Create a Warm ‘Home Away from Home’
An Interview with SPC Master Prof Zhang Benzi

Text:Senior UM Reporter Sally Liang │ Photo:Communications Office

Set your heart on the dao, base yourself in virtue, rely on ren, journey in the arts — with the light of sages comes bright future’ — this is the educational philosophy of Prof Zhang Benzi, master of Shiu Pong College.

As college master, Prof Zhang devotes himself to the promotion of a cross-cultural educational system that will cultivate multi-disciplinary talent combining Western and Asian perspectives, instil good behavior and values in students, and enhance students’ qualities in various areas.

Prof Zhang Benzi, College Master

Combine Chinese and Western Perspectives

Prof Zhang has a PhD degree in English Language and Literature. He has extensive work experience as professor and dean in North America, Hong Kong, and mainland China, and has contributed in various positions to universities and society. ‘With its profound humanistic heritage and dynamic academic environment, UM is an ideal choice for those who aspire for whole-person education and wish to put their aspirations into practice. The UM motto “Humanity, Integrity, Propriety, Wisdom, and Sincerity” embraces my philosophy of education. The university’s unique residential college system also provides a space for multi-dimensional development that suits my educational background in East-West humanities,’ says Prof Zhang, who considers UM a place where not only his dream would come true, but also new generations of students would be able to pursue their dreams.

I hope that all ‘Shiu Pongers’ will serve as role models and make a di_erence wherever they go as ‘the light of the world’

Become the Light of the World

‘My students from Shiu Pong College are “the light of the world”,’ says Prof Zhang. According to him, the mission of Shiu Pong College is to enlighten and to inspire students to seek, reflect on, and live a purposive and moral life; and to become role models in their communities like light that illuminates people around. ‘We are committed to creating a warm and harmonious “home away from home” for students. The college offers a congenial and inclusive environment in which students can grow in a caring and friendly atmosphere full of hope and a strong sense of belonging. We adhere to a student-centered approach and focus on cultivating good friendships and a deep level of understanding that will allow us to travel together over the mountains and valleys in life,’ says Prof Zhang. ‘Through various activities offered by the RC, students will learn through experience and acquire various soft skills, so that they will grow to be more capable of shouldering social responsibilities, to shine light around the world, and to turn into role models of our time in serving our community and society.’

Reflect Carefully, Discern Clearly, Study Extensively, Practice Earnestly

As college master, Prof Zhang has a huge responsibility and a long way to go to help the RC develop to its fullest potential. ‘The core value of residential college is not merely to impart knowledge, but rather to help younger people grow up, find the ideal and meanings of life, so they will become citizens and leaders with the abilities of moral judgment and independent thinking,’ says Prof Zhang. He adds that the college will strengthen students’ self-management skills, help students establish good habits of behavior and learn to take responsibility for themselves, so that they will be able to meet the needs of society in the future.

Prof Zhang also encourages students to nurture their cultural sensibility, to develop the habit of independent thinking, and to improve communication and leadership skills through participating in extracurricular activities and social services organised by the RC. He hopes that all ‘Shiu Pongers’ will search for, reflect on, and live a meaningful and worthy life, by serving as role models and making a difference wherever they go as ‘the light of the world’.