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  • Before I came to the United States,

  • I learned in history class about the Declaration of Independence.

  • But these words had no meaning to me.

  • Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

  • I was merely memorizing the words to get good grades.

  • These words sounded so strange, so abstract and foreign to me

  • until I came to University of Maryland.

  • I have learned the right to freely express oneself is sacred in America.

  • Each day at Maryland, I was encouraged to express my opinions on controversial issues.

  • I could challenge a statement made by my instructor.

  • My voice matters.

  • Your voice matters.

  • Our voices matter.

  • Civil engagement is not a task just for politicians.

  • I have witnessed this when I saw my fellow students marching in Washington D.C.,

  • voting in the presidential election

  • and raising money to support various causes.

  • Freedom is oxygen.

  • Freedom is passion.

  • Freedom is love.

  • And as a French philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre once said,

  • "Freedom is a choice. Our future is dependent on the choices we make today and tomorrow."

Before I came to the United States,

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Shuping Yang's University of Maryland speech provokes backlash

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