Over the weekend I made a quick trip to London to attend an event. It was the Global Teaching Excellence Award organised by the Higher Education Academy of UK. The Hong Kong Polytechnic University was selected as one of the 27 finalists for the award. So I have to attend the dinner and award ceremony with my colleague G on behalf of the university, because our submission was based on our work on service-learning.
The award was eventually given to University of Huddersfield. Among the 27 finalists, 16 were from UK, 5 from Australia, and one each from Hong Kong, Canada, Norway, Switzerland, South Africa and Netherlands. We heard that ~300 universities were involved. Evidently PolyU is the only university from Hong Kong (in fact, from all of Asia) shortlisted as one of the finalists. But we do not know how many from Hong Kong (or Asia) have entered.
Being a finalist for the award is, of course, an honour for our university. It also caused me to think about how ti came to be. That fact that so much have been done in the past 7 years is nothing short of a miracle. If Prof. Walter Yuen had not become our Vice-President of Academic Development; … if there were no transition from 3 year undergraduate programs to 4 years, giving us one more year to design a proper general education program; … if we had not developed a extra-curricular, sizeable, community service learning program by then; … if we had not had some passionate service-learning advocates to lead the effort from the beginning; … if subsequently we had not had strong backers in Prof. Timothy Tong, Prof. Angie Yuen and Prof. Daniel Shek; … if we had not developed a community of passionate teachers; … if we had not had the funds raised by our alumni office; … if we had not had the strong support of “supporting” units and administrators … then all these most likely would not have happened.
People might consider this a happy coincidence. But some of us know better. It is God’s providence, more than anything else, that caused it to happen. I have been in the thick of it from the beginning. I certainly did not plan it this way, and I don’t believe anybody else did.