我認識肇麟源於2008年。當時，他代表運動代表隊（Sports Team Council）到校長室為城大運動代表隊刊物訪問我。2009年11月18日我家訪時去了他大埔富亨邨的家，他母親和他熱情地接待了我們一行人，至今記憶猶新。在學期間，他擔任城大越野長跑隊隊長及運動代表隊資深領袖（Sr Sports Team Council Member）。畢業後，他繼續參與長跑運動，並且跑而優則導，工餘替香港盲人體育會擔任視障長跑者的義務領跑員，把成就他人的心願視為自己的快樂。
與編委同學交換經驗時，對他們說，我當年在台灣清華大學當校刊編委時並無電腦，採訪、編輯、設計，都要靠人手書寫繪畫；今天，我擔任 IEEE Transactions on Reliability 的主編，這是一個學術雜誌，重視專業作品的品質與作者的寫作道德。城大的學生編委較當年的我更加成熟，與外界的交往更頻繁，然而他們仍然與我當年一樣，要為選擇題目、邀約稿件而傷腦筋。可見年代雖然不同，使用的工具也大有差別，可是編輯的問題核心與關心的社會價值卻完全沒有兩樣。終究見山還是山、見水還是水。
My life at CityU — Students and I
Students constitute the core of a university.
In our "2010-2015 Strategic Plan" we regard offering professional education to our students as the priority in CityU's development, aiming to provide our students with the environment for a high-quality education. A high-quality education can open the minds of the students, allowing the full manifestation of their potentials in addition to providing a relaxing and pleasant learning environment. A university should not merely be a school of occupational preparation for finding a job after graduation. I don't think the local society as a whole or the universities in Hong Kong have attached sufficient importance to this point.
In order to achieve the goal of educating students, opening their minds and promoting mutual understanding between the university and students, I have visited nearly 30 students' families in the past four years. I have chosen to visit students with different majors and academic achievements. When I visited their families, I tried to find out about their living conditions, home environment and family backgrounds. I also listened to what they thought about the University and their learning as well as their needs in their study.
In all my visits, the parents were present. Some of them had to ask for leave from work or came home early for the occasion. I have learned from speaking with them that the courses we offer and the objectives of our strategic plan are exactly what they have ardently wished for. They are satisfied with CityU's achievements during the past few years in offering a high-quality education and an excellent teaching and learning environment. I could appreciate from their friendly attitude and warm reception their love for their children and their high expectations for their future.
During one of those visits, I got to know Miss Sze Po-yan, who persisted with her studies at CityU even when she was terminally ill. In what was in other ways an ordinary visit, I was deeply touched by her extraordinary tenacity and her parents' firm support of her. Accompanied by Dr Maria Cheng Po-suen, I paid her and her parents one visit after another. When I saw her for the last time in hospital, feeble as she was, she chanted for me Du Fu's poem Going up the Gate Tower of the City of Yanzhou.
Visiting my father in the City of Yanzhou,
Ascend the South Gate Tower for a first look out.
Hanging clouds connected Mount Tai and the sea,
To cities of Qingzhou and Xuzhou level land stretched.
Nothing remains round the wreck of the Qin stele that stands
Or the crumbled King Lu's Palace rubbles.
Forever seized by melancholy for things of the past,
My heart trembled with hesitation.
Knowing that her days were numbered, I was moved to tears. Jia Dao's poem Farewell to spring at the end of the third month came to my mind.
It is exactly the thirtieth day of the third moon,
When good time parts me who dolefully croon.
Through the night you and I shall stay up today
For it is still spring ere bell tolls in the morn ray.
Yet, spring came to its end that year as in any other year. After receiving her CityU diploma at her bed, she passed away. Her parents have become CityU's friends since then, and we make it a point to write to each other on New Year's Day and other festivals.
On 16 December last year, the CityU Marathon Delegation, composed of 82 students, alumni and staff including me, participated in the Taipei International Marathon. Running along with our 82- member team in Taipei this time was Yeung Shiu-lun, a CityU alumnus. He didn't participate as a runner, however; but ran as a volunteer guide runner whose duty was to help a blind participant complete his race.
