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Harvard speech inspiring

Updated: 2016-05-30 07:17
(China Daily)

Harvard speech inspiring

He Jiang, Harvard graduate and commencement speaker. Provided to China Daily.

He Jiang, a biology student from rural China, became the first Chinese citizen to deliver a graduation speech as a representative of excellent graduates at Harvard University.

In his speech on Thursday, He, who grew up in a village in Central China's Hunan province, recalled that when he was bitten on his hand by a spider 15 years ago his mother burned the bite. This incident, he said, inspired him to bring scientific knowledge to where it is needed the most.

His speech provoked much comment in China with some expressing a sense of pride and others feeling dissatisfied with his uncovering of the poverty of China's rural areas. Some even doubted whether he would indeed go to work in the poor areas where scientific knowledge is needed the most.

All these comments actually miss the point, which is: How did He become what he is now?

His experience should provide hope to others at a time when views such as "reading is useless" and "a person coming from a humble family cannot be successful" are prevalent.

Coming from a rural family, without the scholarships he received in China and at Harvard University, He would have encountered a tortuous road in pursuit of his studies, and without them he would likely have become a migrant worker like many rural Chinese of his age. Certainly, without his excellent academic performance, he would not have received any scholarship. Similarly, without the persistent encouragement and support from his poorly-educated father and mother, his future would be different from what it is now.

His own qualities of diligence, perseverance and confidence have also contributed to his academic success. All these qualities are exactly what young Chinese people, those from rural areas in particular, need, and they are what are needed to help a person go farther on the road to his or her dream.

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