Dear distinguished guests, university leaders, invited professors and colleagues, and MLC fellow students,

Good evening! Welcome to the high table dinner at MLC in the fall of 2017.

Who are you? Where are you from? Where are you going?
Those are the questions that I asked you when you got here, which are not simply questions. Those questions are about your past life, your current situation, and your future as a whole person. Do you have an answer now? If you do, it means you have thought about yourself through. You have understood who you are? What you want? What you are doing? And what kind of future you expect for yourself.

If you don’t have an answer yet, it means you need to get to know yourself, discover yourself, and figure out what kind of person you are and what you want for your future?

Do you have an answer now? Yes or No? I heard Yes.

Think about those pictures that we just saw in the video. Those are you. You left your parents and your high school and came to UM, settled down at MLC, started your classes, joined the RC activities, enjoyed your university life, experienced the Typhoon in Macau, volunteered to clean the campus and the streets in Macau, and made your contributions to help UM to get recovered from the Typhoon damage. You are doing great! Congratulations!

However, I still want to remind you of several things that you’re facing as the first year students and will be facing for the next four years at UM.

First, responsibility. Everybody has responsibility. The government has its responsibility. Your parents have their responsibility. Your professors have their responsibility. The RCs, I myself, have our responsibility. But our responsibility can’t do anything in your education until you are responsible for your study.

You are a full time student and study is your first priority. You can’t just drop off the university and land on your dream job. That’s simply not true! Every good job needs a good education. So you have to graduate first before finding a good job. I know it’s not easy to pass all the exams. I remember in my first year at college, I simply got lost and felt everybody was better than me. But later I caught up with others and finished with a better grade. You have to make your efforts. You need to go to classes regularly, pay attention to your professors, finish your homework, prepare for your exams, and be smart, take advantage of all the ways that you can get, the library, the office hours, the TAs, and our study groups at MLC which is designed for you to catch up with others if you fall behind. Doing so will guarantee you a better grade.

Second, you have to learn English. A couple of reasons. #1 your study relies on it, because English is the medium at UM. You have to use English to understand the professors, take the exams, finish your homework, and do everything with your study. #2, English is a global language and is required by all kinds of sophisticated jobs in the world. If you want to find a good job, you have to learn English. English is my second language. If I can speak it, so can you, just as you can speak Mandarin (Putonghua) if you are a Cantonese speaker. What you need to do is to use it often. Come to the language table everyday, join the English Salon, speak English with your roommate, your tablemates, your classmates, your friends, and all the MLC members. The more you use English, the better you can speak it. #3, think about what English can bring to you-an entire world and a complete new dimension to your life. With English, you can speak to, listen to, and communicate with anyone who speaks this global language in the world. You can also read, write in this well used language in all kinds of publications. What an advantage and fun! With English, you will become a more powerful person.

Third, you have to learn to respect people and be an educated person. People are all the same. We are all equal. If you want people to respect you, you have to respect the others first. So be nice to your roommate, be nice to your floor-mates, classmates, your RC mates, your RT and RAs; say Hi to them, talk to them and get to know them; when you talk, look at their eyes and be sincere; open the door and hold the door for them, be a gentleman and an educated person; be grateful for their help and always say thanks no matter how small the favor is; be a good speaker with writing skills, be a good listener who can hear and understand what people say, be an open minded person and willing to learn for your entire life and never stop. These are the high qualities of an educated person in the 21st century, so get them and let them be part of you. You are going to need them if you want to be successfully in the modern society.

Having said so much, can you be responsible for your study now? Yes or no? Can you be a good student now? Yes or no? Can you shape yourself into a nice person, interesting person, and a welcomed person and be responsible for your behavior? Yes or no? Can you think about your future and make necessary plans for your life so you will have a goal to reach and a dream to pursue? Yes or no? So don’t believe anyone if they say you can’t be this, can’t be that, you can’t speak English, you can’t be a good student. Don’t believe them. Because you can!

Remember I have a checking list for you at our first lecture? Check it often; check it for the next four years. It will help you find yourself, know yourself, and become a better person. Let me end my speech with the checking list:

1. Who are you? Where are you from? Where are you going? Summarize yourself and design your future.
2. What is your plan for the next four years? Study plan? Excise plan, etc.?
3. How to improve your English? Mandarin? Cantonese? Did you join the language table? Did you join the English Salon?
4. Check the Etiquette Code of Conduct and see which one you haven’t met yet.
5. Summarize your habits, which is good, which is not? Keep the good ones and get rid of the bad ones.
6. Respect others including your roommate, your teachers, dining hall workers, security, janitors, people working for the landscape, etc.
7. Find our RT, RA and talk to them, introduce yourself, help do things.
8. Join the study groups; get to know the leaders there.
9. Get to know more students at MLC, introduce yourself to them. Find yourself, know yourself, and become a better person.

Thank you!

De Bao Xu
College Master, Ma Man Kei & Lo Pak Sam College
Distinguished Professor of Chinese Linguistics
Faculty of Arts and Humanities
University of Macau
Ph.D in Linguistics, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign
Leonard C. Ferguson Chair Professor Emeritus, U.S.A.