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Choose to Believe in Goodness

Distinguished Guests and Dear Students, 

All of us here today are witnesses on this important day for the 72 young men and women who have successfully completed their studies at BNVS and are now entering society. 

On behalf of the BNVS school board, I am very happy to be able to extend my congratulations to each and every student on your success today.  Graduating from BNVS is by no means easy. Through the financial support of caring people, the school is able to provide students from families suffering from all manner of difficulties, with free education and living expenses so that they can focus exclusively on their studies. As a well-recognized and respected charity providing vocational education, BNVS differentiates itself by integrating wholistic and ethical development into a vocational education program that fosters effective life practices and raises learning capabilities and capacities. BNVS demands much more than simply the mastery of academic and vocational skills by its students. Rather, BNVS requires the inculcation by its students of life’s key fundamentals of honesty, responsibility, hard work, discipline, tolerance and caring. These fundamentals underlie and are the foundation upon which all learning at BNVS occurs. 

From the look on your faces today, full of vigour and vitality, I know you have succeeded!  We are all so proud of you. Each and every teacher, donor, volunteer and guest here today is so proud of you. Your parents and families are proud of you as well.  Congratulations. 

Speaking of your parents, reminds me of the speech made by Mr. Chen Jiangong, a famous author, at the Tenth Graduation Ceremony of BNVS Beijing held just this last week. “Compared with priveleged youth who are dependent on their wealthy families,” he said, “your parents are so much happier“.  “Being able to ‘support your family’ is a hard-earned truth from everyday life rather than an outdated slogan. Tomorrow you are going to take up a career and create your own individual and family happiness through honest work.  Through this process, you will be writing a simple, yet unique and special, story of a common family, where a poor child grows up sooner and becomes independent earlier. Yours is a story, one from amongst a group of responsible and honorable young people. The stories of those who are neither dependent on their privileged families, nor flaunting their inherited wealth, nor living off their parents.  The lives of these privileged youth bear no comparison with yours.  Yours deserves pride of place and value.”  Mr. Chen then went on to “salute the youth who start their adult lives with honest labour” and extended his respect to “all the young men and women who embrace such a life.” 

This sentiment has just been echoed in a speech by Mr. Wang Kun, one of our graduates here today. He is now the main supporter of his family and has started to improve their living conditions. This is exactly the education we provide at BNVS. For the last 11 years, BNVS has provided education to 5000 disadvantaged students and witnessed the successful graduation of more than 3000, all of whom are now working hard writing their own personal stories with their sweat and toil.

Today I’d like to extend a special congratulations to another student, Wang Rui, a 2015 graduate of BNVS Nanjing. He is on duty today so he is unable to attend this ceremony. When he came to the school in September 2013, Wang Rui’s brows were furrowed all the time.  In his diary, there was not a single word written, only a picture of a closed door with a sign that read “No Admittance”. When he was little, Wang Rui’s parents divorced and he lived with his father, who neither loved him nor had a proper job to make ends meet.  Some time later, he went back to live with his mother, but the family soon faced dire circumstances as his stepfather became ill and died.  This caused Wang Rui to become a migrant worker shortly after graduating from middle school.  The hardships he had experienced, isolated Wang Rui into his own lonely world. However, after joining BNVS, his smile was brought back by the love of his teachers and volunteers, and he began to represent the school in his drawings as a “place where angels live”.  In the first semester, Wang Rui received the school’s “most diligent learners” award. In his second semester, he was encouraged by the teachers to take a creative workshop course to give an outlet to and hone his talents in painting.  He also won the first place in the hors d’oeuver plate setting competition, and thus secured a paid internship, with which he was able to support his family and send money back home on a monthly basis to his mother and sister, the latter who is now attending high school. In his spare time, Wang Rui maintains his enthusiasm for painting and has further developed an interest in Chinese seal carving. Here I would like to share with you a piece of great news. Wang Rui, together with three other BNVS students, has been selected to attend a one-year course of study in art at a well-recognized international art college in India. The four students will set off as soon as next month. Fully sponsored by Hong Kong based High Impact Capital, this program aims to help disadvantaged youth realize their potentials through art education. 

