At City University, we use modern language to explore - and share - our ancient cultures

At City University, we use modern language to explore - and share - our ancient cultures

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CityU’s Department of Chinese and History works hard to communicate their ideas in Cantonese, Putonghua and English.

In Hong Kong, everything progresses in leaps and bounds. With our food culture, social awareness, political diversity, environmentalism, religious tolerance, racial openness, and multiculturalism, we rival the most advanced cities in the world.

After decades of living overseas, I returned to Hong Kong to find it very much changed. Young people are more confident, and more comfortable as members of the global youth community, be it through fashion, outlook on life, aspirations and hopes, or a new disposition towards older folks.

On campus at City University,
I heard a conversation between non-native speakers spoken entirely in English: “Is there any space for me to squeeze in?” asked a woman with a pile of books in her arms.

“Sure,” a young man responded, already stepping out of the lift to make room for her. “There is definitely space for you.”

“Thank you so much. You are really kind.”

“No problem. You are welcome.”

Anticipating the difficulty the professor would have in opening the doors with books in her arms, the young man was there for her again.

“Oh, wow, thank you. You are so considerate.”

“What do you teach? English?”

“Actually, I’m in the Department of Chinese and History (CAH).”

“Chinese Department?”

“Yes.”

“You teach in Chinese, right?”

“No, I teach in English. We have three streams, Chinese, Cultural Heritage and History. The latter two use English as the medium.”

“You use English to teach Chinese culture? That’s very difficult.”

“Some of us are trained overseas but my colleagues are multilingual. We are a diverse department.”

Indeed we are. At the departmental orientation, I was pleasantly surprised that Cantonese, Putonghua and English were used naturally and interchangeably. This must have been eye-opening for incoming students as well. It was really great. It represents Hong Kong.

Imagine studying classical Chinese texts and historical documents, Buddhist canons and neo-Confucian philosophy in English. You could fluently discuss Chinese history, literature and philosophy in an international language!

Those subjects form what we call intangible culture. At CityU, you can study the intangible cultures of China, Japan, Korea and the West in English. This is a cutting-edge discipline, and coincides with the United Nations’ concern over preserving the heritage of nations and peoples of the world.

At City University, it is our belief that intellectual knowledge enhances our moral virtue, just as knowledge of our own civilisation reinforces our interest in other civilisations. Above all, we believe that creativity begins with learning.

Edited by Sam Gusway

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