When I say that I have learned something from Peking University, I do not mean that the academic level of Peking University was stronger than that of today. To be honest, Peking University did not give me anything academically except to attend Professor Zhang Guangda’s general history and Professor Zhu Longhua’s ancient Greek history. However, in my opinion, the university’s greatest training for students is to teach him or her how to be a ” gentleman”. In this respect, I at least met the fur. This is exactly one of the most fundamental missions forgotten by the current university education.
I have my own definition of ” gentleman” here, and that is well-rounded person (full and fully developed personality). I define it in English because education in the Chinese world has long forgotten this point and there is no corresponding modern vocabulary. Americans talk about this well-rounded person every day. What such a gentleman refers to is actually a kind of character of life: having independent moral judgment and will, having own understanding of life and the world, knowing how to cope with challenges, how to develop oneself, and how to create the value of one’s life.
This may still be too abstract. I might as well give an example. I am most fortunate because the ” Cultural Revolution” interrupted higher education. After the resumption of college entrance examination enrollment, some older students who went to their hometown during the ” Cultural Revolution” became my classmates. For example, there are six students in our dormitory, the eldest and the second are all surnamed Wu. When I entered school, I was 32 years old and 28 years old. I was less than 18 years old and was a fresh high school graduate. The experience of ” Da Lao Wu” is the most strange. He was admitted to Peking university before the ” cultural revolution”, but because of his talent, Marx read too many books and could not see the movement of criticizing the ” poisonous weeds” movie ” north China and south China” at that time. therefore, he consulted his well-read anthology of Marx and Engels and submitted it to Shanghai’s liberation daily for debate. As a result, instead of giving Marxism-Leninism a chance, it was designated as a counter-revolution, Peking University was disqualified from admission, and was told that he had lost the opportunity to go to college forever. According to his recollection afterwards, after hearing the news, he, who had never touched wine before, ran to a small hotel, bought a cup of the cheapest strong white dried fruit and drank it off. Wine like a fire from the throat to the stomach, like a small bomb churning up, abrupt top to the head-he went to the countryside. Life has lost any hope. I remember once when several of our roommates went out for dinner, a beggar came to the table. After being dismissed with great ease, I muttered, ” Many of these people are fake.” But ” big Lao Wu” suddenly became angry: ” you don’t want to give money, don’t say that. I tell you, if I am not rehabilitated in time, I might become a beggar! ” I watched him feel so ashamed that he could not say a word and learned the biggest lesson in life.
However, the greatest thing they brought to me was the fear after admiration. When they were kicked to the countryside, people never dreamed that the ” Cultural Revolution” would end and that they would have the chance to go to college. Most people have lost hope, and each day counts. However, there are still many people who will continue to read books hungry after finishing their farm work. It was these people who finally seized the opportunity to return to college. Looking at them and weighing myself again, I know better than anyone in my heart: if I were in that kind of environment, it would definitely be over. In my personality, I don’t have the kind of things they have. I am now in Peking University, which is completely different from their old educated youth. They defeated the environment by their own personality and entered Peking University. I entered Peking University by good luck (I graduated from high school just in time to resume the college entrance examination). I was completely shaped by the environment. Environment can make me or destroy me easily. I can’t know what kind of bad luck I will encounter in the future, and of course I have lost control of my life.
How can I control my life? In this kind of psychological crisis and anxiety, I put forward a fundamental educational goal for myself: to cultivate the character of these older students, no matter in what environment, we must do not give up. I even thought happily that I was lucky: fate had let me off the hook, and the ” Cultural Revolution” had crossed paths with me in the mountains and countryside (I was able to catch up a few years earlier). Fortunately, now that I have woken up, I must build up my character in advance and be ready to meet various challenges. In the future, it will be unlucky, but it will not be destroyed by life. I remember ” big Lao Wu” wrote in his graduation message: ” a person’s character is a person’s fate. To master one’s own destiny, one must shape one’s own character. ” To be honest, when I first entered Peking University, I was a man who had no strong character and could not control his own destiny. Everything followed the environment. When graduating, at least I have the character and confidence to control my fate.
From this point of view, Confucius’s so-called ” gentleman” in the ” gentleman’s residence, what is humble” is this kind of individual who can be independent. University is a place to learn skills, but also a place to learn to be human. When you graduate from college, you should become a gentleman. No matter what environment you are in, you should stick to your principles and ideals and have the ability to change the society. Universities that do not train such gentlemen but only teach skills give you training, not education. I may not have learned any practical skills in Peking University, but I know what a gentleman is. This is the greatest success of my college career.
Cultivating a gentleman is the basic ideal and goal of the so-called ” general education”. It is also for this reason that I advocate that college students should read more literature, history and basic science and pursue the voice of their hearts. After all, in the past four years, the university has to do what it wants to do most and see how well it can do in doing what it wants to do most. You should get personality training from the greatest efforts and dedication to pursue your ideal. The process of realizing one’s ideal includes overcoming all external obstacles and enjoying one’s spiritual growth in a harsh environment.
Today’s Peking University students are probably not as lucky as I was when I was roommates with the ” counter-revolutionaries” who went to the countryside in their thirties. What I learned in those days probably became something that Peking University did not teach. However, after all, society is much more open now. Universities are also much more open. There are plenty of places and ways to learn life experience. Although there are many straw bales for professors in universities under the changing world, after all, information is developed and there are many more books. It may be true that one’s university is ” humble”, but if one’s heart is not ” humble”, I really cannot think of why one cannot educate oneself. Confucius praised Yan Hui: ” Xian Zai Hui also! One basket of food, one ladle of drink, in the mean lane. People can’t bear their worries and don’t change their happiness. Hyun-jae is back! ” People can never be satisfied with their environment. However, if you can live in a humble place without changing your pleasure when others are ” overwhelmed by their worries”, you will enjoy your higher education and become a true gentleman. Or return to Mr Zheng’s evaluation of Peking university. He said that Peking University was first-class, not because of its magnificent buildings, luxurious school gates or some famous professors. His reason is that Peking University is full of ” gentlemen” reading under street lamps. This is really worth every Peking University student to think about.