Cheering the DSE Candidates On in the New Normal

The coronavirus pandemic has brought unprecedented challenges to the world.  For HKDSE candidates, besides having to adjust to the new way of life and learn under the new normal, they also face the additional trials and tribulations of public exams.  Taking exams is like putting on a performance: years of toil and preparations are but for one single act.  While hard work and dedication certainly matter, the outcomes of the exams may be affected by a host of unforeseeable factors.  However the results may turn out, I sincerely encourage all students to always acknowledge and appreciate your own efforts.  It is important to recognize that exams represent only one of the many chapters of your life, and not a final battle that determines your success or failure.

Follow Your Heart!

While waiting for the release of HKDSE results, I believe that many of you are wondering and may be puzzling over which paths to take for future studies or the choice of programmes.  In my case, many years ago when I finished the public exam, I did not follow the majority of my classmates by going to a local university, or choosing a professional programme that promises clear career prospects.  Instead, I made the bold move of going overseas to the US to study Chemistry in a liberal arts college, working part-time jobs to pay for my expenses.  My extracurricular activities included laboratory research and learning and performing music.  If I were to give advice to you regarding your programme choices, it would be, simply, “Follow your heart!”.  Close your eyes, listen intently to your inner voice, envisage the road ahead, and move towards the direction you want.  Your answer will be right there.  I also encourage parents and teachers to listen to your children and students, for your support means a lot to them.  I did not come from a well-off family.  When my mother learned of my decision to attend college in the US, she did not question my decision.  Together with the one-way plane ticket she bought for me, she also gave me USD500 good-luck pocket money from her savings.  Her quiet, loving support is permanently an inspiration for me to pursue my dreams steadfastly and to overcome whatever obstacles that may come my way.

All-round Support from CUHK

Being a university student is a whole lot different from studying in high school.  You will need to be much more independent and proactive.  The Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) is the only university in Hong Kong with a collegiate system.  Each distinctive in its own way, the nine Colleges at CUHK offer non-formal education and pastoral care to students that complement and complete formal learning.  As key university units with the responsibility to strengthen students’ sense of solidarity and belonging, the Colleges represent a home away from home for CUHK members, even long after they have graduated.  In fact, many alumni keep returning to campus to take part in college activities.

To prepare students for domestic and global challenges in the real world, CUHK continues to strive to enhance its curricula and co-curricular learning activities.  Special efforts are devoted to curating more interdisciplinary programmes, co-organizing dual degree programmes with prestigious mainland and overseas universities, introducing themes of sustainability in the University General Education programmes, offering a minor programme in entrepreneurship and supporting entrepreneurial ventures, and strengthening the ties between undergraduates and alumni in different fields, among others.  In the new 2021–22 academic year, the University is putting more resources into Service Learning and pioneering a new university-wide Co-Operative Education Programme (Co-op@CUHK), both of which seek to forge closer ties between students and society, industry and the global community, so that they may fully develop their expertise and in the future devote their efforts to the betterment of society.

As a final note, let me share with all DSE takers a quote from former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill:

“Success is not final; failure is not fatal: It is the courage to continue that counts.’”