”
Speaking on behalf of the faculty members, Jeff Moe, Professor of the Practice of Global Health at Duke Kunshan University, captivated the students with a humorous yet motivating speech.
“We faculty have more experience than you do. But ‘experience’ means we’ve made more mistakes than you and survived them. If you fear too much making a mistake it will stunt your growth intellectually, and it will stunt your growth morally,” said Prof. Moe. “My invitation as you leave our campus is to take this new knowledge and apply it boldly; be brave enough to make a mistake. That’s how you’ll become experienced like all your faculty.”
Dr. Jeff Moe
Student Speaker Henry Stuckenschmidt also applauded all his peer classmates for their courage to embrace different challenges and to step out of their comfort zone. “This past semester was filled with challenges and obstacles, all of which we overcame together,” said Stuckenschmidt. “For the Chinese students, this was an opportunity to improve their English, and learn difficult subjects in their second language. For the international students, we had the challenge of learning in a new environment, and readjusting our study habits to succeed here in China.”
Toward the end of the ceremony, a class gift of GLS Fall 2016 was presented to Chancellor Liu Jingnan. The gift is to demonstrate students’ gratitude and support for the university. One tree on campus will be named after “Global Learning Semester Class of Fall 2016” in recognition of the students’ support.
Feng Cheng, director of development and alumni relations, extended her gratitude to the alumni donors for their generosity. “Your gift, regardless of its size, is a vote of confidence to the future of Duke Kunshan University and will create a legacy by providing current and future Duke Kunshan students with the same resources that you have received through gifts from elder alumni,” she said.
In closing, Chancellor Liu Jingnan and Dr. Andrew Field handed out the Duke Kunshan Global Learning Semester program certificate to each student and congratulated them on finishing a fruitful semester.
Certificate Awarding Ceremony