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Starting from the Heart, Marching Ahead of Time: the Road to Dreams

Starting from the Heart, Marching Ahead of Time: the Road to Dreams

2018-2019 the 2nd Semester Opening Ceremony

Zou Zheng, Principal of Nanjing Foreign Language School

Dear students, dear teachers:

Happy New Year!

The busy and fulfilling new semester began with the arrival of the renewal and thriving new year. First of all, on behalf of the school, I would like to send all the students New Year's greetings and wish all of you have a happy life, study hard, and grow up freely, being a happy NFLS student!

Looking back upon the past semester, we achieved new and proud results with the joint efforts of all the teachers and students. Under the careful guidance of the coach, students majored in science saw their contest results rising. In the just-concluded CCF NOI WC 2019, four students of the assembled training team, Yang Junzhao, Dai Yan, Wu Siyang and Chen Sunli, ranked among the top 15 in the first knockout round of the qualifying competition for the national team thanks to their serious preparation and participation. Following comprehensive scoring, all of them made the list of the 15 finalists for the final tryout in May, the largest number in the country. Eight students ranked first in the national Mathematics contest, and three entered the provincial team. Five students came first in the national Physics contest, and one entered the provincial team. Two students ranked first in the Biology contest.  

The recommendation enrollment of senior 3rd graders has basically finished. This year's policy has increased the independent choice of students, but competition has become increasing fierce. Senior 3rd graders in our school were highly praised by well-known universities in China thanks to their solid foundation and excellent improvisational capability. Among 119 recommended students, 64 were admitted to the C9 League, including 12 to Peking University and 12 to Tsinghua University, 25 were accepted by Beijing Foreign Studies University and Shanghai International Studies University, and others were admitted to better universities than before, including Renmin University of China, China Foreign Affairs University, the Chinese University of Hong Kong, Shenzhen, Wuhan University, Xiamen University, Shanghai University of Finance and Economics, Southeast University and Huazhong University of Science and Technology.

Our school also made new achievements in studying aboard. We were full of gains in the early application. Eight students were accepted by Ivy League schools, and 37 were admitted to the top 20 best universities in the US. Yale, Colombia, Penn, Duke and Chicago University, California Institute of Technology, Johns Hopkins, Cornell, Williams and Wellesley College quite favor the NFLS students.

Here, on behalf of the school, I would like to congratulate the students who have achieved excellent results and give my sincere thanks to the teachers who have devoted themselves to the growth of students. I am full of hope for 2019, and place great hopes on every student.   

I don't know if the students have noticed that the corridor in our school has been adorned with a painting by Paul Gauguin, "Where Do We Come From? What Are We? Where Are We Going?". This famous painting shows human's life cycle from birth to death. It is the painter's painful yet serious thinking about life, and is a masterpiece that discusses the ultimate philosophical proposition. Of course, I will not discuss abstruse philosophical problems with the students, but I want to ask you three questions about study, the most important part of life and also the most arduous task for you: Why do we have to study? What should we learn? How should we study?

At 2017-2018 the 2nd Semester Opening Ceremony, I mentioned Qiao Mingda, a NFLS graduate in class 2014 and gold medalist of the International Olympiad in Informatics. He said that it took 10,000 hours to succeed and you should find a target that you are willing to spend 10,000 hours on it. Coincidentally, this winter vacation I met Qiao, who participated in AAAI-19. After graduating from Tsinghua University Institute for Interdisciplinary Information Sciences, he is now studying for a doctorate at Stanford University. His dream is to change the world with Computational Learning Theory.

Qiao became attached to scientific research in the first semester of his freshman year. In an algorithm course, he touched upon a series of open problems that have not yet been solved in the current study. The complexity of these problems made him aware of the gap between academic contests and scientific research. He secretly made up his mind that he would improve his academic research capability during the four years at college and become an excellent scientific researcher.

A solid academic foundation is indispensable to achievements in scientific research, so Qiao seriously studied every course since his freshman year. Among nine core courses in Tsinghua University Institute for Interdisciplinary Information Sciences, Qiao came first in seven courses and second in one course, and ranked first in grade with the overall score of 95 points for three consecutive years .    

He attended high-end academic conference in the world after college. His future value is imaginable thanks to his big dreams, increasingly profound knowledge and unswerving insistence.

Many of our alumni are also excellent talents like Qiao.  

"Changing the world with Computational Learning Theory." How far a person can see, how far he will go. In today's society, it has become a goal for most people to have a comfortable life, and studying is also considered a crucial means of obtaining material profit. However, Madame Curie said, "Humanity certainly needs practical men, who get the most out of their work. But humanity also needs dreamers, for whom the disinterested development of an enterprise is so captivating that it becomes impossible for them to devote their care to their own material profit." We can feel the power of faith in idealists, and this power will not only help them succeed in careers but also make the world better. What motivation could be stronger than closely connecting the realization of self-value with the destiny of the society, country and nation to struggle ceaselessly?

"Finding a goal that you are willing to spend 10,000 hours on it." When I chatted with many alumni, I got the impression that a big reason for the success of NFLS in education is that the students are not limited in study but they are encouraged to learn knowledge related to their interests. Study with interests is enduring and frustrating, and can arouse people's self-consciousness and thus have a positive impact. The school will create all possible conditions for the students and provide a platform focusing on four core competencies, cultural foundation and critical thinking ability, information literacy and independent study capability, modern personality and social action capability, national feelings and global competence, to help you find the 10,000 hours and become modern people with Chinese soul and global horizon.  

The students always call those with excellent academic record big gods or top students. They envy their extraordinary memory and understanding, thoughtful thinking, and fluent expression, but don’t pay attention to their attention in class, meticulous homework and extracurricular books that they read when lining up in canteen. Russian literary Fyodor Dostoevsky once described, "Sacrificing five or six years of their seething youth to hard and tedious study, if only to multiply tenfold their powers of serving the truth and the cause they have set before them as their goal-such a sacrifice is utterly beyond the strength of many of them.” This sentence has made it clear that studying hard day after day is the best weapon to temper one's willpower and only self-disciplined and persistent people can have more choices and more freedom for mind and body.

Life is like an egg. If an egg is broken by an outside force, life ends. If broken by an inside force, life begins. I hope all the NFLS students are minded and aspiring, think seriously about what kind of people I will become and how I will face my life, and take positive actions to start from the heart and bravely take on the path to growing up freely.

"The young must begin their studies early as we can not extend our youth." I hope all the students cherish the good times. Don't waste every day and don't dream away your life.

Thank you all!