Top Hong Kong Educator Joseph Sung: Crafting a Memorable Four Year University Life

Sep 26, 2012 12:19 PM EDT

Universities in Hong Kong welcome the new DSE entrance examination and the new four-year educational format, but expect new challenges in the coming year for both professors and students.

Dr. Joseph Sung, Christian educator and principle of Chinese University of Hong Kong, encourages the “freshmen” at the opening ceremony for the 2012-2013 school years to take heart in preparation for meaningfully experiencing the four years of university life.

Sung, who was in recent years voted as the favorite university president in Hong Kong, voiced the sentiments of the majority of university students: after so many years of tests and examinations, university life is time to relax since they have finally become qualified for university education. There is a saying on campus that if you are serious, then you’ve already lost.

Addressing this sentiment, Sung exhorted, “If you hold this attitude of relaxing and aiming for the easiest way out, then your university life will be a waste of time.”

Then, Sung proposed three ways that students can have meaningful experiences in their four-years of university life. First, try to read a book that is unrelated to your curriculum, of any topic, such as history, psychology, human civilization, photography, language, etc. Only this way can your life be enriched.

Apart from reading books, Sung also encouraged students to get to know a person from a different part of the world (or from another district). They can be someone in class or on another campus, someone international or within mainland China. Bring them to tour around Hong Kong or visit the Hong Kong Museum of History. While introducing Hong Kong history and society to them, try to understand their cultures and histories. You can also try learning languages from various countries, such as Korean, Japanese, Spanish, German, and English, and at the same time teach them Chinese.

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Finally, make friends with people with similar interests as you on campus. Sung said that we should not give up on any opportunity to get to know people on campus and to enjoy life, whether they are living in the dorms or commuting. He suggested that students should participate at least once in campus-related service projects, to learn the ways of teamwork. Since these projects are headed by different people and run by both male and female members, who are unselfish and non-competitive, it is conceivable that these same people and teams may help us in our future lives.

Sung believes that if the students follow these suggestions, their university lives will be unforgettable. They would have had read 30-40 books, explored three to four different cultures, spoken a few languages, and gained a deeper understanding of the world’s affairs by the time that they graduate. In addition, they would love working with people, and discourage competition for self-gain; their world will be much wider than just the two coasts of Victoria Harbor; they will improve in communication and interpersonal skills, and be good at responding to changes, and will built better interpersonal relationships; they will find jobs, excel professionally, and build solid families wherever they go.

The Chinese University of Hong Kong started in 1963, when it started implementing the four-year policy that undergone 23 years of debate until now; the four-year policy is now formally recognized as the Education Policy of Hong Kong.

[Editor's note: Carol Lee translated the article.]