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VOICES | Reform and Opening Up: Dream it possible


05 December 2018 | By Chen Siyu | Copyedited by Zhao Yinfen

T

horeau went to the woods because he wanted to live deliberately. He wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life. But he forgot one thing that life is a peculiar combination of not merely arts and literature but all most basic stuff of maintaining one’s survival. I myself was blessed because I was born in this opening era, when I no longer have to struggle with the material sustenance. 

But my father is not as fortunate as I am. He was a romanticist whose wings had been clipped by my grandfather, or rather, by the hardship of the reality. My father is the eldest child of my grandpa, which entailed him a huge responsibility of supporting the whole family. Therefore, his literary secrets were always regarded as meaningless and useless nonsense, not pragmatic enough.

Yes, “pragmatic”, a coercive word that imposed upon my father and eventually deprived him of the right to dream. Material insecurity and those insurmountable stereotypes inevitably became the gap between the great collections of classics in my father’s bookshelf and a decent job in my grandpa’s eyes.

Today, my grandpa has lived over 80, with his hair whitened and eyesight blurred, sitting in a wheelchair and fighting against diabetes. About a week ago, I went home and we had a conversation about my academic work in college. I told him that I am doing some literary studies and I read from his eyes a subtle repentance.

Time goes by. It must be unthinkable to my grandfather 40 years ago that his granddaughter would one day sitting in the library thousands of miles away and appreciating Shakespeare and Wilde. But you see, that’s exactly what I am doing.

The Reform and Opening Up has greatly changed our living hierarchy, redefining our mental and physical necessities. Apart from economic soaring and infrastructure improvements, the Reform and Opening up has set us free. I am free to spend the whole semester reading Pride and Prejudice because being so-called pragmatic is no longer a must; I am free to read any books from any countries because we are embracing the world; and I am free to picture my future in a poetic way just like a skylark, singing as I soar and knowing I will eventually find a pleasant field to land on. Were it not be the Reform and Opening up, I would not be here, sharing my story and quote from Robert Frost.

“Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—I took the one less travelled by, and that has made all the difference.”

 

This is one of the award-winning speech scripts in the 2018 China Daily“21st Century · Coca-Cola Cup” National English Speaking Competition Shanghai Final. The author, Chen Siyu, is an undergraduate student of SISU.

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Press Contact

SISU News Center, Office of Communications and Public Affairs

Tel : +86 (21) 3537 2378

Email : news@shisu.edu.cn

Address :550 Dalian Road (W), Shanghai 200083, China

Further Reading