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Zeyu Ma is a senior at JW North High School.  Read his remarks addressing the 85 students from Jiangmen #1 High (North’s sister-school) during their recent visit to Riverside.

Hello Everyone, my name is Zeyu Ma:

As a representative of the students from JW North High School, today’s speech is something special to me. Firstly, I am lucky enough to meet you guys here, in America, a place that is thousands of miles away from our home. Secondly, I think this is a great opportunity for me to talk to you about my experience.

America is the land of the free, home of the brave—at least in the popular imagination. It is a country different from China in many aspects. But the most surprising discovery I made after living in the United States for four years, is how similar two peoples are. I used to think that only Chinese students stay up all night to finish their homework, and only young Chinese are lost and feel uncertain about their future. That is simply not true. Americans, like their Chinese counterparts, are trapped in the same conundrum of life. My friends must constantly study and get themselves prepared for the test, so they won’t be pressed by their parents for their bad grade. Young Americans feel equally lost and uncertain on many issues—after all their fathers left them a world with more challenges but fewer opportunities.

But America is just the same as China when compared to other parts of life. Chinese culture values the transformative power of knowledge and education; American families also recognize the importance of going to college. Chinese people are patriotic and are proud of their 5000 years of history; America, though a young country it is, has a people that are genuinely passionate about their past and heritage. Chinese love classical poetries, constantly finding joy in the words of ancient sages; Americans, too, are patrons of art and literature, always seeking great works that are set to explore the meaning of life and human conditions.

Today’s world is becoming smaller and smaller as the fate of nations are brought closer by technological advancement. I am glad that we as students have the chance to act as agents of peace, deepening the understanding between two of the most important countries in our modern world. Perhaps this will be your last visit to the United States, perhaps you will spend four years here in an American college. I cannot see the road ahead. What I know for certain, is that whatever path we will take, our future is bright for “The earth is yours and the fullness thereof.”

Thank you.

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