Global world, global mind: Narratives of the University of Hong Kong Worldwide Exchange students – Ivy Lai Chun Chun
How could HKU Worldwide Exchange students acquire a global mind in the global world after participating in the HKU Worldwide Exchange Programme?
I was a former HKU Worldwide Exchange student, who participated in HKU Worldwide Exchange Programmes in Auckland University (in Auckland, New Zealand) and Peking University (in Beijing, Mainland China). This sounds like fulfilment of one international and one Mainland exchange exposure, which has been what HKU is targeting for all students in 2022. As a former HKU Worldwide Exchange student, I identified global attributes of selected HKU Worldwide Exchange students, based on the real life stories they wrote, to imagine their possible future careers in the global world. These narratives shed light on what HKU can do in the future.
As an Asia’s Global University, HKU delivers impact through internationalisation, innovation and interdisciplinarity. According to the ‘Vision and Mission’ on the HKU’s webpage, it attracts and nurtures global scholars through excellence in research, teaching and learning, and knowledge exchange. It makes a positive social contribution through global presence, regional significance, and engagement with the rest of China. Internationalisation is what HKU aims to achieve, partly by the means of the HKU Worldwide Exchange Programme. Established in 1998, the HKU Worldwide Exchange Programme is a student exchange programme that allows students to study abroad for a certain period to sharpen their global vision. This article argues that the HKU Worldwide Exchange Programme strengthens internationalisation of HKU and the voices of HKU Worldwide Exchange students respond to the global world with a global mind, through their narratives. This leads to a research question structuring the study: ‘How could these HKU Worldwide Exchange students acquire a global mind in the global world after participating in the HKU Worldwide Exchange Programme?’
Our findings include a comprehensive list of knowledge, skills, and attributes that are developed through the Programme. In this brief article, I chose the following two as they are more closely related to the theme of internationalisation.
Findings and Discussion
Cultural diversity, one of the aims of internationalisation of HKU, enables HKU Worldwide Exchange students to embrace a diversified culture when studying abroad. The University of Hong Kong Worldwide Exchange students, in the future, if they move across nations to work with a global mind in the global world, would get to know how to appreciate and respect others’ culture in reflection to themselves. This underlines that the HKU Worldwide Exchange Programme could foster its students to embrace or even celebrate cultural diversity. This corresponds to the HKU’s intention of internationalisation, which is to create an environment where students must interact with people from different cultures. It adds values to the cultural and social dimensions of internationalisation in the form of academic exchange to promote culture of one’s own and to appreciate others’ culture to enhance global awareness. It is an ethos approach to internationalisation by creating a culture on campus that promotes and supports international or intercultural initiatives. For example, HKU has an international campus for exchange students, a truly international staff and a diverse student body. HKU also has a constant stream of international conferences and symposia in the university, numerous distinguished international professors visiting under their various schemes, and a huge number of international collaborations in research and teaching. HKU must ensure that it has an international approach to all that the university could do, bench-marking itself against international best practices and aspiring to achieve characteristics which define the world’s greatest universities (Mathieson 2015). There is also a process approach to internationalisation. Integration or infusion of an international or intercultural dimension into teaching and research can be found, for example, in the design of some HKU courses like courses on Hong Kong cinema. It is strongly linked to a myth about internationalisation stating that foreign students being trained as international agents. Through participating in HKU Worldwide Exchange Programme, students could acquire communication skills and team-building that enable them to become future leaders. The private sector would also be interested in a heterogeneous working environment. Possible international professionals that could be in the global world in the future include diplomats, cultural ambassadors and international agents in multinational firms.
