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Meet & Greet with the Director of Chinese Research Center

Dec 14, 2022 08:00

The “Meet & Greet with the Director of Chinese Research Center (CRC)” was held at the Yidan Chinese Cultural Center on December 14. Dr. Bill Mak, the new Director, shared his research and experience with over 20 parents and teachers. Dr. Mak completed his linguistic training at McGill University in Canada and received his Ph.D. from the Peking University. He has taught and served as a visiting scholar in many internationally renowned universities and research institutions, including Kyoto University, the University of Hong Kong, NYU, Brown University and the Needham Research Institute, Cambridge University.

Starting with the question “Why are there no Chinese masters today?”, Dr. Mak encouraged everyone to consider the challenges of contemporary university education and research, and discussed the causes and impacts of some of the current phenomena, such as the overspecialization and fragmentation in education and research in both humanities and science. He noted in particular the insufficient training in languages and humanities among overseas Chinese students, and the tension between utilitarianism and education of genuine and lasting values. Many institutions of higher education have identified the urgent need of interdisciplinarity and the structure to support it. Bearing these points in mind, Dr. Mak highlighted the uniqueness and importance of the soon-to-be-established CRC of The ISF Academy – with The ISF Academy’s unique ability to conduct interdisciplinary research among the senior students and the core Chinese values of The Eight Virtues + One. He hoped that the research center will lead the school toward a greater emphasis of creative, interdisciplinary research. By encouraging our bilingually and biculturally trained students and teachers to explore Chinese culture with openness, insight, and wisdom from a global perspective, they shall discover more opportunities to create, present, and publish more innovative scholarly works, and to communicate their ideas with each other and others beyond the ISF community.

As part of the internal review, CCC conducted a survey for the ISF community for the first time in November, and received a total of 134 responses, 90% of which came from parents (121 responses). In general, they were impressed by lectures (77%), followed by courses (55%), competitions (53%), performances (34%) and publications (31%). Among the many activities, they were most impressed by the Chinese Pen Calligraphy Competition (65%), reading and movie clubs (59%), guest sharing (47%) and publications (38%) etc. Most of them were satisfied with the activities with high ratings.

Turning to the trends in Chinese classics education in China from the 1990s to the present, Dr. Mak shared his vision of the future direction of classics education in the Chinese-speaking world. This includes the overall rising standard of the Chinese classics in general education, and innovative pedagogy incorporating interactive games and arts. In view of the current needs of The ISF Academy, Dr. Mak shared with all CRC’s three key Missions:

  1. 1. Research: Utilize the unique resources at the ISF to develop innovative research in the fields of Chinese language acquisition, bilingual education, and Chinese humanities.
  2. 2. Program: Develop and implement high-impact Chinese cultural programs for ISF key stakeholders and to establish connections between the former and the local community and academics.
  3. 3. Collection: Create a special library collection and digital hub which function as both cultural resources and repository of Chinese classics for the ISF communities and beyond.

Looking ahead, some of the proposed events include more interesting, learning-related activities, as well as more after-school, holiday and parent-child activities to engage more community members. Some parents also hope that CCC can organize some mini courses on Chinese culture and knowledge to help parents with diverse cultural backgrounds better understand and appreciate Chinese culture.

Dr. Mak and his team would like to express their gratitude to all the community members and for their enthusiasm providing suggestions for the CCC and the future CRC. It is hoped that the ISF community will experience a refreshing Chinese cultural experience in the near future.