Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Dr. J

Dr. J was an outstanding professor.  She was pretty, elegant, kind and compassionate.  She was devoted to her work and her students.   Her life of service was recognized by many awards. 

Several months ago, she was diagnosed with a rare kind of cancer.  Many of her colleagues, friends and students came to visit her.  Her family surrounded her with love and care.  A few days ago she passed away.  The Facebook account set up in her memory is quickly filling up with condolences.  She obviously touched many lives. 

Her university is faced with many challenges: pressure to do research and publish; competition for resources to do research; the government gave her university with far less resources for research than some others; obsession with rankings inside and outside of the university; competition for good students; competition for publicity; ...  I can’t help but feel that these pressures might have something to do with her health problems. 

Sometimes it feels like true scholarship and education has been losing out amid the pressure to compete.   It takes very strong faith and convictions to insist on living your life your own way.  And not to conform to others’ expectations of you - even those out of good intentions. 

There are signs it is changing in the right direction, putting teaching back at the right place in our university.  For the sake of the students and their professors, let us pray that the changes continue.  In the mean time, we shall remember Dr. J.


Cyiu Chau said...

Rest in peace, Dr. J.

Stephen, I strongly agree with your paragraph 4 (Sometimes it feels like ... ), especially the last part about conformity and expectations. Occasionally I have the feeling that donors (particularly those external parties) tried too hard to interfere and modify recipients' behavior. That doesn't sound like a reward to me, instead, it's more like a form of "有錢駛得鬼推磨". Just because I took their money, I had to live and behave in a way that they like. I felt like being a part of trading/ employment.

And I do feel bad when I spent tens of hours writing essays saying that how excellent and wonderful I am WHILE I COULD HAVE SPENT THE TIME ON READING OR DOING SERVICES OR DOING RESEARCH. Saying how good I am does not make me good. What defines me should be what I have done/ have been doing/ will do. Sometimes I worry if students nowadays spent too much time on polishing their CV/ essays/ interview skills but not taking study/ knowledge seriously.

StephenC said...

I think Dr. J is happy to hear that. I thank you on behalf of her.

Yeah, sometimes, people with good intentions impose too much of their desires on others. It is better that students and teachers be given more room to grow.

On the other hand, it is necessary to take some time to tell your story, so that others can be aware of it. It is a necessary evil, perhaps :-( As long as we are living among people, we have to try to live in peace with them. :-)

Do keep your own dreams and work hard to achieve them!

Cyiu Chau said...

haha, necessary evil, I love this term. :-)

My dreams, haha, yes, and I will grasp my chances.

Cyiu Chau said...

Perhaps I should take the 'necessary evil' as a chance to do self-reflection.

Well, I realized that I didn't participate much in COMP last year (especially in Sem2) and I came to this conclusion when I was trying to complete the list of ECAs in the HKSAR Gov. Scholarship renewal form ...

And this is good, because after looking back, you'd know what's been missing and it helps to make a better plan of your future.


StephenC said...

Even if something is "bad", we can always try to extract something "good" out of it.

I bet Steve Jobs would agree.

Cyiu Chau said...

Agree. Perhaps most of the times, things don't have an absolute distinction between "good" and "bad".

Oh, and, it's a shame that I had to say R.I.P in two consecutive days. Life is that fragile, huh?

But it's okay. Guess the purpose of life is not about longevity but inspiration, something that both Dr. J and Steve Jobs dedicated a significant portion of their lives to.

StephenC said...

Quite agree. Excellence is good, beauty is good, being kind is good, truth is good, ...

Both Dr. J and Jobs have done a lot of good in their own way.

By the way, 300+ people came to the requiem mass for Dr. J last evening. She definitely touched a lot of people with her life.

Keep in touch.