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He Jiang’s Harvard University Commencement Address

[日期:2018-05-15] 来源:  作者: [字体: ]

When I was in middle school, a poisonous spider bit my right hand. I ran to my mom for help, but instead of taking me to a doctor, my mom set my hand on fire. After wrapping my hand with several layers of cotton, then soaking in wine, she put a chopstick into my mouth and ignited the cotton. Heat quickly penetrated the cotton and began to roast my hand. The searing pain made me want to scream, but the chopstick prevented it. All I could do was watch my hand burn – one minute, then two minutes – until my mom put out the fire.

  You see, the part of China I grew up in was a rural village and at that time, pre-industrial. When I was born, my village had no cars, no telephones, no electricity, not even running water. And we certainly didn’t have access to modern medical resources. There was no doctor my mom could bring me to see about the spider bite.

  For those who study biology, you may have grasped the science behind my mom’s cure – heat deactivates proteins and a spider’s venom is simply a form of protein. It’s cool how that folk remedy actually incorporates basics about chemistry, isn’t it? But I am a Ph.D. student in biochemistry at Harvard. I now know that better, less painful and less risky treatments existed. So I can’t help but ask myself why I didn’t receive one at the time.

  Fifteen years have passed since that incident. I’m happy to report that my hand is fine. But this question lingers and I continue to be troubled by the unequal distribution of scientific knowledge throughout the world. We’ve learnt to edit the human genome and unlock many secrets of how cancer progresses. We can manipulateneural activity literally with a switch of light. Each year brings more advances in biomedical research – exciting transformative accomplishments. Yet, despite the knowledge we’veamassed, we haven’t been so successful in deploying it to where it is needed most. According to the World Bank, 12 percent of the world population lives on less than $2 a day; malnutrition kills more than 3 million children annually. 300 million people are afflicted by malaria globally. All over the world, we constantly see these problems of poverty, illness and a lack of resources impeding the flow of scientific information. Life-saving knowledge we take for granted in our modern world is often unavailable in these underdeveloped regions. And so, in far too many places, people are still essentially trying to cure a spider bite with fire.

  While studying at Harvard, I saw how scientific knowledge can help others in simple yet profound ways. The bird flu pandemic in the 2000s looked to my village like spell cast by demons. Our folk medicine didn’t even have half measures to offer. What’s more, famers didn’t know the difference between common cold and flu. They didn’t understand that the flu was much more lethal than common cold. Most of them were also unaware that the virus could transmit across different animal species. So when I realized that simple hygiene practices like separating different animal species could help contain the spread of this disease and that I could help make this knowledge available to my village, that was my first “ah-ha” moment as a budding scientist. But it was more than that. It was also a vital inflection point of my own ethical development, my own self-understanding as a member of the global community.

  Harvard dares us to dream big, to aspire to change the world. Here on this Commencement Day, we’re probably thinking of the grand destinations and big adventures that await us. As for me, I’m also thinking of the farmers in my village. My experience here reminds me how important it is for researchers to communicate our knowledge to those who need it. Because by using the science we already have, we could probably bring my village and thousands like it into the world you and I take for granted every day. And that’s an impact every one of us can make!

  But the question is: will we make the effort or not?

  More than ever before, our society emphasizes science and innovation. But an equally important emphasis should be on distributing the knowledge we have to those who need it. Changing the world doesn’t mean everyone has to find the next big thing.It can be as simple as becoming better communicators and fining more creative ways to pass on the knowledge we have to people like my mom and farmers in the local community. Our society also needs to recognize that the equal distribution of knowledge is a pivotal step of human development. And we’ll work to bring this into reality. And if we do that, then perhaps a teenager in rural China who is bitten by a poisonous spider will no longer have to burn his hand, but will know to seek a doctor instead.

  Thank you. Xiexie.

commencement  /kə`mensmənt /

 [count] AMERICAN a GRADUATION ceremony

soak  / səuk; sok/ v
 [I, Ipr] ~ (in sth) become thoroughly wet by being in liquid or by absorbing liquid 浸; 泡; 湿透: The dirty clothes are soaking in soapy water. 脏衣服都在肥皂水里泡着呢. * Leave the dried beans to soak overnight. 把这些乾豆子泡一夜.

ignite  / ɪgˈnaɪt; ɪɡˋnaɪt/ v [I, Tn] (cause sth to) catch fire (使某物)燃烧, 着火; 点火; 点燃: Petrol ignites very easily. 汽油易燃. * He struck a match and ignited the fuse. 他划了根火柴, 点着了导火索.

