Knowing the Consequences of Choice
Over the past Spring Festival, I got involved in a family dispute. Right before I got home, four satellite channels of CCTV were added to the 14 channels we had already had. In prime time at night, they all had interesting shows. Therefore, the five of us-my parents, my sisters and I-had to argue over what to watch. Finally, we agreed that we should watch the "most interesting" programme... If we
could agree what that was.
However, all of us there remember that for a long time after we had TV, there were only one or two channels available. The increase in options reveals an important change in our life: the abundance of choice.
Fifteen years ago we all dressed in one style and in one colour. Today, we select from a wide variety of designs and shades.
Fifteen years ago, we read few newspapers. Today, we read English newspapers like the China Daily and the 21st Century, as well as various Chinese newspapers.
Fifteen years ago, English majors took only courses in language and literature. Today, we also study Western culture, journalism, business communications, international relations, and computer science.
The emergence of choices marks the beginning of a new era in China's history; an era of diversity, of material and cultural richness, and an era of the rebirth of the Chinese nation. We enjoy the abundance of choice. But this has not come easily.
About 150 years ago, China was forced to open up its door by Western canons and gunboats. It has been through the struggle and sacrifice of generations that we finally have gained the opportunity to choose for ourselves. The policy of reform and openness is the choice that has made all the difference.
Like others of my age, I'm too young to have experienced the time when the Chinese people had no right to choose. However, as the next century draws near, it is time to ask: What does choice really mean to us young people?
Is choice a game that relies on chance or luck? Is choice an empty promise that never materializes? Or is choice a puzzle so difficult that we have to avoid it?
First, I would like to say: To choose means to claim opportunities.
I am a third-year English major. An important choice for me, of course, is what to do upon graduation. I can go to graduate school, at home or abroad. I can go to work as a teacher, a translator, a journalist, an editor and a diplomat. Actually, the system of mutual selection has allowed me to approach almost every career opportunity in China.
Indeed, this is not going to be an easy choice. I would love to work in such big cities as Beijing or Shanghai or Shenzhen. I would also love to return to my hometown, which is intimate, though slightly lagging in development. I would love to stay in the coastal area where life is exciting and fast-paced. I would also love to put down roots in central and western China, which is underdeveloped, but holds great potential.
All of these sound good. But they are only possibilities. To those of us who are bewildered at the abundance of opportunities, I would like to say: To choose means to accept challenge. To us young people, challenge often emerges in the form of competition. In the next century, competition will not only come from other college graduates, but also from people of all ages and of all origins.
With increasing international exchanges, we have to face growing competition from the whole outside world. This is calling for a higher level of our personal development.
Fifteen years ago, the knowledge of a foreign language or of computer operation was considered merely an advantage. But today, with wider educational opportunities, this same knowledge has become essential to everyone.
Given this situation, even our smallest choices will require great wisdom and personal determination.
As we gain more initiative in choice making, the consequence of each choice also becomes more important.
As we gain more initiative in choice making, the consequence of each choice also becomes more important.
Nuclear power, for instance, may improve our quality of life. But it can also be used to damage the lives and possessions of millions.
Economic development has enriched our lives but brought with it serious harm to our air, water and health.
To those of us who are blind to the consequences of their choices, I would like to say, To choose means to take responsibility. When we are making choices for ourselves, we cannot casually say: "It's just my own business. " As policy makers of the next century, we cannot fail to see our responsibility to those who share the earth with us.
The traditional Chinese culture teaches us to study hard and work hard so as to honor our family. To me, however, this family is not just the five of us who quarreled over television programmes. Rather, it is the whole of the human family. As I am making my choices, I will not forget the smile of my teacher when I correctly spelled out the word "China" for the first time, I will not forget the happy faces of the boys and girls we helped to send back to school in the mountains of Jiangxi Province. I will not forget the tearful eyes of women and children in Bosnia, Chechnya and Somali, where millions are suffering from war, famine or poverty. All these people, known and unknown, make up our big human family. At different points, they came into my life and broaden my perspective. Now as I am to make choices for myself, it is time to make efforts to improve their lives, because a world will benefit us all only if every one in it can lead a peaceful and prosperous life.