I got along with people of different cultures, race and background. I show respect and sincerity for others while others also had authentic interests in my own culture. (HKU Worldwide Exchange student 1, University of California, Irvine, United States)
I learnt and made friends with international students – I particularly like the group projects with them since this allowed me to expose to various cultures and think from different perspectives but so brought me friends from many countries. (HKU Worldwide Exchange student 1, University of Melbourne, Australia)
Global citizenship is the ideal role that HKU would like its students to play. The university aims to nurture students who can bear a strong responsibility to the global world. The University of Hong Kong Worldwide Exchange students thus not only respect the indigenous culture in the global world but also pursue peace in light of multiculturalism. This is one of the aims that HKU hopes to achieve, which involve fostering intercultural communication to reinforce global citizenship. Through participating in HKU Worldwide Exchange Programme, students could raise the awareness of their own culture and other cultures, develop cultural sensitivity and interpersonal skills for engagement with people of diverse cultures, and perform social responsibilities as a member of the global community. Performing social responsibility as a member of the global community is our commitment to protect our global world hands in hands with the global mindset. This links to the cultural and social rationales of internationalisation. Programming and curriculum as one of the multi-dimensions of internationalisation allows the infusion of international dimension into courses, such as offering common core courses on global citizenship. Activity, ethos and process approaches to internationalisation could be understood in the sense that academic exchange increases the competitiveness of students by integrating intercultural dimension into teaching and learning at university. There is a myth about internationalisation stating that exchange students serve as international agents but in fact all students can be change agents who make contributions to the university’s learning environment with their diverse experience. Additionally, international institutional partnership agreements facilitate international accreditation of the programmes and courses, contributing to international branding of universities by the moving up of university ranking. All these are rooted in HKU Worldwide Exchange students who are in the pursuit of being the ideal global citizens. Education sectors, governments and world organisations would be interested in hiring these students who would attain the global citizenship. Global skills that they have include taking initiatives, leadership, relationship building and collaboration. Possible international professionals that they could be in the global world in the future include UN officials, NGO workers and education officers.
I recommend exchange student in Vancouver to pay more attention to local policies and social dynamics between people of different backgrounds to rethink issues of globalization, to understand multiculturalism and to develop a sense of global citizenship. (HKU Worldwide Exchange student 1, University of British Columbia, Canada)
To conclude, HKU, as a global top-ranked university, has been undertaking ‘internationalisation’ as one of its strategic goals. The University of Hong Kong Worldwide Exchange Programme is one of the effective key university strategies that focuses on collaborative international university partnership, contributing to HKU’s internationalisation. To extend this further, HKU aims to achieve a mandatory requirement for students to take part in one mainland and one international HKU Worldwide Exchange by 2022 in order to qualify a graduate having possessed a global mindset in the global world. This study makes a significant contribution to the study of students’ exchange experience against the background of internationalisation in higher education. Further research can be conducted on employment opportunities of HKU Worldwide Exchange students and students’ perception of mandatory participation in one mainland and one international student exchange experiences under the new HKU Policy 2022. This may question what Pinar (2007) tends to suggest: How far does intellectual advancement progress?
Special thanks to the Office of International Student Exchange (OISE), HKU, for the data collected from the stories of the latest 2013–2014 returned HKU Worldwide Exchange students (provided with consent of HKU Worldwide Exchange students given anonymous identities via special coding).
This brief article highlights cultural diversity and global citizenship as the two important attributes developed by HKU Worldwide Exchange Programme. A fuller version of the paper that includes literature review, methodology, data analysis and more extensive discussions is as follows:
Lai, C. C. (Ivy), 2018, ‘Global world, global mind: Narratives of the University of Hong Kong Worldwide Exchange students’, Transformation in Higher Education, 3, a42.https://doi.org/10.4102/the. v3i0.42
This research paper published in the journal Transformation in Higher Education entitled ‘Global world, global mind: Narratives of the University of Hong Kong Worldwide Exchange students’ in 2018 is based on a presentation delivered at The Higher Education Research and Development Society of Australasia (HERDSA) Conference, which was cited and extended further by Prof. John Spinks, Director of Undergraduate Admissions and International Student exchange, in the work entitled ‘Review of Exchange Students Report’ in HKU Quality Assurance Council (QAC) Audit Report [Institutional Submission]’, August 2015, page 1019, Appendix 4.4. It is hoped that “knowledge exchange” could be facilitated by the dissemination of this academic piece of writing to the public in order to increase the awareness of HKU Worldwide Exchange programmes.