Monday, September 22, 2014

Class Boycott

The university students have started the class boycott against Beijing’s screening of candidates for the election for the chief executive.  

A group of students are gathering on the PolyU campus.  

There are probably a couple hundred of them sitting in the group.  Around them is another couple hundred of students and staff, watching.  They heard speeches by the student leaders, and some of their teachers.  

They then read a statement stating that they do not accept Beijing’s decision to impose such a high barrier to screen out candidates Beijing does not like.  

They then marched around campus, and are now on the train to Chinese University to join the other students.  

Friday, September 19, 2014

My world

Today I have to attend an all-day workshop.  My one deliverable from the workshop is this doodle of a world map.  

It may not be 100% accurate.  But it was done 100% from memory.  

Thursday, September 18, 2014

International Service-Learning

In 2010 we took a team of 20 students to Cambodia for the first time.  We served at 3 community centres, a women’s shelter, and an orphanage.  At that time, we did not yet give academic credits to students for doing service-learning.  Even though the students did as much as - in fact, more than -  what students do in a 3-credit subject.  They did it strictly as volunteer work.  

That first Cambodia project was one of the major reasons that convinced the university that service-learning can be, - in fact, should be - credit-bearing.  They then went further and made it compulsory. 

In 4 years time, we have made tremendous strides.  In 2013-14, we offered 30+ service-learning subjects, taken by 1,900 students.  136 of those students, taking   4 different subjects, went overseas to Myanmar, Cambodia, Indonesia and Rwanda. 80 of them were my students. 

Looking back, it is nothing short of miraculous. We certainly did not expect that back in 2010.  And we did not do that by ourselves.  We are thankful to God who made it happen, who also allowed us to play a part in it. 

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

The Professor

My wife and I went to see “The Professor” last evening and were greatly impressed.  It was centered around a lecturer and his students. It touches on social justice, civic activism, etc., issues that are directly linked to the issues of universal suffrage, open and fair elections, protests, Occupy Central, …  The auditorium was full of students who obviously identified with the characters.  Many times they applauded what was said, about university life, professors, administrators, student leaders, …

A student leader had a run-in with the police linked to his activism.  His mother  the conservative wanted him to distance himself from his fellow activists.  His uncle the liberal lecturer wanted him to “do the right thing”.  His love-smitten girl friend wanted to help but didn’t know how, …

As concerned citizens, teachers, and parents, my wife and I see ourselves reflected in many of characters. We identify with them and feel their anguish.  We were young once, and have been in daily interaction with students and young people ever since.  We can also see things from their perspective and feel how they feel.  Often it is difficult to know what position to take, and what action to engage in.  But we are committed to helping young people think for themselves, to pursue the truth, and to do what is right.  

What we see in the play is in very stark contrast to the despicable behaviour of some of our so called leaders and high officials in charge of education.  These supposedly knowledgeable adults do not want the students to think.  They just want the young people to be obedient.  They have lost all credibility and legitimacy.  

Don’t think?

Normally we would encourage our students to learn to think for themselves, and their teachers and professors to guide them in the process.  The headmasters, university presidents, and officials in charge of education are supposed to create an environment conducive to learning and thinking. 

Lately, however, we have the minister of education, an ex-minister of education, an ex-president of the Chinese University, an ex-headmaster of a leftist secondary school, and numerous such people jumping up to tell the students, their teachers and their parents to stop thinking for themselves, to just toe the line of the government on the election of the chief executive.  

This is a great opportunity for the students to learn about public affairs that affect  the community.  And you are telling them you will do the thinking for them.  No, you are saying that the Communist Party will do the thinking for everyone.  Shame  on you.  

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Hong Kong the Beautiful

Hong Kong can still be beautiful.  

 On a rare day when it is sunny, and the sky is blue.  

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Communists are Civil?

Most of us have known for a long time, but it is still revealing to hear it from the horse’s mouth, so to speak.  Beijing’s representative told the pan-democrats in Hong Kong, “The fact that you are alive shows the country’s civility and inclusiveness.”  The original words were in Putonghua.  So something might have been lost in the translation.  But the core message is quite clear.  

From their perspective, pan-democrats should be thankful that they are even allowed to survive.  This is as far as Beijing is prepared to go.   Don’t ever dream of an election in which pan-democrats can genuinely participate.  

We can all stop dreaming now.  Reality can be harsh and even cruel.  But it is better to face up to it, and deal with it.  

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Dreams of Cambodia

We have taken teams to Cambodia on service-learning projects every year since 2010.  This summer, some of the students who went with us in 2013 formed a team to work on their own projects.  They call themselves “Connect Beyond Dream”, and worked in a slum in San Sok, on the outskirts of Phnom Penh.  They helped the local YMCA refine their home-stay program, did a survey of the slum, ran a number of health promotion workshops such as personal hygiene, wound management, shoe painting, etc.  They are hoping to form an organisation to continue the effort.  This week they are running an exhibition on campus to publicise their project and to recruit new members.  They put a lot of effort in organising the exhibition and it has been well-received.  

This is what we would like to see happening when we started the credit-bearing service-learning program across the campus.  Students continuing to participate in community service not because they have to, but because they want to.  We are trying to build a culture of social engagement at the university. And this is hopefully just the beginning. 

We are so proud of you.  Keep it up.