Elin Shi Yiling ’22 at Commencement 2022

Shi Yiling addresses her classmates in her violet cap and gown
May 26 2022

Chancellor Tong, Vice Chancellor Lehman, Provost Waley-Cohen, distinguished guests, faculty, staff, family, friends, and all my fellow Class of 2022 graduates,

Greetings from Shanghai!

Among various fabulous peripheral products of NYU Shanghai, a hoodie with Chinese characters of “global citizen” on the front is rather popular. With all those unique adventures, experiences, readings, and conversations, I have always been thinking about what a “global citizen” really means over the past four years. I recall the first course we all took during freshman year, Global Perspectives on Society, which not only exposed to us how the great minds all over the world  pursued their ideal state of the world one after another, but also encouraged us to critically view and challenge those “authoritative ideas.” Every week in our recitation class, we had great discussions with professors and peers across the globe on some of humanity’s core issues. For example, do fairness and justice truly exist? Are democracy and freedom without limitations? How should we optimize the world that we are in?

This is how life at NYU Shanghai started, challenging but also unalloyed. Some of us tried DURF research projects in the summer to deepen our understanding within the major, while others tried various art courses beyond their major scope in regular semesters. Some of us fearlessly stood out as community volunteers during the pandemic in Shanghai, while others studied away in their favorite cities despite all the difficulties posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. All of these unique and precious experiences are possible because the inclusive and diverse atmosphere of NYU Shanghai has wholeheartedly supported us to follow our hearts and make decisions we won’t regret. Four years in NYU Shanghai not only injects the spirit to challenge authority, but also guides us to find the anchor with which to stand still in this complex world. Thanks to it, all of us have become better-educated people with global perspectives.

The serious discussions, heartfelt catch-ups, and the passion to pursue truth and kindness in which we have been immersed over the past four years jointly solidifies us, and we are a truly globalized community with members from different parts of the world. As a community, we share the same understanding of the term “world:” it indicates both the space and the time; it indicates both macro ideas such as countries, nations, and societies, and micro ideas of massive individuals; it is not only the physical world that we humans have created, but also the continuous spirits and civilization that we have established and celebrated.

The entire humanity shares one destiny. How we mentally unite together despite the distances among regions, races, cultures, languages, and space should be the epitome of the global community as well. Being a true global citizen,  I ultimately realize, is not only about how an individual can change the entire world, but more about inviting and facilitating as many people as possible to build a better world together and shine the human spirit.

Sharing such passion, we have all started our own individualized pursuits with bravery. We are now diving into detailed tracks of majors and also navigating the concrete goal that we would like to commit to for our entire lives. Perhaps, we will head for very different futures; perhaps, we will enter very different industries; and perhaps, we will progress with very different paces. However, we are forever the members of this NYU Shanghai community that truly believe in and practice the principle of “Be Yourself,” and we will always receive support from this NYU Shanghai family. Please remember, the majesty of the world has never and will never be the blocks separating us. It is our shared ambition and our everlasting major.

Make the world your major. “Global citizen” is not only the decoration on our hoodies, but also our identity for the rest of our lives, no matter where we are.

Standing here, I cannot help but recall my first day at NYU Shanghai. I was 18, filled with the ambition to make positive changes to the world. Together with over 400 students sharing the same goal, I entered NYU Shanghai to begin a splendid adventure. Fortunately, everything has paid off, and we have all rapidly grown as individuals. Simultaneously, NYU Shanghai has also grown into maturity as a community, and its 10-year anniversary is looming. I believe everyone in the Class of 2022 is more than honored to have been hand in hand with NYU Shanghai during this transitional period, and I would like to represent all of the students, families, and friends of our cohort to congratulate our beloved NYU Shanghai:

Thank you and happy 10-year anniversary!

To everyone in the Class of 2022, congratulations! Though we cannot see each other in person, the glory doesn’t fade! Warm air hugs and congratulations! We have made it!

Let’s cherish our memories and be ready to reunite soon! I wish NYU Shanghai, all of us, and the entire world a better future!

Thank you!