National Yang Ming Chiao Tung University

04/08/2024 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 04/08/2024 07:56

The True Essence of University Life: Growing Together with Friends - Former City University of Hong Kong President, Academician Way Guo

Translated by Chance Lai
With the beginning of the new semester, we are welcomed to a feast of liberal arts lectures, a rare opportunity featuring the distinguished international scholar and former president of City University of Hong Kong (CityU), Academician Way Guo. In this lecture, Academician Way Guo shares his insights on higher education and how friendships he has experienced throughout his life have enriched him.

The Importance of Interpersonal Interaction in University Life

In recent years, CityU has produced the video series "Dialogue with Top Global Presidents" led by Academician Way Guo and his team, engaging in discussions with top global university presidents to explore the challenges and opportunities facing global education. Academician Way Guo believes that traditionally, the primary societal function of universities has been teaching and research. However, with societal changes, universities must emphasize their service to society, which is also a crucial pathway for educational and civilizational progress.

For society to progress, it cannot merely maintain the status quo, especially for higher education. Historically, teaching was seen as "Teaching, Guiding, and Enlightening." From today's educational perspective, this approach needs to be more active. Civilization's progress stems from questioning and inquiry. The idea of universities should be exploration, research, and innovation.
However, Academician Way Guo emphasizes the importance of interpersonal relationships in addition to academic and skill development. He believes that the most essential tasks in university life are making friends, learning to see friends' strengths, and learning from the qualities one lacks. "Sometimes, when capable individuals appear around us, we may feel intimidated, but this is the best learning opportunity."

The Power of Friendship: A Guide to Finding Value in Life

Academician Way Guo shared the story of a friend who was a polio survivor. In her teens, she traveled alone from Sichuan to Hong Kong, having never received a formal education and lacking any particular skill. The only job she could find was cleaning toilets.

However, cleaning toilets presented significant challenges for a polio survivor. Nonetheless, she diligently overcame her physical difficulties and cleaned meticulously every day. Years later, her dedication caught the attention of her manager, leading to promotions. Eventually, she gained recognition from other business owners and began learning textiles, eventually establishing her textile company. Recently, she made a will stipulating that her estate be donated to universities in Hong Kong upon her passing.

Academician Way Guo stated that he has no friends inferior to himself. His friends may not necessarily have high academic qualifications or extensive knowledge, but they possess sincere attitudes, unwavering spirits, and perseverance. These are remarkable qualities and exemplary traits worth learning from. When everyone understands how to learn from the strengths of others, it can make society a better place.

He also reminded us there's an ancient saying, "Make friends with those who are straightforward, understanding, and knowledgeable." It's important to befriend honest, trustworthy, and well-informed people. "Avoid those who are cunning, deceitful, and insincere." One should refrain from befriending those who are good at flattery but lack honesty, those who lack integrity, and those who are manipulative with their words. Friends are like mirrors, constantly adjusting and reflecting upon oneself. Ultimately, they help us blossom and bear fruit.

In this profoundly inspiring lecture, Academician Way Guo demonstrated his wisdom and humility by sharing snippets of his interactions with friends. He reminded us that while academic achievements are significant, building interpersonal connections and growing together in interaction are the most valuable aspects of university life. Friends are indispensable companions in life's journey and mirrors that inspire our growth. We should cherish every learning opportunity, whether from within or outside the classroom or from every passing individual in our lives, as each friendship holds its unique value, enriching our lives in manifold ways.