Newsletter No. 429/430

12 Nos. 429 /430, 23.12.2013 What brought you to Hong Kong, and to CUHK? From 1991 to 1994, I worked as a consultant for the Canada-China Teacher Education Project at Beijing Normal University and used to stop in Hong Kong on my way to and from China. At that time I was the director of a TESL (Teaching English as a Second Language) Centre at a university in Halifax and I wanted to have more time for research. I knew that CUHK had a good reputation and I thought that Hong Kong would be an excellent place to do research in my field and I was right! When I first started to work here in 1995, I had no idea how long I’d stay… I’ve now been in Hong Kong for more than 18 years! You are an advocate of learning English through studies abroad, and have successfully facilitated such programmes before. Can you share with us some of your experience and findings? In our increasingly interconnected world it’s very important for universities to internationalize. Education abroad is part of this process. From 2001 to 2009, I helped organize and taught in a study abroad programme for English majors that involved ethnographic fieldwork and a summer sojourn in England. Since 2009, I’ve been studying the impact of a semester or year abroad on the language and intercultural learning and ‘whole-person development’ of CUHK students. I’m now leading a joint project on education abroad that involves Tsinghua University, Nanjing University, and Fudan University. I’m also investigating the experiences of incoming international exchange students on our campus. While international experience certainly has the potential to be transformative, sojourns are actually quite variable. While some students experience significant gains in second language proficiency and become more globally-minded, others do not really make the most of their stay in a different linguistic and cultural environment. Many researchers, including me, now advocate some form of intervention, such as intercultural communication courses and ongoing, guided reflection. To maximize education abroad learning, the ‘ Global Schola r’ website offers online support for student sojourners and returnees. What other advice would you offer future international exchange students? Before venturing abroad, it’s important to think about specific goals for the sojourn. For example, they can think about what they want to achieve in terms of personal, academic, social, and professional enhancement. Instead of living with other Hong Kong students, they could stay with host nationals or other international students who have a different linguistic and cultural background. While abroad, they could challenge themselves to try new things and actively participate in extracurricular activities. Many host institutions offer orientation programmes to help students adjust to the new environment and these can be helpful. Also, culture shock is a natural part of the adjustment process and if students persevere, they can gain a tremendous amount from their sojourn. I would also encourage incoming international exchange students to get out of their comfort zone and more fully benefit from what Hong Kong has to offer. While I strongly encourage all students to venture abroad, it’s also important to recognize that local students can have intercultural experiences on our campus. We now have many more non-local students, including students from mainland China, and I would like to see more meaningful intercultural interactions at CUHK. You are one of the two recipients of the 2013 University Education Award, the highest accolade for teaching excellence in CUHK. What does the award