I met Shiu-lun in 2008 when he interviewed me in my office for a publication of the Sports Team Council. On 18 November, 2009, I visited Shiu-lun's home in Fu Heng Estate, Tai Po. The warm hospitality he and his mother extended to me and other CityU members still remains fresh in my memory. While studying at CityU, he was the leader of the CityU Cross-country Running Team and a Senior Sports Team Council member. Since graduation, he has continued his long-distance running. And because of his excellent performance, he started to volunteer at the Hong Kong Blind Sportsmen Association as a guide runner for the blind runners. He regards it his own happiness to help others fulfill their wishes.
Putting himself in the place of others and being always eager to help those in need, Shiu-lun is certainly our role model!
I often hold formal or informal meetings with students. The attendees include leaders of both undergraduate or graduate organisations, CityU's exchange students studying in the Mainland, students from other countries and the Mainland, international exchange students and CityU's graduate students. Occasionally, I also get together with students visiting from other universities in Hong Kong. There is a student from Africa who speaks putonghua more fluently than the average Hong Kong student and Cantonese much better than I. Our campus was crowded, but that does not stop me from running into students from the Chinese University of Hong Kong and the Hong Kong Institute of Education in our library sometimes. This can be considered as a snapshot of CityU's .diversity and plurality.
Through the thirty and some visits to students' homes and face-to-face conversations with several thousand students, I have the chance to share my views about university administration just as I listen to the students' comments attentively. When the editorial board of the students' monthly journal. came to interview me, I was only too happy to have the opportunity to learn about the views of the students of the post-80s and post-90s generations about a variety of issues. Many students are lovely and full of life and untouched by cynicism.
While exchanging experience with the students of the editorial board, I told them about the times I worked as a member of the editorial board of the school journal of Tsinghua University in Taiwan. There was no computer then, and all interviews, editing, design and writing were done by hand. Today, I serve as the editor-in-chief of IEEE Transactions on Reliability, an academic magazine that sets great store by the professional quality of the articles and the ethics of authorship. The student editors of CityU's school journal are more mature than I was then, and have more frequent contact with the world outside. However, they still have to rack their brains to get the right topics and solicit contributions from the right authors. Although we live in different times and the tools at our disposal are entirely different, the main concerns of the editors and the social values they hold on to remain the same. Nothing much has changed, as far as that is concerned.
I also learned from them that the relationship between different student organisations can be complicated at times. Differences of opinion arise, to such a point that they impugn each other when they run for student offices. Such mutual distrust has unfortunately led to the abortion of the election. I always urge our students to seek a common ground on major issues while allowing differences on minor ones. Such "team spirit" is in great need in our society, too.
Student organisations in the USA enjoy a much more peaceful and amicable relationship. As practice is the sole test for the truth, listening to both sides, overcoming one's prejudices and respecting other people are the established truth that all the teachers and students should learn and follow.
I have been to every corner of our university. From time to time I dine with the students at their cafeteria. While we eat, I would chat with them, listen to what they have to say and share my experience with them. There have been a few times when those who greet me and ask to have pictures taken with me or dine side by side with me are students from the University of Hong Kong, the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, the Hong Kong Polytechnic University or the Hong Kong Institute of Education. Many times I have run into CityU alumni at the Food Court in Festival Walk. While enjoying the delicious food with them, I also get to know their life and work.
Thanks to these occasions and my personal interest in food and cooking, I have gained a thorough understanding of the quality, price, service, hygiene and decor of CityU's cafeterias. When I learned from students that the food sold in cafeterias of the Chinese University of Hong Kong was cheaper and more delicious than ours, I made a special trip to try out the food there.
Outside Hong Kong, I have also had the opportunities to meet with CityU students in other countries and regions. For example, I met and talked with CityU students who studied at the University of Maryland in the USA, the students of Taiwan Yuan Ze University who had studied at the Business School of CityU as exchange students, the mainland students who had studied at the School of Law at a get-together in Beijing, some CityU alumni at Nanjing University and an honorary doctor of CityU in Paris. Those extensive encounters have given me fresh inspiration and are surprisingly helpful to me in drawing up policies, exercising efficient administration and recognising the strengths and weaknesses of our teaching and research.