My Views on Receiving Education
In my early years, I did not see the value of education.
When I was going on thirteen, I started to run my own shop. From then on, I worked hard to become a successful businessman.
One day I realized the importance of the English language in the business world and started taking night classes.
I was able to communicate well with foreign customers after two years of English study. But I started to feel that, in the long run, having a limited knowledge of English was not enough to make my business successful. I knew that only a well- rounded education could guarantee my success in the future.
When I was eighteen, I had to make a decision to continue doing business or go back to school. There was one obstacle keeping me from getting an advanced education. I had only completed elementary school up to that point. I then went back to senior high school after four months of tutoring in different subjects. Being at school for the first time after so many years was somewhat embarrassing because my classmates were at least two or three years younger than I. I concluded that my age did not matter. The important thing was getting into college.
I took the College Entrance Exams. Although my math exam result was only one point below the required score. I never gave up hope. The following year, I took it again and received the highest score in my city. Achieving such an amazing result gave me encouragement and courage necessary to continue my education to the next step.
I am now in my second year of college and know that it is never too late to learn. My passion for studying and improving myself will never come to a halt as long as I continue to live.
“Live and Learn.” is the motto I have adopted. I believe with an education I will succeed. So, if you are wondering whether education is important, don’t hesitate a moment to step up and seize the opportunity.
Sports are more than competitions. To me, they mean growth under the care of others. I learned this the hard way.
I used to be very shy and often felt lonely. Although I did well in all the academic subjects, I was afraid of physical education. My classmates often laughed at me.
“Look at that girl,” they said. “Her feet don’t leave the ground when she runs!”
Their words embarrassed me. Moreover, whenever the teacher organized some competitive games, no one in the class liked to have me as their partner or team member. As a result, I often ended up looking at others enjoy their games.
Things would go on like that if not for a sports meet in my high school. By mistake, my name was put on the list of those who would compete in the women’s 1500 meters race. By the time people found the mistake, it was too late to change.
My desk-mate was a natural athlete. She said to me, “I couldn’t run that race in your place, because I’ve signed up for three items already.” Other athletic girls of the class said the same.
I was utterly dumbfounded. 1500 meters! Running against the best runners from other classes! And in front of students of the entire school! It would be the worst nightmare I’d ever have!
“You still have time to catch up because there is still one month before the sports meet,” they all said this to me, including my teacher.
My desk-mate patted me on the shoulder, “Cool! You will run for our class! And we will do training together.” Yes, this is not just for myself, but for my class too, I said to myself. But still, 1500 meters to me was like Mount Everest to a beginning climber. I had no idea even how to start my preparation.
Fortunately, my desk-mate gave me a hand. Every afternoon after class, several of us ran together. When the fear of being laughed at struck me, I saw others running right beside me. They gave me strengths. While we were running, some others would stand by the tracks cheering for us.
One month certainly couldn’t make me a good runner. But when I was standing behind the start line, I no longer felt lonely or afraid. I saw my classmates standing by the tracks waving at me as if about to run beside me.
With the shot of the starting gun, I dashed out and ran as fast as I could, as if it were a 200-meter race. Soon I was out of breath and slowed down. Other runners passed me one by one, and gradually I had no idea how many of them were still behind me. My legs were getting heavier and heavier, and I might fall down at any moment. However, I suddenly heard my classmates chanting my name. My desk-mate even ran along the tracks beside me and cheered for me at the same time, just like the month-long training we did together.
As expected, I was almost the last to cross the finish line. Immediately, my classmates held my arms and urged me to walk on my feet and not to sit down. I was surrounded, with all kinds of drinks handed to me. I felt a kind of warmth I had never felt before. Even though I was almost the last to finish the race, I was full of confidence that I would improve in the future.
That sports meet was an unforgettable experience. The memory of my classmates cheering for me, holding my arms and handing me drinks stays fresh on my mind. Sports are no longer about winning or losing. They give me a lot of confidence, both confidence in my fellow students and confidence in my own potential. I am no longer lonely, no longer afraid. Sports have brought me close to my classmates and helped us grow together.
Now, I participate in the sports meet every year. Even if I am not competing, I would help my classmates with their practice, just like the way my desk-mate and others ran with me.