Education Is to Build up Students’ Confidence
An Interview with MLC Master Prof Debao Xu

Text:Senior UM Reporter Sally Liang │ Photo:何杰平、編輯部

Prof Debao Xu, master of the Ma Man Kei and Lo Pak Sam College (MLC), believes that residential college education should focus on the development of the ‘whole person’. Students are encouraged to take responsibility for their education, their behaviour, and their career planning. They are also encouraged to learn more about themselves in a lively, vibrant, peer-inspired community. He says, ‘The purpose of education is to open the students’ minds, help them build up confidence, and foster a lifelong learning habit. Once these goals are accomplished, we can say we have fulfilled the mission of education.’

Prof Debao Xu, College Master

Rich RC Life

Prof Xu is an internationally renowned scholar in theoretical linguistics, Chinese linguistics, and computer-aided Chinese language learning. He was the chairperson of the East Asian Languages and Literatures Department at Hamilton College and the Leonard C Ferguson Chair Professor (1991-2014). He has over 30 years of teaching and research experience in the United States, including23 years of working experience in first-tier liberal arts institutions. In 2018, he was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award at the Tenth International Conference and Workshops on Technology and Chinese Language Teaching (TCLT), for promoting the application of technology in Chinese language education.

Aware of the importance of well-rounded development, Prof Xu has laid out three core development goals for the students, namely Bi-literacy and Tri-Lingualism, Etiquette and Honesty, and ‘Whole Person’ Development (including self-management and volunteering mechanism). To create a multilingual environment, Prof Xu initiated the language dinner tables in the canteen, where there are an English table, a Mandarin table, and a Cantonese table, giving students the flexibility to choose which language they want to speak during breakfast and lunchtime. In the past academic year, the college organized over 400 activities, formed18 interest groups, and established five sports teams, which have greatly enriched student life in the college. Prof Xu says: ‘We expect students to achieve well-rounded development by participating in various activities and immersing themselves in the multilingual environment. Hopefully this will help students develop positive personality traits and become a useful member of society.’

“I hope the students achieve well-rounded development and cultivate healthy personality traits”‘

Systems Conducive to Whole-person Development

Based on his experience working in the US, Prof Xu proposed the MLC Etiquette Code of Conduct within the college, which is in line with the ‘whole person development’ education philosophy of UM. The college also implements a self-management system, a volunteering system, a hygiene self-check system, and a student-centred education system. The college also encourages students to actively participate in social activities and international social service programmes. ‘These are good ways for students to repay society, to help those in need, and to find meaning in life,’ says the master.

Prof Xu hopes the students achieve well-rounded development, cultivate healthy personality traits, excel in their studies, and become competent members of society upon graduation.