Prestigious scholarship for incoming exchange students

Our new scholarship for incoming exchange students will attract high-quality students to study at Lingnan and will strengthen our partnerships with leading universities in the region. Thanks to generous support from the Mr Lam Man Tsan Memorial Fund, stipends of HK$30,000 were used to sponsor two outstanding Korean exchange students in Term 1, 2016-17. Before returning to Korea, the two scholars, Ms Lee Jieun from Seoul National University and Ms Ra Han A from Yonsei University, shared their academic and cultural experiences in Hong Kong with Lingnan Link.

The two students described why they had been so enthusiastic about the opportunity to study in Hong Kong. Jieun desired to study somewhere with global dynamics and rich cultural diversity, but that also had some similarities with the Korean culture that she was familiar with. As she could speak some Chinese, she expected to have a closer connection to Hong Kong than to Anglo-America countries. She thought Hong Kong would offer her an amazing array of experiences, due to its strikingly blend of East and West, urban and natural, and modern and ancient. She also saw Hong Kong as a good fit for her interest in learning both Chinese and English. For Han A, the opportunity was all about the distinctiveness of the local Hong Kong socio-political environment. She grew up in Florida, USA, and lived there until high school, when she moved back to Korea. As she already had cultural exposure to various Anglo-American and Asian countries, she wanted to experience Hong Kong, which she had never visited. Her curiosity about Hong Kong’s recent political and social situation drew her to Hong Kong to fulfil her research interest in local governance.

Being attracted to Asia’s global city, Jieun and Han A seized the opportunity to experience Lingnan’s liberal arts education. Both of them found stimulating courses that matched their academic interests. As an Economics major, Jieun took three economics courses at Lingnan and gained practical insight into Hong Kong’s economy and its position as the Asian centre of finance and trading markets. Ha A studied Asian studies at Yonsei University, a programme focusing on East Asian countries and Sociology. She found that the Lingnan courses about political and cultural issues of Hong Kong, Taiwan and mainland China suited her well.

On top of their academic studies, the scholarship recipients have an obligation to engage in undergraduate research projects. Jieun explored urban parks in Seoul and Hong Kong from an economic perspective. Han A completed an interesting analytical study of Hong Kong’s urban development. She compared Sham Shui Po in Hong Kong to Yongsan in Korea. Through this research project, Han A explored Hong Kong’s everyday landscape. Examining Hong Kong society as a member of the community rather than as an outsider made her readily adapt herself to Hong Kong culture.

Speaking of the differences between the academic cultures of Hong Kong and Korea, Han A reflected that she could communicate more freely with her professors at Lingnan due to the close faculty-student relationships, which are deep-rooted in our liberal arts traditions. Jieun shared a similar view; she said that students in Hong Kong are encouraged to have more interaction with their professors and peers. Discussions during tutorial classes, which she had never experienced at her home university, helped to deepen her understanding of various academic topics covered in class.

Both students made Lingnan their home in Hong Kong during the semester. Jieun appreciated the distinctive hostel culture with full residence at Lingnan, another key feature of Lingnan’s liberal arts tradition. She enjoyed making dinner with her friends and getting support from her friends who lived on campus. Jieun and Han A found the local Lingnan community very friendly. Han A frequently came across local students who were fascinated by K-pop culture, and she was able to initiate conversations about Korean culture in academic and leisure contexts. In her Hong Kong Popular Culture class, she was impressed by her local teammates’ deep understanding of the Korean culture and entertainment industry.

Han A  with her local and Korean friends

Han A (centre) with her local and Korean friends

Jieun exploring the old fishing village, Tai O

Jieun (left) exploring the old fishing village, Tai O

Jieun making Korean food with her friends at the hostel

Jieun (right) making Korean food with her friends at the hostel

Looking back, the scholarship recipients were grateful to the Mr Lam Man Tsan Memorial Fund for offering them the opportunity to study at Lingnan. Jieun kept a diary to cherish all of the precious memories and friendships she found in Hong Kong. She gained confidence in living independently in a society with a different culture than her own. Making new friends at Lingnan helped her to develop a better sense of herself, her dreams and her future life. Han A also achieved her goal of experiencing Hong Kong in a way that a tourist could not, through her participation in local events such as a live auction.

We bid Jieun and Han A well upon their return to Korea! And we look forward to providing more scholarship recipients in 2017-18 with the marvellous opportunity to experience our liberal arts education!