CUHK Holds the Inauguration Ceremony for Undergraduates 2015
Today marked the beginning of a new academic year of The Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK). Prof. Joseph J.Y. Sung, Vice-Chancellor and President of CUHK addressed new students at the Inauguration Ceremony for Undergraduates as follows:
Let me be the first one to congratulate you for joining the big family of The Chinese University of Hong Kong.
CUHK is not just any university. We have our own character, we have our values and we have our tradition. While we are a comprehensive university putting equal emphasis on teaching and research, we have a strong humanistic nature: that is our character. Our values lead us to believe that men and women are born equal and born to be free, irrespective of their ethnicities, their family backgrounds and their religious faiths. We embrace Chinese culture, history and philosophy and we are mandated to combine tradition with modernity, and to bring together China and the West.
Now, let us turn to the personal level. What does university education mean to you? Let me bring your attention to a big calligraphy displayed at the underground learning commons of our library. On the wall it says:
子曰：「 志於道，據於德，依於仁 ，游於藝。」
Confucius said, “I set my heart on the Way, base myself on Virtue, lean upon Benevolence for support and take my recreation in the Arts.” (From The Analects, Chapter 7; translated by D. C. Lau)
Set my heart on Way (Principle). The Way of Justice. University life is a time for you to identify your principles, define your morality. A university is not one community, it is a conglomeration of multiple and diversified communities. University should look far into the past and way ahead into the future, and it is often at odds with the present. You will be facing many schools of thought, challenges by different values and beliefs. I encourage you to read the classics, debate on ethics, and to discuss contemporary issues: local and international. Take our General Education classes seriously, attend as many talks and forums of the University and College as you can. This is the time to find your WAY.
Base on Virtue. Honesty, Humility, Integrity, Courage, and there are many other virtues. These virtues are to be acquired but I won’t go into the details. There is one which I think is diminishing in our society and I hope you won’t lose it: Respect. Respect yourself and respect the others. Respect your teachers by showing up in classes on time, with no pops and no iPhones. Respect the Law as it is the string holding our society together. Respect other people’s feelings. Even if they do not mean anything to you, they could mean everything to them. Respect people coming from different countries, different ethnic groups, different social or cultural backgrounds. Respecting others is the best way to earn their respect for you. Respect those who do not hold the same opinions as yours. They have the right to speak their minds and express their likes or dislikes. Respect for ourselves guides our morals, respect for others guides our manners.
Lean on Benevolence. Martin Luther King reminded us that “Every man must decide whether he will walk in the light of creative altruism or in the darkness of destructive selfishness.” Giving to the poor and sick and old, and helping a single-parent child in need gives you the greatest satisfaction in life. I am sure you are following the news of refugees problems in Europe. Yesterday, Germany and Austria announced that they will open their borders to these families from Syria. I salute to the people in Germany and Austria. There are many opportunities you can participate, from serving the elderly and ethnic minorities in Hong Kong to building a bridge in a rural Chinese village in the Wuzhiqiao programme, from taking an internship in a local NGO or in other places to participating in the campus green initiatives. You are most welcome to join the programmes in various Colleges and our ICARE programme. Take part in our experiential learning.
Enjoy the Arts. Music, drama, painting, poetry, calligraphy—these are not little hobbies for people who have nothing else to do. They are certainly not to be reserved for retirement. Art and literature, they are the marrow of life. They can nourish our soul and enrich our vision. They can mould us into better persons. “The purpose of art is washing the dust of our daily life off our souls.” (Picasso) I myself love calligraphy and Chinese music. These together give me a peaceful mind. While you are here, especially our non-local students joining us from aboard, I encourage you to take up at least one Chinese art.
Enjoy your university life.
Link to video of Prof. Sung’s speech at the Inauguration Ceremony for Undergraduates 2015: