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Looking back, Thinking ahead


      On Nov. 19th 2015, with all the honor, the English Department in School of Foreign Language and Literature invited Mr. Liu Shicheng, former representative in chief of Associated Press in China, senior consultant of New York Times and professor from the Department of Journalism in Long Island University. Professor Liu delivered a wonderful speech, whose theme was “History in Perspective since 1950 – Major Social Events in America.” He introduced and elaborated on changes of America since 1950 in 7 aspects and brought with him a journal – the West East Forum, which was then circulated among the students, inspiring them with sparkling ideas.

      Professor Liu started with the women’s movement. Industrial revolutions, while generating a soaring demand of labor, drove women away from the monotonous work of family chores and babysitting. Those who entered into the factories started working like men. The transformation of social structure as well as the equal competition for salary between male and female have substantially changed women’s status in society. With the advancement of time, women became more aware of their own rights and started maintaining them, seeking gender equality. Although inequality still exist, the situation is far better than the past. The idea of gender equality is widely spread. With the growing number of feminist groups, males begin to respect women’s own rights, which is a great ideological transformation.

       The second aspect of Professor Liu’s speech was environmentalism. Problems of environmental pollutions such as global warming and the destruction of ozone layer further deteriorates with the rapid development in industry, economy and technology. The cost of rapid economic development is the severe environmental pollutions. Environment protection has received greater attention from the people as is the fact that we only have one earth, whose ecological environment is closed connected to our lives. New disease deriving from environmental pollutions are still spreading despite the development of medical science and technology. Professor Liu gave us an example: Back in the 1970s, antibiotics containing tetracycline were used to treat fevers, however it also lead to the problem of black teeth. The growing awareness of environmental protection has promoted many ideas and actions such as low-carbon life. The number volunteers are also growing.

       The third aspect of Professor Liu’s speech was the rise of mass media. Great changes happened in people’s lives. Apart from the improvement of living conditions, information delivery has also been performed in an evolved manner. The radio, which was once widely-populated, has faded out from our lives. Newspapers and Televisions are not as appealing as before. The emergence of Internet media has transcended the limit of time and space, ensuring a faster delivery of information and widely favored by the people. However, Professor Liu pointed out the defects of Internet media. The first would be the inaccuracy of information. The rapid delivery resulted in a lack of checking and proofreading. Many of the wrong messages were then received without any alterations, which may mislead the public and have disastrous effect. The second is the leak and invasion of personal information. With too many gossips, the quality the information is clearly reduced, resulting in many bad brand effect and celebrity effect.

       The fourth aspect was Religion in the 20th century in America. Americans emphasize the importance of beliefs. However, such concept is different from cults or brainwashing. People should pursue their beliefs in the right way. The fifth aspect of Liu’s speech was the new frontier and the great society, the sixth being the affluent society. Professor Liu has patiently introduced these topics to the students.

       The last aspect of Liu’s speech was Immigration. As an immigrated country, America has embraced talents from all over the world and integrated many local cultures. It encourages its people to find their root culture while spreading American culture. It respects culture diversity and is highly inclusive. Many of the attendant students were planning to study in America and exchanged deeply with Professor Liu on this matter.

       It is easy to study in America, but the hard choice is to stay in that country or return home. Liu said the decisions lies in students themselves. It will not be a matter of right and wrong for every individual has their own opinions and reasons. Of course, wouldn’t it be a loss of brain for China if its students, after more than two decades’ education in this country, after using resources, went abroad and served for another country.

       In the end, Professor Liu interacted actively with the students and responded many of their questions, sharing many interesting stories. The speech came to an end with laughter and joy. And it left the students in contemplations and offered them professional guidance on the choices of their future lives.

(contributed by Fei Kailan, English major 2015)