It is an honor to be here with you today as we conclude the second year of the Schwarzman Scholars.
I would like to start by thanking all of the people from around the world who continue to make this program a reality: Tsinghua’s leadership at all levels starting with President Qiu, and Madam Chen, our esteemed faculty and advisors, our generous Cornerstone Partners: BP, Dalio Foundation, China Fortune Land Development, China Oceanwide Holdings, Starr Foundation, Founding Partners: Tingyi Holding Corporation and Reignwood Group, Partner: Volkswagen Company, the Schwarzman Scholars teams in both New York and Beijing, and of course, you, the second class of Schwarzman Scholars.
Nearly one year ago, you arrived at Schwarzman College to embark upon this adventure with us.
You came from 26 different countries to learn about China and becoming better leaders in today’s world. And you came to learn about building connections across cultures in the hopes of building a more peaceful world.
As the second cohort of Schwarzman Scholars, we also turned to you to help us take the program to new heights.
- You gave thoughtful feedback to our Academic Advisory Council to enhance the program’s focus on China’s role in the world.
- You helped us expand how we think about our leadership workshops. You seized opportunities to engage with donors through site visits, and planned student-led Deep Dive to cities and countries with growing significance around the region.
- You taught and learned from each other – sometimes in unexpected ways. You launched your very own version of Ted Talks – “Steve’s Briefs” – where you could teach each other about a number of areas in which you had strong interest and expertise.
- You also undertook a number of incredible initiatives outside the classroom – creating an A Capella group, a great a cappella group, running the Great Wall Marathon, and launching the first-ever "Africa Week" in Beijing.
While today is the culmination of your time at Schwarzman College, it is also the beginning of a new chapter. Indeed, your true mission has just begun.
You’ve all heard me say it before – for students today, China isn’t an elective course. It’s core curriculum. We built this program to foster communication and understanding between China and the rest of the world.
Now more than ever, China’s interactions with the United States and other regions are proving crucial to insure global prosperity and peace, your year in Beijing has going inside the most consequential periods, for China-US relation in recent history. In many ways, you are living through the very reason this program was created. As China and the United States undertake the challenging, but necessary process of rebalancing their relationship, across the whole house of dimension, from trade to foreign policy and many others. It is vital for our nation to do so, it is constructed and peace for manners. Building bonds and friendships with understanding across the borders. As you done over the course of this year, it is absolutely essential. Given the cause of the miscalculation your harm, in any complex relationship, there will sometimes arrive the disagreement that need to be addressed. For personally, I am confident with the bonds existed, particularly between China and United States, and our desire to preserve that important relationship. We will prevail. This year has provided you with unique opportunity to learn about the fast-pace changing in this region, and the challenge navigating the global relationship, that will be essential in the coming years as you continue your education or you move on to careers and public service, business, law, technology, medicine, science and many other worlds of professions.
Today, you also join our first class of Scholars as ambassadors for the program around the world. Our Alumni see, talk, email together frequently, to continue their intellectual engagement, and to strengthen the bonds they have with the Schwarzman Scholars community and each other. The Class of 2017 is excited to welcome you into their ranks, to the growing cohort of Schwarzman Alumni. It is hard to believe that they can’t get enough with each other, they live in what they called Schwarzhouses around the world, in New York, London, San Francisco, Seatle, Boston, Beijing…
From the very beginning I have emphasized the importance of our network. Our Alumni activities will ensure that these bonds, started here, will dramatically outlast your time in Beijing. This is a lifetime commitment. In the years ahead, you will continue to learn from each other, and help each other impact the world and I wouldn't be surprised to hear about a Schwarzman Scholars wedding or two. I urge you all to commit to being active Alumni and help us keep the network vibrant and strong.
Before I conclude, I wanted to leave you with some brief advice that I hope may be helpful in the years ahead.
It is important to remember that your lives will not move in a straight line. You all know that the world is an unpredictable place. In each of our lives, we face setbacks, difficulty and hardships along the way.
The resilience you show in the face of adversity, rather than the adversity itself, is what will define you as people and as leaders.
A second key to success is having a mission you believe in. Spending time on a career and on projects you have a passion for and fundamentally enjoy (not just what might look good on a resume). Focus on undertakings that you think could be really special and consequential for the world you live in. That will help you separate the trivial from the truly important.
For me, one such initiative is this program, Schwarzman Scholars. I truly believe that you all have the capacity to change and impact the world.
With that, we send you off with our greatest confidence and hopes. I am so proud of what you have accomplished. You are brilliant, creative, articulate, social, driven and optimistic people. That’s why you were chosen for this mission. I look forward to seeing all of the amazing things you – and the future classes of Schwarzman Scholars – are going to do in the years ahead.
Now, I’d like to introduce our special guest, Richard Liu.
Richard is a visionary entrepreneur and leader. He opened his first business in Beijing in 1998 – a four-square-meter counter store selling computer parts. A twist of fate led him to move his business online five years later. That was the start of JD.Com, which is today one of the largest online retailers in China with a market cap of $56 billion. As it has grown, Richard has shown that he understands the importance of cross-cultural relationships, and the value for his business of operating on a global scale.
He is managed to perfect the art of doing things with astonishing of efficiency and entrepreneurship. He and his wife, Zhang Zetian, have shown a constant commitment to give back to society through education. They have notably supported the important work that Tsinghua University is doing in the fields of artificial intelligence and logistics, and provided countless scholarships and grants to students from Richard’s alma mater, Renmin University, and dramatically helped so many people who have crossed his farm and land.
Richard’s profound understanding and encouragement of education, and open communication is why I am grateful he is here to speak to you today. He is a visionary and highly energetic person.
Richard - I am so grateful for your support, both as a donor to Schwarzman Scholars and an advisor to the program. Your leadership and creativity are an amazing example for those looking to make an impact. Thank you and here we go.
Stephen A. Schwarzman
Chairman, CEO and Co-Founder of Blackstone