Reflecting on the thrill – and happy sadness –of a university graduation
Plato suggested that virtue can be gained by three different means: self-knowledge, knowledge about own job, and knowledge about good ideas. Coalescing these three ideas with Aristotle's description of education, "Education means positive change in behavior", we can get the idea that education is not something about reading, writing, or memorizing, but rather education is a process of socialization, which improves human behavior and empowers them to achieve both social, as well as individual, justice, and certainly works for righteousness.
This is what the vice president of Shandong University Qingdao campus, Professor Tan Bao Cai, described at the June 23 graduation ceremony held at Shandong University Qingdao. "Education is obviously not just about devoting oneself to reading and writing, education is about getting experience, generating new ideas and turning all those ideas to reality. A well-educated person must have the ability to identify harmful ideas and behavior to modify them. For the international students studying here in China, education is an opportunity to learn about a different culture, swap ideas and adopt skills of communiqué and learning in a diverse environment, and I do hope you all have learned more about Chinese culture and people," he said.
While meeting randomly with graduating students, I ask some of them from the US, New Zealand, Ukraine, Russia, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Japan, and Indonesia about their experience in China and their feelings after graduation. Most were really happy and they were proud to have graduated from one of the well-known universities in China.
"I am proud of myself," one of the students said. "Graduating from any college or university isn't an easy task, indeed is a huge accomplishment and you should be proud of yourself."
Another student from Indonesia said, "Let's be honest, right now my feeling is WOW, but I am feeling sad and blue. I don’t want to leave China. I love Chinese education and China, and this is not about graduation, but rather graduating from Shandong University, that's certainly something to be proud of."
"Since I came to China, I've never felt that I am alone and far from my parents. China is my second home. Chinese are really friendly, broad-minded and always willing to help,” another graduate said.
A graduate from Japan said, "Shandong University is the best university I have ever seen. In my study here, I have learned many things, from my academic works to general experience to communication, adaptation, adjustment and many more skills. Leaving China for me is like I am leaving my own home and country. The way the professors and people treat me is unbelievable.”
The last but not least, there is a bittersweet feeling, a group of graduates said.
"When you are graduating from University obviously you will have all kind of emotions, so when graduation comes you are bound to be hit with a bundle of feelings. You are happy that you are graduating but you are worried about the future and professional life - The jobs that are bitter if you don’t have one but later the sweet when you have one," a graduate said.
Graduating from college or university is certainly a sole experience. It's a time when you are sad, thrilled, emotional and everything in between, but at least that's fully normal.
Asad Ullah is a master student at Shandong University majoring in international relations.