East and West have met
runner-up: Rui Cheng gang, Foreign Affair College
Honorable judges, ladies and gentlemen:
Kipling said:" East is east, and West is West, and never the twain shall meet!" But now, a century later, they have met.
They have met in business. They have met in education. They have met in the arts.
Some would argue that these meetings leave us with a choice between East and West ,but I believe the best future lies in the creative combination of both worlds. We can make Western ideas, customs and technology our own, and adapt them to our own use. We can enjoy the best of all worlds, because our tradition is, above all, one of selecting the best and making it our own.
But, do Western styles and values threaten our identity?
History makes it easy for us to think so-perhaps too easy.
Some people seem to think that adopting Western customs, such as a bride wearing white-which has long been a color of mourning in China, instead of the traditional Chinese red for her wedding, is another submission to foreign intervention,--a betrayal of our heritage, they say.
They fear that as we become "globalized", we will no longer be Chinese.
I do not agree.
History teachers that a strong and confident nation is at ease in hearing from the outside world.
The wedding of Eastern and Western cultures, whether in white gowns or red, brings us variety.
It is a rich banquet of special foods from all over the world.
As an amateur gourmet of Chinese cuisine, our superb flavours delight me.
But my Chinese taste appreciates food from any land.
I even allow the convenience of McDonald's a place in my life without giving up my good taste.
My grandfather taught me to hum tunes of Beijing opera from the time I was very young; they are deep in my spirit, part of my soul.
I love Beijing opera, because it always reminds me of who I am.
But I am also a fan of modern pop music, the No.1 fan of Spice Girls on campus.
of course, it goes far beyond food, music and dance. It goes into values and ways of thinking about the world.
Once upon a time, or so my teacher told me, a Chinese boy and an American girl had a squabble.
Both wanted to keep a bunny rabbit they had found in the garden.
Surely you've seen a rabbit sunning himself in the grass.
Nothing is more lovable, nothing more natural. No wonder they wanted him. The Chinese boy played his er-hu. Happiness and joy, longing and passion, filled the air. The little rabbit swayed gently and began to move his ears in the direction of the music. He liked what he heard.
The girl then took out her violin and played it to produce beautiful melodies of her own.
The rabbit began to bounce in her direction.
So intent were the children on their own music that neither paid the other any attention.
The competing melodies confused the little rabbit and he did not know which way to turn .Unable to attract the little creature, both children gave up ;they walked away, in different directions, leaving the rabbit. . .alone.
But, what if they listened ,what if they really heard each other's music, instead of always playing their own tunes?
When I hear the music of a violin ,rich with the joys of men and women who came together and sang and danced.. . I hear echoes of the music of the grass lands, of the hills, of the rivers...of my own native land.
Is music mine and yours, or is it ours?
What I want to hear is the er-hu and the violin played together, in rhythm and in tune. Together, we can produce new and beautiful music, rich with textures and sounds that can only be made in harmony.
The rabbit sits in the grass in the ever-warming sun. Waiting for us to play, waiting for the symphony to begin.
Will he have to wait forever? The choice is ours . Thank you.
I Regain Confidence
I received a devastating blow to my self-confidence in the first interview of my college years. I applied to be a host in our Student Acting Troupe and felt confident that I would be accepted. But one of the panel members told me: "You seem inadequate and you are a little vertically-challenged." My life has never been the same since. I used bigger heels to complement my height and psychological maneuvers and tricks to hide my lack of confidence. But no matter how hard I tried to look the part, there was still something missing.