All BNVS students come from families with significant socio-economic difficulties. For many reasons, your families and parents have been unable to independently provide you with the basic learning and life opportunities you need and want.  Despite this, they chose to send you to BNVS for your education. It is the strongest support you could receive from those who love and care for you. We should be grateful to them. Last Sunday, the principals of BNVS schools attended the wedding of Wang Lin, one of our first graduates. Eleven years ago, he was forced to drop out of school to work because his mother had cancer and his family was in dire financial straits. His mother was nevertheless unyielding, and when she heard on the radio about BNVS, she signed her son up because she believed our school could help him have a future. Today, 10 years after graduating, Wang Lin, through part-time study and full-time work, has gotten a bachelor’s degree, while he’s been promoted by his employer to the level of manager.  He has even bought an apartment in a suburb of Beijing and has just married a beautiful young woman, Ms Zhao Huiying, also a BNVS graduate. Wang Lin’s success and happiness can be attributed to his positive mother, his BNVS education, his own discipline and efforts, as well as the on-going support he has received from his superiors and colleagues at work. My message to you from this story is that life is what you do with it and the choices you make along the way. Fellow students, a few years ago, you made an important choice to enroll in and attend BNVS.  After today’s graduation, you will face many more choices. I trust your learning and life experiences at BNVS will help guide you as you set off on your own future paths. And, that your choices will include believing in the goodness of human beings, in justice, and in taking on and living up to your own life responsibilities. 

BNVS is a working model that demonstrates human goodness and social justice. Over the last 11 years, more than 3000 volunteers have selflessly provided their volunteer expertise, service and time at BNVS’ schools across China, while over 1800 individuals and institutions have made generous donations. Here at BNVS, everyone believes that every young person should have the best possible educational opportunity, no matter where he/she is born or his/her family circumstances.  We further believe that “to make our world a better place” is not an empty aspiration, a promotional slogan or a backhanded complaint.  Rather, this belief is a call to action that we make and take every day.  We do this by ensuring full financial support to each and every one of our students, teaching relevant and great course content, providing classroom-based and extra-curricular volunteer services, making and seeking donations for school operations, and simply by being there for and giving a thumbs-up to our students, teachers, staff and volunteers for all their great work and contributions.

On this special occasion, I want to express my sincere thanks to all the teachers of BNVS Nanjing, as well as my gratitude to the school’s management, staff, tutors, and internship providers – both absent and present.  BNVS is unquestionably the smallest vocational school -- without a campus or a building of its own.  However, we have the best teachers and vocational education resources, of whom the graduating students at today’s ceremony are the proof. Our close ties with excellent enterprises, such as Hilton Group and our other partner internship providers, help to ensure the uniqueness and effectiveness of our education model. Our teachers come from enterprises, schools and research institutes. It is with kindness and passion that these great teachers keep company with and mentor their students, supporting them as they pursue their dreams. It is through their own good examples that our teachers exert their influence on BNVS students, guiding them to become model citizens and employees, so that by the time they graduate, our students are fully able to demonstrate their physical health, moral conscientiousness and economic independence.   Mr. Zhang Wenzhong is one of these passionate teachers. Under his influence, students fall in love with cooking and aspire to be master chefs just like him. Students have not only learned skills from their teachers, but also learned to care, help and give to others. 

I was moved by another story that took place recently at BNVS Nanjing. Wang Bin, a BNVS Nanjing graduate, was diagnosed with cerebrovascular disease and required hospitalization. His family was then in extreme financial difficulties as a car accident had killed his brother and left his father seriously injured.  The high cost of the hospitalization and operation needed by Wang Bin was simply prohibitive – until they were all taken on and met through generous donations from BNVS alumni, teachers, and those who cared.  Wang Bin subsequently was admitted into Nanjing’s best hospital, and is now recovering from a successful operation. 

To date, BNVS alumni from across the country have made donations from out of their own moderate incomes of more than 1.3 million yuan to the school. For that, the board and I would like to express our great thanks.  Equally important, we would also like to express our deep respect to all of our teachers, management, colleagues and internship providers.  It is because of you that BNVS earns the praise and credit of our students for changing their lives.  It is because of you that our students have modeled your own behaviors, meaning that they have learned the importance of giving.  This is the success of our education. 

Dear students, starting from today, you have a new status.  From today, you take on the responsibility of serving and supporting society and your families.  Undoubtedly you will confront challenges along the way.  But you will be well equipped to successfully overcome them.  We expect you to work as hard as senior students to become key employees as soon as possible. We expect you to never stop learning – and to use such learning to overcome new challenges, grasp new opportunities, and have the capacity to positively forge your way forward in this ever-changing world.  BNVS is proud of each and every graduate.  You should also be proud of yourselves as well. 

Last but not least, the school board and I, as well as the BNVS management team, extend our best wishes to all of you.  We sincerely hope you will always be positive and hardworking, and that you will use your love to evoke an ever greater public spirit of giving and caring.  May you all have happy and prosperous lives.

(英文编译:Rex Hua  ,  E. Sabina Brady )