I left Harvard with no real awareness of the awful inequities in the world- the appalling disparities of health, and wealth, and opportunity that condemn millions of people to lives of despair. I left campus knowing little about the millions of young people cheated out of educational opportunities here in this country. And I knew nothing about the millions of people living in unspeakable poverty and disease in developing countries.
Every single one of you has something you’re good at. Every single one of you has something to offer. And you have a responsibility an education can provide.
Maybe you could be a good writer-maybe even good enough to write a book or articles in a newspaper-but you might not know it until you write a paper for your English class. Maybe you could be an innovator or an inventor-maybe even good enough to come up with the next iPhone or a new medicine or vaccine-but you might not know it until you do a project for your science class. Maybe you could be a mayor or a senator or a supreme court justice, but you might not know that until you join student government or the debate team.
You’ll need the knowledge and problem-solving skills you learn in science and math to cure diseases like cancer and AIDS, and to develop new energy technologies and protect our environment. You’ll need the insights and critical thinking skills you gain in history and social studies to fight poverty and homelessness, crime and discrimination, and make our nation fairer and freer. You’ll need the creativity and ingenuity you develop in all you classes to build new companies that will create new jobs and boost our economy.
Some of the most successful people in the world are the ones who’ve had the most failure. J.K. Rowling’s first Harry Potter book was rejected twelve times before it was finally published. Michael Jordan was cut from his high school basketball team, and he lost hundreds of games and missed thousands of shots during his career. But he once said, ”I have failed over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.
Pei deliberately built a modern structure while capturing the subtle yet expressive Chinese spirit. The building’s exterior, with its white walls and gray tiled roof not only respects the traditional color-scheme used throughout the city of Suzhou, but also provides a backdrop further emphasizing the importance of the gardens. In his museum, Pei hopes to foster and inspire a new generation of thinking about Chinese-specific modern architecture and design.