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  With the development of science and technology, change has penetrated into every aspect of our daily life. To illustrate that, I’d like to make a comparison of these two seemingly insignificant things: milkman and mailman, whose differences indicate our changing way of living with the times.

  Home milk delivery has almost gone extinct in China now, also gone with it are the milkmen, who once delivered bottled fresh milk door-to-door. On the other hand, mailman’s business or the courier service has thrived as online shopping gains popularity. However, in retrospect, I find something has been lost in this transition, something Shakespeare called as “the milk of human kindness”.

  When I was a kid, milk wasn’t for sale everywhere. For the families who need it, they depended on the milkmen to take it from the local dairy farms to their houses. In our neighborhood, there was such a milkman, whose arrival was much anticipated by the children and always brought us laughter and joy. He knew the name of every kid and could easily see through our tricks. If we didn’t behave, he would side with our parents and threaten to rob us of the nutritious drink. The entire neighborhood was acquainted with him; saw him as a member of the community just like the many residents or street vendors. There was a bond between all of us for it was not only the commodities that been transacted, but also a sense of caring and dependability. And that small box fixed onto our door, other than being a drop-off point for milk; it was a communication junction between the people as we took the initiative to reach out to others.

  Fast forward to today, milk is ubiquitous with no dedicated delivery system. But the convenience level of our live has gone up a notch. Almost everything is for sale online, which spares us all the travelling and talking. With a few ready clicks, shopping is done. The rest is left for those speed delivery companies. Usually it’s a grumpy mailman, who reaches us through cell phone, urging everyone to pick up their parcels as soon as possible. And the minute the receipt is signed, we rush back to unpack while the courier dashes to the next destination. There is barely a conversation carried out, nor do we feel the need to talk to such a stranger, who changes from time to time frequently. It seems that people are always in a hurry now, though we have more conveniences, still we run short of time to stop and stare, to speak and share.

  Call me an old-timer, but I think the personal touch represented by the milkman is what has been missing in the modern society. William Wordsworth once wrote that “Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers.” Modern technology may have multiplied our possessions or gave us more conveniences, but we run the risk of reducing our values if we lay waste our power of interpersonal relationships.


  Honorable judges, ladies and gentlemen,

  The fairytale of Aladdin has always been my childhood favorite. I was mesmerized by how Aladdin used his three magic wishes. As a small girl, I dreamed of having the magic wishes to go wherever I wanted to go and see whatever I wanted to see. As you can probably guess, I haven’t found my genie in the lamp yet, however, I have found something just as exciting and it has made marvelous changes in not only my life, but the lives of all human-beings. It is called technology.

  I still remember how my father told me about his childhood back in those days when China was not as open and developed as it is now. Children would run for kilometers to school, make toys with wood by themselves, and the biggest dream of a child was holding two jars of sugar, one white, the other brown in each arm and having the choice of eating whichever he wanted. Just look at what we have now. Magnificent technological advancement has opened up a whole new world to us.

  However, just as our lives become more convenient, problems arise from this new life style. We seem to be caged in the modern technology; we are thinking alike as a result of using the same search engine, we are getting lazy as most of our work can be done by machines, and we are alienating people around us for we are more comfortable talking on phones and typing in front of a computer.

  If I was given the chance to make my magic wishes now, I would wish we could go back in time and live for three days without advanced technology. I wonder what we would do in those three days. Here is what I imagine:

  On the first day, people would be feeling so uncomfortable with the new situation that they would probably be confused and just not know what to do. The world would be in a mess for the whole day.

  On the second day, as life goes on, people would have to find alternative ways to deal with their daily rituals: students would have to go to libraries for information they wanted instead of searching on Google; boys would have to express their affection to girls in person instead of sending an annoying txt message; and the young people of today would have the chance to experience the childhood of their parents. On this particular day, we could recover all we had lost in the modern world.

  Then comes the third day. After the previous two days, we would gradually come to realize that we should have paid more attention to our studies and work as we actually have so much creativity and potential within ourselves. We would also realize that we should have spent more time with a friend, a parent or a child as we do love them, but we don’t really understand them due to the lack of personal communication. We shouldn’t have been so dependent on modern technology as it wasn’t invented to confine us, but to inspire us. This last day would be spent in sparks of new ideas and sweet moments with our loved ones.