penetrate  / ˈpenɪtreɪt; ˋpɛnəˏtret/ v
[Ipr, Tn] ~ (into/through)sthmake a way into or through sth进入或穿过某物: Our troops have penetrated (into) enemy territory. 我部队已深入到敌占区. * The mist penetrated (into) the room. 雾已渗入室内. * The heavy rain had penetrated right through her coat. 大雨湿透了她的大衣. * (fig 比喻) The cat's sharp claws penetrated (ie pierced) my skin. 猫的尖爪刺进了我的皮层.

searing  / `sɪrɪŋ / adjective

extreme in degree or strength:
searing pain/passion/poignancy
searing heat

de·ac·ti·vate/ di`æktɪ,veɪt / verb [transitive]

to prevent something such as a bomb or an ALARM from being able to work

ven·om/ `venəm / noun [uncount]

poison produced by some animals, especially snakes and insects

rem·e·dy1 / `remədi / noun [count] **

a cure for pain or a minor illness:
herbal remedies


/ ɪnˈkɔːpəreɪt; ɪnˋkɔrpəret/ v
 [Tn, Tn.pr] ~ sth (in/into sth) make sth part of a whole; include 将某事物包括进去; 包含: Many of your suggestions have been incorporated in the new plan. 你的建议多已纳入新计画中

linger  / ˈlɪŋgə(r); ˋlɪŋɡɚ/ v [I, Ipr, Ip]
stay for a long time; be unwilling to leave 逗留; 徘徊: She lingered after the concert, hoping to meet the star. 音乐会後她徘徊不去, 希望能一见明星.

manipulate  / məˈnɪpjuleɪt; məˋnɪpjəˏlet/ v [Tn]
control or handle (sth) with skill 熟练控制或操纵(某事物): manipulate the gears and levers of a machine 熟练操纵机器的排挡和变速杆 * Primitive man quickly learned how to manipulate tools. 原始人很快学会了使用工具.

neural  / ˈnjuərəl; ˋnjʊrəl/ adj(anatomy 解) of the nerves 神经的.

amass  / əˈmæs; əˋmæs/ v [Tn] gather together or collect (sth), esp in large quantities (尤指大量地)积累, 积聚, 收集(某事物): amass a fortune 积累财富

afflict  / əˈflɪkt; əˋflɪkt/ v [usu passive 通常用於被动语态: Tn, Tn.pr] ~ sb/sth (with sth) cause trouble, pain or distress to sb/sth使某人[某物]苦恼﹑疼痛或悲痛: She is afflicted with (ie suffers from) arthritis. 她患关节炎.

impede  / ɪmˈpiːd; ɪmˋpid/ v [Tn] hinder or obstruct the progress or movement of (sb/sth) 阻碍, 妨碍, 阻止(某人[某事物]): The development of the project was seriouslyimpeded by a reduction in funds. 由於基金削减工程进度严重受阻.

profound  / prəˈfaund; prəˋfaʊnd/ adj
[usuattrib通常作定语] (fml文) deep, intense or far-reaching; verygreat深的; 深切的; 深远的; 极度的; 极大的: a profoundsigh, silence, sleep, shock 一声长叹﹑一片死寂﹑一阵酣睡﹑一次沉重的打击 * take a profound interest in sth对某事物产生极大的兴趣

pandemic  / pænˈdemɪk; pænˋdɛmɪk/ n, adjdisease occurring over a whole country or the whole world 全国或全世界流行的(疾病).

demon  / ˈdiːmən; ˋdimən/ n
wicked or cruel spirit 恶魔; 魔鬼: medieval carvings of demons中世纪的魔鬼雕像.

lethal  / ˈliːθl; ˋliθəl/ adj
causing or able to cause death 致死的; 能致命的: a lethal dose of poison 毒药的致命剂量 * lethal weapons致命武器.

budding  / `bʌdɪŋ / adjective [only before noun]

at the very beginning of a career in writing, acting, politics, etc. and likely to be successful at it:


em·pha·size/ `emfə,saɪz / verb [transitive]

to give particular importance or attention to something:
At school they emphasize good manners.

pivotal  / `pɪvətl / adjective

 extremely important and affecting how something develops:
a pivotal moment in the history of the Egyptian state
He played a pivotal role in the negotiations.
a pivotal figure/player in U.S. politics



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