CUHK Newsletter 2 No. 91 19th June 1996 Comments from Senior Administration Strength through Diversity: The Missions of the Office of International Studies Programmes and the Yale-in-China Chinese Language Centre From the Director of OISP and CLC Communication channels that bore into every corner of the world have linked us in many ways. Now, with the World Wide Web spreading at lightening speed, differences between us w i ll further shrink. But they won't disappear. The world may be connecting, but in no substantial way is it in danger of homogenizing. There are still 240 languages in the world, each of which has a million or more native speakers. The cultures they represent are as distinct as their languages and require the same effort and sensitivity to bridge and learn. More important to each of those cultures than inward-looking guardians are confident, competent representatives who are able to span and connect, to involve themselves in the intercultural give and take that will create stronger and healthier diversity. It is the training of such elites that preoccupies The Chinese University's International Asian Studies Programme (IASP) and Yale-in-China Chinese Language Centre (CLC). Both these units are integral components of The Chinese University which, in their self-sustaining capacity, had 'one-line budgeted' before that concept became the universal fiscal practice here. They report directly to pro- vice-chancellors rather than faculty deans, IASP was founded in 1976 at the initiative of Yale-in-China to take advantage of the 'associate student' or 'non-degree' candidate category at CUHK for recruiting international graduate and undergraduate students and, reciprocally, to open similar spaces in international universities for CUHK students. The link with Yale-in-China (subsequently called Yale-China) was maintained for a decade, towards the end of which the Office of International Studies Programmes (OISP) was founded. It was conceived as a coordinating body for the special courses on China and Hong Kong that had developed under IASP's curriculum, as well as for managing the growing number of exchange agreements between this university and its sister institutions around the world. Expansion in the last 20 years has been very much in conformity with the growth of Hong Kong and the heightened status of CUHK as a world-class institution. Beginning with fewer than 50 international students, the programme now admits over 150 through the 30-plus reciprocal agreements that are currently active. Outgoing students, who numbered three in 1982, grew to 73 in the 1995-96 academic year. Since its inception, the programme has received 1,543 international students and sent a total of 393 CUHK students abroad. OISP's eight salaried staff members are headed by a concurrently appointed director and two associate directors. Together they manage the curriculum for foreign students (which offers 12 or 13 courses in English annually on various aspects of Chinese and Hong Kong culture), and the selection, admission, and, with the solid cooperation of the four colleges, the housing of students. They also handle publicity, recruitment, orientation and the range of issues related to outgoing CUHK students. To celebrate the 20th anniversary of its founding, the programme will hold an alumni reunion in late June next year. It will comprise four days of ceremonials, discussion and related activities, including a seminar on Hong Kong transitional issues with key community and academic specialist figures as lead speakers. Response to date indicates that a considerably larger number than expected of OISP's nearly 2,000 alumni will attend. The Yale-in-China Chinese Language Centre is the older of these two institutions, and embodied in its name is recognition of its historical association with and debt to Yale-in-China. Founded first outside the colleges in 1963, it later joined New Asia, then became a part of the University in 1974. Located in the two Fong buildings that are within sight of the University railway station, CLC has two distinct purposes: to teach Putonghua and Cantonese to international students, and Putonghua to CUHK undergraduates. Its international alumni far exceed 10,000 and include those who now hold senior positions in different sectors of society in some 60 countries. Presently an average of 350 international students are trained in Chinese in each of the three semesters, which include a summer semester. In each of the two academic year semesters, some 1,000 CUHK undergraduates are enrolled in one or another of the four elective courses that form part of the University's general education curriculum; another 2,000 queue up on waiting lists. Special courses in addition to these core responsibilities include: 。 a tuition-paying, 75-hour intensive Putonghua course for 96 undergraduates; 。a cooperative programme with the Facility of Education in Putonghua training for select middle-school instructors; and • subsidized Putonghua and Cantonese courses offered each semester for University staff and spouses. CLC, too, is a college within a college, with two chief administrators and 11 supporting staff handling the entire spectrum of issues surrounding international students' education at the centre and CUHK undergraduates in regular and special programmes. Its 47 full- and part-time instructors, all highly experienced in their craft, use texts that are in a large measure compiled at the centre. Currently, CLC is collaborating with Peking University on an entire new set of Putonghua instructional materials for use at the elementary and intermediate levels. CLC faculty are also involved in applied linguistics and pedagogy research. Four of them will soon present research papers at the annual meeting of the International Chinese Language Association in Beijing, and, for the past three years faculty members have been joined by a visiting scholar in residence 一 currently Prof. Zhao Shuhua of the Beijing Languages and Culture University (Beijing yuyan xueyuan) — who works closely with them on Chinese language related projects. OISP and CLC are strongly interdependent, with virtually every OISP student carrying out a large share of his or her work at CLC. Together these units form a unique Hong Kong and South China resource, which enables students to experience other cultures and acquire that transformation so essential to intelligent world citizenship. No similar structure exists in the territory, nor indeed in any part of China south of the Yangtze River. It affords its participants the opportunity to increase their understanding of themselves through intensive interaction with another society. Learning a language, from first acquiring words to thee building them into meaningful and increasingly complex strings, is hardly different as an intellectual process from learning a culture. The symbiotic relationship between the OISP and the CLC is reflected in the missions of these CUHK enterprises. They focus on diversities, then bridge them as their strengths grow simultaneously sharper. John C. 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