- 2021 Matriculation Address 2021.02.26
Beloved freshman class,
I express my sincere congratulations and a warm welcome to you as proud Yonseians. You have achieved a victory in a battle against yourselves after years of hard work. I would also like to extend my congratulations and gratitude to the parents and family members of today’s incoming students for supporting their children with love and encouragement.
It is with great regret that this matriculation is being held online due to the coronavirus pandemic. Nevertheless, we have grown through the constraints and difficulties over the past year, and we are able to find hope from despair and see the light at the end of this long tunnel.
The COVID-19 crisis has forced humanity to question our daily lives and routines and seek alternatives. As dystopian fiction became a reality, we had to hasten our vaguely postponed search for the solutions to the pandemic as well. Above all, this crisis reminded us of the value of the ordinary moments we often take for granted. It also allowed us to look back at how organically connected we are as individuals and societies. History will record that this challenge was an opportunity to bring awareness and reflection necessary for the growth of humankind. In that sense, we are still being tested on how we will be recorded in history.
Dear freshman class,
In this time of great civilizational transformation, you have now become university students. If you had been educated to follow the given curriculum throughout your elementary school, middle school, and high school years, you have now reached a point where you, as university students, have to start comprehending the world, designing your solutions to its problems, and learning from the process. To do so, you must broaden your academic perspective and use your insight to serve others. The old-fashioned way of thinking, such as pursuing personal comfort or family-centrism, will no longer be acceptable in the post-pandemic world. As our planet is organically connected, one person’s minor egocentric behavior today may threaten all of us with a counterattack of a virus or environmental disaster in a few days. Likewise, if your definition of success in college is you alone getting a good grade, you cannot be the talent this society needs.
Yonsei University was first established 136 years ago, with the dedication and service of missionaries Horace Grant Underwood and Horace Newton Allen, who first set foot on the barren land of Joseon in their 20s. What these strangers pursued in Joseon was not a comfortable life but a place they could practice their values and not back away from any obstacles. They were able to do so because they firmly believed that their path was a calling from the heavens. They were confident that it is the path towards freedom that benefits society and contributes to the common good.
Beloved entering students,
I am confident that you, as the newest members of the Yonsei family, will continue to carry the proud legacy of Yonsei, remembering the sweat and tears shed by 350,000 alumni members. At the Yonsei campus, you will learn to overcome the difficulties and challenges of this era, guided by the spirit of "truth and freedom.” As innovative leaders with a community spirit, I hope you will become real talents that contributes to humanity.
Now that you have taken your very first step as university students, you may be worried about your studies and your university life due to the COVID-19 situation. However, don’t be too concerned, as we have prepared an innovative and future-oriented curriculum. Although you will not enter the dormitory, you will receive a diverse and systematic residential college (RC) education. Our learning competency support programs and career and psychological counseling systems are readily available for students to access through video chats, online events, and real-time communication. Through the RC community, you will learn to respect differences, care for and empathize with others, and communicate with each other as you debate about education, society, and the future. Although the first semester will be conducted fully online, you will experience innovative new digital-media education resources that will serve as a foundation for the future of higher education. As you start to explore the virtual space to communicate with people from all over the world, you will be making another step to becoming a global leader.
Today, you will take the Freshman Honor Pledge as a proud Yonsei student. It is a promise to become a mature and responsible intellectual. Through this pledge, I hope you will (1) engage in university life and academic activities sincerely and honestly, (2) be considerate and show respect towards other members of the Yonsei community, and (3) actively participate in solving social issues with creativity and innovative thinking. By doing so, I am confident that you will grow up to be a true Yonseian who protects the honor of a university student. As Yonsei poet Yun Dong-ju said, I hope all of you will live a life with "no spot of shame, as [you] look to heaven."
While honoring your duties and roles as a university student, run free in the vast Yonsei campus, the Hall of Truth and Liberty. Always remember the basics and principles of your college education and strive for bigger dreams. Keep calm, take your time, and don’t be afraid to step into the unknown. Enjoy the memorable times college life has to offer.
Dear new Yonseians,
Don't forget the excited and determined mindset you had during today's matriculation, and come back to it whenever you feel lost or exhausted. Once again, congratulations, and a big round of applause to our beloved entering students as you begin your new chapter here on this campus where the dedication of seniors and the spirit of the Yonsei eagle reside. Thank you!
 Yun Dong-ju. Sky and Wind and Star and Poem.
Original line: “Till my dying day, let no spot of shame be upon me, as I look to heaven.”