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Respected teachers and dear students,

Happy New Year! Hopefully we all have had a happy Chinese New Year!

As we bid adieu to the year of the golden rooster, we have rung in the prosperous year of the dog. The wheel of time keeps on spinning year after year. Everyone is only a passer-by in this world after birth, living a life either similar to or different from that of others. Before becoming an independent adult in society, one will receive 20 years of education. Having gone through education, two childhood playmates may have a completely different starting point in life. This explains why education has always been a much-concerned topic among parents across countries, especially in China where every parent wants their children to have a good start in their lives or even to change their lives through education. 

In Chinese middle-class families, education must be the second biggest investment to real estate. Many parents will give everything they have for their children’s education. However, what exactly is the purpose of education? Ibelieve the concept is rather ambiguous to quite a lot of parents and students because they usually associate education merely with reading books and taking exams. If we define education in this narrow sense and educate students, the chances are that they will not be able to well adapt to society, not to mention build a better future for themselves. 

One has to experience many things in life, but not everything goes smoothly as planned. At the beginning of every year, we pray for health, safety and happiness. The three things we clearly know cannot be easily obtained despite our prayers. Therefore, I believe, the ultimate purpose of education is to help you develop the ability of achieving lifelong happiness. 

The key to happiness is the ability of lifelong learning and the habit of constant self-improvement. Perhaps many of you have not had the chance to fully understand it now but I believe you will gain a deep understanding of it after graduation. When you are in university, you will find out that A-Level is as easy as pie. Upon entering society, you cannot help missing the carefree days of being in school. At that point, life seems to have ushered in a new beginning where you will embark upon a new journey. This is why we hope you should learn out of interest, for a better grade or even for improving yourselves. I strongly object to the practice of having one-to-one tutoring for better exam results. I hope that you can cut down on your after-class tutoring and study on your own to increase you scores. If you do not know how to study independently, sooner or later you will lag behind thetimes. As no one can stop society from moving forward, we will be eliminated if we do not advance with the times. 

To seek happiness, one must have grit and positivity. The index of happiness does not necessarily rise for the generation living in the more materially wealthy world created by the previous generations who have worked hard all their lives. The reason is that we have to deal with the pressure of survival, the fierce competition in society as well as the inescapable birth, aging, sickness and death no matter what era we are living in. The more hardships one has overcome, the stronger one becomes. You are now living in a good era, enjoying material prosperity and social stability, so in your teens, you seem to have no opportunity to experience what your parents or grandparents have suffered. When you are faced with what you cannot control from happening in the future, I hope that you can remember, “Everything is in God’s hands so everything is the best arrangement,” hang in there and go on living your own lives. Moreover, I hope that every one of our students is full of positive energy because such a person can not only live a happy life but also bring happiness to others around. All the successful people that I know are filled with positivity. If a person habituallyviews things from a negative perspective, he or she will achieve nothing in his or her life.As the saying goes, if a person comes into this world crying and lives his or her life smiling, transcending from a mortal to a saint, it is already a huge success. 

One must continue working hard for happiness. General Secretary of the Communist Party of China (Xi Jinping) has said, “Happiness is achieved through hard work. Only those who have worked hard deserve a happy life.”When our future generations look back at today’s China a hundred years later, they will definitely feel that it is one of the best eras in the Chinese history. In today’s China, you have the chance to do what you want; you can have a better life if you are willing to make an effort. The first month after we have a new batch of students on campus, we can tell how well they will do in their university applications in three years’ time. We have nothing but their general attitude toward studying as the predictor. When we are making enrollment decisions, whether a candidate has the self-discipline to keep moving forward outweighs his or her results in the entry tests or the Senior High School Entrance Exams. Our teachers feel most sorry for those students who have fallen behind due to laziness. While one can have disappointments in one’s life, one must not feel regretful. Soin this new year, let us roll up our sleeves and work hard!

A happy person is grateful, compassionate and socially responsible. Every day will be beautiful for youif you have a grateful mind-set. You will make more friends if you treat others with sincerity. I have gradually come to understand why American universities highly value these qualities when it comes to selecting elite talents. As we know, we are unique beings after our birth as we each are different in our interests and hobbies, appearances and personalities. Some people were born to be top learners while the majority will never become No.1. We hope those top students can help more of their fellow students and become a better version of themselves. Looking at the world as a whole, we can find out that a group of elites are leading the politics and economy in every country. Those elites have enough capabilities to achieve what they want. However, when they have bigger aspirations, they must be grateful and compassionate in order to bring the team closer together. Similarly, if what an enterprise does fails to create more social value and contribute to social progress, it will sooner or later be eliminated by society. What may seem to be good for others and society is actually donefor one’s own development and inner peace and happiness. 

To enjoy happiness, one must have a healthy body. Being healthy is the foundation for a happy life. Right now you are all very young, like new cars that have just rolled out of the doors of the factory, each part functioning well. However, when you reach the age of 30, 40 and 50, you are all working hard for your careers and the difference that health makes will show. One’s health is determined half by genes and half by lifestyle habits. In this new year, I hope that we all can develop healthy eating habits and exercise for an hour every day.

Although we never know why we came into this world and when we did, nor can we decide when to leave, we have every right to live every single day happily and pursue our own happiness. I define education as the process of passing on the wisdom of being a person and doing things. I strongly feel that a wise person will not have much difficulty in getting things done. The reason why people have all sorts of unhappiness is that they are not being wise enough. I wish every one of our students could accumulate wisdom of living from the smallest things happening in your lives. Be happy every day and you will be happy every year!

Thank you all!

Dongdong Lei

6th of March, 2018