In addition to these encounters, I routinely take part in such student activities as student orientations, barbecues, sports meets, marathons, musical events, dragon-boat races, annual dinners, seminars, commencement luncheons, student cartoon exhibitions, charity sales organised by the Student Union and tae kwon do practices. As long as my work schedule permits, I will never pass up the chance of communicating with students.
I would like to share with my readers the following observations from my encounters with students:
- The parents are excited over the fact that CityU is highly recognised in the world. Some single-parent families, though far from well-off, never neglect their children's education. As part of the silent majority, they support CityU's administration, but they don't want to draw the attention onto themselves.
- Many people are of the opinion that CityU's land is scarce and the campus is too crowded. Quite a few students express their views on different occasions that CityU has recruited too many students and that the crowded library and cafeterias have affected their life and study.
- Students have often complained about General Education courses. It should be pointed out that many students do not necessarily welcome the gut courses. Courses lacking in depth or teaching without adequate preparations do not escape the notice of the students. This observation of mine conforms to the views of the report of the December 2012 issue of the CityU Monthly.
- Non-local students complain repeatedly and bitterly about teachers who give lectures in Cantonese. The noisy classrooms are also a nuisance to them.
- Those students who have overseas exchange experience appear more mature. They tend to speak and behave appropriately. It is regretful that there is little contact among local students, mainland students and overseas students.
- There is wild speculation among the students as to why CityU's application for the establishment of a School of Veterinary Medicine was turned down by the government two years ago. All the students I have spoken to strongly support CityU's plan to establish such a school with its forward-looking character. Their firm support has strengthened our resolve to embrace what is sound and reasonable and establish this vet school.
- Almost all the students I have talked with are inspired by the recent rising prestige of CityU in society, which, as one representative remark has it, "CityU is now a university nobody can overlook." A CityU alumnus who came from Beijing in 2003 and who graduated at CityU and later obtained his MA degree at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology said to me: "When I first came to CityU, I quickly found out that the university was not well accepted by Hong Kong people. I felt quite lost and disappointed." She even felt that she had been hoodwinked into choosing CityU over a first-class university in the Mainland.
Besides these points, I have forwarded to relevant departments other observations, which they will consider, adopt or respond to as necessary. I have passed on a lot of valuable information to my colleagues for their reference, which will become the cornerstone of our plan to make CityU a world-class university.
It is worth mentioning that I have been invited to give about 40 lectures and speeches in the past two years at universities, high schools and academic conferences. In many high school graduation ceremonies, I talked with those future university students. About 1,700 people attended my lecture at the Chinese University of Hong Kong. At the annual conference of Chinese Academy of Sciences held in Chongqing, my lecture attracted 7,000 listeners. I treasure these opportunities where I can promote education, popularise innovative science and technology, disseminate humanistic knowledge and broaden academic exchange with the outside world. Through these activities, I am able to spread the word about CityU's high-quality teaching and research to other places of the world. I am particularly inspired by the unexpected support from communicating and comparing notes with other participants of these events.
I wrote a series of articles after the Fukushima nuclear accident, which the Hong Kong Cosmos Books published under the title A Spectrum of Energies: Reflection of Energy and Environmental Protection in the Wake of Fukushima Nuclear Accident. The royalties from the book have gone to student scholarship. The work is now in progress to issue the second edition in simplified Chinese by Guangxi University Press. The Japanese and English editions of the book will be based on the second edition, and negotiation is underway with publishing houses outside Hong Kong.
Four years have fleeted by since I have made CityU my home. I keep thinking about all the students and their families I have visited, and their concerns and expectations for CityU. I firmly believe that in the environment that encourages exploration, our students will work hard in their studies and get prepared for their future career. I also believe that their parents will always patiently give their support to CityU. All this is not only the hope we place on our students, but also the goals for which my colleagues and I should continue to strive.
The famous writer Mo Yan once said, when the majority are crying, we should allow some people not to cry. When crying becomes a performance, we should all the more allow others not to cry.
I have taken up the opportunity of communicating with students to introduce to all the standards a modern university should uphold. I also encourage the students to stand on their own feet and strive to improve themselves all the time. I would like to see them respect the opinions of others while adhering to their own views.
More often than not students are our teachers.
This blog was carried in the CityU Monthly in February & March 2013.
March 18, 2013