Wedding master attributes his success to inspiring liberal arts education
Programme pursued at Lingnan University: Bachelor of Arts (Honours) in Chinese 2004
Present career: General Manager, Take My Hand Limited, Travel Expert Group
Liberal arts education is not intended to train you for a specific job, though it does prepare you for the world of work by offering an invaluable set of employability skills.
You can teach a student a lesson a day; but if you can teach him to learn by creating curiosity, he will continue the learning process as long as he lives. Tim Lau, a seasoned wedding planner and master of ceremonies, could not agree with this more when he recalls his student days at Lingnan University more than 10 years ago. Tim appreciates the liberal arts education offered by Lingnan, which has transformed his life and career development.
Five key elements boost liberal arts learning
After graduating in 2004, Tim worked in the PR and event management sector, but shortly afterwards started his own wedding planning business, gradually making a name for himself as an award-winning guru handling hundreds of wedding festivities. “I had many opportunities to be MC at school events when studying at Lingnan,” Tim says. “I have also been a student ambassador and hostel leader. All these experiences have equipped me well for my future career.”
While majoring in Chinese, Tim did not have to bury himself in books but instead enjoyed a “colourful” student life which opened up his horizons and cultivated his creativity. “I’ve acquired valuable event management experience outside the classroom, and that’s how I became used to thinking outside the box and putting game-changing ideas into practice,” he says. Tim’s story has proven the value of Lingnan’s liberal arts education, which aims to give students an all-round college life and cultivate competences and sensibilities that enable graduates to pursue their goals in the ever-changing social environment. There are five key elements in this initiative including an interdisciplinary curriculum, small-class teaching, a vibrant campus and hostel life, rich international exposure, and service-learning.
Enabling students to develop knowledge, insights, problem-solving skills, self-confidence, self-efficacy and a passion for learning are the common classroom goals, and interdisciplinary instruction and exploration promotes the realisation of these objectives. Lingnan has always been dedicated to giving students a firm knowledge foundation across different subjects. “As a student of Chinese studies, I also got the chance to learn media communication, culture and psychology,” says Tim, who believes the course’s interdisciplinary nature has cultivated the critical thinking capabilities which are applicable in every aspect of his present career.
Tim also appreciates the course’s small-class teaching format. “Apart from attending lectures, we also had good interaction and sharing during the small-class tutorials, where I always stood up and shared my ideas in front of others. This helped sharpen my presentation skills and boost my confidence. Besides, the friendliness of the teachers strongly aroused our interest in study, stimulated our initiative, and motivated us to go the extra mile in our academic performance.” Equally unforgettable were the precious moments Tim spent with classmates during hostel life. “I have obviously improved my own interpersonal and communication skills, which is a particular advantage, especially now that I’m working in a people-oriented business,” Tim says.
Furthermore, Lingnan has adhered to the principle of making study serve a practical purpose. That’s why students get a wide range of exchange, scholarships and internship opportunities to develop their full potential. The university also provides students with international exposure, particularly through bilateral cultural exchange. To date, it has more than 180 exchange partners across some 40 countries, and 80 per cent of undergraduates can go on exchange for a semester or participate in summer programmes. Half the faculty has an international background, while one-seventh of the student population are non-local full-programme or semester-long exchange students.
Cosmopolitan faculty and classmates broaden culture awareness
Recalling his studies at Lingnan, Tim appreciates the chance to meet lecturers, tutors and classmates from different parts of the world, which has opened his mind to different styles and cultures. He also remembers the invaluable experience of participating in voluntary and social services the university organised. Community service is an integral part of Lingnan's education. The university emphasises diversity in both teaching and learning, and uses “Education for Service” as a guiding motto. Students are given numerous chances to get involved in service projects. Starting from 2016-17, service-learning will become a graduate requirement for undergraduate studies, signifying the university's commitment to community engagement and deep learning through experience.
“Liberal arts education is not intended to train you for a specific job, though it does prepare you for the world of work by offering an invaluable set of employability skills, including the ability to think for yourself, the skills to communicate effectively, and the capacity for lifelong learning,” Tim adds. Regardless of the great progress he is making today, or will make in future in his wedding planning business, Tim always remembers that it is the education at Lingnan which planted the “first seed” for him.