  Maybe some would argue that it is just my imagination, and that magic would never work in our world. True, but magic can always work in our hearts, helping us understand that we, instead of the machine, are the masters of the world. The key is to treasure our human initiative and connections, to see the world with our own eyes, explore the unknown with our minds and treat others with our hearts. Just like Aladdin didn’t choose to use magic to gain a happy life, we can make our choice, too. And when we do, we will live, as in the fairy tales, happily ever after. Thank you.


  “What would you do if you had only one day left to live?”

  I asked this question to my young students when teaching English this winter. What were their answers?

  “I would watch television!” the first answer. “I would play with the computer!” the second one. “I would play with computer TOO.” The girl finished her sentence perfectly with a serious smile. Indeed how cute and innocent that smile was, but how seriously my heart was hurt. I was too frightened to listen to more answers like that.

  Ten years ago, at their age, I had a different answer: I would spend the last day of my life gazing at the face of my dear grandmother until I inscribed every detail of it onto my mind.

  When grandmother was getting old and weak, my family bought her a telephone so I could save time and the trouble of traveling to her home by making phone calls instead. Later we bought her a television so she could watch modern dramas by herself. Then grandma must have been, we assumed, very contented and happy.

  But I never really knew how grandma felt. She silently passed away without a word one night. When I heard about her death, a chilling pain pierced my empty heart. The pain grew even sharper as I tried to remember in detail exactly how grandma looked and I failed completely! How could I remember? I had not visited her for ages—it seemed like a century! My memories of her dissolved into thin air and leaked away like water.

  Even though I have a telephone, can she hear me now?

  Even though I might be on television, can she see me now?

  Even though I have modern telecommunications, can she still communicate with me now?

  With all these “tele”s, I was powerless.

  Don’t people just love the word of “tele”, which means far away. Indeed this is how modern technology has changed our world. But please don’t forget this other word with “tele”: telepathy: which refers to human beings’ inborn ability to connect to our loved ones. Our minds are supposed to read each other’s minds; our hearts are supposed to feel each other’s hearts — and fulfill these without any forms of tool!

  But the moment I desperately struggled to remember grandmother’s face, the telepathy between her and me had shut down forever. With the help of modern technology, I killed our telepathy.

  This shall never happen again! The “tele”s are great inventions. But “telepathy” gives them the warmth of a human face. Let’s harness the power of television to excite our kids to develop their telepathy with nature… so that they can read the secret language of flowers. Let’s make the telephone lines provoke us to preserve our telepathy with each other, so we can connect in a warm and feeling way. Let technology keep our “telepathy” ALIVE! We need to wake up and make this happen.

  I told my grandma’s story to those young kids that day. They got very quiet. They asked me for a second chance to answer the question. They had come to a new understanding – that very moment they had made to me and to our future together, a dear promise.

  Thank you very much!


  Take a look at the street, we can see people walking around in Nike and Adidas ,beyond the curb, long lines of vehicles shuttle like wind on the tar among which there’re Mercedes-Benz ,BMW, Toyota ,and some of the Volkswagen whose price is definitely not so “volks” at all. They’re all heading for the same direction: the New Oriental School, coz the Olympics is around and learning English is currently the hottest way blowing away your after-work time and money in town. Everything about this picture is so global that you can hardly tell if it’s Bei Jing or Belgium.

  However, there’s one grey speck on this splendid picture of globalization I just can’t shift my eyes away from. It’s a migrant worker covered with dirt. Pushing a large cart of bricks 5 times his own weight with his skinny arms, the man was about my age. His eyes hollow holes, for there’s nothing but the hardship of survival in there. Was he married? Was he smart? Did he go to middle school? Or perhaps primary school? Where was he from? Is there anyone waiting for him at home?

