On the sunny summer’s afternoon of 9 July 2022, PHBS-UK held its second graduation ceremony that started by signing Peking University Anthem Yanyuan Qing《燕园情》. The year’s graduation is particularly significant as it sees the students completing their studies and successfully graduating in a time of great trials and tribulations caused by the global pandemic.
This year’s graduating students first arrived at the UK Campus in September 2020. It was just after the first lockdown in the UK and it was a period of great uncertainty for universities. At the UK Campus, we started the Block 1 of AY2020/21 with hybrid teaching. It was a steep learning curve for both students and lecturers. By November of 2020, the Covid infection rate hit a new high and the UK entered its second lockdown. We entered 2021 cautiously albeit with a sombre mood. However, our lecturers and students were soldiering on, embodying the spirit of persistence. By the time 2022 rolled around, all our students and lecturers are all well-versed with online classes and hybrid learning, all experts in adapting to change.
This spirit of persistence is echoed in our Dean’s graduation speech for the class of 2022. Professor Pengfei Wang commended our students for persisting in the face of challenges, persisting whilst managing the balance between the trials and tribulations as a result of the pandemic, and persisting in completing a very academically demanding course in 2 years. It is this spirit that we see in our graduating students and it is our hope that all of them take this spirit of persistence into the next chapter of their lives.
It is a great achievement for all our graduates to overcome the challenges of a global pandemic and the academic rigour of a Peking University curriculum to graduate on time. At the time of great celebration and while basking in the honour of graduating as members of Peking University, there is a need to remember the value of humility. In his graduation remarks, our Guest of Honour for the graduation ceremony, Mr Aimin Yang, Chairman of China Construction Bank London Branch, reminded our graduates that a great leader is a humble leader. Humility in the face of greatness is the mark of leadership. Humility with persistence will empower all our graduates to greater heights.
Taking home the message of persistence and humility was evident in the remarks by our invited guest, Dr David Clark, our MA Programme Director Dr Domenico Tazia, our Lecturer Representative, Professor Alastair Moore, and our Head of the UK Campus, Professor Guy Liu. Every one of our academics congratulated our graduates on their tremendous achievement and their hopes that they will take the spirit of persistence coupled with a humble attitude into their future endeavours.
Graduation is a time of new beginnings and new chapters in life. Graduation is also a time of bittersweet goodbyes and thanksgiving to all those who have played a part in our graduates’ journey thus far. Our graduate representative and our student representative expressed that sentiment in their remarks. Thanks were expressed to the PHBS-UK professors who worked tirelessly to support them and encourage them in their academic work, especially the mock defense presentations which went a long way in helping them navigate the most challenging part of the MA programme – thesis defense. The graduates and students also thanked the Academic Management Team for making sure that the curriculum is of the best quality and that they had the best academic environment possible. Everyone got teary-eyed when our students thanked our Student Welfare team for taking care of their emotional needs and well-being throughout the entire period of study.
As we watch them leave the lecture hall as the newly minted graduates of Peking University, it is with great hopes that they will leave our hallowed halls and embark on a brand-new chapter in their lives. We hope that they will take the knowledge that they have learned and the skills that they have acquired to change the world for the better. We hope that they will be empowered by their persistence and humility in their future endeavours.
We here at PHBS-UK have been touched by their presence and vitality. We hope that the world gets to experience the wonderful changes that they will bring. With great power comes great responsibility. We look forward to seeing you change the world!