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Hot Spot Connected to the World: New Multi-purpose Learning Centre at Shaw

Lo King-yeung
Prof. Freedom Y.K. Leung
Candice Lam

Located on Shaw campus, the Huen Wing Ming Building Multi-Purpose Learning Centre commands sweeping views of Tolo Harbour. Since its opening, it has quickly become a popular gathering spot of students. 'It is an ideal venue for activities held by the College and student bodies. It offers students a cosy resting spot on the College campus which can enhance a sense of belonging,' said Lo King-yeung, Year 3 student of sociology who just stepped down from the presidency of the Shaw Student Union.

According to Prof. Freedom Y.K. Leung, Dean of Students of Shaw College, the idea of building a centre originated in 2008. At that time, many students urged Prof. Joseph J.Y. Sung, the then College Head, to provide more room for gathering so as to facilitate academic exchange. In response to the request and to cater to the needs of the increased number of students under the new four-year curriculum, the College converted the long wing of its visiting scholar's flat Ya Qun Lodge in 2011. The plan was made possible with the generous donation from Mr. and Mrs. Patrick Huen, Mr. and Mrs. Ian Huen, Mr. and Mrs. Bernard Man as well as the support from University Grants Committee. The whole project involved about HK$27 million and was completed in the end of 2012. It was named after Mr. Patrick Huen.

Mr. Huen hoped students can spend quality time with friends in the centre, and relax their body and mind. 'Only with a peaceful mind can one be clear about one's own beliefs and values. I wish all students could grow their wisdom, build lifelong friendships and strive to achieve excellence with soul.'

The three-storey, 750 m2 centre has a capacity of about 350. With full height glazing, natural light can penetrate inside to create a green and refreshing ambience. Decked out with a bamboo pattern and a predominantly white palette, the simply designed space seems like an extension of the lush and verdant landscape outside. Chairs and desks, moveable couch and discussion rooms are available on the ground and first floors. On the ground floor, a large screen hanging on the wall faces a semi-circular bench, turning the zone into a small-scale theatre.

The centre, with Internet access, is equipped with up-to-date IT hardware and software to facilitate students' learning and knowledge exchange with people all over the world to promote the concept of learning without borders. Citing the example of the workshop 'Understanding Life through Photography', Professor Leung said the instructor can make good use of different online platforms to show videos and photos to enrich learning and discussion.

Events held at the centre included night gatherings between students and the Vice-Chancellor, College Head and outstanding alumni, experience sharing sessions and other whole-person education activities, as well as a workshop on photography. These activities used to be held in Fu Zung Centre, a multi-purpose room at the College. However, it was far less relaxing than the new centre.

As a resident student in the past years, King-yeung recalled days without the centre. He found it hard to study in the hostel because there were too many distractions. The number of seats in the study room in Wen Lan Tang was fewer than enough. Now the centre can provide an excellent place for study. Candice Lam, Year 2 student of the Integrated Bachelor of Business Administration Programme, said the discussion rooms are equipped with screens which can connect to the computer and project the work for ease of discussion. She believed the pleasant environment can boost the study morale.

Prof. Andrew C.F. Chan, Head of Shaw College, introduced the three key concepts of the centre — 'H' for 'Human', 'W' for 'Worldwide Web', and 'M' for 'Magic' which means a combination of the former two elements. He said the centre would encourage students to make good use of Internet resources to connect and interact with the world, and to nurture innovativeness.