Ho Wang (Adrian) Leong (Hong Kong, AC 10-12)
The past three days were most enjoyable. In the morning, we engaged ourselves in heated debates on a chosen theme; in the afternoon, workshops held by ex-AC students generated fascinating discussions; in the evening, an award-winning documentary related to the theme of day was shown.
It is easy to get into a routine and forget about the uniqueness of this place. I am very glad that all first years were given a chance to do what we do best— to share indigenous knowledge and develop a better understanding of each other. During the course of these three days, I learnt a lot about countries where my friends are from: their dominant ethnic and socio-economic groups, cultures and pressing issues etc. These in-depth discussions could never have taken place if it was not for Critical Engagement—we would be busy with our own academic and social lives, as if we had lost focus in this magnificent college filled with energy and enthusiasm. From day one, the organizers emphasized on their role as merely a ‘facilitator’, unlike a ‘lecturer’ or ‘student leader’. I am grateful for their thoughtfulness when they planned the programme, and their experiences in facilitating which led to more fruitful discussions.
One particularly memorable discussion came on the third day under the theme of “Global Justice”. Although the topic was rather broad, we touched upon many intriguing issues such as individual responsibility, citizenship, censorship and human rights. Although we didn’t reach any conclusion in the end, it was worthwhile to ponder on and respond to points raised by other group members. This exchange of ideas on social issues is what’s often sadly missing in the college. Although sometimes informal chats can evolve into meaningful talks, it was refreshing to have three days focusing mainly on this aspect of the AC experience.
Critical Engagement was a valuable experience—all AC alumni who came back as facilitators made up a big part of it. They each had a special area of interests to share with us; but more importantly I could relate to their identity as AC graduates and gain from their personal experience. I hope more programmes of this kind will be offered and that Critical Engagement will become a tradition of first-years, so that they will not miss out on a true UWC/AC experience.
-United World Colleges Student Magazine-