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Dedication Never Goes in Vain: CityU Professors Clinched UGC Teaching Award for Two Consecutive Years

Dr Elaine LIU dedicates herself to inspiring students' potential in order to nurture knowledgeable and responsible leaders for the society.

Dr Elaine LIU, Winner of 2014 UGC Teaching Award.

Prof Alice CHONG (left) receives the award from Mr Edward CHENG Wai-sun, Chairman of UGC.

Two educators from CityU's Department of Applied Social Sciences have been awarded in succession with the annual University Grant Committee (UGC) Teaching Award. Both awardees comment that the awards are testimonial to CityU scholars who are devoted to teaching in addition to their research excellence. To enhance students' understanding of the disciplines and to guide them through the learning process, the two educators spare no effort in designing their class content and teaching materials. They work decidedly hard to ensure that students can apply what they have learnt in class.

Dr Elaine LIU, recipient of the 2014 UGC Teaching Award and Assistant Head of Department of Applied Social Sciences, recalls that she was aware of her colleagues having nominated her, but she never thought of actually receiving the honour. Dr Liu is a seasoned educator with more than 20 years of experience. She is passionate about teaching and she greatly cares for the youth. In class, she hopes to help students learn about themselves; particularly she would like her students to understand their responsibilities and to connect with the community. Outside the classroom, she hopes students can venture off the university campus and take part in volunteer work: they help others while developing themselves.

Dr Liu says that, since taking on the role of a residence master, she has seen various issues arising among hall residents of different departments including her own. As a social worker, she hopes to help students embrace and resolve the problems they encounter as young persons in the aspects of personal growth, self-confidence, and sense of responsibility. To make sure that hall residents and students understand themselves, Dr Liu started a pilot initiative known as the "City-Youth Empowerment Project" at the student residences.

At the beginning, City-Youth Empowerment Project was open only to about 300 hall residents. Having met with an overwhelming response, the project soon became part of Dr Liu's routine academic and research duties after discussion with the University. It is now open not only to hall residents, but also to all CityU's teachers and students. The scale and scope of the project are now significantly expanded; after ten years, the enrolment is still surging, serving a considerable number of community sectors.

Dr Liu is planning to use her prize money on a promotional campaign targeted at a number of local universities. She hopes that the campaign can benefit more university students on one hand, and facilitate further exchange and collaboration among universities on the other.

Dr Liu is the second awardee after Professor Alice CHONG from the Department of Applied Social Sciences to have received the UGC Teaching Award. It is the only department at CityU that has received the award for two consecutive years.

Professor Alice Chong is the other awardee from Department of Applied Social Sciences. She is also believed to be the first research scholar in social sciences to have received the honour. Professor Chong researches on gerontology and is a strong advocate of experiential learning. She makes sure that her students enjoy learning both inside and outside the classroom. She encourages students to reflect, and helps them explore new areas of knowledge and consolidate what they have already learnt.

Students take part in a project known as the "Life Story Project", trying to understand the feelings and needs of the elderly. The elderly, on the other hand, become more invigorated through interacting with students. The exchanges give recognition to the elderly and encourage them to revisit the meaning of life. The project has also a profound impact on students – they become more knowledgeable about Hong Kong's senior citizens and of general aging issues in Hong Kong.

Professor Chong is most proud of how her students come to understand the not-sodistant issue of aging after attending her classes. Upon graduation, many students have continued to serve the elderly. Some students even plan to start their own businesses to serve the silver-haired population. At the same time, a number of social enterprises are interested in the products developed by Professor Chong's students in the process in the hope of producing these products for the senior citizens.

Professor Chong has spent the award money on extending and developing Inter- University Life Mentor Scheme to The Chinese University of Hong Kong, University of Hong Kong and Hong Kong Polytechnic University. The profound development demonstrates the impact of reminiscence therapy, and encourage the life mentors to produce a life-story book with the students in which they can reflect on unforgettable moments in their lives. Last year, 80 elderly and 180 students joined the scheme. Students reflected that listening to the life experience of the senior members of society, and hearing their views and values, was akin to attending inspiring history and philosophy courses. They added that the scheme had taught them the importance of keeping calm, being positive and searching for solution when encountering difficulties.

Let us congratulate these two educators again. They have shown true devotion to both the old and the new generations. Their dedication is profoundly appreciated by CityU and the community.