On the 50th anniversary of HKSYU, and as a founding member of the university, I wish to share, through this letter, some stories of this journey. This is also a timely moment to reflect upon the times that gave birth to HKSYU and to revisit the founding ideals in the university’s motto.
In the 1960s, the modern Hong Kong economy had yet to take off. Dr. CHUNG Chi-yung was teaching at different tertiary institutions in Hong Kong. Yet, she was deeply concerned about the lack of further education opportunities for young people in general. She was also exercised about the lack of hope among them. This was what motivated her to start a university. As Dr. CHUNG’s life partner, I was moved by her passion and sincerity. I was duty bound to join her to pursue and accomplish her mission. In 1971, Shue Yan College was founded on Sing Woo Road, Happy Valley, with Dr. CHUNG as Vice President and Principal and me as President. In the blink of an eye, 50 years had come and gone.
Shue Yan’s philosophy of education is that it is equally important for students to nurture their knowledge and develop a good character. The school motto, “Cultivating virtues of benevolence; broadening horizons and knowledge”, carries the heartfelt hopes we invest in our students. We hope that Shue Yan graduates will excel academically, be learned and virtuous, and become useful, upstanding members of society.
Dr. CHUNG and I grew up in war-torn strife and destruction. We were lucky enough to be able to finish our degrees, go abroad for further studies and come to work in Hong Kong. We have always been proud of our Chinese heritage and have always been in awe of the profundity of Chinese culture. Living in Hong Kong, a society where the East meets the West, the feelings of belonging we have for our country have only become stronger and more determined with time.
For people of our generation, benevolence is the essence of Chinese culture. It emphasises harmony with the laws of nature and respect for human nature. It guides how one should conduct oneself in life. It is the way of being in the world. It promotes the realisation and benefit of self and others. It is about the deep feelings of embracing one’s country as home. It calls for treating others with lenity and generosity. It demands devotion in what we do but without forgetting the Middle Way.
When Shue Yan College was founded in 1971, I was already half a century old and had come to learn the workings of life. I understood that it is in the hands of man to make something happen and that also requires the right timing and a measure of fortune. We should strive for what ought to be done and never give up lightly. If you run into difficulties and realise you have to change direction after careful thought, you should do so boldly and decisively.
In Shue Yan’s early years, we were unconventional and pioneering in curriculum design and in developing teaching materials. We met the needs of Hong Kong’s social and economic development at the time by founding departments in law and politics, social work, and commerce and industry. We were also forerunners in international collaboration by initiating a joint programme with the Northeast Louisiana University of the United States and by inviting American scholars to give summer courses in Hong Kong. And when there were no suitable teaching materials available for some subjects and courses at the time of launch, our faculties created textbooks based on their notes, articles and research reports. They imparted knowledge to the young with great patience and dedication.
From Sing Woo Road to Monmouth Path and Braemar Hill, Shue Yan has met and overcome many challenges. Over the years, it has held steadfast to a four-year college system, whole person education, and cultivating the virtues of benevolence. Every single brick and tile and each of the 176 piles at the university campus today are the precious result of years of commitment, hard work and love. In Hong Kong, the “Lion Rock spirit” is revered. In one corner of Hong Kong Island, Shue Yan has produced the “Braemar Hill spirit” – a singular blend of qualities that combines perseverance with a constant quest for self-improvement, the active building of goodwill with a disposition to serve others, and principled determination with an ability to move with the times. Dr. CHUNG Chi-yung penned the following words on the 10th anniversary of the founding of the college: “There is always give and take with any decision we make. What is it that we prioritize, and why? When we give up everything else in pursuit of that priority, we should be at peace with ourselves, free of grudge and regret.”
We must stay true to our ideals if we are to be successful. The story of Shue Yan is a story of faith: we see hope because we believe; we touch hearts because of our devotion and action; our efforts bear fruit because we persist.
The young should be bold and ambitious. A piece of jade is nothing without cutting and polishing and the young should make the most of their youth. The students and teachers of Shue Yan should always remember the spirit of self-sacrifice and place the community before the self.
On the university’s 50th anniversary, I sincerely thank everyone who has walked this journey with HKSYU, giving us your love, care and support every step of the way. With your generous love, we have overcome many challenges and created thousands of miracles together.
** Now 101, HKSYU President Dr. Henry HU Hung-lick continues to regularly read the news and stay engaged with topical discussions of the day. He also keeps in close contact with his family and stays abreast with the university’s affairs. This letter carried his intimate thoughts for HKSYU as well as his heartfelt hopes for its students. The reflections came from conversations with him and were written on his behalf by the university’s Deputy President Dr. HU Fai-chung.
Source: Nov and Dec 2021 Combined Issue