Going Gaga for summer school

Going Gaga for summer school

YP junior reporters were sent back to class during the holidays - and found it was an education with a difference

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Going Gaga for summer school_L
Photo: Lesley Cheung
What do Lady Gaga, McDonald's and ancient Egyptian mummies have in common? Well, they were just some of the topics up for discussion when young scholars from the world's top universities came to Hong Kong to share their enthusiasm for knowledge with local students aged 14 to 18.

The graduates, mainly from Harvard, Yale, Cambridge and Oxford universities, were invited by the University of Hong Kong (HKU) to take part in the Crimson Summer Exchange, held at HKU from July 31 to August 12 this year.

And HKU sponsored four Young Post junior reporters to attend the programme. They returned with some great experiences and fond memories.

Alex Wong

What an eye-opening experience. I attended the enrichment course on art appreciation.

Megan Smith from Cambridge University conducted discussions on the meanings behind ancient regional arts, such as Australia's Aboriginal art.

She taught us the value of avid research on the subjects that interest us. "Every detail inspires me to find out more," she said.

One class looked at "McDonaldisation" - the invasion of American culture on a global scale. We also discussed the vision of the future of humans portrayed in the movie Wall-E. Humans have become so obese they are carted around on hover chairs, dependent on electronics and obsessed with food.

It was a fun and thought-provoking way of examining how we want to live our lives.

Alex Luk

I learned so much in just three days - with a finale that saw the whole class dancing to Lady Gaga.

I learned a lot of things about the special relationship we have with the society we live in. We learned about the impact on communities of the Three Gorges Dam, eco-tourism and voting systems.

There was a lot of interaction between teachers and students - and the atmosphere made everyone feel comfortable enough to open up.

I also discovered how learning was a two-way street. One of the teachers, who are all referred to as "fellows", told me they learned more from the students than the students could learn from them.

During our discussion on different voting systems, the teacher asked us to vote for our favourite song.

The winner was Lady Gaga's Just Dance. Then, following a decision made by the teacher, we danced to it!

Samantha Borje

A Massachusetts Institute of Technology graduate, Rafael Raya, was my teacher. And the course was on language, literature and writing.

What followed was a discussion on the process of mummification, hieroglyphics, and, finally, a crash course in code-breaking. Yale "fellow" Matthew Williams said Raya's unorthodox methods "forced students to think critically".

He added: "This is what [the fellows] all try to do."

Lesley Cheung

By the time the Crimson Summer Exchange came to an end, it had more than accomplished its mission of "Inspiring the Next Generation".

We acted as detectives and performed short plays as part of drama tutor Thomas Tryon's course on "communication and leadership in the context of teamwork". By the end of the two weeks, we had to complete three tasks: a conference on education-for-all, an exhibition on discovery and a performance.

It was a new experience for us and our teachers. Xanthe Gilmore, who was on her first trip to China, described Hong Kong students as "great and intelligent".

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