“Residential College (RC)” system is not a new concept. It is a system many excellent universities in the region have adopted in recent years in hopes of creating a multifaceted learning environment. UM is no exception. It has set up two pilot RCs on the current campus — the East Asia College (EAC) and the Pearl Jubilee College (PJC) — in order to increase staff and students’ understanding of the system and also to accumulate experience for full implementation of the system on the new campus.
Colourful RC Life
For this issue of My UM, we interviewed Wu Zhongtian, a member of PJC. Wu only started his first year in the Department of Communication this September, but he developed a curiosity about the RCs before he even applied for UM. He learned about that term from UM’s promotional pamphlets and videos and hoped he could experience RC life firsthand. So he decided to apply to be a member of PJC, even though his home is only ten minutes’ walk from the campus. The admission procedure was not complex: he submitted an application, passed the interview by the college master, and became a member of PJC.
PJC provides a great mix of students of different backgrounds and specialties. It currently has about 200 students, and most of them are non-locals. “When you just enter college, you won’t make new friends right away, and living in an RC really makes that easier, because you meet new people through various activities amid a more relaxed and casual atmosphere,” says Wu. When asked which activity has left the deepest impression on him, Wu answers without missing a beat, “Definitely the monthly High Table Dinner. That’s the most popular activity, and everyone takes it very seriously and would dress to the nines for it.” In fact, the origin of “High Table” goes back to the physical layout of the dining halls of English colleges at the University of Oxford and the University of Cambridge. In those colleges, undergraduates in their commoners or scholars gown would sit at long refectory tables. At the far end of the hall, on a raised platform or dais, a table was set for the master and fellows of the college who sat above the undergraduates.
Know Yourself and Where You Want to Go
“Floor activities” are also an important part of the colourful RC life. “Each floor organises various activities, like food tasting, sharing of life experiences, etc.,” says Wu. “But the availability of so many activities is also challenging, because it’s impossible to participate in all of them. You have to choose those activities that suit and interest you the most, and to do that you have to know yourself and where you want to go in life. For me, I think it’s important to strike a proper balance between developing independence and fostering a sense of belonging to the college.” Perhaps helping students to know themselves better and to figure out where they want to go in life, and providing a safe environment for them to experiment and explore is the best training an RC could offer its students.
Interested in communications studies, Wu chose to join the task force on communications affairs, responsible for PJC Express, a monthly publication of the college. He is also a participant of the UM Reporter Programme, launched by the Communications Office, through which he hopes to hone his professional skills and broaden his horizons. Wu looks forward to the RC life on the new campus, “With more people and a larger space, I believe people will grow closer and we will have more diversity in the body of teachers and students.”
Only several months of living in PJC has already helped Wu to make new discoveries in life: “Participating in college activities helps me understand that group activities could bring people closer, and that got me thinking—maybe I could design some activities for my family so they could have fun like I do at PJC.” Perhaps the best way to manifest the meaning of RC experiences is to apply what one learns from those experiences to personal life and, after graduation, to work, for the benefit of personal growth and societal development.
Release on 2012-12-19 15:59