mean to you, and what would you cite as your most remarkable achievement in your career here so far? I felt very honoured and deeply grateful to receive this award. For me, it shows that the University is genuinely concerned about the quality of teaching on campus and really values research that is designed to enhance teaching and learning. I am most proud of the fact that I have been able to create several postgraduate and undergraduate courses that stem directly from my research on language and intercultural communication and education abroad. Most recently, with the support of a Teaching Development Grant, I developed ‘Intercultural Transitions: Making Sense of Education Abroad’, an elective course for undergraduates with recent or current international experience. This course encourages local and non-local students to interact with each other as they ‘unpack’ their experiences and critically reflect on their assumptions and behaviour in intercultural interactions. Also, with the support of a Teaching Development Grant, I started the CUHK’s Annual Study Abroad Writing Contest, which is now in its third year. The winning essays are posted on the website of the Office of Academic Links. The Nobel prize for literature was recently awarded to a fellow-Canadian of yours. Do you have books that are particularly to your liking? My mother read many of Alice Munro ’s books and she would have been delighted to see that Ms. Munro has won this prestigious award. I am looking forward to reading her books as my mother has left me her collection. Not surprisingly, I very much enjoy reading books that focus on Chinese culture as well as intercultural and international transitions. On my last conference trip, I read Adeline Yen Mah ’s autobiography Falling Leaves: The Memoir of an Unwanted Chinese Daughter . Another book on transitions that I’ve read recently is Driving over Lemons: An Optimist in Spain . It’s about an English couple who relocated to the Alpujarra Mountains in Southern Spain. 是什么把你带来香港和中大? 1991至1994年,我任北京师范大学「加拿大中国教师教 育项目」顾问,往返北京时常途经香港。那时我亦是加 拿大哈利法克斯一所大学内的教授英语为第二语言中 心主管,希望放多点时间做研究。中大声誉良好,我认 为香港是作我专长范畴研究的理想之地,而我确实选对 了!1995年我到这里工作,没想过会待上多久,到现在 已超过十八年了! 你主张以海外学习来提升英语水平,并成功推行好 些计划,可否谈谈你的经验和研究发现? 全球各地的联系渐趋紧密,大学国际化更形重要,海外 学习是国际化进程的一环。2001至2009年,我协助统 筹和任教一个为英文主修生而设的海外学习课程,内容 包括民族志田野考察以及英国暑期留学。自2009年起, 我一直研究中大生到海外学习一年或一个学期,对他们 在语言、跨文化学习,以及全人发展的帮助。现时我正 带领一个与清华大学、南京大学和复旦大学合作的海外 学习项目,另外,我亦研究来港交换生的校园体验。 虽然海外经验有可能令参加者产生脱胎换骨的改变,但 短暂停留的影响其实因人而异。有些学生完成后,第二 语言大幅进步,思维更全球化;但亦有些参加者并没善 用异地的语言和文化环境。不少研究人员,包括我,现 时均主张要有某种形式的介入,例如开设跨文化沟通课 程,提供持续的反思指导。美国的 Global Scholar ,就 是为正在海外学习或已学成归来的学生提供支援的网 站,目的是加强海外学习的成效。 对拟参加交流的学生还有何忠告? 出发前要清楚目标。例如可以想想在个人、学术、社交或 专业发展方面,期望有什么收获;选择与当地生或有不 同语言和文化背景的国际生同住;敢于尝试新事物,积 极参与课外活动,很多院校会办迎新活动,对新生适应 甚有帮助;此外,经历文化冲击是适应过程中很自然的 事,若能坚持,定会获益良多。我亦鼓励来港国际生多 作新尝试,尽享本地提供的各种机会。 我极力主张所有学生往外闯,不过,在本地校园也可体 验跨文化交流。我们有很多非本地学生,有些来自内 地,我期望可见到更多有意义的跨文化交流。 你是2013年度博文教学奖两位得主之一,此奖可谓 中大最高的教学荣誉,对你有何意义?你认为自己 工作上最大的成就是什么? 我对获奖深感荣幸和衷心感激。这奖项显示大学非常关 注教学,并重视能改进教与学的研究。 大学以我对于语言、跨文化沟通和海外学习的研究为 根据,开设了数个研究生和本科生课程,这是我最自 豪的。最近在教学发展补助金支持下开办的选修课程 Intercultural Transitions: Making Sense of Education Abroad,对象是刚完成海外交流或正在中大交流的本 科生,鼓励本地和非本地学生交流,分享经验,并反思 自己在跨文化交流中的预设和行为。我也在这项补助金 支持下开展了中大每年一度的海外交流征文比赛,至今 已是第三届了。获奖文章会上载于学术交流处网页。 今年诺贝尔文学奖的得主也是加拿大人,你有否喜 爱的作家或书籍? 家母读过很多 艾莉丝 ‧ 孟若 的作品,若她得知孟若女 士获此殊荣,一定会很高兴。她把孟若的书留下给我, 我很期待阅读。我自然也喜欢阅读与中国文化、跨文化 和跨国迁移有关的书籍。上次出外参加研讨会,就看 了 马严君玲 的自传 Falling Leaves: The Memoir of an Unwanted Chinese Daughter (中译《落叶归根》)。 我最近又读了一本关于迁移的书 Driving over Lemons: An Optimist in Spain ,讲述一对英国夫妇移居西班牙南 部阿尔普哈拉山脉的故事。 Prof. Jane Jackson 英文系教授 Professor in the Department of English 2013年博文教学奖得主 Recipient of 2013 University Education Award