A debriefing forum was held on 28 August 2019 as a post-trip roundup of the Internationalisation Summer Activities of the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences (CLASS), which sent a total of 137 students to Canada, Austria, South Korea, the UK and the US for various 4- to 6-week programmes this summer with the support of the University and College funding.
Attendees of the forum included Dean of CLASS Professor Richard M Walker, Director of the Global Engagement Office (GEO) Dr David CHENG, other faculty members and participants of the programmes.
In his opening remarks, Professor Walker revealed that over half of the College’s undergraduate students have had international exposure in recent years. “We believe that students who have participated in international learning activities would become more mature and confident individuals,” he said. He then expressed his gratitude to the College’s Associate Dean (Internationalisation and Outreach) Professor Hon S CHAN and his team for their effort in implementing those programmmes, and Dr CHENG and his team at GEO for their support in funding arrangement.
Following the opening remarks, students took turns to share their overseas exchange experience. Max LO Sheung-yin and Koni CHAN Yee-ki, who went to the Hertford College of the University of Oxford via the Cultural and Language Immersion (CALI) programme, said they experienced a fruitful month in the UK. They made use of English in daily life, lectures and presentations, and had a dip into British culture topics such as table manner and local folktales. During their free time, they travelled to other cities on their own, meaning that they had to plan the itinerary and solve problems all by themselves. “Maybe everyone should give this programme a try!” Max said in an interview before the forum.
Natalie HO Hei-yi, Kathy LAU Sum-yin and Marc LEE Hoi-kit, representatives of the group joining the International Summer Programme at the University of Cambridge via the College’s Overseas Summer Schools scheme started their sharing with a video clip. It features the funniest moments of their adventure, from meeting the groupmates for the first time at the Hong Kong International Airport, wandering around Cambridge, enjoying local food, to joining social activities and learning traditional Scottish Ceilidh dance. Not captured in the video but in the latter part of their presentation, the group also attended many stimulating seminars, plenary lectures and evening talks on history, English law, and literature. “This July in Cambridge is one of the unforgettable months in my lifetime. I met great people and learnt a lot from them. It was an amazing experience to study abroad,” said Samuel CHAN Yat-hin, the group leader.
As one of the two CLASS students and one of the only five undergraduates (other being postgraduates or even professors) joining the 9th Institute for World Literature (IWL) at the Harvard University, Celeste CHEUNG Hui-yuet admitted the programme was challenging. “I was a little intimidated by the fine quality of intellectual exchange in my first seminar,” she recalled. Yet, she was able to grab a chance to demonstrate her knowledge when the discussions came to Japanese literature. In the colloquia on premodern literature, she showed her passion again by presenting her afterthought on a Japanese novel. “My greatest rewards gained from IWL are the possession of courage, confidence and hence the cultivation of a comprehensive view of world literature,” she said.
There were more stories shared in the forum. Every one of them is unique, but all participants agree that the trips were more than acquiring new knowledge and having fun with their new friends. As they met people with diverse cultural background and tackled difficult situations on their own, their interpersonal, communications and problem-solving skills were also improved.
In addition to the summer activities, the College has also arranged around 220 students to study at our partner institutions worldwide for semester-long exchange programmes in academic year 2018-19.