Where we used to climb and wade
Alumni relive vibes unique to CUHK
In the course of six decades, CUHK has witnessed the growth of hundreds of thousands of students, who traversed its slopes in a journey of maturing into adulthood. On 2 December, many of these erstwhile students reunited at the University’s annual Alumni Homecoming Day, organised by the Alumni Affairs Office. The occasion offered a record 6,000 alumni a chance to celebrate along with their families their connection to their alma mater, regardless of the passage of time.
This year’s events marked a full return to on-site alumni activity after three years of pandemic restrictions. Starting off the day was a showcase of films, all directed by alumni of CUHK. Classic works such as It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad World III, directed by Stephen Shin Kei-yin, were shown side by side with more innovative fare, like A Light Never Goes Out by up-and-coming director Anastasia Tsang as well as One Second Champion, written by Ashley Cheung. Together, these productions portrayed a wide cross-section of society across space and time. Meanwhile in the foyer, a demonstration of e-sports allowed alumni of all ages to compete against one another.
The opening ceremony, held in the early afternoon, had CUHK Vice-Chancellor and President Professor Rocky S. Tuan as the guest of honour. Welcoming the alumni back to campus, he said: “United in their support for their alma mater, they have certainly ensured that CUHK remains a place ‘where great minds shine’, and for that I am grateful.” The ceremony also featured the marching band of CUHKFAA Thomas Cheung Secondary School, whose roots lay in alumni efforts during the 1980s to improve the education of primary and secondary students. Other performers included the DCUC rope-skipping team and four alumni singers who serenaded the crowd.
During the ceremony, the CUHK Alumni Torch Fund also presented a cheque to CUHK, marking the continuing relationship between the University and the people it has nurtured in six decades. Thanks to the support of alumni, the funds raised reached record-breaking levels. The President of CUHK’s Federation Of Alumni Associations, Jade Cheung Fuk-ying, described following events thusly: “This year, our Homecoming Day festivities coincide with the 60th anniversary of the school’s founding, and the scale of alumni belonging to their alma mater can be seen in just how packed it was everywhere. During the opening ceremony, everyone stood up to sing our theme song for the day, ‘The CU Heart and CU Mind’, and it was such a moving experience! I hope that our Federation can continue CUHK’s legacy hand in hand with our alumni, contributing their best to the University.”
As the afternoon rolled on, so too did the energy build. On the University Mall, children climbed to dizzying heights on colourful inflatable slides and bounced on trampolines, their laughter ringing through the skies above. Market booths drew curious visitors to browse through all kinds of handicrafts, from ceramics to soaps, formed by the deft hands of alumni. Those musically inclined among CUHK alumni and students teamed up to deliver performances, such as the Beatles’ classic tune “Hey Jude” and local indie artist Panther Chan’s “In Good Hands”. Speaking to CUHK in Focus after her group’s show, one of the performers, Rachel Siu, felt that the Homecoming Day provided a chance for alumni and students to find each other. “And of course,” she continued, “CUHK has a very unique vibe, which only people who’ve studied here can appreciate—it’s like another world, and as alumni you therefore have a special sense of belonging.”
Talks were also aplenty across campus. A marathon series of lectures was held at the Lady Shaw Building, providing listeners with up-to-date information about mental and physical health. Meanwhile, many museums and departments opened their doors to the public, who roamed the halls in rediscovery of their long and distinguished development. A new addition was the History Gallery relaunched in September, whose guided tours re-acquainted alumni with the University’s past. Said Andy Foo Kwai-yuen, President of CUHK’s Federation of Graduate School Alumni Associations: “I’m so thankful that CUHK organised this year’s Homecoming Day. Both alumni and their families can return to campus, and we certainly had a great time!” Kelvin Yeung Yu-ming, Chairman of the Convocation of CUHK, agreed saying: “This event has allowed my children to get to know the green and pleasant hillsides of our campus better, as well as our unique collegiate system.”
As night fell, the day was capped by grand dinners held all over campus. Under the bright lights, students and alumni from both the University and its graduate school shared their experiences of criss-crossing the slopes of CUHK. As the President of CUHK’s Alumni Association Australia Pauline Tam Siu-kam said, “I’m proud to be an alumnus here. When I started at the University more than four decades ago, I was young and full of spirit. Now I’m in my twilight years, but I’m still grateful to CUHK for those years of nurture — they made my life all the more meaningful.”
by Chamois Chui
photos courtesy of the Alumni Affairs Office