  As we look out to globalization with great expectation, there’s also crisis lying within. But the crisis was not brought onto us from anywhere out there. It lies within our system and was made by ourselves. Some call it regional bias, some call it household permit system, but not matter what name it bears. It’s the same thing we see in this country: born a countryman, always a countryman. And countryman here is not just a nickname suggesting where you live. It means that you can’t have a lot of the basic public benefits like free compulsory education and medical insurance like the city men have. It means you would have to be times as outstanding as students from the metropolitans in exams to be admitted into good schools. In means, very much likely, in that migrant worker’s case, that you can work and live in the city honestly for 10 years but people still despises you because they think they are somehow superior. It’s true that globalization is all over the air, but despite it’s the same air that we breathe ,I wonder how many of them feel it even exsit.

  Does learning to compete in the global era involve migrant workers? I believe few would think so. Because usually what we care about are things like trade surplus, intercultural communication and Paris Hilton. But does it not involve migrant workers?

  Let’s make an interesting assumption here. Today, I see a lot of young faces in this building, in 10 years, many of us will have our children. And I suppose that in 10 years, the migrant worker I saw on the street the other day and many like him will have their children. I can’t help wondering with this globalization gap keep lying between the two of us, can my child work together with his children for the country in the future competition of the global era? And will this country be able to win the competition without its rural people which takes up about 80% of its total population?

  No! This situation must be changed! And the time is now! The long and weary journey to its final solution may take decades, or even centuries. But it starts with our little good will. If everyone in this room donate 10 yuan to the Hope project, we might be able to get the son of a migrant worker through junior school. By which we’re not only helping them but also helping ourselves.

  If we want to learn to compete with others, we’ll first have to learn to take care of our own man , and if we want to learn to live with globalization,we’ll first learn it, from those who live without it.


  Good morning, ladies and gentlemen,

  As I stand here speaking to you in English, I am already globalized. While shopping, I see the fair Chinese ladies carrying Prada handbags, I find they are globalized. Watching Harry Potter or Lord of the Rings with friends—yes, you can anticipate the refrain, we are all globalized!

  In this era of globalization, we are one way or another all globalized. But realize this: when people’s heads turn to the fresh things that globalization literally delivers to our doors, the traditional things which we take for granted become ignored and sometimes forgotten. ConsiderLao Qiang, an ancient form of opera. It has almost vanished from the stage and only fewer than 20 people know how to sing it. So, how can we discover and explore our traditional culture? How can we rejuvenate and share them with the whole world? Well, there are three factors we need to keep in mind.

  To begin with, the mass media plays a vital role in discovering traditional culture and connecting it with the widest possible audience. One evening in 2005, for example, when my father and I were watching the final round of the popular TV showStar Road, we both became fans for a contestant named A Bao. We were attracted by his high pitched tenor voice, his traditional Shaanxi folk tunes and Shaanxi costumes. Apparently we were not his only fans. Star Road has aroused great popular interest in Shaanxi folk music. Such media can help popular audiences to discover lost arts and introduce people to them for the first time.

  The mass media raise the people’s popular interest in the traditional arts, but it is the performing artists who really develop the people’s understanding of traditional culture. Yang Liping’s dance show Yunnan Image, based on primitive Yunnan dance style, has had an enormous influence in and out of China. Yang has recovered for us the primitive life in Yunnan. It is the raw and unadorned beauty of nature in her dancing that moves her audience most. We desperately need professional artists’ endeavor to discover traditional arts, to train apprentices, and to project our traditional culture on the global stage.

  The third strategic factor in promoting our culture in global competition is an audience who knows what and how to appreciate our culture. But today’s youth—tomorrow’s explorers—are ill equipped to appreciate the traditional culture. Take myself as an example: I have had no painting or music classes since senior high school! No extracurricular activities like Chinese painting or calligraphy since primary school! What paltry little we learn about our traditional Chinese culture is relegated to a few lines and pictures in history books. We need our government and our school system to give us a better opportunity to embrace our traditional culture and discover its rich legacy for ourselves.

  Ladies and gentlemen, the age of globalization should be a time for cultural discovery, not cultural extinction! Our traditional culture needs our concern and support to survive! With our combined efforts, we can save our valuable culture from extinction and showcase it, so it can shine brightly on the global stage, shared and enjoyed by people all around the world!