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As the new academic year began, the University welcomed more than 4,000 freshmen to its campus. For these newcomers, GPA, or Grade Point Average, is naturally one of the most important things that they will keep an eye on for the next few years, but Prof. Rocky S. Tuan, who delivered on 3 September his first Inauguration Ceremony for Undergraduates speech as Vice-Chancellor and President of CUHK, urged the new students to focus on a different GPA.
G for Global Perspective
‘Living in one global village, we, the citizens of the world, are facing intricate issues and problems that can only be tackled or resolved with the collective wisdom, effort and collaboration across disciplines and across regions. That is why we offer the kind of education that will help students grow into civic-minded citizens with global vision and broad regional exposure,’ explained Professor Tuan the first letter ‘G’ that stands for global perspective.
He went on to introduce a new general education course named ‘Grand Challenges for Global Citizens in the 21st Century’ that is on offer this semester. Through this course, eight eminent professors will guide students to identify and analyse eight of the most pressing challenges the world is facing today, including the idea of global citizenship taught by Prof. Leung Mei-yee, global warming and its environmental and humanitarian consequences taught by Prof. Gabriel Lau, hunger and sustainable agriculture taught by Prof. Lam Hon-ming, the use of nuclear power and its risks taught by Prof. Chu Ming-chung, cultural conflicts and terrorism taught by Prof. Gordon Matthews, poverty and income disparity taught by Prof. Wong Hung, urbanization and sustainable living taught by Prof. Ng Mee-kam, and the challenge of big data and artificial intelligence taught by Prof. Helen Meng.
‘As university students, it is crucial for you to understand the complexity of these challenges, and to reflect on your responsibilities as global citizens. You will discuss with your peers from different disciplines to develop and formulate possible solutions to make the world a better place. You will be amazed to discover that you have the power to achieve more than imagined,’ Professor Tuan addressed the young audience.
P for Positive Mindset
Plenty of scientific evidence has shown that positive people tend to achieve better life outcomes, including physical and mental health, better work performance, supportive relationships and effective coping. Since it is so important to have a positive outlook on life, another brand-new general education course titled ‘Live to Flourish: the Science and Practice of Positive Psychology’ has been rolled out and opens to all undergraduate students starting this semester. The second letter of GPA stands for what the course aims to impart to its students──a positive mindset.
Jointly offered by the Department of Psychology and CUHK General Education, the course is taught by clinical psychologists and is a good mix of theory and practice. According to Professor Tuan, there will be plenty of exercises to help students develop new behavioural habits and thinking pattern, build a positive attitude towards life, identify their virtues and strengthen their resilience.
He also offered the audience a tip to boost mental health: ‘Whenever you feel tired or stressed out, take a stroll on our beautiful campus, take a deep breath of fresh air, and appreciate what nature has given us. It is scientifically proven that a grateful mind improves one’s well-being and chances of success.’
A for Appreciation of Cultures and Differences
The last letter ‘A’ stands for appreciation of cultures and differences. Professor Tuan encouraged new students to associate and interact with their peers who come from different racial, cultural, socioeconomic or linguistic backgrounds. ‘The opportunities you have here to interact with other young people from diverse backgrounds and experiences will significantly enrich your educational experience. You will develop a greater understanding and appreciation of the complexity and richness of the human experience.’
In fact, among the audience were over 600 non-local young elite admitted through the Non-JUPAS admissions scheme. Besides those recruited from 31 mainland provinces and municipalities, Macau and Taiwan, the international freshmen are from 29 countries including Canada, Egypt, France, India, Indonesia, Italy, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Malaysia, Morocco, the Netherlands, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Russia. For the first time ever, Bangladesh, Brazil, Mauritius, the Slovak Republic and Vietnam saw their students enrolling in CUHK’s undergraduate programmes.
‘Do engage with one another. Listen to people whose views are different from yours so that you can learn from them. It is the best way to learn and grow. Bigotry pre-empts rational discussion and will only undo the benefits that diversity has brought to this campus. Let’s join hands to create an environment in which people are enriched rather than divided by their differences,’ said Professor Tuan.
Reported by Christine N. with information by OAFA
This article was originally published in No. 523, Newsletter in Sep 2018.