Exploring the World, Knowing Yourself
An Interview with SHEAC Master Prof Iu Vai Pan

Text:Ella Cheong, Senior UM Reporter Sally Liang │ Photo : Communications Office

If you look at the crest of the Stanley Ho East Asia College (SHEAC), you will find the image of a bridge symbolic of the link between Eastern and Western cultures, the image of waves that represent the college’s setting in the water surrounding East Asia, and the old Chinese character’雧’ (which literally means birds gathering in the tree) symbolising the concept of college and collegiate life. The motto of the SHEAC- “Fortiter in re, suaviter in modo” means ‘resolute in execution, gentle in manner’, or ‘vigorous in deed, gentle in manner’. College Master Prof Iu Vai Pan hopes the students can ‘live happily in the college like birds in their warm shelter in the tree, care about the world, and embrace cultural diversity’.

Prof Iu Vai Pan, College Master

Exploring the World

Prof Iu is a renowned expert in structural mechanics. He became the master of the SHEAC, then known as the East Asia College, in 2010, when the University of Macau (UM) began implementing the RC system on a trial basis. Prior to that, he successively served as the dean of the Faculty of Science and Technology and the rector of UM. Prof Iu’s main research interests include finite element method, nonlinear vibration, and computational mechanics. He was the first scholar from Macao to be appointed fellow of the American Society of Civil Engineers. In 2008, he received the Medal of Excellent Service with Public Service from the Macao SAR government, in recognition of his outstanding contributions to higher education development in Macao.

Interestingly, Prof Iu says the SHEAC is a college whose character or ambience is shaped by the students themselves. Students are encouraged to explore, and to learn more about themselves and the world. He says: ‘There are many inequalities in the world, in terms of wealth, social status, opportunity for education access to food, and distribution of resources. So we not only want to teach our students to treasure what they have; we also want to encourage them to care about disadvantaged groups, and to try and make the world a better place.’

The SHEAC have organised trips to Sichuan province, Yunnan province, and Hong Kong, to help students learn more about the lives and cultures of ethnic minorities in Southeast Asia. Prof Iu says, ‘Working as volunteers provided a window to the outside world; it allowed our students to see other people’s lives that are vastly different than theirs, and in the process they learned to embrace different cultures.’

“The SHEAC is a learning community for students to learn and to explore more than just simply a dormitory”

Knowing Yourself

Prof Iu hopes to create an environment that is conducive to self-discovery and the development of the right values. Every year, the SHEAC organises lectures and sharing sessions on topics related to morality and philosophy, which are chaired by Prof Iu himself. He hopes these lectures will inspire students to contemplate social issues.

To Prof Iu, nothing compares with the joy of witnessing the growth of his students. ‘Some students were quite self-centered in the first year, but after living in the college for one year, they grew a lot,’ he says. ‘Some students took the initiative and organised activities. They’ve also become better team leaders. They are also more responsible and better at serving others.’

Broadening the Students’ Minds

Prof Iu stresses that an RC is a learning community for students to learn and to explore more than just simply a dormitory. He says, ‘I hope the students can make the most of their RC experience, and I hope they can actively take part in extracurricular activities. This will help them develop a variety of interests and skills, increase their knowledge, and broaden their minds.’