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Music and religion are the two distinguishing characteristics of Chung Chi College. Do you think that students who do not major in or are not related to either may feel less at home?
Due to historical reasons, all undergraduate students in music or programmes offered by the Divinity School of Chung Chi College would be assigned to Chung Chi. The College therefore has greater music and religious sentiments compared to other Colleges. However, Chung Chi is more than either music or religion or for that matter any single disciplines. The values we embrace—such as love, kindness, equality, forgiveness, and humility—are in fact universal values of mankind and can be pursued and practised by students of all disciplines and persuasions. Although Chung Chi was founded by the Protestant Churches in Hong Kong, we respect and welcome other beliefs and faiths. Chung Chi College is the home to all of its members and all students feel equally at home.
The number of Colleges at CUHK has more than doubled in the past few years. How do you see the ‘competition’ that comes with it?
I do not see it necessarily in a negative light. Challenges often go hand in hand with opportunities. The growth in the number of Colleges has offered an invaluable chance for further collaborations among the Colleges. For example, Chung Chi has joined hands with different Colleges such as United College and Wu Yee Sun College to hold art exhibitions in some of the Hop Wai Art and Cultural Programme’s events. The events were well received and attracted participants from various parties.
Of course we always want to know what may give pause to students in selecting Chung Chi. Instead of hankering for ‘popularity’, what we are concerned with is how to further develop our College in order to make it a better place for both current and prospective Chung Chi students. If we identify areas for improvement that align with our College values, we will work on these areas and effect changes for the better.
What is Chung Chi’s educational philosophy?
We understand that every student is unique and we do not only cater for any particular type of students. At Chung Chi, we offer a diverse range of activities and extensive support so that every student could find something that they are interested in or passionate about. Our primary concern is for the students’ personal growth and how to develop their potentials. In a nutshell, we strive to nurture students with attributes advocated by the College, while also respecting their individuality at the same time.
How has your training as a scientist supported your role as College Head?
Interestingly enough, two thirds of the College Heads/Masters in CUHK have a science background. In my view, whether a Head/Master is a scientist, social scientist or humanist would not make much difference. The vision and the teambuilding skills of a leader, however, are the heart of the matter. If I have to name the positive attributes of a scientist, I will say objectivity and pragmatism. Our training as scientists teaches us to analyse issues based on data and facts. This is especially important for decision-making, when we have to balance different stakeholders’ interests and opinions. I think I’m a pragmatist and, being a pragmatist, I will give due consideration to the practicability of any idea.
You have been an adjudicator or a consultant at many science events. What have you observed regarding the potential of students of science in Hong Kong?
Having served as an adjudicator and consultant at science events for almost 20 years, I think I am in a good position to give some critical comments on the general performance of the participants. In many of the projects we review each year, there is still much room for improvement. Students are often unaware of their projects’ limitations. In some cases, they have not done enough literature review to realize that similar work had already been done in other parts of the world.
However, if you look at the top batch, the standard is quite high. We have had many Hong Kong candidates entering worldwide competitions and achieving remarkable results, proving that Hong Kong students’ abilities are well recognized in the international sphere.
To be frank, many of those who won awards in science competitions did not pursue a scientific career later on in their lives. But the truth-seeking attitude that the students developed through the science training—the ability to formulate bold and creative hypotheses and scrutinize them with caution and empiricism—is often greatly sought after in a diverse range of occupations and industries.
This article was originally published in No. 484, Newsletter in Oct 2016.